Aguas Caliente, Machu Picchu
After a long hike going to Machu Picchu, a lot of travelers go to the Aguas Calientes which is a collection of outdoor thermal pools, believed to have curative powers.
I walked to the pools for from town for just about 15-25 minutes, following the main road to right of the Plaza and going uphill. The walk is on a very narrow and busy road, with restaurants and shops. I actually decided to eat on one of the restaurants and the food was remarkably good, although I was the only one eating in the whole place. Then of course, I stopped in an out of the souvenir shops.
Then you do pass some roaring waters and bridges as you go Aguas Calientes…a very nice forest path that will bring you to the entrance which charges about US$3 to enter. There are changing facilities, showers, luggage storage and a small cafe which also sells beer! Beer for the tired hikers…
There’s a cold pool, a hot pool, a big pool for socializing, a small pool and then a pool with some water spouts…very refreshing.
Aguas Caliente is the one horse town at the end of the rail line for Machu Picchu.
Its where you come to rest your bones after completing the inca trail.
Its not much to write home about but it does seem to have more Pizza restaurants than most major cities in Italy.
It also seems to have (probably quite understandable given its location) the slowest internet connections in Peru.
Theres lots of T Shirt and souvenir shops and a nice little square to watch the world go by.
There are also some hot springs to rest your weary bones.
A lot of the hotels are bang on the railway track and with the first train leaving at 5.45 you may think it is actually going to come steaming in thru your room its so loud.
Goods early morning wake up call tho!
Aguas is a beautiful little town surrounded by mountains. It has plenty of nice places to stay and dine. As with the rest of Peru, you need to negotiate everything. In off season, you should get a very nice place for $20 - 25 US. When you go to dine, ask for the "touristico" menu which is a 3 course meal for 10 Soles (about $3.50 US). If you go for a massage, go direct rather than through the hotel as that adds another layer of cost. You should pay $10 US per hour.
DON'T GO TO THE HOT SPRINGS. They look and smell aweful. If you are planning to go to Arequipa and on the 2 day Colca Canyon tour, DEFINITELY go to the hot springs in Chivay...very good.
You'll stop by this picturesque town on your way to Machu Picchu. They've built a new bridge which connects the new train station to the Plaza de Aramas. There're three bridges which you can cross from one side of the stream to the other.
I finally made it back to Machu Picchu by early afternoon. Since it started poring rain, I opted not to walk to Aguascalientes, and took a bus ;). From there, I took an afternoon train back to Cusco. The train took 4 hours, but they were short thanks to the fellow travelers I met on the train from the US and Sweden.
After doing the Inca trail, walking three or four days through the mountains there´s no better place than Aguas Calientes to relax. In open thermal bathes with the starful sky above you you can relax and dream of Machu Picchu 500 years ago.
Walk the streets! The little town is made for pedestrians mostly, so very little cars here other than the buses that go up to Machu Picchu. The altitude is much lower than Cusco, so you will feel much more comfortable walking around and climbing stairs. Do wander in the morning when the crowd is still sleeping!
Sit in a patio somewhere and look around. It is so much fun.
Funniest thing about Aguas Calientes is that it has a train track going right through its center. So we found ourselves having dinner in the patio in one of the restaurants when the train whistle got our attention. The train passed only a meter away from us.
Dogs are part of entertainment as well. They follow you everywhere. One of my friends got so frustrated with them being behind her for an hour that she complained to police!!! They said "Don't worry - they don't bite". And they didn't...
Another guy climbed the telephone pole to make a call - like it was his everyday routine.
On the photo you can see a moment of scene that we witnessed. Corn sellers dropped their cart and it fell over to the train tracks. They picked up all the corns and continued like nothing happened...
I know I already have one of these photos from above Machu Picchu on my site. However I am including this one because it shows the road down to Agua Calientes, the trail to MP and the on site hotel all very clearly.
You can relax at one of the side walk cafe up the main street of Aguas Calientes. Have a cervaza and do some people watching.
Everywhere you go in Peru, you'll find nice churches, even in this small town. The Plaza de Arams is surrounded by picturesque mountain peaks, you can get a glimpse of them here behind the church.
If you've been holding out, this is the place to do some serious shopping. There is shop after shop of gifts and souvenirs in "aguas caliente". Next to the train station.