This is the main entrance to Machu Picchu. As it opens later than you arrive if you do the Inca Trail, you might have to wait a bit here in that case. But if you come by train, it will be already open when you come.
It costs 26 USD for foreigners to enter for a day. You may get a stamp in your passport at the entrance in case you want. I did :-)))
This is the place where you have to take the bus back to Aguas Calientes too.
This magical place on top of a hill is the place where inca priests did the ceremony of "tying the sun". Every year the sunny hours of the day became shorter (as the winter was approaching) and, by this ceremony, they "held" the sun here in earth so it wouldn't keep disappearing... After this ceremony, the days were slowly longer and longer, beacuse the sun was "tied" by the priests...
It seems religions have always played with people ignorance, since the very beginning...
It is nowadays considered an "energy source" and many believers come here to touch the stone and "recharge" their souls or something like that...
Definitely go to the famous hot springs when you are in town. It is a soothing experience especially right after a grueling 4-day Inca Trail trek. The entrance fee is a GREAT deal at about 10 soles ($3) per person.
This is a well-managed operation with changing facilities and toilets. So, just bring your changing clothes with you, and don't forget to bring a towel or rent one en route to the hot springs.
ok, others who come directly to Machu Picchu without doing the Inca trail pass by Aguas Calientes as well...and this is what makes Aguas Calientes so interesting: MACHU PICCHU!!!! of course!! For more info have a look on all the interesting M.P. pages here in VT
Machu Picchu would arguably be the most popular of all 'things to do' in Peru, if not all of South America. Translated as 'Ancient Mountain' it is a 15th century Inca site located at 2430 metres on a mountain ridge overlooking the Urubamba Valley.
The significance of the site is not exactly known but most archaeologists believe it was built as an estate for the ninth Inca Pachacutec. Construction started aound the turn of the 15th century but was abandoned at the time of the Spanish conquest about 100 years later. It is clearly divided into two halves - terraces (probably agricultural) and buildings (probably residential).
It was unknown to the Spanish and therefore remained relatively intact until it was discovered by Hiram Bingham in 1911. Artefacts were taken to Yale University and after years of negotiation the university has agreed to return them. Many of the buildings have been partially restored to give visitors an idea of the original construction. By 1976 up to 30% had been restored and restoration works continues.
In 1981 Machu Picchu was made a Peruvian Historical Sanctuary; in 1983 declared a UNESCO World Heritage site. In 2007 an internet poll voted the site as one of the New Seven Wonders of the World. Machu Picchu is in danger of environmentql degradation and has consequently been placed on The World Monuments Fund Watch List of the 100 Most Endangered Sites. As visitors we must take care of this amazing place.
From Machu Picchu you can do a small walk to the inca bridge. The walk itself is very beautifull. And the at the site of the inca bridge aren't too many people, which was nice because at noon there are many people at Machu Picchu.
You can't get on the bridge anymore. If you see it you probably don't want to anyway.
Machu Picchu is an impressive Inca citadel. It was built around 1430, directly on the mountain side of Machu Picchu (meaning 'Old Peak' in the local Quechua language). The purpose of the site is a little insecure, but some people believe it was a country retreat town for the Incan nobility and/or a holy city to the Incas. Machu Picchu was abandoned in the middle of the 16th century, at the time of the Spanish conquest of the Inca Empire. However, the Spaniards never found Machu Picchu, and therefore it is also called 'the Lost City of the Incas'. In 1911, the amazing ancient city was rediscovered by Hiram Bingham, an American archaeologist and historian. Since then, Machu Picchu has become an increasingly popular tourist destination, and in 1983 it was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
A massage, after a physically exhausting trek, is a wonderful way to rejuvenate, to unwind and to heal your aching body. I felt like a completely brand new person after the massage-- physically rehabilitated, agile and ready to take on another adventure.
There are many massage operators in town, so you have a myriad of options to choose from. We picked one from the center of town since they were the most visible and had a big sign--we were not disappointed. The services were excellent, staff members were great and friendly, and the prices were reasonable. I'm sure you'll just be fine with whoever you decide to choose for your massage.
The Hot Springs are – besides Machu Picchu – the main attraction of Aquas Calientes, and the town is named after the springs. They are located about 15-20 minutes walk from the town centre, a nice walk along the Rio Aquas Calientes and with the high mountains on each side... At the Hot Springs complex, you find the changing room, bathrooms, and some small pools with a water temperature between 38 ºC and 46 ºC. There are sulfurs in the water and it is said to be good for the bones - at least that’s what the locals say... The water temperature sounded nice, but the water looked a little murky and brown - and I didn’t swim at the springs. I just visited the small snack bar at the Hot Springs, it was packed with all kind of strange Indian stuff...
Of course, the most important thing to do in Aguas Calientes is to catch a bus to Machu Picchu. This is why you are there, after all. I arrived at the station at 6AM, which I believe was in time for the second bus up the hill.
I think it was a good idea to spend the night in AC, because Machu Picchu is best in the early morning, before the tour buses have arrived to fill up the place. Also, the early morning fog lent a misty air of mystery to the place, especially when the clouds parted to reveal that picture perfect MP scene just as we reached the top of the viewing area.
See my Machu Picchu page for more details on MP itself.
The main square is home to several shops and restaurants, and in the centre is a statue of Inca Pachacutec, the greatest spiritual leader of the Incas and the builder of Machu Picchu.
The town church is also located at the square. We tried to visit the church, but it was occupied by a school class (confirmation preparation?) and we only had a glance of the church from the entrance.
You should go and take a thermal bath in the city. Aguas Calientes is spanish for "Hot Water", and for a small entrance fee you can relax in the natural thermal baths which Aguas Calientes is known for.
I arrived to Machu Picchu from the mountains above, as I did the Inca Trail, trekking for 4 days along the old trail of the Incas.
So, the 4th day you go down the mountain and you start seeing glimpses of the site, till you reach the Sanctuary and see the whole thing.
It is believed to be an astronomic clock built by the Incas.Shamanic legends say that if you're a sensitive person and you rub your forehead against the stone you will see the spirit world. The Intihuatana stone is one of the many ritual stones in South America. They are arranged so they point directly at the sun during the winter solstice. The Spanish did not find Machu Picchu until the 20th century so the Intihuatana Stone was not destroyed like many other ritual stones. It is also called "The Hitching Point of the Sun" because it was supposed to hold the sun in its place. At midday on March 21st and September 21st the sun stands almost above the pillar creating no shadow at all. It is believed to be an astronomic clock built by the Incas.
The best area to eat in Aguas Calientes is by the train tracks. There's stairs leading down near the area where you enter the town. The area is a bit hidden as it is lower than the rest of the town, so you get a much different vibe than the uber-touristy areas on the hill.
There's no street, just the tracks and dusty road around it. Across the tracks, some Incan ladies chatted while manning their snack stands. The locals waved and talked to each other. Every once in a while, the train whisked by, super close to our seats.
We relaxed for hours at a nice little restuarant, waiting for our train. The food was excellent and cheap, but I still spent way too much because we kept ordering more stuff that sounded so good. I had a stuffed avocado salad, fresh fish, coffee, and we finished with a round of Peruvian desserts. I wish I could remember the name of the restaurant because the food was great, the lady was very nice, and there was a private bathroom in the back that was better than the one at the hostel.