Lares trek is one of the best alternatives for the hiker who wants to avoid the crowds and still hike the prehistoric Inca trail in an original way. Lares integrates charming countrysides, Inca relics and local indigenous communities willing to invite you to share some culture with them. Compared to the classic Inca trail to Machu Picchu, this route is less traveled and available most of the year. Trekking this route gives you the chance to see Andean farmers dressed in their ancestral bright ponchos and hats, alpaca herds, vicuñas and llamas along with stunning vistas of glacial topped mountains. Eventually this journey finishes by visiting the famous site of Machu Picchu.
On the day of departure you are picked up very early and taken on a scenic ride through the Sacred Valley of the Incas; we pass through the beautiful provincial town of Calca for breakfast,(2940m/9646f) we leave at 8am and continue our ride for 3 hours through small Andean villages, spectacular mountain landscapes, herds of llamas and alpacas. Finally we reach Lares,(3200m/10499f) which is famed for the medicinal properties of its thermal baths, here we enjoy a relaxing and healing dip in the pools, that have a temperature of between 28 and 36 celsius, and 82 and 97 degrees F, before starting our hike. After a 2 and a half hour walk we arrive in Vilcabamba where we have lunch in a nice restaurant. We then meet the rest of our trek team: cook, arrieros (horse handlers) and animals. The horses will carry all our food, and camping gear. Then we continue hiking the valley for an hour and a half. When we reach the small village of Huacawasi (3,700 m), we set up a campsite and overnight there after being served dinner.
Many of houses that you can see in Huacahuasi are built of stone and have thatched roofs. Local people produce beautiful colourful fabrics. In the morning, we learn about weaving techniques while we can admire their high quality products such as ponchos, "chullos" (woolen hats) and other garments. We start trekking later today, it means after having lunch in the village. We climb for about 2 hours to reach the top of Ipsaycocha Pass (4,500 m), the highest point of the trek. There, we can appreciate stunning views of the surrounding mountains. Then we descend gently. If we are lucky, we can see Andean geese, Puna ibis and other wetland birds around the lake. We keep going until we arrive in Patacancha. Patacancha is a peaceful, out-of-the-way village that doesn't recieve many visitors. It is quite secluded and is known for its exquisite textiles. Tonight we feast in a family home in Patacancha, and we sleep either in a homestay or camp in the village
The next day we set out the last part of the trek to a valley where the Willoq Village lies. This is another traditional Andean village where locals still wear typical clothes and are proud to keep their cultural identity! There our transport pick us up to take us farther down into the valley to the Incan town of Ollantaytambo, where we have lunch. In the afternoon, we take a train to Aguas Calientes enjoying spectacular views of changing countryside from Andean highlands to lush tropical vegetation of the lower located Aguas Calientes. After this two hour ride, we check into our hostel and without a doubt enjoy a hot shower before getting to bed for a well deserved rest!
The morning of the last day we get up early and catch the bus to the archaeological site of Machu Picchu " Wonder of the World", which will end with a tour of the place and free time to explore the citadel of Machu Picchu before returning by train back to Ollantaytambo (alternatively to Poroy)