Hi, it’s me Marimonda. Continuing my previous post <Sacred Valley>, today I’d like to introduce you a probably one of the smallest but touristic town : Aguas Calientes.
There are many ways to visit Machu Picchu. Some might take a train from Cusco to Aguas Calientes and go to Machu Picchu for a day trip. Others go for trekking and walk up for 3-5 days till Machu Picchu. Actually, there are many travel agencies operating trekking packages. If you love hiking, I think it would be a good plan for you. Just google <Machu Picchu Hiking Tours>, you will see numerous options. Still others, come from the others, probably the most common way to visit Machu Picchu, go to Ollantaytambo and take a train to this town for about 1 h 50 mins. Then, take a bus to Machu Picchu.
There are two companies running Machu Picchu route : Perurail and Inca Rail. The prices are similar (When I compared random dates, sometimes Perurail was a bit cheaper and vice versa sometimes). Thus, I think it’s better to book any right after buying the ticket to Machu Picchu. High seasons are always hard to get tickets. I booked mine about two months prior to my trip.
Perurail offers three different classes: Hiram Bingham, Vistadome, and Expedition. Bingham is like the first class in flight. Welcoming drink is offered on the board, the entrance, a tour guide and a bus to Machu Picchu is included in the price. Thus, it looked like a dream package. You just take the train and everything will be ready for you. If you’d like to know more about the service, click here.
I booked Vistadome and the round trip cost me about $150. It includes live show in the train and some snacks (a quinoa pie and a drink). It offered a great view with less frame near the window. Thus, I could enjoy the scenery well. If you don’t like having snack or the show is not a necessary, Expedition is also a good deal. To be honest, I think if you’re considering of booking Vistadome for the round trip like me, I think you can book Vistadome for one-way and Expedition for the other way to save $10-15. The show was the same and the food was almost the same (I was served a piece of Quinoa pizza and it wasn’t pizza for me). Especially, on the way back to Ollantaytambo, almost everyone including me slept in the train. After walking around Machu Picchu, you might use up all your energy.
Both of the train companies are having promotions to attract customers these days. Though, bear in mind that Peru has extended its State of Emergency against the COVID-19 till the end of July. Nothing is sure yet when we will be able to travel back to Peru.
About 1 and 40 hour later, finally I arrived at Aguas Calientes. Like the name, this is not only a town to go to Machu Picchu, but a hot spring town. I don’t know why, maybe the hot spring(?), the town reminded me a Japanese animation <Spirited Away> by Hayao Miyazaki. If you’re curious the animation, it’s available on Netflix.
The first thing I did in town was buying a bus ticket to Machu Picchu. From this town to Machu Picchu, you can either take a bus or walk. Considering it was the beginning of my trip, I wouldn’t want to use all my energy for less important things. The ticket fare is pretty expensive, one-way $12(USD) and $24 for the round trip.
After buying the ticket, I went to my place to check-in. Then, came out to walk around the downtown. This small alley is full of restaurants, souvenirs shops and people from around the world. If you travel alone, it’s a good area to meet new people. The alley was quite narrow and crowded, but I felt safe even at night. The restaurants were in similar price ranges : $ 10 – 15, thus just pick one you’d like to eat. I wouldn’t try something new because having a stomachache could be the worst thing in Machu Picchu.
I hope you enjoyed the virtual trip to Aguas Calientes with me. Next post will be about <The Miracle of Inca, Machu Picchu>. Take care everyone and see you soon 🙂