Lares Trail to Machu Picchu
Why we love this trip!
- An alternative trail to Machu Picchu
- Visit the Lares Hotsprings known as the Inca Baths
- Explore amazing Inca ruins culminating in the greatest of all, Machu Picchu
- Trek over a 4200m pass
- Get away from the crowds in our specially designed itinerary
- Walk among the giant Andes and their wonderous snow capped peaks.
For those who want to take the path less traveled to Machu Picchu there is a trail that is stunningly beautiful and could be exactly what you are searching for. With its glacial lakes, waterfalls, hot springs and quaint Andean Villages the Lares Trail to Machu Picchu will take you on a trek where you will discover the true beauty of Peru, without the masses of crowds.
The former Inca Capital and Spanish colonial city of Cusco is our base for this great expedition, a wonderful place full of culture, history, good restaurants and fun nightlife. From Cusco we travel through the Sacred Valley of the Incas to the spectacular Lares valley bringing you back to an ancient Andean life where hardy-locals herd llamas and plant potatoes as they have for centuries amidst beautiful Andean surrounding. Their incredibly bright, high-quality woven red clothes are startlingly against the mountain back ground.
The trek is an interesting mixture of spectacular mountain scenery, glacial lakes, waterfalls, high plains, hot springs and charming Andean villages. The views of the snow topped peaks of Veronica, Chicon, Pitusiray and Sawasiray keep us company most of the way.
This trek also boasts a chance to visit the lovely hot-springs at Lares village and a chance to barter for local weavings along the route. The final location of the Pumamarca ruins and the superb walk down on an original Inca trail along massive, remarkably well- preserved Inca terraces to the back entrance of Ollantaytambo completes this satisfying trek.
From the Inca Fortress town of Ollantaytambo, we embark on the famous and scenic Orient Express train to the lost city of the Incas, Machu Picchu and a night is spent in the colourful town of Aguas Calientes before spending the whole day exploring the awe-inspiring, ‘New wonder of the modern world’, Machu Picchu with a private guide. The return to Cusco is by ‘Vistadome’ train and private bus. The final day is spent relaxing in Cusco’s ancient streets, artisan markets or excellent restaurants and bars.
DAY 1: ARRIVE CUSCO
DAY 2: CUSCO and SURROUNDS
DAY 3: MORAY SALT PANS ACCLIMATISATION WALK
DAY 4: TOTORA – QUISHUARANI
DAY 5: QUISHUARANI – LARES HOTSPRINGS- HUACAHUASI
DAY 6: HUACAHUASI- PATACANCHA
DAY 7: ROYAL INCA TRAIL (km104) TO MACHU PICCHU
DAY 8: MACHU PICCHU – CUSCO
DAY 9: CUSCO
Note : Flights for Lima to Cusco can be booked through us. Price depends on how in advance you book and if there are school holidays or not. However as a guide prices are between $600 and $700 return.
Please Note: The price is based on twin share accommodation. Single supplement is $650 per person.
We have upgraded our hotels on this expedition to provide you with excellent comfort, service and a unique experience. In Cusco we stay in the Quinta San Blas, a Republican home that has been renovated into 20 beautiful rooms. In a quaint suburb only three blocks from Plaza Mayor del Cusco, the Quinta San Blas is a beautiful and cosy hotel with great flair and wonderful furnishings to help you feel at home.
In Machu Picchu Pueblo we stay in the contemporary but cosy El Mapi by Inkaterra. This is a unique place in Peru with wonderfully tasteful decor and an excellent place to relax after your trek.
In the Sacred Valley we use Villa Urubamba, a rustic country lodge on a large estate with spectacular views and wonderfully warm rooms.
Hotels in Lima : We can arrange for accommodation in Lima as well as transfers there. We use the 4 star Hotel Boulevard, Miraflores. Per night twin for room is $160 and a triple room is $240. Transfers to and from airport are $55 each way.
FLIGHTS TO PERU
There are no direct flights to Cusco. To fly into Peru you must fly into Lima first. Many stay overnight there before flying to Cusco. If you would like we can arrange your flight to Peru and your domestic flight to from Lima to Cusco return. Click here to get a quote.
To reach Peru, you may spend many hours flying there. 9 Days trekking to Machu Picchu for many is simply not enough adventure. Peru and the surrounding countries have so much more to offer. We have selected some of the best out of the way and fascinating adventures on offer for you to add to your itinerary, including an Amazon Adventure, trips to Lake Titicaca and Colca Canyon. We also have a couple of day trip extensions including River Rafting, SUP and Mountain Biking. Check our Extensions at the bottom of the left hand column. Note: When booking, these options will be available on the booking form.
