After spending half of a day exploring the Incan ruins, there’s more to do in this small town.
Peru’s most incredible attraction, Machu Picchu, is located in a small town called Aguas Calientes which translates to “hot waters.” Since this town is 75 km outside of Cusco the best way to get to it is by train (perurail.com) unless you choose to hike the Inca Trail. The train ride is a pleasant three hours through serene Peruvian countryside. Unfortunately, Machu Picchu isn’t something you can do as a day trip. You have to book a room in one of the many hotels in the small town and stay for at least a night. You will probably spend half of a day exploring the Incan ruins, but what else is there to do in this small tourist town?
Natural Hot Springs
The town is named after the natural hot springs that are a popular among travelers. For a small fee you can unwind and relax in the soothing natural hot pools. You need a swimsuit, towel, and sandals to enter. The locals say that the minerals in the water promote bone health. Additionally, the hot water is rejuvenating when you’ve spent a good part of your day hiking up strenuous terrain.
Another way to relax after a long day of hiking is to visit one of the many massage parlors throughout the town. You will see numerous women advertising them in the streets. You can find incredible deals like 30 soles, 10 USD, for a one-hour massage. This kind of deal is virtually unheard of in The States and if you’d be a fool not to take them up on this offer.
If you walk 45 minutes down the dirt road towards Machu Picchu you will come across the Center for Research and Observation of Butterflies where you can pay 15 soles, 5 USD, for a tour of the sanctuary. You can hold massive caterpillars, see different types of cocoons, and walk through the butterfly habitat. If you’re lucky, you might be able to see one hatch from its cocoon and take flight for the first time!
Immediately after getting off the train on the way to my hotel I walked through the market area that was chock-full of intriguing souvenirs and gifts to bring back for loved ones. This small town has a plethora of interesting gift shops to browse when you have some down time. From baby alpaca sweaters and blankets to unique figurines and jewelry, you are bound to find something special to take home with you.
While the main attraction in Aguas Calientes is Machu Picchu, there are some fun activities to keep you busy while you’re waiting to explore the incredible ancient ruins. These are fun alternatives to sitting in the hotel or wandering aimlessly around the small town!
Storrey spent 3 days in Aguas Calientes.