7-Day Lares Trek to Machu Picchu

Peru

The Lares Trek is one of the most popular alternative treks to the classic Inca Trail. It doesn’t include as many Inca ruins as the Inca Trail, but it more than makes up for that by offering a fascinating hike through magical landscapes and a far more in-depth look at local life in the Andean region of Peru (a cultural element not found on the classic Inca Trail trek). It’s also slightly shorter – but higher – than the Inca Trail, and you’ll see far fewer trekkers along the route. Our four-day Lares Trek takes you deep into the heart of the Andes, to a remote landscape of towering mountains, shimmering mountain lakes and staggering views. You’ll also experience the living traditions of the local people as we pass through ancient villages of agricultural and alpaca farmlands, meeting friendly Quechua people who will be happy to share their culture with you. Try and book off season, there are fewer people in Cusco! This trek is also much greener and the valleys more stunning in January for example, after a few showers of rain! And then, of course, there’s our final destination: Machu Picchu. We’ll get there on Day 4 and you’ll have plenty of time to explore the magnificent Inca citadel, one of the seven new wonders of the world.

Itinerary

Day 1: Arrival to Cusco

Arrival to Cusco with a transfer to your hotel; a welcome meeting will be organized by your guide for a quick briefing of the tour. The rest of the day can be spent exploring Cusco, the ancient capital of the Inca Empire, set in the Andes Mountains. Discover Spanish churches and mansions that sit alongside Inca remains, visit the local market of San Pedro and their array of products from handicrafts to vegetable products, fresh juices and items for traditional Andean ceremonies. In the evening, enjoy the eclectic restaurant options available and try some traditional or fusion dishes. We recommend local restaurants that use local organic products from the region and will be happy to give you some recommendations.

Services Included:

Transport: Cusco Airport – Hotel (20 minutes).

Overnight: Jose Antonio Hotel. Accommodation in Standard Room with private bath

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After breakfast, enjoy a free day to explore Cusco at your ease. The capital city of the Inca Empire is now the undisputed archaeological capital of the Americas, as well as the continent’s oldest continuously inhabited city. You may visit the local archaeological sites of Saqsaywaman, Tambomachay and Qenqo or you can take part in a Peruvian cooking class or chocolate making class, depending on how you want to spend your free day. We can help arrange and suggest all activities available in this incredible imperial City.

Services Included:

Overnight: Jose Antonio Hotel. Accommodation in Standard Room with private bath.

Meals: Breakfast

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The first day begins early in the morning when we pick you up from your hotel in Cusco. We will then drive to Calca, a small town in the Sacred Valley. Here you’ll have your last chance to buy any last-minute supplies. Continuing on, we’ll drive for about three hours in the direction of Lares, passing the highest point for the day at 4,265 meters above sea level (13,992 ft), where the Sawasiray and Pitusiray mountains rise up. This is alpaca region and you will appreciate the rolling hills and farmlands of the native quechua people. We’ll then descend into the Lares Valley until we reach the small village of Lares.

In Lares we can make the most of the local hot springs, which are famous in the Cusco Region for their healing properties. These natural springs are said to be excellent for stomach and rheumatic diseases, conditions such as arthritis, as well as for treating fractures, muscular pains and more. We’ll have lunch in Lares and then get ready to start our hiking adventure. Our specialized chefs not only produce the most delicious food but also use locally sourced ingredients from the nearby villages so that we are directly contributing to the areas where we trek.

From Lares, we’ll head off on foot towards Huacawasi, a colorful little town of adobe houses and roaming llamas, located at about 3,600 m (11,811 ft) above sea level. It will take us about four or five hours to trek to Huacawasi, where we’ll have dinner and camp for the night. Huacawasi is a traditional weaving community, and you’ll be able to spend some time watching the local weavers at work, and maybe have a go yourself. This traditional practice is still used today and many of the authentic products in Cusco come from these native weaving communities, hidden in The Andes. Why not buy the products directly from the producers in these local villages? You will probably get a better price buying direct from the producer!

Hiking Time: 4 hours approx.

Hiking Distance: 10 Km / 6.21 miles

Lowest Point: 3,207 m / 10,521 ft

Highest Point: 4,265 m / 13,992 ft

Services Included:

Transport: Sacred Valley – Huacawasi (3.5 hours approx.).

Tour Guide: Spanish/English.

Entrance Fee: Lares Valley.

Horseman and mules: they carry cooking and camping equipment.

Overnight: Huacawasi Camp.

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner.

