Lares Trek 4D/3N
Even though the final destination of this trek is also Machu Picchu it differs from the Inca Trail. This route leads you through stunning landscapes and indigenous villages of the Cordillera, where the local people still lead the same lifestyle as in the Inka times. You will pass through the rich grasslands, which are located in the medium of the higher altitudes of the Urubamba Cordillera. Also you will pass snow-capped mountains and warm valleys. Along the route you can enjoy scenic lagoons, natural hot spring baths as well as archaeological sites of the Incas. You will get to know places away from the influences of the modern world where you can appreciate the ancestral ways of life.
Day 1: Cusco – Lares Hot Springs – Quiswarani Waterfall Campsite
Very early in the morning you will be picked up from your hotel. With a private bus it is a beautiful 3 hour drive from Cusco, through the Sacred Valley to Lares Hot Springs. Arriving there you will have breakfast.
Then you will be able to enjoy the different pools of water of different temperatures. The water is pure volcanic water and should be good for the bones, muscles and nice to relax and relief stress.
After having enjoyed the hot springs you will continue by bus for a short drive to Punta Carretera (3300m). Here you will meet the team of horsemen and horses and you will start the Lares Trek with destination Machu Picchu! First you will hike through a valley where local farmers grow organic potatoes. Your guide will also point out indigenous, medicinal plants growing along the way. After 2 hours you reach the village Quiswarani where you will have lunch.
After lunch, the horsemen (llameros) will do a ceremony with lamas. These friendly and strong animals were very important in Inca culture. Owning one was a privilege. You can also explore the village and learn about the local people´s lifestyle. Maybe there is time to visit the local school where children speak Quechua, the native language.
Then you continue for a 2 hour hike to the campsite where you will overnight. You will have a nice dinner and at night there is the opportunity to do star gazing at the beautiful clear sky.
Distance: 6.2 miles/10 km (4 hours)
Altitude campsite: 3850 m.a.s.l.
Day 2: Quiswarani – Condor Pass – Cancha Cancha Village
Today you wake up very early, and after breakfast we start hiking again. It will be a challenging climb of 3 to 4 hours to the highest point of the trek: Condor Pass, also called Pachacute (4680m). During this beautiful ascend you will enjoy stunning views of the area with lakes, waterfalls, lamas and alpacas. At the top you will be rewarded with hot drinks and there is time to take photos of the breathtaking views, like Mountain Pitusinay (5700m).
Then you will descend 1 hour to reach the lunch spot. After lunch it is another 3 hour downhill to reach your next campsite at the village Cancha Cancha (3750m). This village has no modern technology, no electricity and no cars. The big majority of houses are of original, ancient construction, made of stone walls and grass-thatched roofs. In this village you can meet the children and if you want, provide them with school supplies that you brought. With your guide you will visit one of the local families in their house and learn about their lifestyle.
At night you will have dinner after this exciting day.
Distance: 8 miles/14 km (8 hours)
Altitude campsite: 3600 m.a.s.l.
Day 3: Cancha Cancha – Huaran – Salt panes – Ollantaytambo – Aguas Calientes
After breakfast you will hike the last part of the Lares Trek. It will be a nice descend of 4 hours. On the way you will pass farms where they cultivate potatoes, fava beans and other traditional tubers. Most farming is still done in traditional Incan style; by hand and with Inca farming tools.
When we enter to the village of Huaran in the Sacred Valley, it is time to say goodbye to the team of porters, horsemen and the chef.
By van you will go to the Salt Flats. At this place there is a salt water spring in the mountain that feeds over 3000 small salt terraces. These small evaporation chambers look as if they are tumbling down the mountainside. These have been in use since pre-Incan times. The salt is said to have healing properties because it is loaded with natural minerals.
After this you will go by van to Ollantaytambo, the only living, intact Inca village. It still has many Inca water channels, houses and walls. Here you will have dinner in a local restaurant with your guide. After dinner you will take the train to Aguas Calientes where you will check-in to your hotel to overnight.
Walking distance: 6.2 miles/9 km (5 hours)
Altitude hotel Aguas Calientes: 2.000 meters
Day 4: Machu Picchu – Ollantaytambo – Cusco
Today, one more time, you get up early to beat the crowds and reach the site before most other tourists. You will go by bus up to Machu Picchu and have a guided tour of 2 hours on this magical place, considered as one of the seven modern world wonders! You will see temples, terraces, palaces, priest’s houses, the sundial, the industrial sector, and the farming fields. It is still partially a mystery how the Inca´s built this city without any modern tools: True engineering ingenuity.
After this guided tour you could visit Huayna Picchu or Machu Picchu Mountain. These options need to be booked in advance and are not included in the basic price. Both mountains take around three hours to hike up and down.
Another option which is for free is to hike to the Sun Gate (Inti Punku), which is the main entrance to Machu Picchu. From here you have a spectacular view on the mountains and Machu Picchu in all its glory. This hike takes around 2.5 hours.
A fourth option is to walk to the Incan Bridge.
Then you will descend by bus to Aguas Calientes where later in the afternoon you will take the train back from Aguas Calientes to Ollantaytambo where you will continue by bus going back to Cusco to your hotel.