Perched in a spur of the Urubamba Valley, nestled away in the Andes mountain range, high above the Urubamba River lays the deserted city of Machu Picchu, once home to the thriving ancient civilisation of Incas; a united community situated and dwarfed by the mountains of Machu Picchu and Huayna Picchu. Abandoned a century after being built and swallowed by an overgrown extension of the jungle, Machu Picchu sat silent just waiting to be discovered, its existence remaining a secret to the outside world up until 1911.
After extensive excavating, archaeologists have been able to identify and develop a layout of the lost city, dividing areas into agricultural and urban sections. The agriculture section made up of both small and large terracing all built in accordance to the natural slope and layout of the land, extending onto the surrounding mountain fields and the urban areas divided into East and West, littered with plazas, temples of worship and staircases with a total of three thousand and something stairs.
Construction of the sanctuary of Machu Picchu began approximately around the mid- 15th century, the city flourished for a 100 years before being abandoned when the Incas became under threat from the invasion and conquest of the Spanish. There is no evidence in the Spanish invasion archives that they ever made it to the mountaintop and thus created speculation that the real reason for abandonment of the city was due to an outbreak of smallpox that ravaged the community.
The purpose of Machu Picchu to this day remains unclear; The discoverer of the "City of the Incas" Hiram Bingham, pondered theories that the city provided a convent for Inca women to be educated on how to serve the ruler of the Inca Empire and coterie, Bingham believed that 75% out of the hundreds of skeletons found on site were female, further modern studies deduced that a more accurate split of 50/50 between the two genders. Bingham also theorized that Machu Picchu was actually the fabled Tampu-tocco, the site that the forefathers of the Inca race were said to have originated from.
Today, the preserved history, artefacts and culture of Machu Picchu all contribute, to the newly claimed title of being one of the new Seven Wonders of the World.
The lost city, now found.
DAY 1: CUSCO: Welcome to Cusco- touch down, collect your luggage and meet your guide, then drive twenty minutes through the colourful South American streets to your hotel.
Meet in the Coffee Museum at 1pm to enjoy a tasty lunch and learn about the story and people behind this popular drink.
After lunch step out into the Cusco streets and explore with one of our carefully chosen guides. They are not only very knowledgeable but also great fun to be with. You do not want to cram too much in on your first day at altitude, so relax and get used to being up high with a gentle walk around this old Inca capital.
Visit the Plaza de Armas, the Cathedral and the Qoricancha temple of the sun and perhaps take in the sights, sounds and smells of San Pedro food market too. If you normally shop in supermarkets and farmers markets, you are in for a surprise. Stands full of juicy exotic fruits, counters heaving with cow heads and sheep hooves and cheerful local women selling handmade cheeses, local breads, healthy juices and even toad soup.
The evening is free to relax and wander around the UNESCO World Heritage Site city centre.
DAY 2: CUSCO: Today you stretch your legs with a delightful hike in the hills above Cusco. First we visit the impressive site of Sacsayhuaman. Huge stone ramparts surround a beautiful grass amphitheatre. Once the scene of fierce battles it now hosts the recreation of traditional Inca ceremonies such as Inti Raymi and Warachikuy. Next is the Inca water temple of Tambo Machay lying at 3700m (12,000 feet) followed by a special picnic lunch. From here it is all downhill to Cusco, stopping at the Temple of the Moon and other historical sites along the way. (B)
DAY 3: MORAY TO SALT PANS ACCLIMATISATION WALK: Leaving Cusco behind you start your journey to Machu Picchu. The hike starts at the fascinating circular ruins of Moray. While some think it was a landing pad for alien spaceships, more likely is that the Incas built this as an experimental agricultural centre. Concentric circular terraces allowed them to simulate different facing slopes and different growing temperatures to see what crops would grow where.
