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The 4-day Lares Trek

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Published: 05-05-2023

The Lares Trek to Machu Picchu is one of the alternative hiking routes to the famous Inca Trail to Machu Picchu. The Inca Trail usually books up at least six months in advance and only a certain amount of permits are available each day, therefore, the Lares is a great alternative for those who are less committed to a trek date. Hikers can experience hiking through Peruvian rural villages, camping at high altitudes, and a day at Machu Picchu with the Lares trail. The Lares trek and the Inca Trail are just two ways to get to this modern wonder of the world, and if your focus is more on Andean community life as well as a more remote and lesser-traveled route, then the 4-day Lares trek could be the perfect Peruvian trekking experience for you! 


Llamas On The Lares Trek


The Lares Experience

Didn’t book your Inca Trail permit in time? The Lares Trek to Machu Picchu does not disappoint in comparison. While the Inca Trail has ruins and the Salkantay Trek has nature, the Lares Trek to Machu Picchu exceeds in culture! This trek is open to all with no limitations on the number of people who may start per day, compared to the tightly regulated 500 people of the Inca Trail. The Lares Trek links the Quishuarani village in the Sacred Valley to the Queuñas Bush Valley. The final stop is the “Lost City of the Incas,” Machu Picchu. It passes through the Andean Village, Lares town. For those seeking an extended cultural experience, look no further than the Lares Trek to Machu Picchu.


Andean Vistas on The Lares Trek


The route consists of trekking through valleys, mountains, tropical forests, up and down hills, past lakes, waterfalls, and tiny Andean villages. The Lares Trek is appealing because it is a short multi-day hike (4 days/3 nights) with only two nights camping and the third night in an Aguas Calientes/Machu Picchu Pueblo hotel. Day two is the hardest, although this is not unique to the Lares trail, day two is tough on most Machu Picchu treks! The Incas built thousands of miles of Inca Trails through South America and the Camino Inca or Camino Inka is the one trail that terminates at Machu Picchu. The Lares Trek follows another of the Inca Trails through Peru.


Llamas on The Lares Trek


For most people, the ultimate goal is to see Machu Picchu, and actually does it really matter which route you use to get there? The Lares trek offers history, remoteness, NO Crowds - you generally don’t see any other trekkers on the Lares trek apart from your group), Quechuan culture, stunning mountainous scenery, and a slightly higher altitude that you get on the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu.


Mules on The Lares Trek

What to Expect

The first day begins early in the morning at approximately 6:00 am. We will drive through the town of Calca in the Sacred Valley and view their markets. We will then drive to the Lares community which is where the Lares Trek trailhead is located. Before hiking, we will have lunch and prepare our legs in the warm hot springs.  We will hike the trail through small communities in the region and make our way to the Huacawasi Community which is where we will spend our first night. The first day is approximately 5 hours of hiking. 


Huacawasi Pass

After breakfast, the second day commences with hiking approximately 3 hours uphill to the highest pass on the Lares Trek, Ipsaykassa at 4,440 meters. From there the trek will pass stone houses and small communities to Ipsaycocha Lake where we will have lunch. After lunch, we will hike approximately 2 hours to Patacancha passing farms and small villages for our second campsite. You can even try Cuy (Guinea Pig) with some of the locals this evening!


Child with his Dog at Patacancha Community


On the third day, we will hike to the Inca ruins called Pumamarca. After exploring the ruins, we will continue our hike for about 3 hours around the mountain to reach the Inca terraces. We will continue our descent until we reach the town of Yanahuara. Yanahuara is located in the Sacred Valley and you can see rolling fields of corn all around you as you drop in elevation. We will enjoy lunch in these magnificent natural surroundings before we say goodbye to our team of muleteers and head to the Inca town of Ollantaytambo. You will have time to explore the town and then later we will complete a short hike to the Inca Colcas, which were Inca storehouses. In the evening you will have dinner and then take the train to Aguas Calientes to stay overnight in a hotel and prepare for Machu Picchu tomorrow!




Day four is the final day of the Lares trek and the all-important visit to Machu Picchu! Today is Machu Picchu! You will wake up early and take the bus up to Machu Picchu. There will be a 2-hour guided tour of the ruins during which you’ll learn about the Incas and visit all the most important areas of the citadel, such as the Temple of the Sun, Temple of the Condor, the main plaza, the Inca Bridge and Intitawana. After your tour, you will have approximately 2 hours of free time to explore the site by yourself or climb either Huayna Picchu or Machu Picchu Mountain. In the afternoon, you will take the train back to Ollantaytambo, and then our private car will take you back to your hotel in Cusco.


Machu Picchu


Why is The Lares Trek Different?

Wake up early in the Lares Valley and the infectious giggles of school children walking the rural trails to school, in wide skirts, colorful capes, and intricate ponchos that waft over the mountain air. Later in the day, you’ll step aside to let the llama trains pass as they bring sacks of potatoes down the valley to market. Backed by mountain views, these glimpses into day-to-day life are a reminder that, unlike the classic Inca Trail, the Lares alternative is one that immerses you in living in Inca culture.


Life in Lares


The high-mountain altitude and rough terrain mean that hiking in the Lares Valley is a challenge in its own right, although you’ll be tackling fewer steps than on the classic Inca Trail. It’s also much, much quieter, and open all year round with no need to secure a trekking permit months in advance. And with many trekking specialists here supporting reforestation or community development projects, choosing to hike the Lares trails can make real, positive differences to local people, being much more of an insight into high Andean community and traditional culture. 


Andean Boy


On most Lares treks you’ll be camping on the outskirts of the small villages in the valley, famed for their traditional weaving, although both lodge-to-lodge and homestay options also exist. Consequently, you’ll spend much more time immersed in traditional rural culture than you would on any other Sacred Valley trek. Your expert guide will be on hand to help ease introductions with the mainly Quechua-speaking communities. Our trekking staff will set up your tent for you and provide simple yet hearty meals to keep you full of walking beans – even cakes, baked over a single kerosene stove high in the Andes, have made an appearance.


Lares Trek Campsite


Most trekking specialists will provide you with boiled water to refill drinking bottles as well, keeping your plastic waste to a minimum. Mules and donkeys will carry the majority of your trekking kit, leaving you to shoulder a day pack with essentials, such as waterproofs, a camera, sunscreen, and water. Usually, you’ll leave the majority of your holiday luggage safely stored in Cusco before you set off into the Sacred Valley.


Loads a´ Llamas


Find out here why The Lares Trek may be the best trekking option to Machu Picchu for you!