Perhaps you wanted to hike the Inca trail to Machu Picchu, but just then heard about Lares trek. So the question arises immediately: Which hike should I take?. Well, In this Lares Trek vs Inca trail post, we will come up with some of the main highlights to see if you finally end up choosing one of these treks.

Book your Inca Trail as soon as with a local Company AB EXPEDITIONS!. Permits will sell out fast in Peru, due to continued government restrictions of 50% fewer permits available for 2022. Book here.

Inca Trail.- The famous Inca Trail is undoubtedly one of the top hiking routes in the world that leads you straight to Machu Picchu on foot, and of course, entering through the famous Sun Gate. Before getting to Machu Picchu, you will hike through various Inca ruins and inhabited areas unreachable to tourists by any other means. The most common package is the 4-day hike Inca trail hike.

Lares Trek.- By comparison, the Lares Trek is a much less discovered hiking route to Machu Picchu so at times you will feel like you are alone with the mountains. The real highlight of Lares Trek is hiking through small farming villages with no electricity or water and interacting with the children, making the lares trek a cultural experience in a way that the Inca Trail is not.

Inca Trail 4 Day Lares Trek 4 Day
Maximum Altitude
4200 m/13700 ft
4420 m/14500 ft
Permits Required
500 people per day
Tour Lengh
4 Days
4 Days

Inca trail highlights

  • You will catch your first glimpse of Machu Picchu through the Sun Gate on the last day of your hike. The views of Machu Picchu from the Sun Gate are amazing and give a good perspective of the splendour of the Inca ruins.
  • The Inca Trail is the only trekking in which you hike until you get Machu Picchu, leaving you with a sense of accomplishment that you have reached your objective.
  • You will see a lot of uninhabited landscapes, stunning Andean vistas, and mysterious cloud forests while trekking.
  • Along the route, there are various Inca-ruins built into the mountainside that you can visit.
  • The diversity of the nature on the trail is beautiful: from high Andes-passes (highest point is about 4200 meters above sea level) to the exuberant nature of the Rain forest.
  • Hike to Machu Picchu on mystical, stone-paved paths built by the Incas.

Inca trail Lowlights

  • The Inca Trail doesn’t have the cultural interaction like the Lares Trek.
  • Remember to book well in advance since the permits are limited and they are sold out months beforehand.
  • You should not expect solitude or peace and quiet on the trail as you will be hiking with many other trekkers and many porters.
  • The campsites along the route are all busy.
  • You have to hike down stairways made by the Incas on a large part of the Inca Trail, especially on day 03. The stairs are not easy and you have to make big steps, so you will get a lot of pressure on your upper legs and knees.

Lares trek Highlights

  • On the Lares Trek, you are surrounded by pristine wilderness deep in the Andes Mountains with lakes, Glaciers, valleys, Viscachas, and grazing llamas.
  • You will hike through small villages where there are opportunities for cultural interaction with the local families, Specially with children.
  • Lares trek route takes hikers off-the-beaten-path and along the trail where fewer tourists venture while still not straying too far from civilization. The only people that will you see are the local people in the mountains

Lares trek Lowlights

  • you don’t arrive at Machu Picchu via the Sun Gate. The last night of the trek ends in Aguas Calientes town, after which you will visit Machu Picchu on the following day.


Inca Trail.- On the Inca trail hike, the mountain slopes surrounding are mostly overgrown with bushes and trees, so it is greener in coloration, and on a good winter day, you even have a glimpse to see the snow-covered peaks far away.

Lares Trek.- Hiking the Lares trek, you can expect to see spectacular mountain sceneries, snow-covered peaks near as you hit the mountain pass, glacier-fed lagoons, and so on. 

inca trail vs lares trek


Inca Trail.- Only 500 people are allowed to enter the Inca Trail per day, including tourists, guides, porters, and cooks. If you really want to do this hike, plan well in advance to secure your Inca trail permit. Otherwise, you will arrive at taking alternative treks.

