LARES TREK TO MACHU PICCHU
Lares Trek is likely the third best alternative Inca trail hikes to Machu Picchu and is presented in various versions, from a 3-day hike up to a 5-day hike. Instead of entering Machu Picchu through the Sun Gate, all of these Lares treks end in the Sacred Valley Ollantaytambo, where tourists jump on trains towards the Aguas Calientes town, the city below Machu Picchu. Here we come up with an essential travel guide if you ever do this hike, so here we go.
Table of Contents
Things to know about Lares trek.
- There are a lot of dogs waiting for food along the roads from Calca to Lares.
- Lares is the only trek that is safe during the rainy season in terms of landslides. But you need to go with a proper raincoat.
- There are many routes to hike the Lares trek. We recommend the route Huaran to Kiswarani or vice versa because this is the only place where you can see the glacier from a very close distance.
- While hiking, kids will come to you asking for candies. Bring school supplies, candies are not for their teeth.
Best time to hike Lares trek to machu picchu
In brief, the best time to hike the Lares trek to Machu Picchu is during the dry season from April – August. Also, the trail isn’t crawling with tourists or large groups of people and so much more in the rainy season from December to March. Whereas in September till November, the days are frequently sunny, but it sometimes just gets cloudy threatening to rain but it either rains or fades, overall it is still a good season.
Who should choose lares trek?
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.
Altitude sickness can hit some people hard, therefore consider going prepared and taking the right medication. Indeed most head guides carry first aid kits and an oxygen bottle because the headaches and nausea can be very unpleasant. Also, depending on the year season, the altitude and rain can make it even extra difficult to hike uphill, but you’ll never be so sick that you can’t appreciate the view.
How fit do you need to be?
Anyone having difficulty with altitude sickness and not in regular shape may not make it when climbing high-altitude mountain passes. If not, before arriving in Peru, try to do cardio exercises and plan enough time to get acclimatized to the altitude in Cusco, and after that, there wouldn’t be anything you can´t handle.
Lares trek to Machu Picchu Weather
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.
Do you need to book the Lares trek in advance?
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.
Are there age restrictions?
There is no age restriction for this particular trek, but there are some aspects to take into account: First, elder people have to be aware of how their bodies respond to a mountain hike. If you are going with kids, the key is to stay well-hydrated, have snacks for them, and take breaks. It all depends if the kid has previous experience, then route 2 would be recommended for 8 years old kids and up.
Do you need hiking poles?
If you are used to hiking with poles, bring them, they are going to be worth it. You are going to use them to avoid nasty falls hiking down as well as to keep your ankle joints and knees safe on the mountain trail.
Is there internet on Lares Trek to Machu Picchu?
No, for most of the hike, there is no Internet in route 2 until the Ollantaytambo town, or if there is, it will be a slow and broken internet connection.
Is There Any Drinking Water?
No, the river streams running on the trail are not reliable, therefore bring your own bottled water or fill boiled water on your camel bag before leaving the camp.
What about medications?
This is just a reminder because not everyone can take the same drug. According to specialists and pharmacists, it is essential to have some Paracetamol and ibuprofen as painkillers. The next thing that could get annoying on a trek is diarrhea, so to help it halt, consider taking Imodium pills, and of course, Acetazolamide for altitude sickness.
No tour guide nor a tour agent is allowed to prescribe any recipe or pills of any kind. What they do is carry a basic first aid kit with pharmacy medicines where if the tourist agrees to take it because it is the same as the doctor´s suggestion, so they take it.
Mountain villages and local people
You will surely see local people, focused on their daily duties, most of them farm and are llama herders, dressed in their traditional clothes as it was supposed to be in the Incan times. They live in some adobe huts plastered with mud and secure their llamas and alpacas in stone fences or into woven wired fences in summer months.
The camping sites are less crowded as it is less trodden and have several versions. There are only outhouse toilets so go prepared for it. Water may not be safe, therefore needs to be purified too. As for taking a shower, it will depend on the time and weather conditions. Usually, the temperature is cold, so you barely take a birdbath.
Most Lares treks pass by Lares town so you can soak in the thermal Hotsprings. It is a very charming place to relax, but before starting the tour, ask your tour operator if there will be time for it, as mentioned in Route 3, the hike begins away from Lares.
