I’ve always been drawn to the skies, but there’s something about the ancient ground beneath our feet that’s equally fascinating. As a pilot, I find solace in the adventures that take me away from the cockpit and into the heart of nature, and nothing could prepare me for the awe-inspiring journey that was the Lares Trek in Peru.
Over three days and two nights, I embarked on a rugged, challenging, and ultimately, soul-rewarding trek through the stunning Peruvian highlands. With every step, I felt like I was tracing the footsteps of history, surrounded by the majesty of the Andes and the vibrant traditions of local communities.
Day 1: Cuzco to Wakawasi, Peru
The adventure began in the vibrant city of Cuzco, where I found myself amidst the mystical aura of the ancient Inca capital. An early morning pick-up between 5:00-6:00 am signaled the start of our journey as we were transferred by bus to Lares Town, situated at 2,900 meters above sea level. Lares Town is not just a starting point; it’s also the gateway to something truly special – a natural gift that awaits in the form of hot springs. I couldn’t resist the allure of a relaxing dip, even if it came at an extra cost.
Rejuvenated and ready for the challenge ahead, we commenced our six-hour trek. The ascent was relentless, a zigzagging climb that took us to the town of Wakawasi, perched at 3,850 meters. But the moment I cast my eyes on the towering glaciers and the wildlife that seemed to thrive at this altitude, I realized that the effort was worth every bead of sweat. And then there were the local communities – families living in perfect harmony with the rugged Andean landscape. Their warmth and traditional way of life were a humbling sight.
Our campsite at the Wakawasi community was the perfect base for the night. With the stars above and the whispers of the wind in my ears, I knew that this trek was going to be a journey to remember.
Day 2: Wakawasi to Aguas Calientes, Peru
The second day of our journey was a test of endurance, but one that I eagerly embraced. We began with a four-hour uphill trek, pushing our way to the Ipsayccocha Pass at an impressive 4,400 meters above sea level. The air was crisp, the challenge invigorating, and the panoramic views from the pass were simply breathtaking. It was like being on top of the world.
A 40-minute walk downhill brought us to the serene lakeside, where we stopped for a well-deserved lunch. As I savored the local flavors of the Peruvian cuisine and took in the scenery, I felt a deep connection to the land and its history. This trek wasn’t just about the physical journey; it was a spiritual and emotional adventure.
The day continued with a three-hour trek to Patacancha town, nestled at 3,800 meters. Here, we hopped into a car for a 30-minute drive to Ollantaytambo, where a train was waiting to whisk us away to Aguas Calientes. The contrast between the remote highlands and the bustling town of Aguas Calientes was stark, but both held their own unique charm.
Day 3: Aguas Calientes to Cuzco, Peru
The final day was the culmination of our journey, and the excitement was palpable. We rose early, catching one of the first buses at 5:30 am to Machu Picchu. The short 25-minute ride felt like a gateway to another world. As the mist dissipated in the early morning light, the majestic city of Machu Picchu revealed itself.
Our guide led us on a two-hour walking tour, sharing the fascinating history and stories of this ancient Inca marvel. I listened with rapt attention, feeling the weight of centuries of history pressing down on me. And then, as the tour concluded, I was free to explore the city on my own. The sense of wonder and awe was overwhelming.
For those with boundless energy, the option to climb Huayna Picchu Peak awaited, albeit at an extra cost. While I decided to pass on the opportunity this time, the thought of returning to these mystical heights someday was etched firmly in my mind.
Descending from Machu Picchu on the bus back to Aguas Calientes, I couldn’t resist a visit to the local marketplace next to the train station. The colorful textiles and artisanal crafts were a testament to the enduring traditions of this region. As I shopped, I knew that these souvenirs would be cherished reminders of this incredible journey.
From Ollantaytambo, a bus ride took us back to Cuzco, bringing the adventure to a close. As I stood in the historic Plaza San Francisco, I couldn’t help but reflect on the past three days. The Lares Trek adventure had been a profound experience – physically challenging, spiritually uplifting, and deeply humbling.
As a pilot who loves to trek and be inspired by history, the Lares Trek in Peru was an unforgettable journey. From the towering peaks of the Andes to the ancient ruins of Machu Picchu, this adventure had it all. But more than the breathtaking landscapes and historical wonders, it was the people we met along the way – the local communities living in harmony with nature – that left an indelible mark on my heart.
In the end, this trek was a reminder that the history of a place is not just found in its ruins and monuments but in the lives and traditions of its people. I returned to the cockpit with a renewed appreciation for the beauty of our planet and the stories it holds, both in the skies and on the ground.
Check out the Lares Express Trek to Machu Picchu 3D/2N itinerary from Bamba Travel.
Guest post written by Bill Hasan
Bill Hasan loves flying around the world while documenting his travels in engaging articles.