Peru: Aguas Calientes a.k.a. Machu Picchu town

September 20th, 2011

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The closest town to Machu Picchu was historically called Aguas Calientes, but apparently has recently taken on the name of of its main attraction to avoid confusion.
It reminded me a lot of a smaller Siem Reap: full of travelers and an entrenched tourist economy that offers a little too much of a variety, little of it particularly great. Still, it was interesting to explore. See a bit more about it after the jump.

The hot springs in #aguascalientes are actually just tepid. Still a nice way to relax after traveling. #Peru #travel
Besides the ruins, the main attraction of the town are the hot springs after which it used to be named. We took a dip in there and discovered an alternate reason for the name change: The waters were much more tepid than hot and by the afternoon, more than a little cloudy from all the soakers of the day. Not a terrible way to spend the afternoon, but half an hour was just about enough for us.
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Despite what you might gather from most guidebooks and travel magazines, every Peruvian isn’t dressed up in traditional Andean garb, but that doesn’t mean that the indigenous culture doesn’t exist.
That, of course, included a pan flute band or three. They weren’t everywhere, as one might fear, but they’re definitely there.
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The town is very small and nearly all the visitors are in town with plans to get up early to go to the ruins. That means there’s not much in the way of nightlife. So we were surprised to find a crowd of people in the main square on a Friday night. It was the night before we left and we had decided to take a walk after dinner.
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Literally moments after Tammi had said that Aguas Calientes was sort of a one horse town, we found hundreds of locals gathered… to play Bingo.

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