An alternative to the popular and historic Inca Trail, the Lares Trek is a slightly shorter and more challenging route to Machu Picchu. En route to the ancient Inca citadel, the trail winds past dramatic Andean landscapes, remote villages, mountainside markets, and overnight shelters.The Basics
Travelers typically take 4 days and 3 nights to complete the trek, passing by beautiful snow-capped alpine scenery and remote villages such as Cancha Cancha. Most guided hiking tours provide round-trip transportation from Cusco, plus hotel accommodations, camping and emergency supplies, and meals. Cyclists can also tack a segment of the Lares Trek onto a full-day bike tour from Cusco, to explore the area’s mountains, canyons, and lesser-known Inca ruins. Things to Know Before You Go
How to Get There
- While in Lares, visit the ruins of the Inca fortress built to defend against invaders.
- Due to the trek’s challenging terrain, it’s not suitable for wheelchairs or individuals with walking disabilities.
- The trek is at high altitudes, so make sure to drink plenty of water to stay hydrated.
- Tours operate in all weather conditions; please note that there may be extreme temperature drops from day and night, so you should dress appropriately.
The Lares Trek trailhead is about five hours by road from Lares, a village inside the Sacred Valley, about 40 miles (64 kilometers) north of Cusco and 35 miles (56 kilometers) east of Machu Picchu. Most travelers visit as part of a tour that includes transportation to trailhead. If you choose to arrive independently, there is parking in Lares near the trailhead.
When to Get There
The Lares Trek is open year-round, though extreme rain conditions may close sections. Overall, the trek is a very good alternative to the traditional Inca Trail, especially during high tourist season (June through August) when permits sell out quickly. Rainy season is generally from January through April (the Inca Trail is closed during February).
Exploring Aguas Calientes
Set inside a deep gorge below the ruins of Machu Picchu, this magical town is the last stop before reaching the great Inca fortress. Also known as Machu Picchu Pueblo, Aguas Calientes used to be a small tented railroad camp for workers until the 1970s, when tourists from all over the world started to visit the ruins. Stay here for a night, have a traditional Andean meal, and soak in the hot springs.