The Mysteries of Machu Picchu
Since its discovery in the early 20th century, Machu Picchu has taken off as a world destination, being named year after year as a best travel destination and one of...
The district of Aguas Calientes, also known as Machu Picchu Pueblo, is one of the most crowded places in Cusco. The reason: it is the gateway to Machu Picchu, the incredible Inca citadel named one of the Seven Wonders of the Modern World.
Although many tourists think of Aguas Calientes as just a place to passing through, the truth is that this small city has corners that deserve to be explored. Therefore, if you have enough time, we recommend you to book a couple of days to visit the most magical places of Aguas Calientes.
If you want to know how to get there and what places you have to visit, read on! Here we tell you all the details.
What to see in Aguas Calientes
A walk through the city: the first thing you have to do when you get to Aguas Calientes is to take a walk through its steep streets, perfectly preserved since Inca times. In the main square you will find a large statue of Pachacutec, the Inca who ordered the construction of Machu Picchu. In addition, the city is accompanied by a river that joins the imposing Andes to create an amazing landscape.
Hot springs: Aguas Calientes owes its name to magnificent thermal baths with medicinal properties located 800 meters from the city. These thermal waters, which have a volcanic origin and emanate from under the earth, are divided into five outdoor pools of between 38 ºC and 46 ºC.
This is, without a doubt, the perfect place to relax after a great hike through Machu Picchu, especially if you dare to climb the Huayna Picchu mountain. Imagine yourself bathing in one of these pools with the Andes around. It sounds good, does not it?
Price: S/ 20 (US$ 6).
Hours: Monday to Sunday from 5 a. m. to 8 p. m.
Manuel Chávez Ballón Site Museum: the Manuel Sánchez Ballón Site Museum is the perfect place for those who want to know all the details of the history and the secrets of Machu Picchu. Here are exposed more than 250 objects found in the citadel from its discovery to the present. You will can observe from typical Inca ceramic objects to the tools that this civilization used to create this impressive citadel.
Price: S/ 22 (US$ 6.60). You can buy the tickets on the same website as the tickets to Machu Picchu.
Hours: Monday to Sunday from 6 a. m. to 5 p. m.
Putucusi Mountain: although in Machu Picchu the trekking fans will be able to make two great walks, Huayna Picchu and the Machu Picchu mountain, in Aguas Calientes there is also a very good option to see the citadel from a different point of view, the Putucusi Mountain. The access to this mountain is totally free and the tour is done in approximately four hours round trip. You have to know that the terrain is complicated, so we recommend only doing this trekking if you are well prepared physically.
Mandor Gardens: if you prefer a quieter walk to fully enjoy nature, you can not miss the Mandor Gardens. This private ecological reserve has everything you expect from a country trip: lots of green, birds and endemic butterflies, a good restaurant in which to recharge your batteries and, most importantly, an incredible waterfall in which to cool off after the walk. To get to the Mandor Gardens you have to walk an hour from Aguas Calientes following the train tracks.
Handicraft Market of Aguas Calientes: like many other districts of Cusco, Aguas Calientes has its own artisan market where you will find everything from textiles to ceramics. Although they are very similar to those sold in other parts of the department, it is made in the foothills of Machu Picchu gives them a special touch.
Machu Picchu Butterflies Museum: Did you know that in Peru there are more than 4,000 species of butterflies? A large part of them are concentrated In the Machu Picchu area and, to investigate them and make them known to the public, was created the Machu Picchu Butterflies Museum, a place where you will not only see a lot of amazing butterflies but also you will be able to interact with them. To get there, you will only have to walk for half an hour on the road that goes up to Machu Picchu.
Price: S/ 10 (US$ 3)
Hours: Monday to Sunday from 8 a. m. to 6 p. m.
How to get to Aguas Calientes
If you are planning your trip to Machu Picchu, you already know that the train is the fastest and most comfortable way to travel the distance between Cusco and Aguas Calientes. Every day, dozens of trains leave from the stations of Poroy and Ollantaytambo with this place as destination.
The flow of tourists arriving daily to Aguas Calientes is very high, so if you want a place on one of these trains, we recommend you to buy your tickets on the Inca Rail page at least two months in advance. Choose the train you like the most, the station from which you want to depart and the schedule that best suits your trip and, that’s it! Aguas Calientes is waiting for you with great attractions to discover.