The Lares Trek to Machu Picchu is an unforgettable and lesser-known trek combining amazing mountain scenery, glacial lagoons, valley bottom cloud-forest and authentic Quechua textile and llama-herding communities. You start in the village of Lares, where you’ll have the opportunity to take a dip in fabulous local hot springs. We end up at the Sacred Inca citadel of Machu Picchu. This is a unique hike connecting you directly with traditional Andean people who want to share their lifestyle and culture.
Before the departure you have the option, at no extra cost, to experience one of our Andean healing activities for protection during your trek. Receive either an Andean Blessing or perform an Offering to Mother Earth with an Andean Shaman.
Day 1: Cusco / Lares Hot Springs / Huaca Wasi (L,D)
Day 2: Huaca Wasi / Abra Ipsayco / Patacancha (B,L,D)
Day 3: Patacancha / Pumamarca / Ollantaytambo / Aguas Calientes (B,L,D)
Day 4: Machu Picchu / Cusco (B)
Our bus will leave Cusco at around 6am. It’s a scenic drive through the Sacred Valley, passing through Pisac and stopping for breakfast for about 40 minutes in the provincial town of Calca where you can buy last-minute snacks. We’ll depart Calca around 8:00am and head off for the 3-hour drive to Lares (3100m / 10,170ft) which is the starting point for the trek. Along the way you will be able to observe small Andean communities, spectacular mountain landscapes and 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 and take a relaxing dip in the warm waters which are famous for their medicinal powers. Feeling fully refreshed, we’ll begin a leisurely walk up the Trapiche River Valley. After about 2½ hours, we will arrive at Vilcabamba village where we will stop and have lunch. We will then continue up the valley for another 1½ hours to the small village of Huacawasi (3700m / 12,139ft) where we will set up camp and spend the night. Walking distance is approximately 12km, 4-5 hours.
Many of the houses that we see in this small village of Huaca Wasi are built from stone and have thatched roofs. The people of this village produce beautiful, colorful textiles. In the morning, we will learn about the local weaving techniques and admire some of the high-quality ponchos, chullos (wool hats) and other garments. After lunch, we climb for approximately 2 hours to the top of Ipsayccasa Pass which, at 4500m / 14 763ft, is the highest pass along the trek. We get stunning views from here of the surrounding mountains. We will descend gently for about 1 hour until we reach our second night’s campsite beside the beautiful Ipsaycocha Lake. We may be lucky enough to see Andean Geese, Puna Ibis and other wetland birds. Walking distance is approximately 9km (6-7 hours).
Today is a much easier day. After an early breakfast, we’ll walk gently downhill through a wide-open valley for about 2½ 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 color of the villagers’ ponchos. We’ll have a chance to view some locally made textiles, famous for their intricate designs reflecting aspects of everyday life 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 to take us further down the valley to the 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. The duration of the train ride is approximately 1½ hours. We’ll spend the night in a hotel in Aguas Calientes where you’ll no doubt enjoy the opportunity to soak under the hot showers or in the thermal baths! Early night. Walking distance is approximately 12km (5-6 hours).
We’ll get an early start, about 4:45am, to take one of the first buses up to Machu Picchu and beat the crowds. Although it’s tough getting up, we are sure you’ll agree that it’s well worth the effort to see the “Lost City of the Incas” at its quietest in the early morning light. (By 11:00am, Machu Picchu fills up with tourists arriving by train and is crowded compared to the early morning.) 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 Huayna Picchu – the mountain that overlooks the ancient Inca city (allow a minimum of 1½ hours). Alternatively, you can climbing Machu Picchu Mountain (3-to-4-hour round trip) for a different view of the site. Both Wayna Picchu and Machu Picchu Mountain require an additional pass and must be reserved at time of booking (see below).
Other free options are to:
– hike to the Sungate, where the first rays of sun shine on the winter solstice;
– visit the Inca Bridge to marvel at the creators’ incredible engineering skills and ingenuity;
– sit on the terraces below the Temple of the Condor and take in the energy of the site; or,
– walk through the site again, ducking into hidden corners and little-visited rooms to refine your own theory about Machu Picchu.
