The Lares trek is a 4 day hike in the Cusco Region beginning near the village of Lares, approximately 40 miles north of Cusco and 35 miles east of Machu Picchu. The Lares Valley lies in the eastern part of the Urubamba mountain range, and traverses the Sacred Valley.
Many traditional weavers and farmers famous for their handmade textiles call the Lares Valley home. The indigenous people of this area speak Quechua and Spanish, and the weavers will often give you a chance to try weaving something for yourself. Lares is one of the main alternative hikes to the Inca city of Machu Picchu.
The Lares trek is also a slightly easier route the Inca Trail, although there are still 3 high passes involved, the highest one being 4,600 meters above sea level. There are a number of factors that make this trek a great alternative to the classic Inca Trail - perhaps most importantly for some is that it is a much more quiet option.
DAY ONE: Cusco – Quiswarani - Yanacocha
We start our adventure in Cusco, where we board our private bus between 5:30 and 6:00 AM. The drive takes us through the Sacred Valley, Pisac, and Calca, where we will stop to buy some snacks and have breakfast. We then continue to Quiswarani – Lares (3,700 MASL/b 12,150 ft) which is the beginning point of our trek on foot. Along the trail, we will pass through small Andean communities, witnessing spectacular scenery, herds of llamas and alpacas, and people in colorful traditional dress. We climb to the first and highest pass of the day - Hualcacasa (4400 MASL) and some three hours into our hike, the lagoon named Queuña Cocha, Mount Sawasiray (5400 MASL), and Colque Cruz (5600 MASL) will all become visible. Once we get to the pass, we will have a view of the snow-capped Mount Veronica (5700 MASL) considered by the locals to be a sacred mountain protector spirit or “Apu” in the Quechua language. Our descent is gradual towards our lunch spot beside 7 lagunas. After eating, we stroll through the community of Cuncani then gradually ascend for two hours to reach the second pass, Qolqechaca (4700 MASL). After 45 minutes' decent from the pass, we arrive at our base camp at Yanacocha to end the day.
DAY TWO: Yanacocha – Wakawasi – Mantanay
Wake up call is at 5:30 AM, when we pack our personal belongings and then have breakfast. Afterwards the day begins with a visit to the homes of local families to discover their traditions and their way of life - for example, the preservation of potatoes through freeze-drying, llama and alpaca shepherding, and the stone construction of buildings. We then proceed to our lunch spot at Chaqchapata. After lunch, we ascend to the highest point of the trek, the pass of Aurorayccasa (4600 MASL) and observe the lagoon Auroray Cocha. This lake supplies water for local families and their farms. Descending through the Queuñas valley, we admire the colorful scenery which changes with the climate and includes corn crops, until we arrive at our base camp of Mantanay (3900 MASL) to rest for the evening.
DAY THREE: Mantanay – Yanahuara – Ollantaytambo – Aguas Calientes
We wake at 6:00 AM, eat breakfast and set out walking around 8:00 AM with a much easier day ahead of us as we will descend to lower altitudes and enjoy amazing views over Moray, Maras town, and the Salineras (salt mine). We follow the local trails for five hours until we reach Yanahuara, where we enjoy the last lunch of the trek and bid farewell to our staff, cook, and horseman, then board our private bus for the 30 minute ride to Ollantaytambo, where we catch the train to Aguas Calientes (Machupicchu Town) to spend the night in a hostel.
DAY FOUR: Machu Picchu – Cusco
A guided tour will be provided which takes about two and a half hours, after this you are free to explore Machu Picchu by yourselves. You can also climb the mountains of Wayna Picchu or Montaña Machu Picchu. Afterwards, you will need to return to Aguas Calientes by bus or on foot to retrieve your personal belongings from the hostel. You will then take the train back to Ollantaytambo, where our driver awaits to bring you back to Cusco. This will be the conclusion of our trek, and as always, we hope that we were able to share many memorable experiences with you.