For those of you who like to get off the beaten track, the Lares Trail trek is the most scenic and cultural of all the Inca trails. The journey begins in the ancient Inca capital of Cuzco, and travels through small highland communities that have experienced little change over the centuries. We’ll witness firsthand the traditional lifestyles of the locals as we pass by artisans, weavers, and shepherds with their flocks of llamas and alpacas. With any luck, we’ll also see the impressive Andean condor soaring above. The grand finale is a visit to the legendary Machu Picchu, the “Lost City of the Incas.” This Peru trekking tour showcases the heart of Peruvian mountain culture.
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- Wander the cobblestone streets of charming Cuzco, the former capital of the Inca Empire
- Trek through the Peruvian mountains for four days on the remote Lares Trail with locals and llamas
- Explore the stunning ruins of legendary Machu Picchu overlooking the Urubamba River
Day 1: Arrival into Cuzco
Upon arrival into Cuzco, you’ll be met at the airport and transferred to a comfortable hotel in the city. The remainder of the day is at leisure to acclimate to this high altitude colonial city located at 3,350 m / 10,988 ft. The streets of Cuzco are filled with artisans selling sweaters, pottery, and a variety of other handicrafts. Overnight in a comfortable hotel.
Day 2: Cuzco – Sacsayhuaman (Horseback)
This morning is at leisure to wander through the cobblestone streets of Cuzco exploring the cathedral, museums or shopping for local handicrafts. Later this afternoon we depart by horse, riding to the nearby ruins of Kenko, Tambomachay, and Pucapucara. Our final destination is Sacsayhuaman, a spectacular, mountaintop fortress overlooking Cuzco. We return to the hotel late afternoon. Approximately 2 hours on horseback. (B)
Day 3: Lares Trail (Hike)
This morning we set off by vehicle bright and early towards Huaran (2,840 m / 9,317 ft), a small village in the Sacred Valley and the start of the trek. We’ll meet up with our pack llamas and begin our beautiful hike through the lush valley, following the gentle uphill route of the Cancha Cancha River. It will take us approximately 5 hours to reach the picturesque village of the same name where we’ll set up camp for the night (3,940 m / 12,925 ft). (B,L,D)
Day 4: Lares Trail (Hike)
After having a hot breakfast, we’ll leave the campsite and begin our steep ascent to Pachacutec Pass at 4,700 m /15,416 ft, the highest point of the trek. From the top of the pass there are spectacular views of the surrounding mountains, valleys and Pachacutec Lake. After the pass, we’ll continue our trek and descend into the next valley to reach Quiswarani village (3,900 m / 12,790 ft) where we’ll spend the night. Along the route, the scenery is dramatic with glacial lakes, waterfalls, and snow-peaked mountains. This area is also rich in birdlife and there is a possibility of seeing Andean ibis and geese. In the evening, we’ll enjoy traditional Peruvian food and spend time with the local children and women weavers. Overnight camping. Hiking 7-8hrs (B,L,D)
Day 5: Lares Trail (Hike)
We have another early start this morning! We’ll begin with a 3-hour ascent to reach Huillquijasa Pass (4,440 m / 14,560 ft), the second highest pass of the trek. The views are impressive and well worth the effort. We’ll then descend towards the village of Cuncani at 3,700 m / 12,140 ft, passing turquoise lakes along the way. This was the last refuge of the “Royal Panakas”, an Inca sect. Overnight camping. (B,L,D)
Day 6: Lares Trail – Aguas Calientes (Hike)
After breakfast, we’ll walk down a fertile valley, passing typical vegetation and high altitude crops such as beans and potatoes. Along the trail we’ll see native flowers such as begonias and wild orchids. After walking for around 3 hours we arrive into Lares at 3,230 m / 10.594 ft, capital of the district. Lares is a large village whose main attraction are hot springs. We’ll treat ourselves to a well-deserved soak. We’ll then transfer 3.5 hours by bus to the town of Ollanytaytambo to board the train to Aguas Calientes, the gateway to Machu Picchu. Overnight in a comfortable hotel. (B,L)
Day 7: Machu Picchu-Cuzco
We have a full day dedicated to exploring Machu Picchu. There is also the option to climb Huayna Picchu, a young peak adjacent to Machu Picchu. If you are keen to climb this, you will need to get up really early as only a certain number of people can climb Huayna Picchu a day. The hike is a challenging one, but the views are well worth the effort! Afterwards, our guide will give us a tour of Machu Picchu explaining the history and significance of the major sites. The tour takes about 2 hours after which you will have free time to explore the ruins on your own. In the afternoon, after lunch in Aguas Calientes, we’ll take the train through the Urubamba valley destined for Cuzco. We’ll be met at the train station and transferred back to our hotel. (B,L)
Day 8: Cuzco
After breakfast you’ll be transferred to the airport for your international flight home. (B)