Peru 2008: Day 2 - Journey from Lima to Agua Caliente via plane, bus, taxi, and train

Aguas Calientes Travel Blog

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Day two of our Peru adventure has proved to be as exhausting as day one. We woke up at 5am, had a quick and delicious breakfast (standard eggs, fruit, etc) at the Hotel Mariel and headed back to the Lima airport to catch our plane (Star Peru) to Cuzco. We had heard that Star Peru can be quite unreliable (hence their cheap prices) so we crossed our fingers and hoped all would go well. Turns out, we had nothing to worry about. The plane was on time and we made it to Cuzco as scheduled.

After gathering our bags, we headed out to catch a taxi to the local bus station. Having read the tips to getting a cheap taxi, we breezed past the "official" taxi services peddled inside and just outside the airport that wanted 10-20 US dollars to take us to the station and found more than 1 local independant drivers willing to take us for 4 soles (3 soles= 1 US dollar).
Success! Immediately in the cab I began to feel the effects of Cuzco's altitude (11,500 feet!). My heart was beating rapidly and I felt a bit woozy- similar to a hangover experience. A short time later we found ourselves at the local bus station where we paid another 5 soles each for the bus ride to Urubamba. We opted to mix in bus and taxi rides on our journey to Agua Caliente today both because it was cheaper than taking the train all the way from Cuzco and also because the train was sold out by the time I went to buy the tickets online 3 months ago.

The bus was in excellent mechanical condition but VERY crowded and the seats were very very small. It was quite an uncomfortable ride for both of us, but we counted it as part of our authentic adventure.
:) After about an hour and a half, the bus reached Urubamba and dropped us all off at the main station. We walked out the back of the station and caught a group taxi (basically a Volkswagon minibus) to Ollantaytambo- about a 40 minute drive. By now it was 2pm. We plunked ourselves down for our first authentic Peruvian cuisine at Panaka Grill (recommended by our Moon Travel Guidebook)- Alpaca steak. It was fantastic! The entire four course meal was only 27 soles ($9 US) per person and the portions were huge.

After lunch we walked down to the PeruRail station and traded our e-tickets for boarding passes and waited to board our Vistadome train destined for Agua Caliente. We pulled out of the Ollantaytambo station at 4pm and arrived into Agua Caliente a few hours later.
What a long long journey it was starting from the USA yesterday just to make it to Agua Caliente. Plane, bus, taxi, train!

Once we disembarked from the train here in Agua Caliente we made our way nervously to our hotel - Hanaqpacha Inn. We had been booked into this hotel by our trip consolidator ( but had read so-so reviews about the place on and other sites. Turns out there was nothing to be worried about. Our room was more than adequate, comfortable, and had a lovely view of the streets below.

Once we checked into the hotel we enjoyed a slow-paced self-guided tour of this small town before choosing one of the many pizzarias in town (the further up the main road Avenue Pachacuteo you go the cheaper the food) for dinner.
The prices printed on the menu were roughly double what the owner actually charged us and we found the food to be excellent.

After dinner we walked all the way up Avenue Pachacuteo (the road basically climbs a hill as it progresses) to the Hot Springs for which the town is named. Entry was about 10 soles per person, and they have towels for rent should you need one. There are multiple pools of the hot spring water and they're all pretty crowded with tourists from all over the world. We had a great time relaxing our tired muscles in the hot water and now we've found ourselves back at the hotel and ready to sleep! Tomorrow we visit Machu Picchu. Can't wait!

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View from the train en route to Ag…
View from the train en route to A…
Aguas Calientes
photo by: Vikram