Views 09 Ene The ins and outs of Aguas Calientes – Machu Picchu Pueblo
 |  Category: Must-see Travel Destinations

Set around 400m. below the historic site of Machu Picchu, the town of Aguas Calientes is the unavoidable stop-off point for all visitors. Those who do a one day excursion to Machu Picchu from Cusco won’t have much time there, but anyone staying overnight in order to beat the crowds at Machu Picchu before sunrise the next morning, and/or hike up the Huayna Picchu mountain will have some spare time in the town (recently renamed Machu Picchu Pueblo, just to confuse everyone).

We won’t even attempt to beat about the bush; Aguas Calientes is a tourist trap. Most guidebooks slate the place and whilst we won’t go that far, it is a town irrefutably based upon the fact that lots of rich western tourists will pass through.

In the evening, bars play European or American football and blast out loud music. Touts or ‘sharks’ posted outside restaurants will practically beg you to enter, and market stalls typically are more expensive than Cusco and certainly the Sacred Valley. Despite all the above, we believe that there is something about Aguas Calientes that all the guidebooks have missed.

Aguas Calientes

So, whilst waiting for your evening train to Cusco, or in your free time around Aguas Calientes, what should you do? Here is our piece of advice to get the most out of your time here:

  • The Aguas Calientes or hot springs in Aguas Calientes. At the top of the town lie the famous natural thermal baths that gave the town its name. Whilst they are not the nicest thermal baths in the region, after hiking to or around Machu Picchu, a relaxing dip might be exactly what you’re after. Many comment on the murky color or smell of the baths, but this is natural for this part of Peru. All of the baths display the same characteristics, and the reason is the harmless sulfur in the grounds.

  • Food will almost certainly be overpriced and more often than not only luke-warm, especially if eating in a group. The best value meals are buffets, so ask your Dos Manos guide for a late lunch recommendation after your morning in Machu Picchu. ‘Hotel Los Viajeros’ offers a good buffet option, but many others also offer a decent offer.

    For dinner, shop around. If the menu is comical, in terms of translation mistakes or otherwise, it’s probably best avoided. Go to a busy restaurant, as this usually means that the food is good. Either way, you won’t have your favorite culinary experience in Aguas Calientes.

  • Aguas Calientes

  • To relax, there are a number of riverside bars that are worth a visit. ‘Machu Pisco’ is a favorite among our passengers, and is one of the last buildings next to the train track. It offers beautiful views over the furious Urubamba River below, and very tasty Pisco Sour cocktails. After a trek to Machu Picchu, or up Huayna Picchu, this might well be the sort of R&R you’ll be wanting!

  • Putucusi mountain: stepping ladders for around 90 minutes will take you high up the mountain for a fantastic view over Machu Picchu. So far it is free of charge and recent repairs have been carried out. With rain it becomes a bit more treacherous, so better keep an eye on the weather. The descent takes around an hour.

No denying that the town itself has a beautiful setting and it is no wonder that the Spanish couldn’t ever find Machu Picchu; such is the remote nature of the site and town of Aguas Calientes. Whilst it won’t be the favored place you visit on your trip to Peru that certainly doesn’t mean it’ll be your worst.

For more information regarding a tour to Machu Picchu and what to do in your spare time, just contact Dos Manos travel agency in Cusco and we will be more than happy to fill you in!

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One Response

  1. 1
    Maria 

    nice article, haven’t seen something like this on the internet so far 🙂

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