The Lares Trek
This private, guided hiking adventure starts and ends in Cuzco. Here we spend three nights pre-trek, acclimatising to the high altitude before embarking on the spectacular Lares Trail. This trail offers a less crowded option than the Inca Trail but one that is equally captivating. We camp for two nights on this trail, enjoying breathtaking scenery and a real insight into local rural life in hilltop Andean communities. We then join the classic Inca Trail for one day to the famous Inti Punku (Sun Gate) and see breathtaking Machu Picchu.
Get Ready For
- Stunning mountain scenery, high plains, rural communities
- One day Inca Trail hike to the famous Inti Punku (Sun Gate)
- Acclimatise on a three-night pre-trek
- Inca ruins of Tambomachay and Sacsayhuaman
- Explore the mystical Temple of the Moon
- Camp, fully-supported, for two nights under the Andean stars
- Visit Andean hill villages where Inca traditions are still practiced
- Visit Machu Picchu, the Lost City of the Incas (private guided tour)
The Lares Trek
After arriving at Cuzco’s airport, walkers are welcomed by our representative and transferred to the hotel. Wander the streets and side alleys of the city to see the perfect tapering Inca stonework that provided the foundations for many of Cuzco’s colonial and modern buildings. The city itself is the continent’s oldest continuously inhabited city and was the home of the Inca Empire for two centuries before the Spanish built their first capital here. Today Cuzco is a fascinating combination of both cultures. Take the time to acclimatise to the city’s high altitude (3400m) and explore the many Baroque churches and ancient temples in the city. Join a welcome meeting this evening with our local guide (look for a note in the hotel lobby or ask the hotel reception where it will take place).
Overnight: Cuzco Hotel (34oom)
In the morning, a guided walking tour explores vivid examples of the mixture of Inca and Spanish cultures. We see the Stone of Twelve Angles at the Inca Roca Palace and visit the most sacred Inca building: the Temple of Qoricancha. Qoricancha was the most important temple of the Inca Empire. According to archaeologists, it housed over 1000 priests and attendants. It was built over an Inca palace dedicated to the worship of the Sun.
Next is a visit to the heart of the city, the Plaza de Armas, surrounded by colonial arcades and four churches. You will see the beautiful Cathedral of Cuzco facade, a fine example of colonial Baroque art. Explore the San Pedro Market with its vegetables, meats, local cheeses (which we recommend trying) and chocolates, herbal medicines and local handicrafts. It’s a great place to purchase souvenirs. The market is also a place where many locals go to eat ‘mystery soups’. Some may be chicken, however, the locals usually prefer the more unusual ones like frog soups or soups that contain the “nose to tail” of various animals. Today’s lunch is at Museo del Cafe (Coffee Museum), with its free museum. Sample hot chocolate made from local cacao beans, and try the mate de coca (coca tea).
- Altitude: Cuzco 3400m
- Duration: 2.5-3 hours
Overnight: Cuzco Hotel
Meals: B L
We begin today with a drive to Tambomachay, an archaeological site just outside of Cuzco. Tambomachay was a temple dedicated to water. We visit the fort of Puka Pukara and the large Inca ceremonial center of Sacsayhuaman. This enormous structure overlooks the city of Cuzco. Its construction is amazing, with its huge rocks perfectly fitting together. It is said that it took over 10,000 workers 50 years to build it. The origin of the temple of Sacsayhuaman is still today unknown. We also visit another important Inca site known as Qenqo, with subterranean passages and carved stone channels in a zigzag pattern. Inside there is a carved stone table where it is said the Incas mummified their dead. Next is a visit to the Temple of the Moon. After a picnic lunch, we walk a beautifully-preserved section of The Royal Inca Trail into the old San Blas district, home to the city’s artists
- Altitude: Sacsayhuaman 3700m
- Duration: 5-6 hours
Overnight: Cuzco Hotel
Meals: B L
TRANSFER CUZCO TO MAROQASA, HIKE TO SORAYPAMPA (11KM
We leave Cuzco early, stopping after 30 minutes in Taray to see a great view of the landscape of the Sacred Valley. We continue to Calca (2900m) where we can purchase last-minute items like water and ponchos, or have a coffee. Our next stop is the Inca site Totora. We then head to Lares Pass (4400m), and continue for around one hour to reach Cuncani, the beginning of our trek.
