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Lares Trek 5 days to Machu Picchu combines this trek with Inca Trail, which is our cultural tour that focuses on local people and our lifestyle (when passing through incredible landscapes) and the short Inca Trail. This will give you the total package of beautiful views, camping in the Andes and walking through the Puerta del Sol to reach Machu Picchu.
We will pick you from your hotel at 5 AM to begin the famous Lares Trail. Pickup can be done from any hotel, condo or apartment within Cusco, Urubamba, Huaran or Pisaq. It will be a three-hour drive along the beautiful landscape of the Sacred Valley and through the Andes until we arrive at the Lares Hot Springs where you will enjoy your first breakfast accompanied by amazing views of the Andes Mountains. After breakfast, you will have time to enjoy the hot springs, which are divided into various pools ranging from freezing cold to boiling. They are all composed of pure volcanic water, which is medicinal in nature and considered to be good for your bones, stress, muscles, and headaches. After soaking in the baths for a while, you will drive 20 minutes to the trailhead, Punta Carretera at 3,300 m/ 10,827 ft above sea level. It is here that you will meet up with your horses and horsemen. You will give your duffel bags to the horsemen to be transported to the campsite.
Your trekking will begin with a two-hour gradual uphill hike, until lunch at our first village, Kiswarani. They consider this part of the hike the potato valley section, where people farm many varieties of organic potatoes. Your guide will also point out some indigenous medicinal plants growing along the way. Lunch will be excellent and prepared by your trekking chef.
After lunch, our horsemen (llameros) will do a ceremony with llamas showcasing these beautiful animals. Llamas were considered sacred to the Incas and fundamental to their economy. Our llameros will introduce you to these animals and discuss their importance and why owning one was a sign of privilege. Today they are disappearing, constantly breaded with smaller animals. We hope to continue the tradition of the Incas and give some llamas work. We do this to support the community that helps protect them. Llamas are pleasant to walk with and are friendly animals. Just don´t get too close, they might try to kiss you.
You will also have time to explore the village and visit some local homes, where you will learn about the lifestyle and ancient traditions of the local people. If there is time, we will visit the schoolhouse where the kids still speak Quecha, their native language. You may also bring toys, notebooks, or school supplies to distribute. Perhaps you may even teach them a few words in English. It will be another two hours, gradually uphill hiking until we arrive at the campsite. There you will be welcomed by our trekking staff, who will have your tents set up. We’ll enjoy some hot drinks, as the sky darkens and the stars start appearing. Finally, you will enjoy a lovely dinner prepared on-site. If you want to keep star-gazing, you may stay up for a while longer or, if you’d rather, you can turn in to your tent.
Trekking Distance: 10 km/ 6.21371 miles
Camp Elevation: 3,850 meters / 1,2631 ft
Today you will be woken up around 5 a.m., with our service of hot drinks. You will have spectacular views of the colorful lake and the valley of Kiswarani. You will see the local people will already be up and about, taking their llamas and alpacas out to graze. Breakfast will be served once you have finished packing your gear. Then we’ll fill up our water bottles, organize snacks, and you will begin your expedition to Machu Picchu. It will be a three or four-hour climb to get to the summit of the mountain. This pass is called Pachacute, or Condor Pass. We’ll zigzag our way up to compensate for the steep uphill. The views of the area are stunning. You will see lakes, waterfalls, llamas, and alpacas. We will have an emergency horse to ride in case you are tired. Once you arrive at the Condor Pass, you will be above the clouds, above the mountain peaks, and the surrounding 360-degree views are astounding. In front of you will be the beautiful mountain of Pitusiray, which is at 5,700 m/ 18,700 ft high, and the Condor pass is at 4,680 m/ 15,354 ft high. Afterward, we will enjoy a hot drink service that your porters will carry with them. We will take advantage of some phenomenal photo opportunities and start our descent.
You will begin the one hour, downhill, descent towards El Mirador (Vista Point), where you will enjoy lunch. There will be some llamas grazing nearby. After lunch, you will hike the last three hours downhill, with fantastic views of many lakes, llamas, and alpacas, before arriving at your campsite, the village of Cancha Cancha, which is the only village that does not have modern technology. Located at (3,750 m / 12,303 ft), where people still practice original Inca traditions. In this Incan village, 85 percent of the houses are still built by ancient construction methods, made of stone and grass-thatched roofs. Unlike any other village in the Lares Valley, this village has no electricity or cars. Here, you will not only enjoy the wilderness, but your porters will also set up your tents. You will have some time to meet with the local children. We provide them with food and school supplies, so we invite our travelers to share this support in the education and the health of this native village. You can bring anything you would like to give to these Quechuan-speaking children that you think they could use for school or home. When you are done, your guide will take you to one of the local family’s houses, where you will learn about the lifestyle of the locals. You will see how they raise their guinea pigs, and learn about the traditional hand-woven textiles made of llama and alpaca wool. In the evening you will enjoy hot drinks and dinner.
Walking Distance: 14 km/8 miles
Elevation Gain: 830 meters / 2,723 ft
Camp Elevation: 3,750 meters / 12,303 ft
Our porters will wake you up with a hot drink, and you will have some time to pack your bags and enjoy breakfast. After breakfast, you’ll have time to explore the village and visit the local elementary school, where the ancient Inca language, Quechua, is still taught. Once you are ready, you’ll begin the last leg of your Lares trek. It will be four hours of walking downhill along this lovely path where you will pass by more llamas and alpacas. We’ll pass by farms where they grow potatoes, fava beans, and many other traditional crops the traditional Incan style. You will have the chance to learn about Peruvian agriculture from people who still farm by hand with traditional Inca farming tools. Now, we will start to descend to the warmer area of the Sacred Valley. You will start to feel the changes of the micro-climate and start seeing crops that are different from in the high mountains. Around the Sacred Valley, people farm corn, quinoa, kiwi, peaches, avocados, and other types of fruit. This area has a lot of Inca history, and you will end your tour at the little Sacred Valley village of Huaran that sits at 2,700 m / 8,858 ft. Here you will say goodbye to your horses, horse riders, chef, and porters.
