Aguas Calientes (also known as Machu Picchu pueblo) is the nearest town to the famous Incan ruins of Machu Picchu. It is set along the Urubamba River, more than 2 kilometres above sea level.
The town owes its name to its thermal springs, but these are still a secondary reason for visiting Aguas Calientes. The town's thriving tourist industry is entirely due to nearby Machu Picchu, which is Peru's best known attraction.
For travellers hiking to Machu Picchu on the Inca Trail, Aguas Calientes is the end point of the journey. After a strenuous multi-day hike, the thermal springs offer a great way to relax and bath.
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The Spanish never discovered Machu Picchu, so while they destroyed many other Inca sites, Machu Picchu remained untouched. It wasn't until the early 20th century that the first Westerner laid eyes on the ruins. Since then, the have gone on to become one of the most popular attractions in all of South America, even being named one of the New Seven Wonders of the World.
There are frequent buses from Aguas Calientes to Machu Picchu, which cost around US$6 (S./20). Alternatively, you can hike there in about 2 hours.
The thermal springs are believed to have curative powers. They are located 15 minutes outside of town and can be easily reached by walking up the main street. Entry costs US$3 (S./10).
Local handicraft and handmade products can be purchased at the market.
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There are daily trains from Cusco to Aguas Calientes (Machu Picchu):
Check the Peru Rail website to confirm the latest timetable and prices.
There is also a local train, but this is not available to tourists.
You can hike to Aguas Calientes along the Inca Trail, a multi-day hike along ancient Incan roads. There is a government-imposed cap on how many people can be on the trail on any day, so it is important to book well in advance, particularly if you are planning to do it in the high season between June and August.
Helicopter rides to Machu Picchu itself were discontinued in the 1970s due to the damage they did to the site, but Heli Cusco still does trips to Aguas Calientes.
There are frequent buses from Aguas Calientes to Machu Picchu, which cost around US$6 (S./20).
Aguas Calientes is quite small, so getting around on foot is no problem. You can also hike to Machu Picchu from the town, which takes about 2 hours.
Aguas Calientes is a tourist town with plenty of accommodation options.
|Hostal Pakarina||Avenida Pachacuteq 803||GUESTHOUSE||76|
|Hotel Boutique La Cabana Machupicchu||Av Pachacutec Mz - 20 Lt. 3 Machu Picchu||HOTEL||-|
More and more hotels, resorts, airports, cafes, and retailers are going Wi-Fi (wireless fidelity), becoming "hotspots" that offer free high-speed Wi-Fi access or charge a small fee for usage. In Peru, by far the easiest way to check your e-mail and surf the Web is to drop in at the Internet cabinas (booths) that can be found in virtually every city and even small towns. Connections are usually fast, and the service is as little as S/2 per hour.
Aside from formal cybercafes, most youth hostels and many hotels nowadays have at least one computer with Internet access.
See also International Telephone Calls
Peru's country code is +51. Emergency numbers include 105 (Police), 117 (Ambulance) and 116 (Fire).
In all towns and villages that are not too small, it is no problem to find public telephones for national and international calls. Many public phones can be expensive, and an attractive alternative is a Locutorio, or "call-center". Typical rates include .2 Nuevo Sol/minute for calls in the country, and .5 Nuevo Sol/minute for most international calls. Phone cards are cheap and easily available from shops or vendors who hang around pay phones. You'll often see people with a bundle of mobile phones who act as pay phones, they'll be shouting 'llamadas'. Telephone booths are primarily used for making local calls. Calling to other countries from Peru is expensive.
If you have an unlocked cell phone you can buy local SIM cards. Movistar and Claro are two of the phone companies in Peru. You can buy your sim card from these companies and buy a phone card also.
Your best, cheapest bet for making international calls from Peru is to head to any Internet cafe with an international calling option. These cafes have connections to Skype, Net2Phone, or some other VoIP service. International calls made this way can range anywhere from 5¢ to $1 per minute -- much cheaper than making direct international calls or using a phone card. If you have your own Skype or similar account, you just need to find an Internet cafe that provides a computer with a headset.
Check the Serpost website, the national postal service (a private company), for more information about prices and options regarding the sending of postcards, letters and parcels. The post service is relatively efficient and post offices can be found in most cities and (larger) towns. Post offices generally are open from 8:00am to 8:00pm Monday to Saturday and some are open on Sundays from 9:00am to 1:00pm. Postcards are available from street vendors and shops at any touristy area, and stamps are generally available as well, though sometimes only at the post office itself. It takes at least 10 days to send a postcard to North America and prices start at S/5.5. To Europe it is S/7.8 and it takes even a bit longer, around 2 weeks. For little extra money, you can choose 'expresso' services. For large parcels and quantities, you can use both Serpost or companies like DHL, UPS, TNT or FedEx, which are faster and offers the same prices, though it is still relatively expensive.
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