We’ll take a mid-afternoon train from the town of Aguas Calientes to Ollantaytambo or Poroy, where transportation will be waiting to bring you back to Cusco and your hotel.
* An extra horse to carry your personal items: $25 USD per day – up to 15 kilograms (33lb). A horse can carry up to 15 kg, which should be enough for 2 people, leaving you with just a small daypack to carry. An extra horse to carry you is $50 USD per day.
* An extra hotel night in Aguas Calientes can be booked for you at an additional cost depending on the hotel you choose. Please note that if you wish to visit Machu Picchu again the following day, the additional cost of the entrance fee is not included
* Vistadome Service train (Superior) instead of the Expedition one (Tourist train), at an additional cost between US$ 20.00 to 30.00 per person. (*) Please note that our guide travels back to Cusco in the Expedition train in all group services, so if you wish to book this extra service, you will not be accompanied by our guide.
* Hiram Bingham Luxury train instead of the Expedition one (Tourist train), at an additional cost of US$ 350.00 per person. This train departs Aguas Calientes at 5.50pm and includes a gourmet dinner and animation on board, with an estimated arrival time to Poroy train station at 9.16pm. Please note that our guide travels back to Cusco in the Expedition train in all group services, so if you wish to book this extra service, you will not be accompanied by our guide
* Sleeping bag rent: US$ 20.00 / 4 days. Our sleeping bags are –18ºC-comfort (0ºF) and mummy form and include a sleeping liner. They are cleaned after every use.
* Therm-a-rest inflatable sleeping pad rent: US$ 20.00 / 4 days
* Massage sessions: US$60.00 per 1-hour session (US$50.00 per session if at least 2 sessions are booked). Our massage therapists have the highest recognition in Cusco and offer the following treatments: relaxing massage, stress-relieving massage, spinal column massage, energizing massage, Inca massage, altitude problems, aroma therapy, therapy with honey, therapy with glass, therapy with stones, foot reflexology, shiatzu, reiki and puddle of flowering. We recommend massage sessions before and after your trekking program. Services are at the hotel and are available in Cusco and Aguas Calientes (Machu Picchu).
The permits for Inca Trail Classic.- are so limited every year only 200 permits are available per day -FIRST COME, FIRST SERVE BASIS. You must book and pay a deposit well in advance. For high season (May to October, 6-5 months in advance. Low season November to April 4-3 months in advance. If there are no permits available, you can still hike the Lares Trail, Salkantay trek or do the Inca Jungle Adventure tour.
Ticket For Wayna Picchu Mountain.- (Those trekkers who wish to climb Wayna Picchu Mountain after they have finished hiking the Inca Trail hike, must let us know that the permits also are so limited, thus you have pay USD$ 70 pp so we can purchase your ticket for the 2nd turn at 10:00 am. (For students with ISIC card USD$40 pp). For high season (May to October, 4-2 months in advance. Low season November to April 2-1 months in advance.
Climate. – Cusco’s climate is divided into two differentiated seasons: the rainy season, from November to April (the heaviest rainfalls occurring usually between January – March); and the dry season, from May to October. The dry season is colder, so temperatures can drop to below 0 degrees at night.
Along the Inca Trail, temperatures range from 15-20ºC during the day if it’s sunny, to 05-10ºC during the day if not sunny or 0-05ºC at night in the first 2 campsites. At Wiñaywayna and Machupicchu, at lower altitude, temperatures are usually warmer though warm clothes are still recommended at night.
Appropriate clothing along this hike.- Hiking pants and T-shirts are recommended during the day, complemented by sweaters, fleeces and waterproof jackets. It is very convenient to have light raingear available in the daypack (rain poncho or jacket and/or rain pants) as the weather changes easily and rains can suddenly occur. At night, warm clothing is required, down jackets can be useful, otherwise a fleece and a jacket. During the fourth day (if sunny) and in Machupicchu, convertible hiking pants are useful, as can be switched into shorts if necessary. Machupicchu has a warm climate, getting only cold at night. The rest of necessary implements are included in the “What we recommend that you bring” list. Good quality, comfortable footwear is essential. Whatever you wear on your feet the most important thing is comfort. It is vital to ensure your boots are well worn in and lightweight. Ankle support and waterproofing is recommended but if you already have something comfortable with good grip on rocks then don’t go rushing out to buy new boots – you are better off with your well-worn in pair!
