The Trail Less Travelled to Machu Picchu
If Machu Picchu is on your bucket list of adventure travel, consider trekking the Lares Trek to reach this famed Inca archaeological site. An alternative to the well-known Inca Trail, the Lares Trek venture is a moderate, (typically) four-day trek through Andean communities.
There are many advantages to taking the trail less travelled. Unlike the more popular Inca Trail route to reach Machu Picchu, the Lares Trek remains off the beaten track so a trail permit is not required. The other advantage to hiking the Lares Trek is that the trail includes fewer steps and is considered by some to be “easier” than the more popular route. A train takes travellers from the Lares Trek into Machu Picchu rather than hiking directly into the site as travellers on the Inca Trail would do. It’s important not to compare the two rails, but rather see them as two different opportunities. That said, similar to the Inca Trail, the departure point for the Lares Trek is from Cusco, Peru.
But our top reason for recommending the Lares Trek is that it passes through Andean communities, some of which feel like time has stood still. It’s an opportunity to experience the Andean culture first-hand as you make your way to your final destination. After all, as the popular saying goes, it’s not just about the destination, but the journey to get there.
There isn’t just one route on the Lares Trek either. Travellers have options, and we’ve laid them out for you:
Option 1: Lares to Patacancha
Opting for the Lares to Patacancha path means watching as women weave traditional textiles (and then stocking up on the colourful hand-made items as souvenirs from your time here). This route takes at least three days and the scenery will blow your mind.
Option 2: Quishuarani to Patacancha
The route from Quishuarani to Patacancha covers 39 kilometres and it includes some steep hiking and two passes. Plan for four days of trekking with the final two following the same path as the weaver’s route.
Option 3: Quishuarani to Yanahuara
The third option on the Lares Trek is the Quishuarani to Yanahuara route. This route follows the same path on day one and four as the Patacancha route but is a much more difficult trekking option. The route is 43 kilometres long.
Option 4: Huaran to Yanahuara
Trekkers looking for a challenging hike, and a six-day option as opposed to a four-day as per the other treks, may consider the Huaran to Yanahuara route. While this route takes in the Sacred Valley, experienced trekkers prefer its passes and challenging trails.
When to go
Hiking to Macchu Picchu is best during the drier months of May to September. While the weather makes this a popular time to visit, the Lares Trek is less frequented making it an ideal option. Even though it’s the dry season, temperatures, particularly at night, can be quite chilly.
The Lares Trek is considered a moderate hike through the Andes in terms of difficulty. Expect to hike between four to eight hours per day.
These trails are considered high altitude, making them a much more difficult trek. Altitude sickness is a real threat to travelers so we recommend keeping this in mind when planning your route.
For more information about Machu Picchu, the Inca Trail, the Lares Trek and other adventures in Peru, please contact Krista Tovell at Tovell Travel.