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Wonderful Lares Trek

13 BEST reasons to hike the Lares Trek

Written by: Incatrailhikeperu August 27, 2022
  • Immersion into the Andean culture
  • The Lares Trek and the Inca Trail are not comparable
  • You can still hike the Inca trail
  • Remoteness of the trek
  • Pick up a few skills from the local’s untainted culture.
  • The full of stars night skies
  • Enjoy the natural Hot Springs
  • Glacial peaks and lakes with unique birds and other species
  • Pack mules and horses
  • Great camping gear
  • Open in February
  • Explore Machu Picchu Inca city
  • Support the locals and practice responsible tourism

13 BEST Reasons to Hike the Lares Trek

Immersion into the Andean Culture

The remote Andean communities on the mountain sides of the Lares valley have been isolated for thousands of years. This is why their customs language and general way of life has gone relatively unchanged for all this time. They still speak the native language of the Incas, Quechua. In these villages the women hand weave vibrant multi colored clothing while the men are tasked with herding the alpacas and the llamas in the vast mountain landscape. During this hike you will have the privilege of interacting with these peoples. These people have a lot of wisdom and are willing to share what they know take this opportunity to learn customs and traditions that have survived the passage of time.

The Lares Trek and the Inca Trail Trek are incomparable

The Lares trek and the Inca trail are very different experiences. They both have a lot to offer and they both have their faults. In a nutshell, the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu takes you on the same path the Incan pilgrims walked on their journey to Machu Picchu. The Inca Trail will take you through various different Incan ruins and is a great way to better understand the history of the Incan Empire. The Lares trek on the other hand has no ruins but, instead has authentic Andean villages and beautiful landscapes. Essentially, on the Inca Trail you are looking into the past at an empire long gone, whereas on the Lares trek you will be seeing that history living, breathing, and flourishing.

You can still hike the Inca trail

There is a chance that you can hike the last section of the Inca trail which is arguably the best part. Some Lares packages offer the Short Inca Trail to Machu Picchu. On the Lares trek you will be visiting various different places including, Cusco, Huarani, Cancha Cancha, Quiwarani, Cuncani, Lares Hot Springs, and Ollantaytambo. If you want to hike the Short Inca Trail you will have to start at KM 104. With this option you can have you cake and eat it too!

The remoteness of the trek

Lares: Hiking trails leading to Machu Picchu

Arguably the best part of the Lares Trek is how remote it is. You will be in places that most travelers have never even heard of. Because of this most of the time it’s just you and your party on the trail. You may have to share the trail with the friendly alpacas and llamas that call this place home or the occasional shepherd.

Pick-up a few skills from the local’s culture

14 BEST reasons to hike the Lares Trek

The locals in the area are extremely kind and are willing to show and teach you, their customs. Take this chance to learn some Quechua, the vast majority of the people only speak Quechua ask your guide for help and they will share with you what they know. The Andean people are also master weavers and have vibrant clothing of all shapes and sizes. Ask to learn this ancient technique maybe you’ll get good enough to set up your own shop in Cusco!

Star filled night skies

14 BEST reasons to hike the Lares Trek

Stunning is the best way to describe the night sky on the Lares trek. Deep in the Andes there is no light pollution or normal pollution for that matter. Every night you’ll be blessed with a star filled night sky. Ask your guide about the Incan constellations which have helped guide the Andean agricultural practices for thousands of years. Take in the silence and tranquility of the pure unadulterated nature.

Hot Springs

The Lares Hot springs are situated in the Lares valley surrounded by two steep mountains and the roaring Trapiche River. The water is a brownish yellow due to the many natural healing minerals. There are different pools with different temperatures so you can pick the one that best suits you. A great place to soak your sore muscles and relax after hiking. The Lares hot springs staff always keep the pools and facilities clean, there are also lockers where you can safely put away your belongings.

Glacial peaks and lakes with unique birds and other species

14 BEST reasons to hike the Lares Trek

Lares trek offers pure nature that is hard to find on some of the other treks. The hike will leave you speechless as you gaze upon pristine alpine lakes tucked away in picturesque mountain valleys with llamas and alpacas grazing on the surrounding hillsides. The Lares valley has some of the tallest mountains in the region. Eventually you will come across the great Mount Salkantay which is the tallest mountain in the Vilcabamba mountain range.