Lares Trek.- There is no need to pre-book the tour months before, as it receives unlimited tour groups year-round. Just look for a reliable tour operator and ask for the tour, then they will begin to organize the hike. There is always availability.


Inca Trail.- Just like on the Lares Trek, winter months on the Inca trail are just the right time to go. Although the temperature is cold at night, the day hike is mostly enjoyable, having sunny days. However, if you are planning on hiking the Inca trail in summer, the weather is still nice (warm) but rain and fog can obscure the scenic views. See more about the best time to hike the Inca Trail.

Lares Trek.- Expect cold temperatures at night and early hours in winter running from May-August, but it turns out to be advisable months for doing the hike. (Temperature can dip below zero degrees). Whereas, in the summer months from December – March, the temperature gets warmer but followed by downpours. The rest of the year is mild.


Inca Trail.- Since the Inca trail surroundings are overgrown with bushes and vegetation, there is no mountain village settled, therefore no family is living in those secluded mountains. Only the first day you see some local stores and family houses, but nothing of that captures your attention much. 

Lares Trek.- You will surely see local people, focused on their daily duties, most of them are farmers and llama herders worn in their traditional clothes as it is supposed to be in the great Incan times. Living in some adobe huts plastered with mud and securing the llamas and alpacas in compounds chained with stone or into woven wired fences in summer months.

inca trail vs lares trek


Inca Trail.- No pack animal is allowed to enter the Inca trail. Besides protecting the damage that these animals can cause on the trail, the fact is that they can’t climb up and down on some of the steep stairs of the trail. Only manpower carries the hiking gear and food. All the tour operators hire the famous Inca trail Porters

Lares Trek.- At the start of your hike, you will be presented with your Lares trek muleteers, and they will carry the food and the campings gear for the hike. Most of them come from the Lares valley, and after 3 days of work, they have to climb the high passes again back home. When work is low, they work on farming native potatoes and cereals.

inca trail vs lares trek


Inca Trail.- Yes, it closes for upkeep procedures. 

Lares trail.- No, it doesn´t close in February.


Inca Trail.- The Inca trail porters set up the camping tents, one kitchen tent, dining tent, and passenger tents for overnight. For those who would like to take shower after the hike (nighttime shower), there are some shower stalls. As for the restrooms, there are only squat toilets, unless you find some proper toilets in the first-day hike but bear in mind these are private, so you will be charged by someone else.

Lares trail.- The camping sites are less crowded as the trail is less trodden and has several versions. About bathroom facilities, drinking water, and showers, there are only outhouse toilets so go prepared for it. Water may not be safe, therefore needs to be purified too. As for taking shower, it will depend on the time and weather. Usually, the temperature is cold, so you barely take a birdbath.

inca trail vs lares trek


Inca Trail.- It is important to clarify that you won’t find any hot springs in the mid-hike. The way you can get it is if you have an extra night at Aguas Calientes, so you can visit the Hotsprings just a few minutes away from the main square.

Lares Trek.- Whichever Lares trek version you take, you will have a chance to soak in the Hotsprings near Lares Town. It is a very nice spot where to relax. And Before starting the tour ask your tour operator if there will be time for it. 


Now, if you are sticking more to the Inca trail hike than the Lares trek and want to enter Machu Picchu through the sun gate, it can´t be a bad choice. Now look, Unlike the Lares trek, the Inca trail boasts the incredible Inca trail ruins, and it is worth the hype to see them along the way. If you care more about History and like a jungle landscape than a high altitude trek, then book the Inca trail before the permits run out.


Take the Lares Trek to get to know about life in the Peruvian Andes mountain, because you will witness a more authentic way of life of the Quechua People living in this part of Cusco; and there you will have a chance to learn about their wisdom, religion as well as their philosophy. Besides only mountain villages and the local culture, enjoy the clear blue lakes, valleys inhabited by Alpacas, the alluring mountain peaks, and many marvels this trek has yet to offer. 

written by our Tour guide Aldair

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