The Lares Trek to Machu Picchu: 4 Days Off the Beaten Path

The Lares Valley trek is unique because it’s so much more than a typical multi-day Peru trek. There are thermal baths to start off the hike, the opportunity to meet real people along the way who live in rural Peruvian communities, and unbeatable mountain views hiking through alpine paths. Being less popular than the Inca Trail but no less rich in culture and experience, your Lares adventure promises to be challenging but fulfilling to the body and mind.

The trip begins in the town of Lares where you can dip in the healing hot springs. I love the idea of easing into the hike this way, so it’s less intimidating from the outset. The hike itself isn’t challenging per se but can be made challenging depending on your fitness level, how well your body has acclimatized to the altitude, and the pure distance covered each day.

And the quietness of the Lares hike isn’t to be taken for granted. Many people don’t realize that a typical hike in Peru involves group after group of foreigners on a single trail, namely the well-known “Classic Inca Trail” that carries a more touristy vibe. It’s refreshing to be one of the only, if not the only ones trekking through the Peruvian Andes. It means that you can appreciate the scenery and culture in peace and potentially create special connections with the human and furry locals.

After a few days of trekking through the countryside, you’ll ease back to civilization stopping over at Ollantaytambo, a town of significance in the Sacred Valley of the Incas, where you’ll take a charming train ride to Machu Picchu town (also known as Aguas Calientes). It’s your opportunity to freshen up and try to wake up early to be one of the first up to the archeological site of Machu Picchu to catch the sunrise if you’re so inclined.

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