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Most Updated Lares Trek Information 2024 - Incatrailhikeperu

Most Updated Lares Trek Information 2024

Written by: Incatrailhikeperu May 7, 2022

Out of all the alternative treks to Machu Picchu the Lares trek is by far the trek with the most cultural immersion. During this trek you will get the chance to visit remote Andean villages which are still practicing traditional Inca customs keeping this unique culture alive. One of the main attractions of this trek is the chance to interact with the local townspeople and learn about their way of life. You will also have the chance to see alpacas and llamas roaming freely on the countryside. Make sure you choose a reputable tour operator to run your tour such as Orange Nation Peru.

Lares Trek FAQs

There are a few different ways to hike to Machu Picchu including the Inca trail, Salkantay, Inca Jungle, and Lares. There are a few things to keep in mind before you start your trek.

See the all the Lares Trek options here!

Where is Lares located?

The Lares trek is located in the Andes Mountains in the southern part of Peru. This trek takes you through the Calca province of the southern highlands of Peru.

What is the weather like on the Lares Trek?

The feeling during the day is mild during the day and cold at night. Average temperatures are around 11°C but can get as hot as 21°C. The temperature can vary a lot from day to night, nightly temperature can get as low as 1°C.

Does the Lares Trek include a visit to Machu Picchu?

If you want to hike to Machu Picchu through the Lares trek you will have to pick a day where there is still availability to enter Machu Picchu. A popular alternative to the Inca Trail, Lares takes you through remote villages, mountain passes, and alpine lakes.

The trek ends in the city of Ollantaytambo where you will then board the train to Aguas Calientes. From Aguas Calientes you will then take a bus up to the base of Machu Picchu

On some Lares treks you will finish the final day at Machu Picchu where as others you will stay in Aguas Calientes one night then head to Machu Picchu in the morning.

The climate in Lares is mild in the day but cold during the nights. The average temperature is 11ºC. During the day, the heat can reach 21ºC. At night, temperatures can drop as low as 1ºC.

Best Itinerary For The Lares Trek To Machu Picchu 4 Days & 3 Nights

Each tour company will have slightly different itineraries however they should all have options similar to the one described below. Because there are different routes not every itinerary will be the same. Most treks either start or end at the Lares Hot Springs and some companies offer the opportunity to relax in the hot springs. You will also get the chance to visit the salt mines of Maras and then finally enjoy your comfortable hotel in Aguas Calientes.

Day 1: Cusco – Lares Hot Springs – Cuncani – Quishuarani

At 5:00am your guide will pick you up from your hotel. You will then drive around 2.5 hours to the village of Cuncani. Breakfast will be served at the village high in the mountains with great views of the valley below. After eating breakfast it’s time to start the hike. The first 3 hours of the hike is a gradual ascent to Hullquijasa pass which stands at (4,200m/13,779ft) above sea level. Once you arrive at the pass you will rest for a bit and have lunch.

After eating lunch continue on the trail until you arrive at the village Quishuarani. This fully self sustainable village is one of the most isolated in the country. Take this opportunity to immerse yourself in the nature and unique culture of the Andes. It would be very appreciated by the townspeople if you brought some type of gifts. Anything from toys, notebooks, clothing, or even fruits and vegetables. Because the village is in such a remote location the people do not have access to a wide range of nutrients. Bringing something as simple as fresh fruits and veggies would be greatly appreciated.

Nearly two hours after finishing lunch you will arrive at your first campsite in the village of Quishuarani. Enjoy your dinner and take in the night sky, ask your guide to explain the Inca constellations which they used for agricultural purposes and continue to do so into the modern age.

  • Meals: Breakfast – Lunch – Dinner
  • Accommodation: Camping facilities 
  • Distance: 12kms / 7 miles
  • Time: 6hrs approximately
  • Difficulty: Moderate 

Day 2: Quishuarani – Pachaqutec Pass – Cancha Cancha 

Your guide will awaken you at first light with a hot cup of coffee or tea followed by a bowl of hot water to freshen up. Join the rest of the hikers for a hearty breakfast and prepare yourself for the hike to come. You will begin the hike by climbing up multiple switch backs until arriving at Pachacutec Pass 4,700 m / 15,420. The hike is not an easy one as you will be at high elevation. Make sure to pace yourself and drink lots of water. Take a moment to appreciate the views of Lake Pachacutec and the surrounding mountain landscape. Nearby the mountain pass you take a break and eat lunch.

Once you finish your lunch you will start your descent towards your next campsite in the remote village of Cancha Cancha. The porters will have camp all set up by the time you arrive. They will greet you with hot beverages and some snacks. Take this opportunity to purchase some authentic textiles from the local villagers. When you buy from the villagers you know all the money is going directly to the local Andean people. Once dinner is ready join your fellow hikers in the dining tent and enjoy a delicious meal. Relax recharge and get ready for the next day of hiking.

  • Meals: Breakfast – Lunch – Dinner
  • Accommodation: Camping facilities with bathroom building
  • Distance: 14kms / 10.3 miles
  • Time: 7 to 8hrs approximately
  • Difficulty: Difficult

Day 3: Cancha Cancha – Huaran – Salt mines – Ollantaytambo – Aguas Calientes. 

The most easy going day of the trek, start your day with breakfast then head out and explore the village of Cancha Cancha. Depending on the time of year you may get to visit the local school play a game of soccer with the local kids. After exploring the village continue on a moderate hike down to the end of the Lares trail. As you descend you will notice the climate changing getting warmer and warmer the farther you go. The vegetation will start to get more and more dense, you will also see more alpacas and llamas and, for the first time on the hike, cows and sheep. You will also pass by farmers harvesting and planting their crops of potatoes and beans among others.