Apart from the alpacas and llamas you may spot some of the other local fauna. Animals such as the rabbit like Viscacha, the sacred Puma, Andean deer, Culpeo or Andean fox. Look to the skies and try to spot Andean birds like the sacred Condor, the Caracara Falcon, Andean Goose, and hummingbirds.

Pack Mules and Horses 

14 BEST reasons to hike the Lares Trek

You will not be carrying all of your own belongings on the trail. Pack animals such as horses and mules are allowed on the Lares Trek unlike the Inca Trail where animals are not permitted. The pack animals will carry all camping cooking equipment and 7kgs of your personal belongings such as your mattress, clothing, and sleeping bag. However, you will have a small day bag with you during the trek with your essential personal items. When you book the hike with a reputable tour operator such as Orange Nation they will also provide an emergency horse in case someone on the hike needs assistance

Great Camping Equipment

Any good tour operator will provide you with the best camping gear available. Tour operators will normally provide large tents sometimes a 4-person tent for 2 people, depending on how many people are on the tour. The tents also come with a vestibule area to store you day-bags, boots, and trekking poles. You will be provided with a foam mattress and a warm sleeping bag; you can opt for an air mattress but it usually comes at an extra cost. Food will be served in the dining tent with tables and chairs. During dinner you’ll get the chance to socialize with your fellow hikers. Take this opportunity to share trail stories or play a game of cards. There are government toilet facilities but, they can sometimes be dirty. Your tour operator will offer their own private toilets for the campsites which are always kept nice and clean.

14 BEST reasons to hike the Lares Trek

Open in February

The Inca Trail is closed for maintenance, cleaning, and repairs every February. You’ll have to find an alternative route to Machu Picchu if you want to hike to Machu Picchu in February. The Lares trek never closes and is a great option if you are planning a trip during this month.

Support the local communities and practice responsible tourism

14 BEST reasons to hike the Lares Trek

It’s very important to always practice responsible habits when on any trail. In the remote region of the Lares Valley, it’s even more important. This region has gone been largely unaffected by the modern world and pollution that comes with it. Make sure you are following the “pack it in pack it out” philosophy. Show your appreciation and support of the local communities by purchasing some of their textiles or by donating clothing or gifts. Remember to make good memories, take only photos and leave only footprints.

Can be combined with both the 1 day-Inca Trial 2-day short Inca. 

1-day short Inca Trail

You have the option of hiking the short 2-day or 1-day Inca Trail to Machu Picchu. If you choose the 1-day Inca Trail the hike starts at Km 104. You will pass by the amazing ruins of Winay Wañay which means forever young in Quechua. You will also get the opportunity to enter Machu Picchu through the famous Sun Gate which was once the main entrance to Machu Picchu during the Inca Empire. In the past it was possible to hike up to the Sun Gate from Machu Picchu but, unfortunately new regulations for 2024 have made it so the only way to get to the Sun Gate is by hiking the Inca Trail.

2-day short Inca Trail

The 2-day Inca trail is similar to that of the 1-day however you will get to see Machu Picchu twice. You’ll first see Machu Picchu in the afternoon on the first day. Then again in the morning after taking the bus from Aguas Calientes up to Machu Picchu. Arriving by sunrise you will have great views of Machu Picchu. The guided tour will start and continue for around 2 hours depending on what circuit you choose. You can also hike one of the three mountains at Machu Picchu but, please remember you will need to purchase an additional ticket in advance for the hikes. Make sure you book these hikes far in advance as they usually sell out quickly.

**PLEASE NOTE: Huayna Picchu Mountain and Machu Picchu Mountain cost an additional $13 when compared to the standard entry. Huchuy Picchu Mountain is the same price as the standard entry but it is a different ticket.

Where Can I Book a Lares Trek?

Where Can I Book a Lares Trek?
You can book your trip to the Lares Trek in Cusco when you arrive in person however it’s much safer to book in advance. Lares always ends at Machu Picchu and therefore you will need a ticket to enter Machu Picchu which can sell out very quickly depending on the season.


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