Things to Do in Aguas Calientes
Named for the hot springs where you can soak after a long trek, Aguas Calientes is the service town for
There are a large range of hotels, and restaurants catering for most tastes. The average restaurant is probably considerably more expensive than Cusco due to the proximity to Machu Picchu, but there is a fun village style atmosphere and it's a good place to hang out. There is internet access (though more expensive than other place). It is also the terminus for trains from Cusco, with the tracks running through the main street. However, now there is a train station where the trains leave from. Please note that you must buy your ticket to Machu Picchu in the main plaza of Aguas Calientes BEFORE you go to the ruins.
The Aguas Calientes are about 800 east of the centre, where there are hot sulphurous waters of 38 ºC a 46ºC that emerge from the rocky subsoil. The pools in this place provide a basic infrastructure for using the hot waters. They appear quite dirty but this is actually an effect of the sulphurous waters and the highly recommend a soak in the hot springs after a long hike! Bring your thongs, bathers and a towel!
Colcamayu Hot PpringsThe once isolated village of Santa Theresa, down the railway line from Aguas Calientes was once a sleepy backwater... now, it is an ever growing tourism centre. After the regulation of the Inca Trail, increasing numbers of trekkers looked for alternative routes, the most popular being the Salkantay trek. the Choquequirao to Machu Picchu trek and Vilcabamba to Machu Picchu trek both come to an end near Santa Theresa. The popular adventure trip the "Inca Jungle Trail" also passes through Santa Thresa. Several kilometres outside the rather unattractive village of Santa Theresa are the hot springs of Colcamayu. Recently developed and with the air of a 5 star outdoor resort, these hot springs are definately worth a visit. (the pictures tell the story). Entry fees are 10 soles per person, and to camp 10 soles per tent. There is a bar, showers and toilets, but no restaurant.
Colcamayu hot springs are a really wonderful place to spend the night when you have spent a few nights on the trail and are looking for a little bit of "camping" style luxury. Colcamayu is not a "wilderness" camping experience by any means, but its the cleanest, and most fun camping option in the Santa Theresa area. apus peru prefers to camp at Colcamayu, when staying near Santa Theresa, and entry fees are included in the price of your tour.
There is no ATM in Aguas Calientes though you can pay at many restaurant and hotels with visa (for a surcharge). You can also change money.
Things to do around Aguas Calientes
Many people chose to spend a second day at Machu Picchu to fully appreciate its' grandeur - others like to hang out in Aguas Calientes. You can hike to a ridge that is between Inti Punku and the caretakers house, or you can visit Huayna Picchu. Other people like to make a trip to Mandor Pampa. Ask when you are in Aguas Calientes for things to do.
Buses to Machu Picchu ruins
There is a bus that goes from Aguas Calientest to the ruins; the price is $12 return or $6 one way. You have to pay in dollars. Some people like the climb up, others prefer to take the bus up and walk down. Others like to walk both ways, it takes around 1.5 hours to walk up - its quite a climb, but then you appreciate the tenaciousness of the Inca people even more!
Climbing Huayna Picchu
Huayna Picchu means "young peak" and is the mountain that is located to the north of the Inca city. The mountain, looming behind the lost city is an important part of the icon that we know as Machu Picchu as it forms the backdrop of most iconic Machu Picchu photos. Its highest point is 2700 metres and allows us splendid views of Machu Picchu and the nearby mountains.
Though the climb is a little dangerous and quite steep, it is possible to climb up to those ruins in less than an hour. It offers some wonderful Inca ruins and you will be amazed at the determination and engineering skills of the Incas when you see the slopes that they had to overcome to complete this construction. This hike is a must-do for anyone in even moderately good shape.
Huayna Picchu was used by the Incas to build a number of complexes, like the impressive Temple of the Moon which is found at the back part of the mountain. The Incas also made a series of small agricultural terraces at the peak and some buildings. These buildings could have formed part of an astronomical observatory but also would have served as a lookout point over the city because from this point you can see all over Machu Picchu, Inti Punku and the paths that lead to the city.