A man wearing a Peruvian poncho leaning on the rails of a bridge at Aguas Calientes.

©Canela Rodal/EyeEm/Getty Images

Aguas Calientes

Also known as Machu Picchu Pueblo, this town lies in a deep gorge below the ruins. A virtual island, it’s cut off from all roads and enclosed by stone cliffs, towering cloud forest and two rushing rivers. Despite its gorgeous location, Aguas Calientes has the feel of a gold=rush town, with a large itinerant population, slack services that count on one-time customers and an architectural tradition of rebar and unfinished cement. With merchants pushing the hard sell, it’s hard not to feel overwhelmed. Your best bet is to go without expectations.

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