Aguas Calientes (now officially Machu Picchu Pueblo) is a small town at the bottom of the valley next to Machu Picchu, and the principal access point to the site. All visitors to Machu Picchu pass through Aguas Calientes, and unless you're on a daytrip from Cusco, some versions of the Inca Trail, or you plan to spend a fortune and stay at the sole lodge at the Machu Picchu site, you will have to spend at least one night here.
The town is perched on the bank of the Urubamba river. Across the river are sheer cliffs, and a creek flows down from the jungle into the river, bisecting the town. Several small bridges cross the creek. Virtually all of the streets are pedestrian-only walking streets, making it very easy to get around.
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