The makeshift feel of Santa Teresa persists thanks to its repeated flooding. A landslide in February 2015 washed out the only bridge into town. Before that, there was flood damage in 2010, 1998 and a decade before. Thus vulnerable to the elements, Santa Teresa struggles to position itself in tourism, despite being a back-door gateway to Machu Picchu. So far, the only takers are mostly backpackers seeking a cheaper access point to Machu Picchu.
In the tiny center, most buildings are prefabricated emergency-relief shells and, strangely, the most permanent construction is the puzzling Plaza de Armas statue. The real attractions are a few kilometers outside town – the Cocalmayo hot springs and the Cola de Mono zipline are both worth the time and effort required to get to them.