6 Day Lares Adventure
This trek from Lares through the plains of Fundo Huaran is a route much less traveled by tourists. It’s not one of the more commercially available treks like the Inca Trail or the Salkantay Trail, which makes this route special and unique. This trip offers close contact to Andean life with all its customs and traditions as well as the unforgettable delight of experiencing the nature of the Andes with their terraced valleys, impressive mountain tops, glaciers and lakes. It’s a world where time has stopped, where farmers still farm the land of their ancestors according to tradition and where they watch over their flock of llamas and alpacas under the close watch of the snow capped mountains – the “Apus” in Quechua – which they worship like gods. This trail is still frequented by the locals, direct descendants of the Incas. The path connects the communities of Cancha Cancha, Quishuarani, Cuncani and Lares which is famous for its medicinal hot springs. The last part of this tour from the town of Ollantaytambo to Aguas Calientes will be done by train. The train ride takes about 2 hours, after which you can relax in your hotel. Finally, the most important day of your trip arrives, and you will be visiting the sanctuary of Machu Picchu (named a world heritage site by UNESCO). In the afternoon you will return to Cuzco.
Upon arrival in Cuzco at 3,400m, you will be met by your guide and transferred to the hotel for a short initial briefing and then a few hours of rest, which is essential to successful acclimatization to the altitude.
Every alleyway we enter or corner we turn brings another surprise or enigma in the form of the superbly constructed Inca walls or the more architecturally extravagant colonial churches and palaces. Cuzco, once capital of the extensive Inca Empire, has seen many changes since Francisco Pizarro’s men took it with such apparent ease in November 1533. We also take a short drive to visit the monolithic walls of Sacsayhuaman, spectacularly set above the city. In the afternoon you may have time to explore some of the central parts of the city.
We leave Cuzco and cross the Chinchero Plateau from where we get impressive views of three mountain ranges. We descend into the valley to the Inca village of Ollantaytambo (For those interested you might like to consider a rafting trip along the Urubamba River). This village is famous for its monolithic granite blocks that were hauled 500 years ago from quarries more than 8 km away to become part of an unfinished temple high above the village. The monumental site you’ll visit here is definitely the most impressive in the valley. We’ll have plenty of time to explore this lovely village as well. The evening is spent at our hotel in the heart of the valley.
Meals: B, L, D
At 7 am you will be picked up at the hotel by our private transport which will bring you into the Sacred Valley of the Incas. We will take a short break close to the town of Calca in order to have breakfast. You will also have the opportunity to buy snacks like fruit, chocolate, water etc., in case you didn’t get a chance to do so in Cuzco. We will drive a bit further to our starting point, the plains of Huaran (3.000m / 9.840 ft) where we will meet our wranglers with their horses and commence our trek. The trail ascends steadily for 4 hours to the center of the valley of Huaran, following the river Cancha Cancha to a small community of the same name. Along the way we’ll be able to see the traditional farmland of the locals, enjoy the view into the impressive valley of the river and walk through the typical Polylepis woods which, unfortunately, are diminishing. This vegetation is particularly interesting due to its abounding wildlife, especially hummingbirds. In the village we will be able to enjoy a traditional, Andean lunch and continue with our hike after a short break. After two more hours of hiking we will reach our campsite “Acopata” at 3.950m (12.960ft). We will spend the night here after a traditional dinner and a short briefing for the next day.
Meals: B, L, D
After breakfast we continue our ascent. This is the longest and most exhausting day of the trail. We will climb for about 3 hours to the highest point called “Pachacutec” at 4.750m (15.580ft). The view from up here is breathtaking– you can see the impressive mountains and the glaciers, Pitusiray and Sahuasiray, as well as emerald green lakes. From there we descend for about 2 hours to the glacier lake Qoyalaycocha where we will break for our traditional lunch. After a short break we continue for another 2.5 hours to the village of Quishuarani. Along the trail we will be able to observe free range flocks of llamas, alpacas and sheep and, with a bit of luck, we might be able to spot the gray Andean deer, the Andean goose, falcons, ducks, or even the noble Andean fox.
We will camp at the community center which offers bathrooms and a campsite. In Quishuarani you will be able to purchase alpaca textiles which are still handmade according to the original style and tradition of the Lares valley. In the afternoon we will provide a small snack and later our ample traditional dinner.
Meals: B, L, D
We will have to get up at 6 am and begin our ascent after breakfast. We will climb for 4 hours to the pass of Cuncani 4,200m (13,780ft) from where we can admire the mountain range of Urubamba with the peaks of the Willcaccasa (4,458m / 14,625ft), the Padreyoc (5,500m / 18,045ft), and part of the Veroni (5,800m / 19,030 ft.) as well as turquoise lakes and the marvelous landscape of the valley itself. We will now descend for about 2 hours past several lakes until we reach the banks of lake Cuncani where we will enjoy our lunch. Another hour of walking will bring us to the village of Cuncani (3,900m / 12,795 ft), where you can buy traditional woven textiles. Along the way we will meet people who are dressed in these colorful fabrics. The flocks of llamas, alpacas and sheep will also accompany us on this stretch of the way.
From Cuncani we will descend further into the valley of Lares, known for its medicinal hot springs, where we will enjoy a well-earned hot bath. Our bus is waiting for us at Lares and will take us to Ollantaytambo in the afternoon. There, we will board the train for Aguas Calientes. You will be picked up upon arrival and accompanied to your hotel. In the evening there will be a briefing by your guide, coordinating your visit to the Magical Citadel of Machu Picchu for the next day.
Meals: B, L, D
We meet our guide early to walk or drive up to the citadel of Machu Picchu, getting our tickets checked at the entrance. Once we are inside we start with our guided tour of 2 to 2 ½ hours. Afterwards, we have free time to explore on our own or enjoy the views. In the afternoon, we have to return to the train station to take the train back to the Sacred Valley or Cuzco and transfer you to your hotel upon arrival.
Note: if you wish to climb Huayna Picchu mountain, these permits are limited and we will need to purchase them well ahead of time, along with your entrance to Machu Picchu.
Meals: B, L
- Private Bus: Cuzco – Huaran, Lares – Ollantaytambo, train station – Cuzco.
- English speaking, professional guide for the trek and Machu Picchu.
- All meals (till lunch of day 5), boiled water for drinking during the trek.
- Chef and cooking equipment.
- Quality double tents and mats, tables and chairs.
- Horses to carry food, cooking and camping equipment and 8 kg of luggage per person.
- First Aid Kit.
- Train ticket from Ollantaytambo to Aguas Calientes and back, transfer to Cuzco.
- One night hotel in Aguas Calientes.
- Entrance fee to Machu Picchu.
- 6 breackfast, 5 Lunch, 5 Dinners.
- International and domestic flights and taxes.
- Travel Insurance (compulsory)