Salkantay Trek vs Lares Trek

Lares Trek

Salkantay trek vs Lares Trek

Salkantay Trek or Lares Trek? What is the best Alternative Trek to Machu Picchu?

What is the Difference between Salkantay and Lares Trek?

At a Glance:

Salkantay Trek: The second most popular hike to Machu Picchu after the Classic Inca Trail, during the high season, can become crowded and is one of the most challenging hikes to Machu Picchu.

Lares Trek: The Third most popular hike to Machu Picchu. Off-the-beaten-path, less intense than Salkantay and Inca Trail

The Location of Salkantay Trek vs. Lares Trek

Salkantay Trek: You will arrive walking until Aguas Calientes; Salkantay is geographically located next to Machu Picchu. Salkantay Mountain is located in the Vilcabamba mountain range, the central Andes, 60 km north of Cusco.

Lares Trek: Located in the eastern mountain range of the Central Andes. After Hiking the Lares trek, you need to take a train from Ollantaytambo to Machu Picchu Pueblo. It’s not possible to arrive hiking to Machu Picchu due to its location.

The Intensity of Salkantay Trek vs Lares Trek

Salkantay Trek: The Salkantay Mountain is the second-highest mountain in the Cusco region after the Ausangate, where the Rainbow Mountain is located. Salkantay Trek is considered among the most challenging and beautiful hikes to Machu Picchu. This trek is considered quite challenging, and travelers must moderate physical conditions to complete the trek.

Maximum altitude: 4632 m / 15190 ft
Avg. hiking hours: 8 hours
Difficulty: Moderate to Challenging

Lares Trek: Although lares Trek gets to a higher point than Inca Trail and Salkantay trek, Lares is less intense than Inca Trail and Salkantay. The highest point of Lares is Condor Pass at 4750 m / 15583 ft, and the first 2 campsites are located over 3600 m/ 11811 ft. The trek is moderate; however, all travelers need to be in good physical conditions to complete the trek.

Maximum altitude: 4750 m / 15583 ft
Avg. hiking hours: 7 hours
Difficulty: Moderate

Humantay Lake
Humantay Lake

The Landscape of Salkantay Trek vs Lares Trek

Salkantay Trek: This trek starts high in the Mountains visiting beautiful glacier lakes like Humantay Lake. Also, you have amazing vistas of the highest mountains of the Cusco region. After the second day, you will enter the cloud forest where the weather is warm and lush vegetation. You will be able to visit coffee farms, see banana trees, avocados, and hike up to Llaqtapata to enjoy an amazing view of Machu Picchu from another mountain.

You will see:

  • Humantay lake
  • Salkantay Mountain
  • Cloud Forest
  • Coffee farms
  • Llaqtapata
  • Mandor
  • Machu Picchu

Lares Trek: Lares is Located high in the Mountains; this trek will offer you incredible views of pristine Glacier Lakes, visit locals schools, hike along with llamas and alpacas,  visit the Sacred Valley, and ride the train to Machu Picchu pueblo.

You will visit/experience:

  • Lares hot spring
  • Remote local Village
  • Local schools and interact with local children.
  • Enjoy the view of several Andean lakes.
  • Hike with Llamas and Alpacas
  • Visit the Sacred Valley
  • Visit Salinears de Maras
  • Visit Ollanataytambo
  • Finish the tour at Machu Picchu

The Duration of Salkantay Trek vs Lares Trek

Salkantay Trek: To enjoy these amazing places properly while you hike to Machu Picchu, you need at least 4 days. We have a perfect 5-day itinerary with Llaqtapata Inca Site, the Ultimate Salkantay trek to Machu Picchu.

Lares Trek: To hike this trek, you need at least 4 days, including Machu Picchu; you can choose a 5-day excursion with the Short Inca Trail included to arrive at Machu Picchu through the Sungate.

alpacas in lares trel
Alpacas during the Lares Trek

The Altitude of Salkantay Trek vs Lares Trek

Salkantay Trek: 

Trailhead – 3600 m / 11811 ft
1st Campsite – 3900 m/12795 ft
2nd Campsite – 2770m /9087 ft
3rd Campsite – 2750m / 9022 ft
Highest point – 4200 m / 13779 ft
Machu Picchu – 2430 m / 7972 ft

Lares Trek:
Trailhead – 3600 m / 1811 ft
1st Campsite – 3880 m/ 12730 ft
2nd Campsite – 3750 m / 12303 ft
Highest point – 4750 m / 15583 ft
Machu Picchu – 2430 m / 7972 ft

The Campsite of Salkantay Trek vs Lares Trek

Salkantay Trek: Salkantay was the perfect alternative trek when the Inca Trail was sold out. This trek can be crowded during the high season, and over the years, many companies built domes along the route, breaking the natural landscape.

TreXperience Campsite is located away from any new buildings; we have a real camping experience with comfortable tents, showers, and portable toilets.

Lares Trek: This trek is new, and in the last years, the campsites are becoming very popular in teh most remote villages of Peru where you can only access hiking.

Salkantay trek campsites
View of Machu Picchu Mountain from llaqtapata

The Transportation of Salkantay Trek vs Lares Trek

Salkantay Trek: To access this trek, we need to drive from Cusco to Soraypampa for 3 hours, then hike along the mountains for 4 days until Machu Pueblo (also known as Aguas Calientes). On the last day, you must take teh bus from Aguas Calientes to Machu Picchu and Viceversa and finally a train back to Cusco. During the Salkantay Trek, you will literally arrive hiking to Machu Picchu Pueblo.

Lares Trek: During the Lares Trek, you must for 4 hours from Cusco into the Lares District, then hike for 3 days through isolated Andean villages until you arrive in the Sacred Valley. Due to its location, you must take a train from Ollantaytambo to arrive at Machu Picchu Pueblo. On the Last Day, you will take the first bus up to Machu Picchu and finally ride the panoramic trains back top Cusco.

The Best Season to hike to Machu Picchu

Salkantay Trek: This trek is perfect during the dry season from April to November. You can hike in March and December however;, there are high probabilities to have bad rains. February, this trail is closed.

Lares Trek: Lares Trek is available all year round; thanks to its location and easy access, this trek is doable even in January and February, when is the heavy rainy season in Peru.

Salkantay Campsites
Salkantay Base Camp

The Permits to Hike Salkantay or Lares

Salkantay Trek: There is an entrance fee to Salkantay and is included for you; however, we do not require you to book any permits. We only need to buy Machu Picchu entrances for the Last day. We recommend always booking in advance to get the first Machu Picchu shifts.

Lares Trek: During this trek, we must pay to enter the Lares hot springs and book in advance the Machu Picchu entrances. All entrance fees to places we visit are included in your tour.

Llamas and Alpacas oin Salkantay and Lares Trek

Salkantay Trek: During the Salkantay trek, it’s impossible to see llamas or alpacas; however, you will be able to see them in Machu Picchu.

Lares Trek: During the Lares Trek, during day 1 and day 2, you will be hiking along with llamas and alpacas.

Prices of Salkantay Trek vs Lares Trek

Salkantay Trek: Salkantay trail prices are between 500.USD to 600.USD for a 5 days tour. This is one of the cheapest tours we have to Machu Picchu as we use only one-way train tickets.

Lares Trek: The prices for Lares are between 550.USD to 600.USD per person for a 4 days tour. This trek is a bit more expensive comparing with Salkantay because round-trip train tickets are needed.

Machu Picchu
Sunrise at Machu Piccchu



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