Machu Picchu Town is also known as Aguas Calientes. This is a very small town originally settled in 1901 by a few farmers and it was only accessible by foot. The railroad from Cusco to Machu Picchu was first built in the 1920’s. Nowadays, the railroad covers a total area of 110 kilometers. In order to visit Machu Picchu by train, it is necessary to stop at this town because it is the closest town to Machu Picchu and the train station is located here. The train station is located next to the marketplace and is less than a 5 minutes’ walk from the bus stop.
Machu Picchu Town is located at the base of the Machu Picchu and Putucusi mountains, and the Vilcanota and Santa Teresa Rivers pass next to town. Tourism is the main activity in town and the variety of hotels and restaurants range from luxury hotels and restaurants to backpacker lodges. Prices at this town can be double that of the prices in Cusco. If you would like to spend a night in town, please make sure you book in advance because decent and safe accommodation is limited. In town, you will find several internet cafes, minimarkets, handcraft stores, and restaurants. ATM’s are available in town at a few places.
Once you get to Machu Picchu Town, you might take a bus to reach the ruins of Machu Picchu or hike up to Machu Picchu (About 1 hour and 30 minutes will be needed for this hike on average.) The entrance fee to Machu Picchu and bus tickets should be purchased in Cusco as well as train tickets (during the high season, you should purchase your train tickets well in advance). For more information about the ruins of Machu Picchu visit MyPeruGuide.com.
If you have a day or more to spend here, you might hike up to Huayna Picchu or Machu Picchu Mountains. Both of them offer magnificent views of Machu Picchu as well as a lot of adventure. If you would like to hike Huayna Picchu, you will need to have an entrance ticket for Machu Picchu that includes Huayna Picchu for one of the two entrance times (only 200 people are allowed to sign up for each entrance time). If you would like to go for Machu Picchu Mountain, you will also need to get an entrance ticket to Machu Picchu that includes Machu Picchu Picchu. Both hikes include some climbing with deep cliffs. If you suffer from vertigo, please do not hike any of these treks (the Gate of the Sun would be better for you and several tour operators offer tours will take you there).
At Machu Picchu town, the Inkaterra hotel has a beautiful orchid garden which you should try to visit. The Museum of Machu Picchu is also a recommended place to visit and the hot springs of town are very popular for locals and tourists as well. There is also a butterfly farm where travelers will be able to observe 300 species of butterflies and the flora needed to keep them alive.
By Renato Romero - Founder of My Peru Guide LLC