10 TOP things to know about the Lares Trek
If you’re looking for a high-altitude adventure, the Lares trek in Cusco, Peru is an amazing option. The journey begins near the village of Lares, about 40 miles north of Cusco and 35 miles east of Machu Picchu. The trek takes three days and traverses the stunning Lares Valley, which is part of the Sacred Valley and is located in the east of the Urubamba mountain range. To get to the start of the trek, you’ll need to take a bus or van for about 5 hours.
The Lares Valley is a hub of traditional weaving and farming, with locals who speak Quechua and Spanish. Homemade textiles are famous in the area, and there’s a rich cultural heritage to explore along the trek. In fact, it’s the most cultural trek to Machu Picchu!
This trek has it all – from breathtaking turquoise lagoons to dizzying altitudes, and friendly locals herding their alpacas. It’s an experience you’ll never forget and will want to celebrate long after completing the trek. Once you’ve conquered this epic journey, check out these ten things you should know about hiking the Lares trek.
1. You get the best of Inca history and local culture
While the Lares Trek may not have as many Inca ruins as some of the other treks in the area, it still has plenty of awe-inspiring sights. Instead of focusing on ruins, this trek gives you a chance to experience local life and take in some of the most breathtaking scenery in the region.
Before starting the hike, you’ll embark on a day tour of some of the most famous Inca sites around the Sacred Valley. The area was once home to the Inca Empire, and the agricultural terraces and Inca fortresses above the village of Písac and in the town of Ollantaytambo provide a fascinating glimpse into how farming was maximized during that time.
Taking a break from hiking to explore the history of the area allowed me to truly appreciate and understand the importance of the Inca Empire. It’s amazing to see how the people of that time were able to thrive in such a challenging environment, and the tour provided a deeper understanding of their achievements.
2. It’s not a “runner up”
If you’re planning to trek the Inca Trail, you need to plan well in advance, as only 500 permits are issued daily. The Lares Trek, on the other hand, is relatively unknown.
Some people compare the two, but I think it’s an unfair comparison. Each offers unique experiences with different focuses. If you want to immerse yourself in Peru’s wilderness, experience local culture, and still push yourself physically, the Lares Trek is a great choice. Plus, you have the option of taking a train to Machu Picchu, which is one of the most scenic train rides in the world. This way, you can enjoy a comfortable bed and a warm shower before exploring the Lost City of the Incas.
In contrast, the Inca Trail leads you directly to Machu Picchu, so if you want to be right in the thick of it, that may be the better option for you. However, if you prefer a more comfortable and cleaner experience before seeing the ruins, the Lares Trek may be the better choice.
3. You’ll feel like you have the Andes to yourself
During my three-day hike on the Lares trail, I was pleasantly surprised by the lack of tourists. It felt like I had the trail all to myself, which added to the already magical and spiritual atmosphere of Cusco. At times, I stopped just to soak in the silence and take in the stunning views of the surrounding peaks, some of which towered over five thousand meters high. The Andes are truly awe-inspiring and have a way of making you feel small and humbled in the best way possible
4. It’s a great chance to live (and learn) local
The Inca Empire had a turbulent past, but today, the native Quechua people are an integral part of Peru’s cultural identity. During my hike, we had the chance to meet a local family and learn about their weaving techniques, dyeing alpaca wool, and cultural customs, such as the ritual of a Quechua girl skinning a guinea pig to show she is ready for marriage. These experiences were made possible through Apple Travel Peru-supported Planeterra community projects, which provide real benefits and opportunities to local communities. It was heartening to see tourism used as a force for good.
5. The stars will blow your mind
As a city dweller, it’s easy to lose sight of just how amazing the night sky can be. But on the Lares Trek, nestled high in the Andean Mountains, you’ll get to experience some of the most breathtaking views of the Milky Way and constellations you’ve ever seen. For two evenings in a row, I sat outside, sipping on a warm coca-leaf tea as I gazed up at the glittering stars until the cold finally drove me back indoors. It was an awe-inspiring reminder of just how vast and wondrous our universe truly is.
6. Pack light and pack smart
During the Lares Trek, you don’t need to worry about carrying your belongings as they will be carried by pack mules and porters will transport them between campsites. It’s important to pack light to minimize weight and to help the mules. I recommend keeping your day pack as light as possible. Carrying less weight will give you more energy to enjoy the hike, and you won’t have to worry about lugging around extra camera gear.
7. Don’t let Day 2 beat you: The views are worth it!
The Lares Trek may not be the most difficult hike out there, but it’s not a walk in the park either. The altitude can be a challenge, especially on Day 2, when you reach a height of 4,800 meters, the highest point on the trek. Even if you’re in great shape and well-adjusted to the altitude, it can still take a toll on your body. The second day of the trek is the most challenging, so don’t be afraid to take it at your own pace. But don’t give up! Once you reach the summit, you’ll be rewarded with breathtaking views, and the descent into the valley is a nice break. Plus, you won’t be left behind; with an assistant guide on each trek, you can split into two groups and go at different paces, so everyone can enjoy the hike
8. This is camping reimagined
Both of the Apple Travel Peru camping areas on the Lares Trek have fitted toilets and shower blocks. In the event that you really hate freezing first thing, I’d suggest washing with the warm water bowls given toward the beginning of the day. Goodness, and an insight worth heeding: on the Lares Trek, moist disposable clothes (wipes) are your closest companion.
One of the champions of the journey is the food: every feast was superior to the last. Three courses of soups, new fish, egg dishes, and flavorful treats in some way or another got kitchen every day. On the last, we were given an entire chilled cake as congrats for finishing the trip.
Try not to wrongly hold back on the stuff; these mountains are cold. In the event that you don’t have a four-season camping bed, lease one. Also, an inflatable cushion and climbing shafts are commendable ventures.
9. Coca leaves are king
Altitude sickness is a lot of a genuine thing, so calculate this while making arrangements for the Lares Journey. Regardless of whether you are taking altitude sickness-preventing pills (called Diamox) before you show up or depending on acclimation to the elevation in Cusco, the coca leaf might be useful to you.
Biting on these leaves is the go-to in the Andes for both medicinal purposes and to facilitate the impacts of height. In the event that you hate folding these green leaves into an enjoyable ball, do take the tea when presented by the porters. Besides, on the off chance that you stock up on a sack of leaves from a market, you’ll have the ideal gift and icebreaker when you meet neighborhood individuals.
10. Machu Picchu doesn’t disappoint
At any point stress that something to be worth the hype? Indeed, Machu Picchu isn’t one of those spots!
In the wake of finishing the 36-kilometer climb, exploring these unbelievable remains is the ultimate reward — and they are as great, all things considered, as they are in every one of those Instagram photographs you’ve gone through years drooling over. While you might not have shown up by walking, the beautiful train venture from Ollayntambo to Aguas Calientes will leave you dumbfounded prior to rising promptly the following morning to transport you up to the fundamental entry.
Assuming there is one thing I can ensure toward the finish of this excursion, it’s that you’ll design your next one back when you return home.
Prepared to take on the Lares Trip? Apple Travel Peru can get you there. Look at our small group tours to Peru including the Lares Trek.