Gateway to Machu Picchu
Aguas Calientes, it is a small town at the foot of Machu Picchu. It is known in recent years as the town of Machu Picchu or Machu Picchu. The city has its origins in the twentieth century, when the railway was built through the mountains up here. Only 110 km from Cuzco, it is undoubtedly the case when in 1901 the first camps of railway workers were established.
In the seventies, the first real tourists who came to the small village visited Machu Picchu. This is still the starting point, ideal for the visit to the world Machu Picchu, the UNESCO World Heritage Site. Almost overnight, the small town developed for tourists and in its surroundings, a variety of hostels, hotels, restaurants, bars, shops and everything a tourist really needs was built. We have come to Aguas Calientes again and again since 2007 and we have been able to observe the progress of recent years, more and more, mass tourism. Today more than 1,500 tourists arrive by train daily and this small city exists exclusively for tourism.
The city is not very big and is surrounded by hills. The train tracks pass through the center of Aguas Calientes. The city does not produce nad in the true sense. Everything is delivered by train. Every day new hikers arrive and others leave the area again, for someone who has spent 4 days on the Inca Trail, or if he or she has just sat on the train for a few hours, it is irrelevant here for dealers and organizers. The only thing that matters is that the tourist regulates their lodging and food requirements. That’s not much for sincere, Aguas Calientes is not a place where many people do not spend more than 1 or 2 days.
There is nothing to do in the city and Machu Picchu is usually explored on a daily basis. People arrive by train, spend the night, make their way through Machu Picchu and then leave the city by train in the afternoon. This means that Aguas Calientes has a limited time frame in which residents must capture the attention of tourists to take their sales to the man or woman, who then leave the place after a warm embrace towards civilization.
Aguas Calientes may not be great, but as a confusing hell. Probably through architecture. A whole series of bridges connects both sides of the city, each one of which offers a variety of shops and restaurants of almost all sizes and styles. Small alleys suddenly leads to local markets, which somehow offer even more shops and places to dine in all areas of the city.
Other information about restaurants
Unlike the tourist areas in Cuzco, most of the restaurants in Aguas Calientes are just copies of the stores and restaurants in Cusco. Each offers the same tourist menus. The main difference between Aguas Calientes and Cuzco are the prices. Because everything has to be brought here and because you have a very captive audience here in Aguas Calientes, the prices of everything will be higher than you can find. The same applies to items in stores and amenities, from bottled water to snacks. There are few exceptions to restaurants and cafes.
How you get to Aguas Calientes
By train (PeruRail)
The trains depart from Ollantaytambo, that is about 2 hours away from Cusco. There are several departures daily, varying by price. To get to Ollantaytambo you can go there by taxi (about 50 Soles), bus one day before and have a stay overnight there or you can take a Collectivo from Calle Pavitos in Cusco where you have to pay about 10 Soles per person. They start early in the mornings around 3am and run every half hour. Watch for a newish van with seatbelts.
Ollantaytambo is a lovely small town with some ruins of its own, so it is a good idea to take the bus, spend a night in Ollantaytambo, then take the train to Aguas Calientes the next morning. It is also possible to take the train from outside of Cusco but that is even more expensive. The scenic train journey through the Sacred Valley takes about 2 hours. Tickets should be bought in advance either online or at the PeruRail office on the Plaze de Armas in Cusco. Try to book several days in advance if possible, especially in the high season. It´s not possible to select your own seats online, so if you have a preference, buy them at the station. The ‘Vistadome’ cars are the mid-range cars, with more comfy chairs and meals served. If you prefer to ride in style, opt for the ‘Hiram Bingham’, complete with gourmet meals and an observation carriage (a few hundred US dollars).
By Trekking tour via Salkantay Trail
Travel to the highlands of Peru and visit Cusco the Inca Empire and the Sacred Valley of the Incas. Hike for four days through the amazing Andean mountains with the spectacular Salkantay Trek and visit Inca citadel Machu Picchu. Enjoy the best of the Peruvian highlands with our partner team in 10 days.
By Trekking tour via Inca Trail
The route of the Inca Trail is offered by different providers in different lengths. The most visited route is usually between four and five days long.