Lares Trek is an alternative to the famous Inca Trail to Machu Picchu, where trekkers can enjoy magnificent mountain scenery and the legacy of the Machu Picchu region. With remote settlements and striking landscapes, the Lares Valley is a relatively untouched area offering quieter surroundings and a wealth of natural splendor to delight a trekker’s soul. It is the most popular and exciting trek in Peru that starts form Cusco through Wacasawi, Sondor, Marcacocha, Aguas Calientas, Machu Picchu and then back to Cusco with variations in itineraries. This is a high-altitude hike, which normally takes about two to three days through the gorgeous Peruvian Andean mountain areas. This classic trekking starts near the village in Lares almost 40 miles north of Cusco and approximately 35 miles east of Machu Picchu. Exploring this secluded region is truly refreshing and intriguing.
The Lares Trek is the shortest of all the alternative treks to the Inca Trail, but it takes trekkers through some particularly attractive landscapes. Those undertaking this trek can expect to see waterfalls and mountain lakes as well as varied wildlife, including viscachas, Andean fox and different species of Andean birds. Lares Trek is suitable for adventure lovers who want to escape to a secluded area of Peru that has not faced many changes over the last 500 years. One particular highlight is passing several local villages that allowes trekkers to interact with people who inhabit the area – and even try their hand at traditional weaving.
- It takes you into the stunning Lares Valley of the Peruvian Andes, tranquil mountain lakes, majestic green valleys and high passes.
- Trekking through the traditional Andean settlements with thatched-roof stone houses surrounded by sheep, llamas, alpacas and exotic flora. Also, interacting with Andean farmers dressed in traditional attires.
- Less crowded than the classic Inca Trail
- Great trek option for those short on time
- Easy to combine with visit to Machu Picchu on the final Day
- Risk of altitude sickness due to high altitudes
- Temperatures can plummet during nighttime
|Trek Duration:||3 – 5 days. Trekkers need to cover 33 km to complete the Lares Trek. Approximate hike hours may vary based on the campsites that you choose.|
|Maximum Altitude:||4,758 m while crossing the Pachacutec Pass and 4,200 m while crossing Abra Huillquijasa Pass|
May to September. This is the dry season with clear skies, and temperatures between 15° C and 21° C
|Accessible During Winter (Dec – Jan):||Yes|
|Start / End Locations:||Cusco / Aguas Calientes|
|Physical Fitness Required:||Good|
- Day 1: Cusco (3399 m) - Huaran (3068 m) - Cancha Cancha (4781 m)
From Cusco, you will leave for Huaran, a small village in the Sacred Valley. The hiking expedition starts from here to reach the Cancha Cancha, a beautiful Andean village located in the Sacred Valley after 4 hours of walking. Camps will be set up after passing the village in an area surrounded by alluring peaks.
- Day 2: Cancha Cancha - Pachacutec Pass (4758 m) - Quiswarani (3700 m)
Start hiking to the Upper Cancha Cancha village and an area with two charming glacial lakes namely, Suirococha and Yuraccocha. Here you will be able to watch several rare bird species including Andean geese and Andean Ibis. From there, you will reach the first pass, Pachacutec. Enjoy the string of nine gushing waterfalls on the way to Quiswarani or Quishuarani, where you will camp for the night.
- Day 3: Quiswarani - Concani (3750 m) - Lares town (3100 m)
Move towards a small valley in the early morning from Quiswarani to reach a lake and from there go for a zig-zag climb through a narrow trail to Abra Huillquijasa (4200 m), which is the second pass. It takes almost 3 hours from Quisuarani village to reach this area. Another hour of trekking, and you will reach the Concani village. Then descend for nearly 3 hours to the town of Lares and enjoy a bath in the hot springs in this area. Camp here at night.
- Day 4: Lares town - Cusco
Take one more plunge in the enchanting Lares Hot Springs and then, visit the Meadery in Lares. You can pay a visit at the Ancasmarca ruins on the way to Calca. If you are on a short trekking trip, you can return to Cusco directly from here.
For people looking for a longer trekking experience, on day 4 you can travel to Calca and from there reach Ollantaytambo and catch a train to Aguas Calientes, where you will stay for the night. On day 5, head towards Machu Picchu by foot or bus in the morning. It is also exciting to climb the Huayna Picchu where you can visit the famous Temple of the Moon.
- Give yourself at least 2 days to acclimatize in Cusco.
- Trekkers need to sleep at 3,600 m for 1 - 2 nights. Although the temperature is really cool throughout the year, it can drop to 0° C at night during winters. Therefore, sleeping bags and thermal wear are must. Carry a waterproof jacket even if you are visiting during the dry season. Read more about the trekking equipment needed for the Lares trek.
- There are only 2 entry times to climb the Huayna Picchu with a limit of 400 entries. If you plan the Lares trek during high season, you may not get the entry to climb. In that case, you can consider other options like Inti Punku, Inca Bridge and Machu Picchu Mountain. After exploring Macchu Picchu, walk back to Aguas Calientes to enjoy its natural charm. If you take the backpacker train in the afternoon, you will reach Cusco in about 4 hours.
Altitude sickness usually kicks in above 3,000 m and the highest point of Lares Trek is 4,550 m where it can be a common problem faced because of the high altitude. Trekkers may face health issues such as loss of appetite, headache and sleep issues due to altitude sickness. Therefore, allow enough time for acclimatization for a safe trek in this region, drink plenty of water and take Diamox tablets if you need to. Read more about altitude sickness and how to prevent it.
Lares Trek is a wonderful trekking route that offers invigorating and electrifying trekking experience. This trek will give you just the right combination of culture, tradition, history and picturesque mountain landscape. For the more adventurous, you can even go for the more secluded Salkantay Trek or the challenging Choquequirao Trek – these three trekking routes make some of the best treks in Peru.