Aquas Calientes…More like Aquas Lukewarm
After trekking for 4 days without a hot shower, I couldn’t wait to get to the small town of Aguas Calientes. A two hour walk down from Machu Picchu, the town promised restaurants, flushing toilets and best of all, a hot spring to soothe our aching muscles and joints.
A bus that transfers people from Machu Picchu to Aguas Calientes was available for 8 soles, but obviously we hadn’t had enough of stairs yet, because we opted to walk down instead. The descent was interesting, with stairs carved onto the side of the mountain. We walked down several “flights” of stairs, crossing the winding road over and over again, until we reached the bottom. From there, it was a short trek uphill to Aguas Calientes and the most civilization we’d seen in 4 days.
Aguas Calientes really exists because of Machu Picchu. It’s the closest town to the ruins and as such, it consists of hotels and restaurants geared towards tourists and not much else.
Our first order of business was to find the hot springs and clean the grime from our bodies. After the nights of huddling in damp sleeping bags, trying to keep warm, the thought of sinking into the therapeutic waters of a hot spring was heaven. I could not wait.
Finding the springs was easy enough. A quick 10 minute walk and we were there. We paid the 10 soles entry fee, and I raced to the change room. I was more than ready for a shower. But alas, there are no showers in the changerooms at Aguas Calientes. 😦
No matter, dirty as we were, we would sink our bodies into the blissful heat of the springs. We shivered our way across to the pools, selected the emptiest one, and jumped in. I took a whiff, expecting the odor of sulphur, common to hot springs around the world. At least the ones I’ve been to. But no, this water had a distinctive urine smell. And come to think of it, it had a yellowish tinge. Hmm…on top of it all, there was nothing CALIENTES about this water at all. It was lukewarm at best.
At this point, the thought that I was possibly sitting in a pool of urine made it’s way into my head, and I had to get out of the pool as fast as humanly possible, never mind that it was freezing outside.
After some desperate exploration (because we had to get the pee off our bodies…duh), we found some taps in the middle of the pool area that actually spit out hot, clean water. I am not ashamed to admit that we hogged that water for quite some time.
At last, we were warm and clean.
After a quick bite to eat, it was time to catch our Peru Rail train back to Ollaytaytambo. From there, we would have to make a further 1 hour drive back to Cusco. By this time, the high of the trek had worn off, and exhaustion was definitely setting in. The thought of sleeping in a warm, dry bed that night was making me very happy indeed, and we practically ran to the train station, anxious to sit down, relax and be on our way back “home.”
Frustratingly, the train was two hours late! and Day 4 of the Trek was turning into the longest day in history.
We didn’t make it back to Cusco until midnight, a full 17 hours after we’d woken up that morning. Yikes!
Overall, our day in Lukewarm Agua was a major disappointment. I wouldn’t recommend that anyone go into that hot spring. It’s filthy, crowded and definitely doesn’t have any healing or rejuvenating properties…unless swimming in a pool of pee is healthy? Eww.
I have to say that the best thing about Aguas Calientes was this dog. Aww. 🙂