Here, we start walking to our lunch spot in a conservation area. After lunch, we will walk downhill to Kiswarani, our campsite for the night.
- Max trek altitude: 4247m
- Ascent: 437m
- Descent: 397m
- Trek duration: 5 hours
Overnight: Camping Kiswarani (3850m)
Meals: B L D
KISWARANI TO CANCHA CANCHA (14KM)
Breakfast is early today (6am), but it will power us for our 4-hour-long morning walk uphill to Pachakuteq Pass (4600m). From here we will be able to see the snow-capped mountain Qolqe Cruz (5600m). On the way up we have great views of the Kiswarani valley including lakes, a waterfall, as well as llamas and alpacas. After arriving at the summit, we’ll walk downhill for around an hour to our lunch spot. There’s more downhill after lunch as we head to our night’s campsite in Cancha Cancha. In this traditional town the houses are made with stones with thatched roofs. Families here still practice the Incas tradition, including using Inca technology for weaving textiles.
- Max trek altitude: 4600m
- Ascent: 700m
- Descent: 850m
- Trek duration: 7 hours
Overnight: Camping Cancha Cancha (3800m)
Meals: B L D
CANCHA CANCHA TO HUARAN, TRANSFER TO OLLANTAYTAMBO (9KM)
We’re up early at 6am again for breakfast, followed by another four-hour walk downhill. Our destination this morning is the Sacred Valley. We’ll see more llamas and alpacas by the path, and pass by farms. We’ll also have the chance to see the area’s different types of native trees. This trek finishes at Huaran, where we have lunch. A one-hour vehicle transfer delivers us to our hotel in Ollantaytambo. We’ll join a guided walking tour to see the best of this ancient town.
- Max trek altitude: 2700m
- Descent: 1100m
- Trek duration: 4 hours
Meals: B L D
Overnight: Ollantaytambo Hotel (2,800m)
TRAIN FROM OLLANTAYTAMBO, HIKE INCA TRAIL TO MACHU PICCHU (13KM)
After breakfast we’ll catch an early morning train to the starting point of our hike on the Inca Trail. After arriving, we cross a bridge to a checkpoint where we need to show our passport. We start with an easy walk to the other side of the Vilcanota River. Here the trail veers off to the right towards the ruins of Chachabamba which are located on the old Inca Road that ran along the southern bank of the Urubamba River. After around three hours we descend into a shaded forest with a refreshing waterfall, where we take a break.
Continuing on, we trek to the lower part of the incredible ruins of Wiñay Wayna. We walk the last part of the trail along superb stone steps and tambos (resting places). After climbing 60 steps we arrive at the famous Inti Punku (Sun Gate). From this magnificent point, we can see the extraordinary and magical Machu Picchu before us. It’s the perfect place to feel the energy and warmth of this surreal sanctuary. We then hop on a bus for short journey to our hotel in Aguas Calientes.
- Max trek altitude: 2720m
- Ascent: 549m
- Descent: 320m
- Trek duration: 7.5 hours
Overnight: Aguas Calientes Hotel (2000m)
Meals: B L D
MACHU PICCHU AND TRANSFER TO CUZCO
We’re up very early for breakfast and to take the first bus of the day to Machu Picchu. Here we learn about the history and the mysterious world of the Incas on a guided tour. We have around four hours to explore the enigmatic city of Machu Picchu, before taking the bus back to Aguas Calientes. From here, we return to Ollantaytambo by train, and then transfer to our hotel in Cuzco.
- Duration: 4 hours
Overnight: Cuzco Hotel
Our tour ends today after breakfast, with transfers provided to the airport for onward flights.
Please note that distances and times are approximate and do vary depending on the pace of the group or if alternate routes need to be taken due to inclement weather.
What you get
Trip price is based on two people travelling together (enquire for group pricing).