With another homemade picnic along the way you hike on down, past the spectacular salt pans of Maras to end in the Sacred Valley for the night. (B,L)
DAY 4: TOTORA – QUISHUARANI: Departing Cusco early we drive along the Sacred Valley before, at Calca heading high into the Andes. In just under two hours we will leave the vehicles and start our acclimatization hike up an ancient Inca trail, through a narrow canyon where Inca burial tombs can still be seen. This is a perfect hike to allow clients to experience firsthand the affects of trekking at altitude. We meet our bus further up the valley and transfer over a 4200m pass to the small community of Quisuarani where we set up base camp for the night. (B,L,D)
DAY 5: QUISHUARANI – LARES HOTSPRINGS- HUACAHUASI: A beautiful day’s hiking as we climb out of the Quisuarani valley, hopefully meeting en route some of the colourfully dressed locals. This whole area is famous for its weavings and at the various campsites, we can haggle for beautiful hand-made textiles at a fraction of the price of what they would be at home or even in Cusco. Our trekking path borders the native tree reforestation project of ECOAN: this restored eco-system is home to several endemic birds. We descend past some spectacular waterfalls, crystal clear lakes, Llama herds and Viscachas (long-tailed rabbits) to the small village of Cuncani, where we have our picnic lunch. Continuing in the afternoon we have a short walk over the ridge to the village of Huacahuasi where we will camp for the night. Those who have the energy can head down the road and an old Inca Trail to the Lares Hot-springs, for a good soak in the “Banos del Inca” – The Incas’s Baths – a selection of perfectly heated pools (B,L,D)
DAY 6: HUACAHUASI- PATACANCHA:
This is a day filled with encounters with locals. Men head off to work in the potato fields, wooden ploughs slung over their shoulder. Women sit, legs outstretched weaving their traditional clothes on wooden looms. And small children sit motionless guarding herds of alpaca and llama, their ever faithful dog by their side.
You start fifteen minute's drive from camp to begin towards the final pass. Lying at 4,200m/13,780ft the Ipsaycocha pass marks the border between Lares and the Patacancha Valley. You start gently and then climb one final steep section to gain the summit. If you are lucky, you will have spectacular views of Mount Veronica. You take lunch by the beautiful Ipsay lake then follow an ancient trail to the Patacancha Valley and the village of Patacancha where the trek ends. A vehicle takes down the valley and to your hotel for the night. (B,L,D)
DAY 7: Royal Inca Trail (km104) to Machu Picchu:
You start the day with an early transfer to catch the train towards Machu Picchu. Jumping off at km104 you pass through the control point and begin your Inca Trail trek.
First, you visit the recently restored ruins of Chachabamba before gradually ascending through tropical cloud forest up towards the base of Wiñay Wayna. Here you climb more steeply on old Inca stairways through these beautiful terraces, stopping to explore the various buildings and water features.
Here we can enjoy our packed lunch, with a great view. You then continue on perhaps the loveliest part of the whole Inca Trail.
Lush vegetation flanks you on either side, the scent of wild orchids fills the air, and all around you brightly coloured tropical songbirds fill your ears with song.
Soon you will reach a final set of stairs to arrive at Inti Punku, the gateway of the Sun. As you step through the old stone gate-way, Machu Picchu appears laid out before your eyes. After plenty of photos, you carry on past this wonder of the world to catch the bus down to the lively town of Machu Picchu Pueblo and a well-deserved hotel and shower.
Total hiking distance: 11 km
Whilst walking all you need is your daypack as your over-night luggage will be transferred to your hotel in Machu Picchu town to await your arrival.(B,L)
DAY 8: MACHU PICCHU – CUSCO: First thing in the morning we head up the hill to Machu Picchu and have it virtually to ourselves for a full guided tour, with time afterwards to climb Huayna Picchu (due to permit restrictions, please let us know when booking if you want to climb Huayna Picchu or Machu Picchu mountain), walk out to the Inca Bridge or else just wander through the ruins soaking up the amazing atmosphere. In the afternoon, we board the train for an exhilarating ride along the Sacred Valley of the Incas. Here our waiting bus whisks us back to Cusco and our hotel. Then if we have the energy we can explore Cusco’s excellent nightlife. (B)
DAY 9: CUSCO – HOME: Today, we transfer to Cusco airport in time for your internal and international flights home. (B) Alternatively if you wish you can delay your departure by one day and have a free day to discover the delights of Cusco.
- All airport transfers
- Cusco walking tour and acclimatisation trek
- Transport to and from the trail in private vehicle
- All camping and cooking equipment including Thermarests, spacious two person tents, dining, cook and toilet tent
- Extensive First-aid kit including Oxygen; professional English and Spanish speaking guides trained in first-aid and C.P.R.
- Cook team with correct wages, transport to trail head, food, tent and insurance.
- Entrances to Machu Picchu Inca sites.
- 3* hotel in Cusco and Aguas Calientes.
- All meals as indicated in the itinerary (B = Breakfast, L = Lunch, D = Dinner).
- National or International flights
- Personal expenses
- Sleeping bag (available for rent at $10 a night)
- Airport taxes (if applicable)
- Travel insurance and tips.
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