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Aguas Calientes Peru

Machu Picchu's Verdant Living Room

From Cusco (Cuzco) at 11,150 feet above sea level, visitors to Machu Picchu who arrive by train late in the day spend the night at picturesque Aguas Calientes Peru, 6,700 feet above sea level.

Travel to Aguas Calientes - This tourist town lies in a deep valley a thousand feet below Machu Picchu (7,874 feet elevation).

The surroundings are a complete change from Cusco, with green rainforest, birds, and animals.

With nearly two thousand daily visitors who travel to this famous area, the town of Aguas Calientes is almost entirely made up of hotels, inns, B&Bsrestaurants, shops, and the homes of those who work in tourism.

Travel to Aguas Calientes:
Since the main source of access to the town is the railroad, there are few motorized vehicles in town, giving a uniquely different feel to the atmosphere.

Two main corridors of traffic lead through town. First is the supply of commerce along the railroad tracks; second, the consumer row, a broad walkway which wends its way upwards between rows of picturesque restaurants, shops, and lodging of every description.

The general feeling of the town is of a street fair, and the side walkways provide many colorful scenes of local crafts and vendors.

Since the town is tourist oriented, you can generally find your way around and easily get information on the buses up to Machu Picchu and train schedules, etc.

What to See on Your Travel to Calientes Peru

A side trip we would recommend is a hike down the railroad tracks about a mile to the turnaround. You will find few people and beautiful tropical scenery.

When we took the hike in 2005, there was one local family there that had some short hikes or walks that you could take free of charge and an area of local and exotic tropical plants that was open to anyone.

There is a small restaurant if you get there in time for them to prepare a meal from scratch.

Aguas Calientes Peru near Machu Picchu

Travel to Aguas Calientes Peru

At this point, the Urubamba River, a headwater of the mighty Amazon, is a fast-flowing river that grows from a stream at the beginning of the course that the train follows on your travel to Aguas Calientes Peru, where it becomes a small river (called the Vilcanota in this area). Later, it actually flows into a huge river and then becomes the Amazon far downstream).

As you walk along the tracks below the town, the clear blue waters of the Vilcanota River provide a backdrop for the surrounding tropical splendor where you may be able to see several varieties of parrots as well many other birds.

Looking down towards Aguas Calientes from Machu Picchu, Peru

Looking Down from Machu Picchu toward Aguas Calientes

There are two different sets of trains you might take to travel to Aguas Calientes, one for tourists and one for local traffic. You might opt to take the local train for more ambiance and cheaper prices.

History of Aguas Calientes Peru

Also known as Machu Picchu Pueblo, Aguas Calientes was initially a work camp during the construction of the railroad from Cusco a decade after the "discovery" of Machu Picchu ruins in the early 1900s.

However, it was not until the 1970s and 80s that growth really increased due to the regularity of train service and the increasing popularity of Machu Picchu as a one of the wonders of the modern world.

For a time during those years, terrorism put a damper on travel to Aguas Calientes and the tourist business in general in Peru, but in recent years growth of tourism to the area has been almost too fast to handle and resources are somewhat strained at times.


The nearest report comes from Cusco Weather. When you are getting ready to travel to Aguas Calientes, keep in mind that it is 4,500 feet below Cusco and can be considerably warmer. Dress accordingly.

Have you traveled to Aguas Calientes Peru? What did you think? Share it, click here!

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