- Private tour with your own private guide
- Flexibility to select your own departure date* and travel with your own group of family or friends
- Airport transfers
- Experienced English-speaking trek guide
- Guided walking tour of Cuzco with local guide
- Guided visit to archaeological sites near Cuzco
- 6 nights hotel accommodation
- 2 nights full service camping
- 8 breakfasts, 6 lunches, 2 dinners
- Transport by private transfer, public train and bus while on tour
- Entrance fees as per the itinerary
- Guided tour of Machu Picchu with a local guide
- Luggage transferred by horses/mules on Lares Trek (max 6kg)
- RAW Travel luggage tag and buff
- Emergency contact support in Australia and Peru
- Travel insurance
- Single supplement $750
- Solo traveller supplement (available on request)
- Meals not outlined above
- Tips for guides, drivers and porters
The trek follows the Lares Trail through the Sacred Valley but you will spend one day walking the Classic Inca Trail on a day hike to the famous Inti Punku (Sun Gate) – arguably one of the most impressive sections of the Classic Inca trail.
The Classic Inca Trail is far better known and attracts more people so you will encounter more people on the trail. By comparison the Lares Trek gives a greater sense of feeling alone in the Andes. Both are strenuous and present their own challenges; whilst you are dealing with more ascents and descent on the Classic Inca Trail you are trekking at a higher altitude on the Lares Trek.
The Classic inca Trail is far more regulated therefore there are restrictions on where tents can be set up whereas on the Lares Trek you get to stay near small Andean settlements with greater exposure to local people and communities. The facilities on the Classic Inca Trail are more developed in that some sites have working toilets and cold showers – whereas you won’t get this on the Lares trek. As far as scenery goes, the Classic Inca Trail passes many ancient Inca ruins and offers a great sense of history, whereas on the Lares Trek whilst you do pass some ruins there are not as many and they are far less a focal point of the hike – instead you have greater exposure to mountain landscapes and Andean culture as you pass through villages and farmland.
We have graded our walks on this route as Strenuous. This is more so due to the high altitude than challenging terrain. Trekking will be on mountainous terrain, in remote areas and will include some high pass crossings. The treks themselves are not technical but you do need to have a good level of fitness and health to undertake them. Altitude is an important consideration.. We use several criteria to assess the difficulty of our walks, including the number of hours walking required each day, terrain and conditions underfoot, weather, gradient, altitude, signage and facilities along the trail. These gradings are intended as a guide and will depend on your individual experience, fitness level and mental attitude. The fitter you are, the more likely you are to enjoy your experience.
To prepare for this walk, we recommend completing 2 to 3 walks per week (15km+), increasing distances while carrying an 8kg pack. Regular mountain, hill walking and hill/stair walking is highly recommended.
At the time of requesting your booking, you ask that you complete and submit a medical and fitness questionnaire. We will use this information in addition to the medical details you have provided us on your booking form to assess your suitability to join this trip.
It is important to be aware of, and well prepared for travelling at altitude. You will fly into Cuzco, a city that sits at 3400m. The response to altitude can be very different for each individual. It can affect even the fittest and healthiest of travellers. However staying hydrated, taking sufficient time to acclimatise pre-trek and also taking your time to ascend at a safe rate when trekking, may help you avoid the symptoms of altitude sickness.
As a duty of care to our clients, we make sure that we include 2 nights in Cuzco before the trek to allow you time to rest and acclimatise before setting off on your trek. We also encourage you to contact your doctor to ensure that this trip is suitable for you and to also seek advice on how to best prepare for travelling at altitude. In case of extreme altitude sickness, oxygen is carried by the trek crew and available as needed.
Your tour includes the services of a trek team, who will set up camp each night, as well as prepare your meals. You will not be required to participate in these tasks.
Porterage is included in the tour price. We will provide you with a duffle bag to use whilst on the trek and you transfer your luggage into this bag. The maximum weight that you can pack in the duffle bag is 7kg. Porters on the trek will carry your duffle bag, you are only required to carry your day pack each day. Extra luggage can be stored at the hotel in Cuzco at no charge
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- Striking mountain scenery on the magnificent Salkantay trail
- Trek with a small group of no more than 12
- Camp, fully-supported, for three nights under the Andean stars
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- Explore the magnificent site of Machu Picchu
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TRIP date selection
when would you like to travel?
Please select your preferred dates for on-demand trips or select a scheduled date for group departures. If you have booked a self-guided trip please understand that because your trip date is on demand and we must check availability of all properties on your chosen dates before it can be fully confirmed