Aguas Calientes – also called Machu Picchu Pueblo - is the gateway to Machu Picchu. It is a nice small town, 400 meters below the Machu Picchu ruins itself. All the trains arrive here; therefore, it’s an unavoidable stop-off point for all travellers and visitors to Machu Picchu.
If you go for a two-day Machu Picchu tour (necessary if you want to see the sunrise at Machu Picchu), there are plenty of hostels and hotels in Aguas Calientes as well as restaurants and cafes for all budgets. The prices here are higher than in Cusco, but if you need to fill a few hours the town has a nice atmosphere. There are several small markets to buy souvenirs.
The name “Aguas Calientes” (hot waters) is derived from the hot springs that are located just outside of the village. To get there, first follow the river and then you will see the path that leads you to the hot springs after about 20 minutes walk. The hot springs come from a natural source of volcanic origin. The water emerges from underground channels and springs up on rocks at high temperatures. The brown/yellowish colour is given to the water by the sulfur.
In total there are five small swimming pools. The opening hours are from Monday to Sunday from 5 am to 8 pm. Bring a bathing suit, towel, sandals. Foreign tourists pay approx. USD 6 to enter the hot springs (locals pay less). If you have sore muscles from hiking the Inca Trail or need to relax after climbing around Machu Picchu, we recommend a relax in the hot springs.
From Aguas Calientes, you have two options to go to Machu Picchu: you either go walking, or you take the pendle bus.
If you want to hike towards Machu Picchu from Aguas Calientes, we recommend you start around 4:00 am. Take a headlight or flashlight with you. It will take you more or less an hour and a half to reach the entrance of Machu Picchu. Consider taking up your own drinks and food, because at Machu Picchu everything is very expensive. However, you cannot take it into the ruins, but leave part of your belongings in lockers at the entrance of Machu Picchu, for only 5 Soles.
If you don’t want to walk up to Machu Picchu, you can take the shuttle bus. A roundtrip ticket costs $ 25 (12.5 US$ one way). The ride up takes about 25 minutes up a windy road. The first bus leaves Aguas Calientes around 5:30 am. Be early if you want to have a chance to take that bus; there will be a long line of people waiting to go up.
The buses leave Aguas Calientes every ten minutes (or when full) and drop you at the gate of Machu Picchu. Tickets for the bus can be bought in Aguas Calientes at the bus stop the day before or on the day of your visit. The last bus from Machu Picchu to Aguas Calientes departs at 6.00 pm.