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The Ultimate Guide to the Lares Trek: A Cultural Journey to Machu Picchu

The Lares Trek stands as a remarkable alternative to the famous Inca Trail, offering a unique blend of cultural immersion and breathtaking landscapes. This lesser-known route winds through the Peruvian Andes, traversing remote Quechua villages and showcasing the majestic beauty of snow-capped peaks. The Lares Trek adventure culminates in the awe-inspiring citadel of Machu Picchu, rewarding trekkers with an unforgettable experience of history, nature, and adventure.

Key Takeaways

  • The Lares Trek offers intrepid travelers a truly immersive experience, combining breathtaking scenery with rich cultural encounters along the way
  • The Lares Trek presents a moderate to challenging hiking experience, suitable for adventurers seeking a deeper connection with the Andean way of life

Essential Information about the Lares Trek

lares trek waterfalls

The Lares Trek presents a moderate to challenging hiking experience, suitable for adventurers seeking a deeper connection with the Andean way of life. Trekkers can anticipate diverse terrain, including mountain passes, valleys, and high-altitude plateaus, all while immersing themselves in the rich cultural heritage of the region.


The climate along the Lares Trek varies significantly depending on the altitude and time of year. While days can be warm and sunny, temperatures can drop sharply at night, especially at higher elevations. It’s essential to pack layers and be prepared for potential rain, particularly during the wet season from November to March.


The primary language spoken along the Lares Trek is Quechua, the ancient language of the Incas. While some locals may speak Spanish, especially in more touristy areas, it’s beneficial to learn a few basic Quechua phrases to communicate with villagers and enrich your cultural experience.

Time Zone

Peru operates on Peru Time (PET), which is 5 hours behind Coordinated Universal Time (UTC-5). It’s important to adjust your schedule accordingly, especially for transportation and tour departure times.

Visa Information

Most visitors to Peru, including citizens of the United States, Canada, and the European Union, do not require a visa for stays of up to 90 days. However, it’s essential to check current visa requirements before traveling and ensure that your passport is valid for at least six months beyond your planned departure date.

General Safety Tips

Overall, the Lares Trek is considered safe for travelers, but it’s essential to take precautions, especially regarding altitude sickness and proper hiking equipment. Trekkers should acclimatize in Cusco before beginning the journey and listen to their guides’ instructions regarding safety protocols.

Packages for Your Lares Trek Adventure

alpaca in lares trek

Numerous tour operators offer packages for the Lares Trek, ranging from budget-friendly options to luxury experiences. These packages typically include transportation, meals, camping equipment, and guided tours, providing trekkers with everything they need for a memorable adventure. It’s advisable to research different operators and read reviews to find the package that best suits your preferences and budget.

Experience the Lares Trek with Lima, Peru

Discover an alternative route to Machu Picchu that is equally as great but less crowded than the Inca Trail via the Lares Trek. This high altitude trek will please hikers interested in interacting with the local communities and seeing their way of life in the countryside.

Experience the Lares Trek with Cuzco, Peru

Live a real cultural experience through this Lares Trek adventure. You will enjoy a decent amount of hiking and get some amazing views of the snow-capped mountains. The main draw of the Lares Trek is hiking to remote Quechua villages where locals are dressed in their traditional clothes. 

Enjoy the Lares Trek in 5 Days

Enjoy stunning views of the snow-capped mountains in the Lares Trek and visit the archaeological site of Machu Picchu.

FAQs About the Lares Trek

spectacular scenery - lares trek peru - bamba travel

Can you compare it with the Inca trail?

While both the Lares Trek and the Inca Trail lead to Machu Picchu, they offer distinct experiences. The Inca Trail is more crowded and requires a permit obtained months in advance, whereas the Lares Trek provides a quieter, off-the-beaten-path journey through remote villages and stunning landscapes.

How Many Days is the Trek?

The typical Lares Trek itinerary spans 4 days and 3 nights, allowing trekkers to acclimatize gradually to the altitude and immerse themselves in the local culture. However, shorter and longer options are available, depending on the tour operator and traveler’s preferences.

Where to Stay?

Accommodations along the Lares Trek typically consist of camping in tents provided by tour operators. Some packages may include homestays in local villages, offering a unique opportunity to interact with indigenous communities and learn about their way of life.

Best Time to Go?