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We’ll start the day early in the morning with a hearty breakfast, to get our energy levels up for what is probably the toughest day of our trek. Setting off, it’s a steep uphill climb to a mountain pass at about 4,500 meters above sea level – the highest point reached on our Lares trek. The view from up here is sublime, looking out across the surrounding mountains and down to the beautiful Aruraycocha Lake below us. We’ll then head downhill towards the lake, stopping off to admire its clear glacial waters.

We’ll then pass through the Mantanay conservation area, where the natural environment changes. This region has forests of polylepis trees, known locally as queuñas, which provide an important refuge for many bird species, including some that are endangered. Mantanay is also dotted with lagoons, around which various hardy shrub and tree species grow. We’ll have lunch on the banks of one of these pretty lakes. If we’re lucky, we might even see a huge Andean condor as it swoops overhead.

After lunch we’ll continue our downhill trek until we reach the village Mantanay, our second campsite, at about 3,800 meters. This is another great opportunity to interact with the local villagers and see how they live their lives in this remote region. At Mantanay we will have a tasty dinner and bed down for the night.

Hiking Time: 7 hours approx.

Hiking Distance: 14 Km / 8.69 miles

Lowest Point: 3,800 m / 12,467 ft

Highest Point: 4,500 m / 14,763 ft

Services Included:

Tour Guide: Spanish/English.

Horseman and mules: they carry cooking and camping equipment.

Overnight: Mantanay Camp.

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner.

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Our final day of trekking will be a relatively easy walk of between four and five hours. We will leave Mantanay after breakfast and head towards the pretty colonial town of Yanahuara in the Sacred Valley, passing through more spectacular scenery where the Incas once roamed. The weather should be warmer as we descend towards Yanahuara, passing near fields of white corn, typical of this region. Once we reach Yanahuara, we’ll have our last meal together. At this point, our cooks and porters will leave you in the capable hands of your guide. This marks the end of our Lares trek.

From here, we will travel by minibus to the wonderful Inca archaeological site of Ollantaytambo, one of the most famous ruins in the Cusco Region. The sprawling mountainside complex was once the royal estate of the Inca emperor Pachacuti. After exploring these extensive ruins, we´ll take the train to Aguas Calientes, where we’ll have dinner in a local restaurant and spend the night in a hotel, not far from our final destination: the magnificent citadel of Machu Picchu.

Hiking Time: 4 hours approx.

Hiking Distance: 7 Km / 4.35 miles

Lowest Point: 2,950 m / 9,678 ft

Highest Point: 3,800 m / 12,467 ft

Services Included:

Transport: Yanahuara – Ollantaytambo.

Train Tickets: Ollantaytambo – Aguas Calientes.

Tour Guide: Spanish/English.

Overnight Hatun Inti Boutique. Accommodation in Suite Room with private bath.

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner.

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To best appreciated Machu Picchu, we’ll wake up early in the morning so we can get to the citadel in good time. You’ll have time for breakfast first, and then your guide will pick you up from the hotel at around 5:40 a.m. We’ll then walk to the bus departure point for the short but zigzagging ascent up the road to Machu Picchu.

We’ll then pass through the gates into the Machu Picchu archaeological site. Here you’ll begin your guided walking tour with our experienced and highly knowledgeable guide. Our tour of Machu Picchu will last about two hours, and will take you to all the most famous and most spectacular parts of the extensive archaeological complex. These include the House of the Guardian, the Intihuatana, the Temple of the Sun, the Sacred Plaza and other key locations. And as we walk around, we’ll have spectacular views of the agriculture terraces of Machu Picchu and across to the surrounding mountains and plunging gorges. After the guided tour you’ll have time to explore Machu Picchu as you please, perhaps walking to some less visited parts such as the Inca Bridge.

Once we’ve finished our tour of Machu Picchu, we’ll take the bus back down to Aguas Calientes where you can relax and have lunch (not included) before we board the train back to Poroy and Cusco. Upon arrival at the station, we’ll be waiting to take you back to your hotel in Cusco, where you’ll finish the stunningly authentic Lares trek to Machu Picchu.

Services Included:

Tour Guide: Spanish/English.

Bus Tickets Consetur: Aguas Caliente – Machu Picchu – Aguas Calientes (25 minutes approx.).

Entrance Fee: Machu Picchu City.

Train Tickets: Aguas Calientes – Ollantaytambo (2 hours approx.).

Private Transport: Ollantaytambo Train Station – Hotel in Cusco (2 hours approx.).

Overnight: Jose Antonio Hotel. Accommodation in Standard Room with private bath.

Meals: Breakfast.

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After breakfast enjoy your last day at leisure before transferring to the airport for your return flight home via Lima.

Services Included:

Transport: Hotel – Cusco Airport (20 minutes) - Assistant SPS/ENG.

Meals: Breakfast.

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