Continue hiking until you reach the small village of Huaran. Here you will have one last meal before you bid farewell to your cooks. From the village of Huaran, your guide’s private van will pick you up and take you to the salt mines of Maras. You’ll have some time to explore these pre Incan salt mines which have been in use for more than 500 years. The local people have full mining rights to the salt mines and sell the famous Peruvian pink salt in small stands. Get a souvenir and buy some salt from the local vendors.

After the salt mines you will drive to Ollantaytambo where you will catch the train to Aguas Calientes. You’ll have dinner at restaurant hand picked by your guide after you’ll check into your hotel and prepare yourself for your BIG DAY AT MACHU PICCHU!

  • Meals: Breakfast – Lunch – Dinner
  • Accommodation: Ferre Hotel or similar
  • Distance: 9kms/ 6 miles
  • Time: 4 hrs approximately
  • Difficulty: Moderate
lares trek to machu picchu 3rd day

Day 4: Aguas Calientes – Machu Picchu – Cusco

Today is the day of the main event, MACHU PICCHU! You’ll wake up early in the morning to catch the bus to Machu Picchu which is a 45 min drive to the base of the Incan citadel. Once you arrive you’ll need to present your passport to gain entry. Your guide will start the expertly guided tour of the Machu Picchu complex upon your entry. Depending on the circuit the tour will last 1.5 to 2 hours.

Most tour operators will offer additional attractions once you arrive to Machu Picchu:

  • Hike Machu Picchu Mountain $53 per person
  • Hike Huayna Picchu Mountain $53 per person
  • Hike Huchuy Picchu Mountain $40 per person (new 2024 addition)
  • Walk to the Inca Bridge $40 per person (new 2024 addition)
  • Other optional activities in Aguas Calientes include a visit to the local museum or to the hot springs.

Once you’re done exploring all there is to see at Machu Picchu start your return journey to Aguas Calientes. You can take the bus back down or choose to walk the way back. Keep in mind the way back is all down hill with many steps, it takes about 1.5 hours to make it back to Aguas Calientes. If stairs are difficult for you or you have sensitive knees consider taking the bus back. Upon your arrival to Aguas Calientes you’ll have a chance to eat lunch on your own. After lunch board the train back to Ollantaytambo. From Ollantaytambo you’ll have a private ride in the tour guides van back to Cusco arriving at your hotel around 8:00 pm.

  • Meal: Breakfast
  • Difficulty: Easy

What does the Lares Trek to Machu Picchu include?

Your experience will differ depending on the tour company you chose. Although some things will be different there are some that generally stay the same no matter the company.

  • Bus or van from Cusco to Lares
  • Bus or van from Ollantaytambo to Cusco
  • Train from Ollantaytambo to Aguas Calientes (round trip).
  • Guide services throughout the trek and Machu Picchu
  • Camping equipment
  • Professionally cooked meals everyday
  • Pack horses
  • Hotel in Aguas Calientes
  • Emergency equipment including oxygen and first aid kit
  • Entrance tickets to Machu Picchu

***PLEASE NOTE: Hiking to the Sun gate from Machu Picchu is no longer allowed. The only way to see the Sun Gate is to hike the Inca Trail.

Is the Lares Trek difficult?

The Lares trek to Machu Picchu is moderately difficult. When compared to Salkantay and the Inca Trail this hike is much easier. One of the mains concerns is altitude sickness due to the high altitude of the trails and mountain passes.

When is the best time to do the Lares Trek?

Like the rest of the region, the best time to hike Lares to Machu Picchu is during the dry season from May until October. The skies will be clearest this time of year and you are guaranteed great views of Machu Picchu. Additionally, trail conditions are best this time of year and the chances of delays or closures due to landslides is much less than the rainy season.

Is it possible to do the Lares Trek on your own?

Yes, it’s possible to hike Lares on your won without a tour guide. Unlike other trecks there are multiple different routes making this a hike much more difficult to navigate. Additionally, having a guide with you will allow you to better interact with the local peoples of the remote villages. There is definitely added value to going with a guide but, if you are the solo type of hiker this is a great option. Make sure you are prepared and know the route!

What to bring on the Lares Trek?

***PLEASE NOTE: Your tour operator will provide some the basic essentials such as tents, pack animals, food, water, cooking equipment, emergency equipment.

The following are recommended items that you should bring or rent from your tour company:

  • Trekking poles (especially for the way down)
  • Sleeping bag / air mattress
  • Warm fleece or down jacket for the night
  • Hat and sunglasses
  • Sunscreen
  • Light breathable clothes for hiking in the day
  • Rain poncho or rain gear
  • Good footwear with good treads
  • Swimsuit (for the Lares hot springs)
  • Reusable water bottle
  • Camera
  • Snacks
  • Extra money for souvenirs

Dealing with the altitude:

It’s very important to acclimatize in Cusco at least for a couple of days in before attempting any hikes. There’s is plenty to do and see in Cusco so you won’t feel like you are wasting your time. It’s also recommended not to eat a large meal for your first day and night. If you can, try and only eat small snacks throughout the day, your stomach will thank you.

Drinking coca tea made from the coca leaves helps a lot, the tea that comes in the bag does nothing for me personally. You can also chew coca leaves if you have a headache or upset stomach. Make sure to drink lots of water throughout the day and if doing all of these still doesn’t help consider buying altitude pills from the local pharmacy.

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