Machu Picchu is on most peoples’ bucket list and over a whopping two million people a year travel to this iconic World Heritage Site. However, most people head straight up to the citadel itself and miss out on some of the other great things to do in the town of Aguas Calientes (also called Machu Picchu Pueblo), the departure point for any visit to Machu Picchu. Take a few extra hours to discover the top 5 things to do in Machu Picchu besides visiting Machu Picchu!
This little-visited gem is a thirty minute walk from the town of Aguas calientes and is one of the must-see attractions in Machu Picchu. Learn about the discovery and history of Machu Picchu and see interesting artefacts like the original edition of the 1913 National Geographic magazine that published and announced Hiram Bingham’s discovery of Machu Picchu to the world. There is also a nice botanical garden next to the museum with samples of local plants and trees. Our tip: Stop here before you visit the ruins themselves as you will have a much better understanding of the citadel after a visit to the museum. Read more about the museum and how to find it here
2. Cook up a storm with a cooking class at the Treehouse Restaurant
You might have guessed that we love great food, so we were delighted when we found out that you can actually learn to cook some Peruvian classic dishes right in the heart of Aguas Calientes at the Treehouse restaurant! Anyone for ceviche? Read on for more info about cooking classes…
There is something about this run-down butterfly farm that charms us every time we visit. Run by Machu Picchu local Leonardo and most definitely off the tourist track, the butterfly farm is a great place to bring the kids and show them the life-cycle of the butterfly and the importance of conserving the 8 species of butterfly found in Machu Picchu. Find out more about the Butterfly House here.
Hiking the Inca Trail not enough adventure for you? Take a 45 minute train ride or hike 2.5 hours to the nearby town of Santa Teresa and head straight for the Cola de Mono basecamp where you can indulge in some hair-rising ziplining across the gushing Sacsara river. Then head to the beautiful thermal baths in town to recover!
It’s rainy season in Machu Picchu and now is the perfect time to do some orchid spotting. Machu Picchu is famous for its orchids which bloom mainly between November and March and there’s no better place to see 400 orchid species than the slightly ramshackle orchid garden run by the Mendoza Mora family. Click here to find out how to get to the orchid garden.