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Lares Valley to Machu Picchu Trek

Intro / Classic Inca Trail / Short Inca Trail / Salkantay / Santa Teresa / Lares / Ausangate / Choquequirao

The Lares Valley to Machu Picchu Trek

 

For trekkers wanting to get off the well beaten tourist path and escape to a part of Peru that has changed little over the last 500 years then a trek through the spectacular scenery of the Lares Valley is a must. This remote and rarely visited region offers the trekker an insight into the real lives of the Andean farmer, dressed in their traditional brightly coloured ponchos. You'll have the opportunity to see thatched stone houses surrounded by herds of llamas and alpacas. Inside the houses you'll see guinea pigs running loose.

 

Of the last few years this trek has become more and more popular especially since the number of trekkers on the Classic Inca Trail has  been limited and permits are selling out 5 or 6 months in advance. The advantage of this trek is that permits are not required and, in theory, you could just turn up in Cusco and make a booking 2 or 3 days in advance. However most companies are combining these treks with a visit to Machu Picchu and therefore train tickets between Ollantaytambo and Aguas Calientes are best bought several weeks in advance.

Lares Valley Treks Map

"Weavers Way" Lares (hot springs) to Machu Picchu Trek (4 days) Route Option 01

 

Distance: 33km

Duration: 4 days

When to go: Best from April to December although can be done year round.

Altitude: 2100m to 4500m

Difficulty: Moderate

Trek fees: None although you have to pay to enter Machu Picchu on the final day of the trek

 

See our Introduction to the Lares Valley to Machu Picchu Trek which includes information about the region, trek prices and responsible tourism and also describes the various trek options on offer.

 

Typical Trek Itinerary Route 01

 (the actual trek itinerary may change slightly from company to company)

 

Day 1: Cusco - Calca - Lares (hot springs) - Huacawasi

Our bus leaves Cusco at around 06:00. Its a scenic drive through the Sacred Valley, passing through Pisac and stopping for breakfast for about 40 minutes in the provincial town of Calca. In Calca you will also have the opportunity to use the bathroom and buy any last minute snacks, water, etc. Departing Calca around 08:00 we head off for the 3 hours drive to Lares (3100m) which is the starting point for the trek. Along the way you will be able to observe small Andean communities, spectacular mountain landscapes, herds of llamas and alpacas.

Before we start the trek we'll visit the hot springs which are located in meadows just out of town. For those of you who have remembered to bring your swimwear we will take a relaxing dip in the warm waters which are famous for their medicinal powers. Feeling fully refreshed, we begin a leisurely walk up the Trapiche River Valley. After about 2.5 hours we will arrive at Vilcabamba village where we will stop and have lunch. We will then continue up the valley for another 1.5 hours to the small village of Huacawasi (3700m) where we will set up camp and spend the night. Walking distance approx 12km (4-5 hours).

 

Day 2: Huacawasi - Ipsaycocha Lake

Many of the houses that we see in this small village of Huacahuasi are built from stone and have thatched roofs. The people of this village produce beautiful colourful textiles. In the morning we will learn about the weaving techniques and be able to admire some of their high quality ponchos, chullos (wool hats) and other garments. After lunch will then climb for approximately 2 hours to the top of Ipsayccasa Pass which, at 4500m, is the highest pass along the trek. From here we get stunning views of the surrounding mountains. We will descend gently for about 1 hour until we reach the site of our second night's camp beside the beautiful Ipsaycocha Lake. We may be lucky enough to see Andean Geese, Puna Ibis and other wetland birds. Walking distance approx 9km (3-4 hours)

 

Day 3: Ipsaycoccha Lake - Patacancha - Willoq - Ollantaytambo - Aguas Calientes

Today is a much easier day. After an early breakfast we'll walk gently downhill through a wide-open valley for about 2.5 hours until we arrive at the village of Patacancha. The people from this area are known locally as "Huayruros" - the name of a red and black seed reminiscent of the colour of their ponchos. We'll have a chance to view some textiles made by the people of this community - the high quality weavings are famous for their intricate designs reflecting aspects of their everyday lives and culture. We'll walk slowly down the valley to Willoq, another Quechua village where the locals still wear their traditional dress and are proud to maintain their cultural identity. Our transport will be waiting for us to take us further down the valley to Inca town of Ollantaytambo where we will rest and have lunch. In the early afternoon we will catch a train to Aguas Calientes. This is a spectacular journey that starts in the Quechua highlands and slowly descends to lush tropical vegetation as we near Aguas Calientes. Total journey time about 1.5 hours. We'll spend the night in a hostal in Aguas Calientes where you'll no doubt enjoy the opportunity to soak under the hot showers!! Early night.

Walking distance approx 12km (5-6 hours).

