Aguas Calientes (aka “Machu Picchu Village”) has so much more to offer than you think. It is the closest town with access to Machu Picchu. It’s located 6 kilometres (3.7 mi) away or about a 1.5 hours walk from Machu Picchu itself. Yes, many people walk! Urumbamba is a stunning place with natural hot baths that gave its Spanish name. It lies at the Vilcanota River and the only way to get here safely is by train.
You can take the train from Poroy, Urubamaba or Ollantaytambo and If you want to find updated information on how to get to Machu Picchu from Cusco click here or to find the cost of the train you can go to www.perurail.com.
Aguas Calientes has a rustic style mixed with the modern. Thanks to Peru’s growing economy, the rustic feeling of this town is changing. You may well stay there to get early to Machu Picchu, so I will give you some ideas of what to do with family or just yourself.
We decided take the train form Ollantaytambo – glad the kids still love trains! The view is gorgeous. Once we arrived at Machu Picchu Station (located at the town of “Machu Picchu Village” and not at the citadel) and checked into our hotel, we started exploring. Among the things we did and recommend are:
1.Check out the Mercado Artesanal: This is right at the exit of the train station, so you couldn’t miss it even if you wanted to (keep in mind that tourism is the main activity in this town) and prices are about the same than in other areas in Cusco. If you looking to save some money don’t buy at the first kiosk you come to – ask around.
2.Walk by the Aguas Calientes Bridge: bring a padlock and make a wish. Apparently this is a new tradition in this town that is happening in many cities in the world.
Not many padlocks yet but curious of how is going to be in few years!
3. Eat: We were super hungry when we arrived in Aguas Calientes so we went straight to find a restaurant. Indio Feliz was our choice after reading the reviews but it was hard to find with two hungry and tired kids. So we decided to eat at the nearest place with good reviews and a little view of the river. Can’t complain, everyone was happy with the food. Most restaurants in Aguas Calientes are of decent quality now that online reviews have become so important. Tip: don’t hesitate to check the reviews before you go in.
4. Gelato: after a good meal we walked around and got a great gelato at Incontri del Pueblo Viejo located in Av. Pachacuteq 6° Cuadra S/N, Aguas Calientes, it is a pizzeria that sells terrific gelato at the front of the restaurant.
5.Walk around Plaza Manco Capac and twon Our kids were very happy to be able to run around the little Plaza and we checked out the cute little church.
6. Hike to Putukusy: After gelato we tried to find the entrance to Putucusy to show it to our family. The entrance is a short walk from town down the train tracks, and walking along train tracks is always an adventure. To get up to Putucusy you need to hike for miles and climb a series of pretty steep ladders but the view of Machu Picchu is amazing. However, the trail was closed due to slides, although the sign indicated it would be re-opened someday.
YOU CAN WATCH OUR GALERY OF OUR FIRST HIKE TO PUTUKUSI HERE!
7.Jardines de Mandor: this is another thing to do if you have time. Unfortunately we didn’t. This is an amazing botanical garden. It’s a one hour walk to the entrance gate, and access is 10 Peruvian soles. The walk itself is a nice adventure since you walk along the railway into the humid forest. You can see a waterfall at the end of a walk full with flowers and birds.
8.Thermal Baths: This may have medicinal properties due to its sulphurous waters coming up from the rocky subsoil. The Hot bath were destroyed by floods several years ago, but have been rebuilt and they are quite modern now. In order to provide a better service, it has facilities such as dressing rooms, restrooms and a cafeteria. This is an easy thing to do with kids but make sure they don’t want to swim there. It is not a pool and don’t forget to add swimming suit to your packing list.
Honestly we didn’t do it because we were there for just two days but if you have more time to stay go ahead and enjoy it.
We did need to get to bed early for our next day adventure. I hope this help yours!!