Fitness. – The Inca Trail is certainly not easy but you do not need to be an athlete or a trekking expert to complete it. Fitness is naturally important but it is the kind of trek that anyone with a positive attitude and determination can do. However the more fit you are the more you will enjoy the trail and the more chance you will have to take in the scenery and appreciate the Inca ruins dotted along the way. If you do not exercise regularly, it is advisable to do some extra walking or some kind of aerobic activity in the months leading up to your trip.
Many people worry whether they will be able to cope physically but complete failure is rare and would usually only result from severe altitude sickness or a person lacking even a basic level of fitness. Adults of all ages (from teenager to pensioner) complete the trek and age itself is no barrier if you are positive minded and live an active lifestyle. Before departing for your tour, we recommend visiting the doctor who will be able to provide you with more information.
If you are planning to take your children to Peru, please be advised that the minimum age for hiking the Inca Trail is 13 years old.
Staff & support. – The trek will be led by an experienced guide with extensive local historical and archaeological knowledge. You will pass many Inca Places along the way and your guide will conduct short tours wherever it is possible to do so. The cook will prepare three meals a day (while camping) plus provide hot drinks and snacks.
Equipment & campsites.- All camping gear (tents are two person) and cooking equipment is supplied (except sleeping bags). Each day the porters will overtake the group to arrive in camp well in advance. This gives them plenty of time to set up camp and start to prepare dinner. Tents are two person A-frame style and there is a communal dining tent for eating and staying dry – if it rains. Sleeping mats are provided and these will be laid out in the tents by the porters. When you get into camp you will be able to collect your duffle bag and access your clothes/toiletries. The porters usually also provide a small bowl of warm water, soap and a small flannel / towel for every person to wash their hands when reaching camp and each morning. Campfires are not permitted so there is not a lot to do after dinner and most people retire to bed early. Please note that campsites are subject to change depending on availability. You will be advised at the Inca Trail trek briefing of the exact campsites you will be staying at.
Toilets & showers.- There are toilet blocks (with ceramic squat toilets) dotted along the Inca trail.
These little blocks are usually well hidden from view and are surprisingly clean. Between these toilet blocks the only choice is to go ‘behind a bush’! Lunch stops are often made in the vicinity of a toilet block. Toilet blocks are usually available in camp on the second and third night. The location of camp on day one can vary and it is likely that you will have to use a toilet tent or the bush. Taking your own toilet roll is essential but it is important not to flush loo paper away. Showers are available at the campsite on day 3. On this night all trekkers camp at the same place so demand for the showers can be high, however as everyone arrives into camp at different times in the afternoon you may be lucky and not have to queue for too long.
Meals. – The food provided by the porters and cook is nothing short of amazing. Trekkers can expect a breakfast of omelettes or pancakes, a ‘takeaway’ snack pack of fruit or chocolate to eat mid morning, a two course lunch of soup and meat with pasta or rice, afternoon tea on arrival at camp with biscuits and popcorn and a three course dinner. Breakfast and dinner is accompanied by hot drinks (tea, coffee, chocolate) and lunch usually by cordial (other drinks e.g. soft drinks or beer are at your own expense and can be pricey on the trail). All food is prepared, served and cleared away by the cook and porters and the quality of the meals is quite something when you consider that all the ingredients and basic cooking equipment has been carried in. Trekkers will certainly not go hungry and special dietary requirements can be catered for if specified in advance. You will be able to buy bottled water on day 1 and 2 of the trek at various points along the way, after this you will refill your empty bottles from boiled water provided by the porters. Boiled water will be provided during the trek when it is possible to make camp.
Tipping. – Your porters, guides and cooks have amazing strength, stamina and skill and generally make your trek a thoroughly enjoyable and hassle-free experience. Most people would almost certainly not be able to complete the trek without them. It is therefore commonly accepted that the standard combined tip for guides, porters and cooks on the Inca Trail is US$40 per trekker.