 

Day 4: Aguas Calientes - Machu Picchu - Aguas Calientes - Cusco

Rise early around about 04:45 !! to take one of the first buses up to Machu Picchu. I'm sure you'll agree that, although it's tough getting up, it's well worth the effort to see the "Lost City of the Incas" at its quietest in the early morning light. You'll have plenty of opportunity to take photos and have some peaceful time alone to enjoy the sun rising from behind the mountains. Our guide will give you a tour of Machu Picchu telling you about Inca history and significance of the major sites of interest. The tour takes about 2 hours after which you will have free time to explore the ruins on your own or climb Wayna Picchu - the mountain that overlooks the ancient Inca city (allow a minimum of 1.5 hours). By 11:00 Machu Picchu quickly fills up with tourists arriving by train and appears crowded by comparison with the early morning. Most people are ready to take the bus back to Aguas Calientes around 1pm where you can have lunch in one of the many restaurants. Late afternoon train back to Ollantaytambo where a bus will be waiting to bring you back to Cusco.

 

(trek itinerary used with permission from Peru Treks)

 

Companies offering this version of the Lares trek include:

Qente

Inkanatura

 

Lares (Quishuarani) to Machu Picchu Trek (4 days) Route Option 2

 

Distance: 39km

Duration: 4 days

When to go: Best from April to December although can be done year round.

Altitude: 2700m to 4500m

Difficulty: Moderate

Trek fees: None although you have to pay to enter Machu Picchu on the final day of the trek

 

See our Introduction to the Lares Valley to Machu Picchu Trek which includes information about the region, trek prices and responsible tourism and also describes the various trek options on offer.

 

Typical Trek Itinerary Route 02

 (the actual trek itinerary may change slightly from company to company)

 

Day 1: Cusco - Calca - Quishuarani (Lares) - Cuncani

Our bus leaves Cusco at around 06:00. Its a scenic drive through the Sacred Valley, passing through Pisac and stopping for breakfast for about 40 minutes in the provincial town of Calca. In Calca you will also have the opportunity to use the bathroom and buy any last minute snacks, water, etc. Departing Calca around 08:00 we head off for the 2 hour drive to Quishuarani (3700m) which is the starting point for the trek. Along the way you will be able to observe small Andean communities, spectacular mountain landscapes, herds of llamas and alpacas.

 

Heading west up a small valley we'll arrive at a lake at the head of the valley and start a steep zig-zag climb up a narrow trail to the top of the first pass known as Abra Huillquijasa (4200m), about 3.5 hours from Quishuarani village. Below you lies a series of stunning turquoise lakes. We'll drop down and have lunch beside the lakes before continuing on for the short trek to the next village of Cuncani (3750m) in the bottom of the valley (2 hour from the pass). Arriving in the village around 4pm we�ll set up camp. Walking distance approx 12km (5-6 hours)

 

Day 2: Cuncani - Huacawasi - Ipsaycocha Lake

After breakfast we'll get back on the trail around 07:00. We will walk slightly downhill for the first 2 hours to the Chancachaca Valley (3600m) and then up for about 1.5 hours to the small village of Huacawasi (3700m). Many of the houses that we see are built from stone and have thatched roofs. The people of this village produce beautiful colourful textiles. Here we will learn about the weaving techniques and be able to admire some of their high quality ponchos, chullos (wool hats) and other garments. We will rest and have lunch. We will then continue to climb for approximately 2 hours to the top of Ipsayccasa Pass which, at 4500m, is the highest pass along the trek. From here we get stunning views of the surrounding mountains. We will descend gently for about 1 hour until we reach the site of our second night's camp beside the beautiful Ipsaycocha Lake. We may be lucky enough to see Andean Geese, Ouna Ibis and other wetland birds. Walking distance approx 15km (6-7 hours)

 

Day 3: Ipsaycoccha Lake - Patacancha - Willoq - Ollantaytambo - Aguas Calientes

Today is a much easier day. After an early breakfast we'll walk gently downhill through a wide-open valley for about 2.5 hours until we arrive at the village of Patacancha. The people from this area are known locally as "Huayruros" - the name of a red and black seed reminiscent of the colour of their ponchos. We'll have a chance to view some textiles made by the people of this community - the high quality weavings are famous for their intricate designs reflecting aspects of their everyday lives and culture. We'll walk slowly down the valley to Willoq, another Quechua village where the locals still wear their traditional dress and are proud to maintain their cultural identity. Our transport will be waiting for us to take us further down the valley to Inca town of Ollantaytambo where we will rest and have lunch. In the early afternoon we will catch a train to Aguas Calientes. This is a spectacular journey that starts in the Quechua highlands and slowly descends to lush tropical vegetation as we near Aguas Calientes. Total journey time about 1.5 hours. We'll spend the night in a hostal in Aguas Calientes where you'll no doubt enjoy the opportunity to soak under the hot showers!! Early night.

Walking distance approx 12km (5-6 hours).

