The Lares Trek: a calmer, three day alternate to the Inca Trail, no permits necessary
The Lares Valley is one of the most picturesque places in southern Cusco, home of many traditional weavers and farmers. The people of this area cultivate what they will eat and knit what they will wear. The Lares trek is moderately paced with sufficient time to appreciate the marvellous landscapes. This out-of-the-way and not often visited area offers the hiker a taste of Andean life, an ageless world where farmers plant their harvest on the same land that their predecessors attended and watch over herds of llamas and alpacas under the holy frost covered summits they honored as gods. This path is one of the Inca trails. Today the route is still used by farmers.
The region has remained to a great extent unspoiled by tourism and has kept its purity. You will see classicly clothed Andean farmers and cruise around markets doing their trading as they have for done forever, see thatched stone and adobe houses with possibly some guinea pigs running looses.
The Lares hike includes days of walking. You will be joined by a group of porters, llamas, a cook and an english speaking guide.You can walk at your own pace. The second day is the most challenging with two very high passes to be crossed (4560m and 4520m). This route is doubtlessly not easy though not the hardest either, the most important asset is a positive outlook. It is better to take it slow rather than tiring yourself out. If you start to feel exhausted then slow down and absorb the unbelievable scenery and rushing waterfalls around you, maybe you will find yourself sharing a moment with an Andean farmer (possibly with a little help from our guide). You can buy a bamboo walking stick from Cusco for about a dollar for more support walking and leaning on. Its a good idea to have a break every hour or so.
The trek takes you through Andean areas such as Huacahuasi, Ipsaycocha, Patacancha and Willoq, finally reaching Aguas Calientes where you will then visit Machu Picchu. To begin the hike you are driven about 5 hours to the Lares Valley. The Lares Trek travels across the emblematic dazzling, clean Peruvian Andean mountain regions.
The altitude can disturb anyone at moderate to high altitude (over 3,000 metres). Altitude sickness is bought about by deficiency of oxygen, which can be up to a third less than at sea level. It appears that some people are affected by this and others are not and seemingly age, level of fitness and strength do not play a part. Be conscientious that altitude sickness can be critical. The guide is experienced so take his advice and do as advised. The altitude sickne ss is unlikely to affect your whole trek as the hike is a combination of uphill and downhill. Medication for altitude sickness is obtainable.
The hike is led by a knowledgable guide with thorough knowledge of the provincial history and archaeology. On the way you will pass many Inca relics and your guide will carry out various short tours. The cook will make three meals a day, while camping and supply hot drinks and snacks. The meals made are typically Peruvian with vegetarian options. The ingredients are always bought locally, for the purpose of sustaining and supporting the local villages. Normally there is a permanent supply of coca tea and hot drinks and meals are augmented by tea breaks and snacks.