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The Lares Trek vs The Salkantay Trek

Written by:
Claire Dean

Published: 07-07-2022


Most people who are looking to trek to Machu Picchu automatically think “Inca Trail”, The iconic pathway to Machu Picchu constructed by The Incas. The reality today is that spaces are limited and quite often there are no permits, however and permits can sell out as much as six months in advance. When the Inca Trail is sold out, many people opt for an alternative trek such as Salkantay or Lares as an alternative. But how do you choose between Salkantay and Lares?


Crossing a bridge on the Salkantay trek


Salkantay vs Lares: The difference?

The short answer is that both are excellent alternative treks to Machu Picchu. Many people wonder about the difference between these two treks and in reality, both treks are incredible, with different things to offer. Here is a run-down of these treks to help you make an informed decision about which is the best Andean hike for you.


Llama on The Lares Trek


Salkantay Basics


Hike to Machu Picchu: from Mollepata to Santa Teresa, close to Aguas Calientes
Geographically close to the Inca Trail
Highest point reached: 4600m
Very popular: the Salkantay trail and particularly the campsites, can get crowded
Highlights: incredible snow-capped peaks, alpine vistas, followed by a descent into Andean cloud forest
No Incan ruins on Salkantay
Optional hot springs in Aguas Calientes
Best trekked during dry season (April-October)


Camping on the Salkantay Trek

Lares Basics


The Lares trek finishes in the Sacred Valley, then you take a train to Machu Picchu
Situated in the highlands above the Sacred Valley
Highest point reached: 4400m
Off-the-beaten-path: There are fewer people hiking the Lares trek
Highlights: stunning glacial lakes, alpine vistas and the chance to immerse yourself in living Andean culture
No Incan ruins
Includes a stop at the Lares hot springs
Available all year round; is a great wet season trek


Mules on The Lares Trek


So….. which one is better?

It all depends on what you are looking for in a Peru trek. Both the Lares trek and the Salkantay trek are incredible Cusco hiking options. Both offer a high-elevation, physical challenge and stunning scenery. When you’re choosing between Lares vs Salkantay, it comes down a few key factors:
Time of year – if you’re planning to hike between November and March, Lares is the best alternative Peru trek
Solitude vs fun– the Lares trek offers time for reflection and connection to nature, with few other trekkers, whereas on Salkantay you’re likely to encounter many other trekkers.
Ancient vs Modern Peru experience – There are no Inca ruins on the Lares trek, but, unlike the Salkantay trail, you will get a glimpse into the traditional lifestyle of modern-day Andean culture.
When you’re choosing whether to hike Salkantay to Machu Picchu or the Lares route, you should evaluate what it is you’re really looking for in a hike. Either way, you will not be disappointed!


Rainbow on The Salkantay Trek


If you want to book a Salkantay or Lares trek with Valencia Travel? Contact us here to start planning your Peru trekking adventure!