The small town of Aguas Calientes sits in the middle of the mountains and the rain forest in southern Peru which surprisingly, you may be generally familiar with. It’s one of the most beautiful stops in Latin America.
The town is the seat of the Machupicchu District and is just under four miles away from the historical site of Machu Picchu, the famous citadel of the Incan Empire some 600 years ago.
Today, the town has become a hot tourist location where people come from all over the world to visit the lost city.
It is practically unreachable by car and requires either hiking or taking a train to get to the city. But there is so much more to do in Aguas Calientes than just visiting Machu Picchu. During your visit there are some other amazing sites to discover and explore.
The Mariposario (Butterfly Farm) was designed to breed endangered butterflies and give inquisitive visitors a glimpse into their life cycle. This is a private project that has been in operation for about 12 years and is only supported by donations from visitors. It is absolutely gorgeous and very well kept, and offers visitors a lovely walk through nature. The cost of entry is 10 soles and is just a short walk from Aguas Calientes.
The hot springs is the place to go to get away from the congestion of the city and to relax in the middle of some beautiful scenery. As you walk to the springs, you make your way through a lovely gate as you follow a rushing stream that flows toward the town. It is surrounded by lush, green mountains, and you will have the opportunity to see some of the carvings which were made by the Incas so very long ago.
There are several pools and they are not all hot. In fact, the first pool is cold and is supposed to be good for sore muscles. However, the farther away you get from the main building, the warmer to pools get.
If you’re more on the adventurous side, you may want to consider climbing Putucusi Mountain. This may not be the thing for you if you are not an experienced climber or hiker because this is not a path or everyone and can potentially be very dangerous.
There once were some tall ladders that were absolutely terrifying that climbers would use to reach the summit. A total of 7 ladders reaching a height of nearly 100 feet and a 70-degree angle made the trek something that is not for the faint of heart. Those ladders were removed in 2016 and have not yet been replaced. You definitely would never catch me doing something like that.
Manuel Chavez Ballon Museum
This is probably hands down the best thing that you could do during your visit to Aguas Calientes.
The Manuel Chavez Ballon Museum is also known as the Machu Picchu Museum and is named after the archaeologist bearing its name-sake.
The museum is filled with hundreds of artifacts that were discovered as part of an archaeological dig that contains remnants of the Inca City of Machu Picchu. You’ll find well-preserved objects made from stone, metal, ceramic, and bone on this self-guided tour which should take you anywhere from 1-3 hours to complete.
Make sure that you stop by the botanical garden that is adjacent to the museum during your visit. This lush garden contains over 400 species of plants, some of which you won’t find anywhere else.
If you’re looking for a recommendation of somewhere to stay on your trip, I would recommend the Casa Andina, a modern hotel right near the Aguas Calientes train station, making it convenient to travel to local markets, restaurants, and practically everything else you’d want to see during your stay. Take a look at the top hotel rooms on Expedia.