What to Do in Aguas Calientes, Peru
Aguas Calientes, also known as Machu Picchu Pueblo, is a small town nestled in the Andes Mountains of Peru. It serves as the gateway to the world-famous Machu Picchu, one of the Seven Wonders of the World. While Aguas Calientes is primarily known as a stopover destination for tourists visiting Machu Picchu, the town itself has its own charm and attractions. In this article, we will explore what to do in Aguas Calientes, Peru, and provide answers to some frequently asked questions.
1. Visit Machu Picchu: Undoubtedly, the most popular attraction in Aguas Calientes is Machu Picchu. A UNESCO World Heritage site, this ancient Incan citadel is a must-visit for history and nature enthusiasts alike. Take a bus or hike up to the site and marvel at the well-preserved ruins surrounded by breathtaking mountain views.
2. Explore the Machu Picchu Museum: Before or after your visit to Machu Picchu, take some time to explore the Machu Picchu Museum. Located in Aguas Calientes, this museum provides insights into the history, culture, and significance of the ancient Incan civilization.
3. Relax in the Hot Springs: Aguas Calientes, meaning “hot waters” in Spanish, is home to several natural hot springs. After a long day of exploring Machu Picchu, unwind and rejuvenate in the thermal baths of Aguas Calientes. The mineral-rich waters are believed to have healing properties.
4. Hike to Mandor Waterfall: For nature lovers, a hike to Mandor Waterfall is a must. Located just a few kilometers from Aguas Calientes, this serene waterfall is surrounded by lush greenery. The hike takes you through beautiful orchid gardens and offers a chance to spot diverse bird species.
5. Enjoy Local Cuisine: Aguas Calientes offers a variety of dining options, ranging from traditional Peruvian dishes to international cuisine. Sample local delicacies like ceviche, lomo saltado, or quinoa soup at one of the many restaurants in town. Don’t forget to try the famous Peruvian beverage, Pisco Sour.
6. Explore the Butterfly House: Aguas Calientes is home to a unique attraction known as the Butterfly House. This educational facility houses numerous species of butterflies native to the region. Visitors can learn about the life cycle of these colorful insects and even have the opportunity to release a butterfly into the wild.
7. Shop for Souvenirs: Aguas Calientes offers a range of souvenir shops where you can find traditional handicrafts, textiles, jewelry, and more. Take a stroll through the town’s bustling markets and find the perfect memento to remember your visit to this magical place.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs):
1. How do I get to Aguas Calientes?
To reach Aguas Calientes, you can take a train from Cusco or Ollantaytambo. Alternatively, you can opt for a multi-day trek on the Inca Trail.
2. Can I visit Machu Picchu without a guide?
While it is not mandatory to have a guide, it is highly recommended to enhance your experience and gain a deeper understanding of the site’s history and significance.
3. How long should I spend in Aguas Calientes?
Most visitors spend one or two nights in Aguas Calientes to fully explore Machu Picchu and enjoy the town’s attractions.
4. Are there ATMs in Aguas Calientes?
Yes, there are several ATMs in Aguas Calientes where you can withdraw cash. However, it is advisable to carry enough cash as ATMs may run out of money during peak tourist seasons.
5. Are there accommodations in Aguas Calientes?
Yes, Aguas Calientes offers a range of accommodations, including luxury hotels, budget hostels, and cozy guesthouses. It is recommended to book in advance, especially during peak season.
6. Can I hike to Machu Picchu from Aguas Calientes?
Yes, there are hiking trails that lead directly from Aguas Calientes to Machu Picchu. The most popular option is the challenging but rewarding hike up Huayna Picchu, which offers stunning views of the citadel.
7. Is it safe to drink the water in Aguas Calientes?
It is advisable to drink bottled or purified water in Aguas Calientes to avoid any potential stomach issues. Most hotels and restaurants provide safe drinking water for their guests.
In conclusion, Aguas Calientes, Peru, offers more than just a gateway to Machu Picchu. With its natural hot springs, picturesque hikes, cultural attractions, and delectable cuisine, this charming town has something for everyone. Whether you’re a history buff, nature lover, or simply seeking relaxation, Aguas Calientes is a destination worth exploring.