Lares trek without a guide
Hiking Lares on your own is possible, however, it will depend on your previous experience doing solo hiking over 13 000 ft, also the time spent acclimatizing in Cusco before Heading to Lares. As it is known, the Lares trek is not only one way, it is more than one, and each one presents a different difficulty level.
Still, want to do it on your own? Well, let´s talk a little more, the changeable weather in the mountains, especially in the wet season make it difficult, sometimes the heavy snow covers all hints of the pathway. Unless there is a guided group so you can follow them, although the locals are friendly, they won´t speak English, therefore Spanish or Quechua is a very useful resource for communicating. Also, be careful of the countryside dogs, they would be aggressive at times.
Lares trek distance
The most common Lares trek covers a 37 km pathway, starting in Lares Hotsprings, throughout Quiswarani camp to Huaran hamlet in the Sacred Valley. It involves a 3-day trek, and after the 37 Km hike, the adventure ends with a magical visit to Machu Picchu park on the fourth day.
Lares trek the highest point
The highest point to get to, when hiking the standard Lares trek to Machu Picchu, is the 15 400 ft / 4 700 mountain pass, a mountain pass by the name of Pachakuteq pass. And this mountain hike is completed on the second day of hiking, then on the third day is the entry on the Sacred Valley Ollantaytambo, and subsequently the train ride to Aguas Calientes town.
Lares Trek Difficulty
Because it is a multi-day hike, it varies each day, but depending on which route you choose, here you are a general estimation:
- Route 1: Moderate to Difficult
- Route 2: Moderate
- Route 3: Moderate
- Route 4: Difficult
- Route 5: Strenuous
Lares routes Options
1 Lares – Quiswarani – Huaran
Tour groups drive the way to Calca City in the sacred valley, where they can stock up on some recommended essentials if needed, then turn in another valley way up and down on the other side to Lares Valley. This is the most common route amongst all routes in Lares trek to Machu Picchu, beginning with Lares Hotsprings. In the upcoming days, the path reaches up to 4 700 m which is the Pachakuteq pass. It is a 37 km hike for three days, and Machu Picchu is visited on the fourth day, so this is a 4D/3N Lares trek Package. Some other tour companies do the same route, but beginning on the opposite side, it is like Huaran – Quiswarani – Lares. Don´t be surprised!
2 Lares – Huacahuasi – Patacancha
As well as in route 1, travelers arrive in Lares town and undertake the trail towards Huacahuasi, an Andean village in northwest Lares. Then, for the next couple of days, the path goes up to Ipsaycocha pass, reaching 4 400 m, and again down to Patacancha and Huilloc villages on the last day of the hike almost nearing Ollantaytambo. This is about a 35 km hike which takes three days of hiking plus a Machu Picchu visit on the fourth day.
3 Quishuarani – Huacahuasi – Patacancha
Unfortunately, there is no way of visiting Lares hot springs because the hike begins at Quiswarani village, which is before Lares Town. Then the path climbs up to Huilquijasa Pass at 4 200 m to get to Cuncani Andean village for overnight rest. In the following days, it continues to Huacahuasi village and again up to Ipsaycocha pass as in route 2, then throughout the Patacancha valley to Ollantaytambo. It is a three-day hike, covering 39 km plus a Machu Picchu visit on the fourth day.
4 Quishuarani – Huacahuasi – Yanahuara
This route takes the same trail as route 3 until Huacahuasi village. From Huacahuasi, it takes a different way, traversing the Huacahuasijasa pass at 4 500 m. and then down to Yanahuara village in the sacred valley near Ollantaytambo. It covers a length of 45 Km, being this a less trodden trail.
5 Huaran – Huacahuasi – Yanahuara
Another nonpopular route amongst the routes is due to its strenuous hike but suits well to more experienced hikers. Beginning at a small hamlet named Huaran in the sacred valley, tourists ascend to Cancha Cancha camp before Pachacuteq passes at 4 700 m. The next day the descent begins behind the mountain pass while seeing some lakes in that magical Lares valley approaching Quiswarani village. In the upcoming days, the path gets to Cuncani and Huacahuasi villages for camping and continues towards Huacahuasijasa pass as in route 4. The hike ends in Yanahuara village near Ollantaytambo in the sacred valley before taking the train. It is a four-day hike plus a Machu Picchu visit on the fifth day in this case.