The Lares Trek is one of many options leading to Machu Picchu. The trail, doesn't trek directly into Machu Picchu, and every Lares Trek includes transport to Ollantaytambo and from there you take a train to Aguas Calientes. Although you can do the trek in 5 days, most people choose to do it in 4 days. Of those 4 days, you are effectively only trekking for 3 days. The 4th day is spent in Machu Picchu, the Lost City of the Incas. In terms of the actual route itinerary, there are in fact a number of variations on the Lares Trek, most finish at Ollantaytambo. The Lares Trek isn’t just an alternative to an overbooked Classic Inca Trail. The Lares Trek has a lot to offer for people who are looking for a combination of nature, history, and local culture. Treks depart in Cusco and take you to the Lares Hot Springs. Before you actually get to tie your laces and get ready for the trek, you will relax your muscles in the thermal springs. After having enjoyed the warm water, you still want to take it easy and thus the first day you only trek for about two hours. From the village of Quiswarani, the Lares trek continues via the 4300-meter-high Condor Pass to the Canchachanca community. This is where the Lares Trek sets itself apart from other treks in the Cusco Region. Chances are you will be interacting with local Quechua people a lot. The last section to Huaran or Pumamarka is the icing on the cake on the trek as you prepare to witness Machu Picchu in all its glory.
The Lares Trek is one of the lesser-taken hikes in the Cusco region of Peru. Organized folks will painfully hand over their dollar for the Inca Trail far in advance while those looking for a comfortable ride will simply hop on the train to Machu Picchu.
The Lares Trek doesn’t include as many Inca ruins as some of the other treks in the region, but it more than compensates with a look at local life and breathtaking scenery. Before trekkers start the hike, there’s a day tour comprising some of the most famous Inca sites around the Sacred Valley, once home to the Inca Empire.
With only five hundred permits issued a day for the Inca Trail, forward planning is essential. The Lares Trek, on the other hand, is a relatively undiscovered trek. Nevertheless, many people compare the two; to be honest, I don't think it's a fair comparison. They both offer up incredible experiences, but with different focuses. If you want to escape into the wild, experience local living in Peru, and still challenge yourself on a hike, the Lares Trek may be more suited to you. And with the Lares Trek, there’s the option to take a train to Machu Picchu. Not only is this one of the most stunning rail journeys in the world, but it gives you the chance to enjoy a warm shower and get some shut-eye in a real bed before exploring Machu Picchu. The Inca Trail hikes directly into the Lost City of the Incas, so depending on how clean and comfortable you want to be for that big moment, the Lares Trek might be your best option.
On the 4 day Lares trek, you can count on just one hand how many other tourists were hiking the Lares trail. The remoteness added to the magical and spiritual vibe that you'll start to feel the second you arrive in Cusco. If you want to be humbled by nature, then the Andes will happily oblige.
Peru’s native Quechua residents are an important part of the country’s cultural fabric. On this hike, you can visit a local family and learn about weaving, how to dye alpaca wool and a number of different cultural traditions. For example, did you know a Quechua girl must skin a Guinea pig to prove she is ready for marriage? It’s also worth learning the local Quechua language before arriving to help you make the most of these encounters; not everyone will speak Spanish.
Sometimes it is easy to forget how incredible the night sky truly is. High in the Andean Mountains, the Lares Trek will treat you to some of the most impressive views of the Milky Way and constellations you'll ever see. Sit outside your tent with a warm coca-leaf tea and admire the night sky.
While this isn't the most challenging hike in the world, it’s no walk in the park. The altitude, especially on Day 2 when you reach an altitude of 4,800 meters. This is the Lares Trek’s highest point and the altitude can affect even the healthiest and most acclimatized of people. Day 2 is the toughest day of the hike, so take it at your own pace, but soldier on. Once you reach the top, the views are truly incredible. Trekking down through the Valley is a nice respite with fabulous views.
Altitude sickness is very much a real thing, so factor this in when planning for the Lares Trek. Even if you are taking altitude sickness-preventing pills (called Diamox) before you arrive or relying on acclimation to the altitude in Cusco, the coca leaf may be of use to you. Chewing on these leaves is the go-to in the Andes for both medicinal purposes and to ease the effects of altitude. If you aren't a fan of rolling these green leaves into a chewable ball, do take the tea when offered by the porters. Plus, if you stock up on a bag of leaves from a market, you’ll have the perfect gift and ice-breaker when you meet local people.
After completing the 36-kilometer hike, exploring the incredible site of Machu Picchu is the ultimate reward. The archaeological site is as impressive in real life as they are in all those Instagram photos you've spent years drooling over. While you may not have arrived on foot, the scenic train journey from Ollantaytambo to Aguas Calientes will leave you speechless before rising early the next morning to bus up to the main entrance.