From Huaran, we will catch a van and make the short drive into the valley to visit the Salineras salt pans, in the town of Maras. Here, at 11,000 feet above sea level, a saltwater spring gushes forth and spills down the side of the mountain. Over 3,000 small evaporation chambers have been created and look as if they are tumbling down the mountainside. These have been in use since pre-Incan times. The salt is said to have healing properties because it´s filled with natural minerals, some of it even comes out pink. Local families each own one of these pans and make their living supplying salt to the towns around the area. There is a small shop on-site if you care to take some salt home with you.
After visiting Salineras, we will head to our hotel in Ollantaytambo for the night at the hotel.
Walking Distance: 9 km /6.2 miles
Aguas Calientes Elevation: 2,000 m / 6,562 ft
Weather: Cold in the morning, warm in the afternoon. Watch out for mosquitoes this day.
Hotel in Ollantaytambo. Included
You will be picked up for your short Inca trail hike from your hotel at 5:30 a.m. Following, we will go to the train station and leave on the 6:10 a.m. train from Ollantaytambo. This is one of the most beautiful train rides in the world, with its extraordinary views of the Urubamba River, the snow-capped mountain peaks, and cornfield farms. As we descend, you will see the micro-climate changes, from the mountains and cornfields to green jungle valleys with ferns, bromeliads, and orchids, as the temperature starts to get warmer. This train ride is one hour and 45 minutes to Km 104, where we’ll disembark to meet your trekking chef and porters. You will also enjoy breakfast before starting your trek. Be sure you bring your original passport since this is the very first checkpoint along the Inca Trail.
After breakfast, you will have some time to prepare before beginning the hike. Soon after, we will get to explore the first Inca site Chachabamaba. Chachabamaba was the first ancient Incan checkpoint for entering to the Inca trail. Your tour guide will give you some background history on this ruin, followed by the three-hour climb up to the most famous Inca site along the trail, Wiñay Wayna. You will see amazing views of the Machu Picchu Valley and the Urubamba River along the trail, as well as the flora and fauna native to the area. There are also waterfalls and spectacular views of the Machu Picchu Mountain. The trail itself has some flat areas, as well as some short uphill and downhill hikes. It also has steps arranged in sections that can be narrow in some areas, but not dangerous.
Once you arrive at the Wiñay Wayna Inca site, you will have time for a tour by your tour guide. He will also provide time for exploring the Inca site, temples, waterfalls, gardens, storehouses, watchtowers, and farming terraces. It is only a short walk to the lunch spot, where your trekking chef and porters will be ready with cold drinks and delicious, fresh food, prepared by our cook, and served buffet-style. After lunch, there will be time for a short nap. Following, it will be a one hour, gradual up and downhill hike to get to the Sun Gate, where you will have spectacular views of Machu Picchu, Huayna Picchu, and the surrounding valleys. The Sun Gate was used by Incas to observe the sunrise from Machu Picchu during the summer solstice. From here, it is another hour hike to the Machu Picchu ruins.
Once in Machu Picchu, you can explore the watchtower area where you can get charming pictures of Machu Picchu (without crowds). We’ll then take the 20-minute bus ride to the campsite of Puente Ruinas. When you arrive at the campsite, your tents will be all set up. You will meet your porters, and enjoy a social happy hour with hot drinks and dinner. Later in the evening, we’ll have a small ceremony with your chef and porters to say goodbye to them. They will still be there the next morning to cook breakfast. This is the proper goodbye.
* This hiking route is identical to our 2 Day Inca Trail with Hotel.
Highlight: Trekking the Inca Trail, enjoying the views from the Sun Gate, sunset views from Machu Picchu, camping at the foot of Machu Picchu
Walking Distance: 15 km / 8 miles
Elevations: Trek starting point 2,000 m, the highest point is Sun Gate 2,720 m, the camp is at 1,900 m
Weather: Hot and humid
There will be an early wake-up call with hot drinks. You will have time to prepare your duffel bags and day packs and enjoy breakfast. We’ll walk 30 minutes to the bus station to be one of the first in line to go up to Machu Picchu (sometimes there is a 20-30 min wait in the line to board the bus). The first buses will depart at 5:30 a.m. and arrive at 6:00 a.m., into Machu Picchu. You must have your original passport at the checkpoint. Your tour guide will take you to the perfect spot to enjoy the sunrise over the mountains (weather permitting). We’ll then have a two hour, private, guided tour of the Machu Picchu ruins, with all of its fascinating history. You’ll also have free time to explore Machu Picchu on your own. If you have booked a permit to climb Huayna Picchu or Machu Picchu Mountain, this is a good time to climb (in the second slot which starts at 10:00 a.m.). However, there are a lot of other things to see around Machu Picchu: the Inca Bridge is one of the best options – you can climb up to Sun Gate for free, or walk around the temple and residential areas of Machu Picchu to mingle with the llamas. You will need to catch your bus back down to the town of Aguas Calientes for lunch and to catch the afternoon train to Ollantaytambo. From there, you will go by private van back to Cusco, where we will drop you off at your hotel.
Highlight: Arrive early to Machu Picchu to enjoy the sunrise
Temperature: Warm and humid
Meals: Breakfast Only
Train: Expedition tourist class