 

Day 4: Aguas Calientes - Machu Picchu - Aguas Calientes - Cusco

Rise early around about 04:45 !! to take one of the first buses up to Machu Picchu. I'm sure you'll agree that, although it's tough getting up, it's well worth the effort to see the "Lost City of the Incas" at its quietest in the early morning light. You'll have plenty of opportunity to take photos and have some peaceful time alone to enjoy the sun rising from behind the mountains. Our guide will give you a tour of Machu Picchu telling you about Inca history and significance of the major sites of interest. The tour takes about 2 hours after which you will have free time to explore the ruins on your own or climb Wayna Picchu - the mountain that overlooks the ancient Inca city (allow a minimum of 1.5 hours). By 11:00 Machu Picchu quickly fills up with tourists arriving by train and appears crowded by comparison with the early morning. Most people are ready to take the bus back to Aguas Calientes around 1pm where you can have lunch in one of the many restaurants. Late afternoon train back to Ollantaytambo where a bus will be waiting to bring you back to Cusco.

 

(trek itinerary used with permission from Peru Treks)

 

Companies offering this version of the Lares trek include:

Peru Treks

SAS Travel

Chaska Tours

 

Sacred Valley to Lares to Machu Picchu Trek (4 days) Route Option 03

 

Distance: 33km

Duration: 4 days

When to go: Best from April to December although can be done year round.

Altitude: 2100m to 4450m

Difficulty: Moderate

Trek fees: None although you have to pay to enter Machu Picchu on the final day of the trek

 

See our Introduction to the Lares Valley to Machu Picchu Trek which includes information about the region, trek prices and responsible tourism and also describes the various trek options on offer.

 

Typical Trek Itinerary Route 04

 (the actual trek itinerary may change slightly from company to company)

 

Day 1: Cusco - Huaran (Sacred Valley) - Cancha Cancha

We pick you up from your hotel at 08:00 and travel by bus for the 1.5 hour ride to the village of Huaran (2840m) located in the Sacred Valley between Pisac and Urubamba. Huaran is the start of the trail. We'll meet up with the horsemen and pack the horses. Leaving the Sacred Valley behind us we head northwards following a gently climbing trail that runs parallel to the small Cancha Cancha river. It's a fairly tough 4 hour uphill trek to our destination, the small village also named Cancha Cancha (3800m) where we'll spend the night.

 

Day 2: Cancha Cancha - Quishuarani

Leaving Cancha Cancha we continue north east up the valley, passing small thatched stone houses. After half hour the path flattens out before climbing steeply for the 2.5 hour trek to the first pass, called Pachacutec Pass (4458m). From the pass you'll be rewarded with superb views of Pachacutec Lake and the snowy peaks of Pitusiray. The path continues for an hour along a narrow ridge until dropping down into a beautiful secluded corrie filled with glacial lakes and rich in birdlife. The lip of the corrie descends into the next valley, following a series of cascading waterfalls to the village of Quishuarani (3700m) about 1 hour easy walking from the corrie. We'll camp here for the night.

 

Day 3: Quishuarani - Cuncani- Lares (thermal springs) - Ollantaytambo - Aguas Calientes

Heading west up a small valley you'll arrive at a lake at the head of the valley and start a steep zig-zag climb up a narrow trail to the top of the second pass known as Abra Huillquijasa (4200m), about 3 hours from Quishuarani village. Below you lies a series of stunning turquoise lakes. We'll drop down and have a well deserved break beside the lakes before continuing on for the short trek to the next village of Cuncani (3750m) in the bottom of the valley (1.5 hour from the pass). The trail follows the river valley downhill for about 2 hours to the town of Lares (3100m) where you'll have the opportunity to enjoy a soak in some open air thermal springs (bring a swimsuit). At about 1pm the bus will pick us up and leave for Ollantaytambo, there you will have sometime to explore and see this amazing site before going to Aguas Calientes by train late in the afternoon. Overnight in Aguas Calientes

 

Day 4: Aguas Calientes - Machu Picchu - Aguas Calientes - Cusco

Rise early around about 04:45 !! to take one of the first buses up to Machu Picchu. I'm sure you'll agree that, although it's tough getting up, it's well worth the effort to see the "Lost City of the Incas" at its quietest in the early morning light. You'll have plenty of opportunity to take photos and have some peaceful time alone to enjoy the sun rising from behind the mountains. Our guide will give you a tour of Machu Picchu telling you about Inca history and significance of the major sites of interest. The tour takes about 2 hours after which you will have free time to explore the ruins on your own or climb Wayna Picchu - the mountain that overlooks the ancient Inca city (allow a minimum of 1.5 hours). By 11:00 Machu Picchu quickly fills up with tourists arriving by train and appears crowded by comparison with the early morning. Most people are ready to take the bus back to Aguas Calientes around 1pm where you can have lunch in one of the many restaurants. Late afternoon train back to Ollantaytambo where a bus will be waiting to bring you back to Cusco.

 

 

Companies offering this version of the Lares trek:

Llama Path