Why hike the Lares trek
For travelers who seek an alternative trek in the Sacred Valley, the Lares trek is markedly an off-the-beaten path experience that offers the thrill of hiking through spectacular scenery and the excitement of visiting Machu Picchu, but without the crowds of the more popular Inca Trail. On a trek through the Lares Valley, you might see only a handful of other trekkers, but you’ll definitely encounter people who make their homes in this stark Andean landscape, as their ancestors have for centuries.
Nestled within Peru’s high altitude countryside, the Lares Valley has been continually inhabited since time immemorial. But the villages here remain remote, accessible only by ancient footpaths. You’ll see small villages of stone houses with thatched roofs and you’ll stumble upon herds of llamas and alpacas – their wool is the main income-generating activity for the region.
A definite highlight of this trek is the opportunity to interact with communities of Quechua-speaking Andean farmers. In the Lares Valley, men, women, and children still dress in brightly-colored ponchos. Some villages are renowned for the high quality of their weavings, said to be the finest in Peru, and produced using techniques that have been passed down from generation to generation.
This alternative Peru trek provides an authentic journey into ancient landscapes, encompassing original Inca routes and breathtaking scenery made all the more spectacular by their isolation. Start from magical Cusco, former seat of the Inca Empire, and set off on an incredible adventure that ends at New World Wonder Machu Picchu.
What to do on the Lares trek
The Lares Trek takes you deep into the cultural and geographic landscapes of Peru. You’ll climb over the high pass at Huacawasi which is located at 14,435 feet (4,400 meters) above sea level, so make sure you have spent some days at altitude before starting the trek.
Although there are various possible routes, a common starting point is at the Lares Hot Springs. These consist of several thermal pools maintained at different temperatures ranging between 82 and 113 degrees Fahrenheit (28-45 degrees Celsius). Locals and foreigners alike flock here, especially on the weekends. The springs are a wonderful introduction to the luxuries that nature has provided this mountainous region.
During the trek you will continue on through high altitude mountain landscapes and stark rocky terrain graced by countless lagoons that reflect brilliant azure skies. Here, mountain peaks and glacier-fed lakes are ancient spirits to be revered, and the shadow of a soaring condor is heralded as a blessing of your voyage.
A night’s stay in one of the tiny traditional villages such as Patacancha is a humbling highpoint for those who embark on the Lares Trek. You’ll come face-to-face with the local culture and way of life in an experience that is sure to mark your memory for a lifetime.
The Lares Trek ends in Ollantaytambo, where you can catch a train to Aguas Calientes, a great place to spend the night and rest before you carry on your adventure toward the nearby extraordinary archeological site of Machu Picchu.
When to hike the Lares trek
The trek can be done throughout the year, but the best time is from April to December, during the dry season. Unlike the Inca Trail, which must be booked months in advance, the Lares Trek is less well-known and there is more flexibility in scheduling.
The Lares trek was very nice. We liked every part of it. We had a very good guide, a good cook and a good tent (even after the hail storm).
Sarah and Bart (Oostende, Belgium)
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