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The town of Aguas Calientes, At the foot of Machu Picchu

March 26, 2024
The town of Aguas Calientes, At the foot of Machu Picchu - 69explorer

A surprise awaits you when you arrive by train to the charming and quaint town of Aguas Calientes. To get to Machu Picchu Inca City you will need to first go to Aguas Calientes. Some just leave the train and go straight to Machu Picchu but the town is also worth a visit, even spend the night and why not there is much to do and see in Aguas Calientes. Surrounded by mountains Aguas Calientes is known for its and the all-important train station, but over the years it has formed its own identity as a village in its own right. 

History of Aguas Calientes

Aguas Calientes was created before the discovery of Machu Picchu when a railway was built to connect Santa Ana and Cusco. Santa Ana is situated 208 kilometers (683 feet) northwest of Cusco, deep in the jungle. Later, the workers built a base camp close to Aguas Calientes to rest. They didn’t know that years later, Machu Picchu would be discovered near that point. Then, the Company built a small train station, becoming the first building in the future of Aguas Calientes town.

 In 1911, Hiram Bingham unveiled Machu Picchu to the world, that brought archaeologists and researchers to the area. Over time, the train station attracted trade and tourism. It was not until the 1990s that Aguas Calientes began to experience further growth. It was due to the tourist growth of Machu Picchu.

Things to do

Hot springs

The hot water springs are yellow in color due to the sulfur in the water and are perfect for relieving the pain of rheumatism, osteoarthritis, and poor circulation. The temperature can be anything between 38 – 46 degrees Celsius.  The hot springs are located northeast of the town, 700 meters from the main square. The entrance is $6 per person and includes a storage cabin for your luggage.

Handicraft Market

Around the Aguas Calientes train station, a central handicraft market is located you cant miss it as the exit door of the train station is the entrance to this market. This is a good place to browse while waiting for your train back to Cusco.

The Inka Terra Spectacled Bear Conservation Center.

Located in the gardens of this beautiful hotel is the conservation center. Here lives 4 Spectacled bears, who’s habitats have been affected by humans. You will need to pay an entrance fee and book in advance so the hotel zoologist can explain the work they are doing here.

Mandor Waterfall and Garden

Mandor is a privately owned botanical conservation center located 4 kilometers from the center of Aguas Calientes. To get there, follow the railway tracks toward the Hydroelectric area for around 50 minutes. You will reach a sign that says Mandorpampa, where you will turn left. Then, follow the signed path until the botanic gardens ticket office. The tickets are $6 per foreign adult. Pass through beautiful gardens with well-signed plants, herbs, and trees, before you’ll arrive at the waterfall, where you can take a dip and cool off.

How to get to Aguas Calientes?

By Train

There are 2 companies by which you can travel to Aguas Calientes, then onto Machu Picchu, Peru Rail and Inca Rail, both companies have tourist class, first class and luxury trains, departing from these points.

By Car

You can get to Aguas Calientes by in car. Although the complete route will not be traveled by car. You will travel by car until the town of Santa Teresa. Next, you will go by train or walking. In the rainy season (November to April) the road is usually muddy, and we don’t recommend traveling by it. On the other hand, from May to October the road is dry and easy to travel on.

Altitude and Weather

The town has an altitude of 2040 meters above sea level (6693 feet). This means that it is lower than Machu Picchu Citadel (7973 feet) and Cusco City (11152 feet). And, it is surrounded by granite mountains covered by vegetation.

The best time to visit Aguas Calientes is during the Shoulder Season. The months of April, May, September, October, and November.

Aguas Calientes has a warm and temperate climate. It is around 16 ºC (60.5 ºF) during most of the year. Of course, it is due to its location in the jungle area of Cusco. 



Sumaq Hotel Aguas Calientes

This five-star hotel is located just south of Aguas Calientes. The hotel has a spa, a restaurant, and a bar. Free Wi-Fi in common areas and free train station pickup are also provided. In addition, the property features a snack bar, a sauna, and a conference center. Entertainment options include LCD televisions with cable television channels. Room service is also available.

Inka Terra Machu Picchu Pueblo Hotel

This 5-star hotel is located south of the town. The hotel has 83 rooms with beds that have Egyptian cotton sheets and high-quality bedding. Visit the Spectacled Bear Conservation Center.


Casa Andina Standard Aguas Calientes

Casa Andina is a Peruvian hotel chain catering for tourists and business travelers. The hotel has 53 rooms with free Wi-Fi, flat-screen TVs, and ceiling fans. Other services available to guests include a hairdryer, in-room safe, and shower.

Taypikala Hotel Aguas Calientes

This hotel is located north of the town. This hotel has 22 rooms with a minibar and a safe box. The beds are equipped with high-quality bedding. LCD television with cable channels is available. The bathrooms are equipped with free toiletries and a hairdryer.


Presidente Hotel Aguas Calientes

This hotel is located two blocks west of the main square. Hotel Presidente is a small family-friendly hotel offering a flat-screen TV in the rooms. Free internet is offered to guests as well as you can enjoy free breakfast, which has made this a popular choice among travelers visiting the town.

Amaru Hostal

It is situated 400 meters from Machu Picchu Hot Springs and 2.8 km from Huayna Picchu. The rooms are equipped with cable TV and a private bathroom. Hostal Amaru Backpackers provides free Wi-Fi. The reception is open 24 hours.


Here are a few Restaurants that receive good reviews from tourists that visit Aguas Calientes.

Indio Feliz

This is a Franco-Peruvian cuisine restaurant located east of the main square of Manco Capac. Its options combine French and Peruvian ingredients, with a funky atmosphere. Often said to be the perfect place to spend lunch or dinner close to Machu Picchu. (Lloque Yunpanqui Street, 103)

Tooto House

This restaurant has three advantages apart from the delicious food. The first one is the decoration, comfortable, cozy, and charming. The second is the location, which is very close to the train station. The last one is the spectacular views of the Vilcanota River (on the second-floor balcony).  Imperio de los Incas, Avenue 600.

Getting to Machu Picchu

After having a simply wonderful time at Aguas Calientes you will want to visit the ruins at Machu Picchu. There are 2 options on how to get up to the Inca Citadel from Aguas Calientes.


The Consettur bus is the only authorized bus to offer tourist transportation services to Machu Picchu, round trip. The buses are modern, with air conditioning systems and padded seats. The trip lasts 40 minutes and departs every 5 minutes. You can take the bus a few meters from the local train station. Return is from the entrance of Machu Picchu archaeological park. The bus price per person is $ 24.00, round trip.


There is a climbing path, in a zigzag, that connects the town with Machu Picchu archaeological park. You only have to follow down the railway toward the south and pass the “Ruins” bridge. Then, you have to turn right and begin the footpath. The footpath is well-signed, so you will not have any problem climbing up it on your own. The trek lasts 01-hour climbing up and another hour going down.

The village of Aguas Calientes is a delight and worth a day or 2 or your holiday time. Filled with great restaurants, world class hotels, spectacular views and a great vibe, don’t miss Aguas Calientes.