The best time to embark on the Lares Trek is during the dry season, from May to September, when the weather is relatively stable, and rainfall is minimal. While trekking is possible year-round, the wet season from November to March brings heavier rains and potentially hazardous trail conditions.

How Far in Advance to Book?

It’s advisable to book your Lares Trek adventure several months in advance, especially if you plan to travel during the peak season from May to September or require specific departure dates. This allows ample time to secure permits, accommodations, and transportation, ensuring a smooth and stress-free experience.

What is the Reward?

The ultimate reward of the Lares Trek is the chance to witness the breathtaking beauty of the Peruvian Andes, from towering peaks to lush valleys dotted with alpacas and llamas. Additionally, reaching Machu Picchu at the end of the journey provides a profound sense of accomplishment and an opportunity to explore one of the world’s most iconic archaeological sites.

How Much Does it Cost?

The cost of the Lares Trek varies depending on the tour operator, the level of service provided, and the time of year. On average, a 4-day trek can range from $500 to $1000 per person, including transportation, meals, permits, and camping equipment. It’s essential to inquire about additional fees and optional extras, such as equipment rentals or entrance fees to Machu Picchu.

What to Pack?

When packing for the Lares Trek, consider the varying weather conditions and terrain you’ll encounter along the trail. Essential items include:

  • Sturdy hiking boots
  • Lightweight, breathable clothing
  • Waterproof jacket and pants
  • Warm layers for cold nights
  • Sun hat and sunglasses
  • Sleeping bag and sleeping pad
  • Personal toiletries and medications
  • Snacks and hydration supplies
  • Camera or smartphone for capturing memories

Do People Speak English?

While some guides and tour operators along the Lares Trek may speak English, it’s not universally spoken in remote villages. Learning a few basic Spanish phrases or Quechua words can enhance your ability to communicate with locals and enrich your cultural experience.

Sample Itinerary For Your Adventure in the Lares Trek

Lares Track at 16500 feet Peru

Embark on an authentic cultural journey with the Lares Trek adventure. Immerse yourself in ample hiking amidst breathtaking vistas of snow-capped peaks. The highlight of this trek lies in traversing to secluded Quechua villages, where inhabitants don their traditional attire, offering a glimpse into centuries-old lifestyles that have remained largely unchanged. Witness their distinct way of life before concluding your cultural odyssey with a guided exploration of the awe-inspiring wonder of Machu Picchu.

Lares Trek to Machu Picchu 4D/3N

Day 1: Cuzco - Wakawasi

Today, you will be picked up at your accommodation between 5:00-6:00 am and transferred by bus to Lares Town (2,900 m). After a relaxing stop at the Hot Springs (at an extra cost), embark on a 6-hour trek to the town of Wakawasi (3,850 m). Along the way, enjoy stunning views of glaciers, wildlife, and local communities, immersing yourself in the Andean way of life.

Day 2: Wakawasi - Patacancha

Embark on a 4-hour trek to the top of Ipsayccocha Pass (4,400 m), where you’ll savor breathtaking vistas before descending to a picturesque lunch spot by the lake. Continue hiking for 3 more hours to Patacancha town (3,800 m), where you’ll camp amidst llamas, alpacas, and native crop plantations, surrounded by the tranquility of the Andean landscape.

Day 3: Patacancha - Aguas Calientes

Set out on a 4-hour hike to Ollantaytambo, where you’ll enjoy lunch before boarding a train to Aguas Calientes, the gateway to Machu Picchu. Spend the night in a hotel, and if time permits, explore the vibrant streets filled with cafes, shops, and bustling markets, soaking in the atmosphere of this charming mountain town.

Day 4: Aguas Calientes - Machu Picchu - Cuzco

Rise early and catch the bus to Machu Picchu, arriving just as the mist dissipates in the morning light. Enjoy a guided tour of the archaeological site, learning about its history and significance, before exploring at your leisure. Optional activities include climbing Huayna Picchu Peak (additional cost) for panoramic views of the citadel. Return to Cuzco by bus in the evening, concluding your unforgettable journey through the Andean highlands.

Final Word

The Lares Trek offers intrepid travelers a truly immersive experience, combining breathtaking scenery with rich cultural encounters along the way. From remote Quechua villages to the iconic citadel of Machu Picchu, this trek is a journey of discovery, adventure, and personal growth. Whether you’re drawn to the rugged beauty of the Andes or the vibrant traditions of indigenous communities, the Lares Trek promises an unforgettable adventure in the heart of Peru’s highlands.