Lares Trek to Machu Picchu is the best alternative hike after the Classic Inca Trail Hike if you want to explore lightly trodden paths. The trek starts in the small village of Lares, nestled in the Andes Mountains. From there, you will wind through stunning valleys and lakes before finally reaching Machu Picchu.
Along the way, you will have the chance to see some of Peru's native wildlife, including llamas and alpacas. You will also get to experience the traditional culture of the Andean people. The Lares Trek to Machu Picchu is a fantastic adventure that should not be missed!
Lares Trek to Machu Picchu 4 days
Lares Trek to Machu Picchu takes you far off the beaten path to where you can meet and interact with members of traditional Andean communities and explore the Andes in solitude. You will learn all about life in these isolated villages, become familiar with their culture and traditions, hike along with llamas and alpacas, and even visit a local school. We finish your TreXperience, spending an unforgettable day exploring Machu Picchu.
- Duration: 4 Days / 3 nights
- Hiking Distance: 38 km – 24 miles
- Depart: Cusco
- Difficulty: Moderate to Challenging
- Season: All year round
- Destination: Machu Picchu
- Type: Adventure – Camping – Hotel
- Book with Confidence and Flexibility
- Visit the natural hot springs of Lares.
- Explore the Salineras of Maras and Ollantaytambo
- Panoramic trains to return (Vistadome or 360°)
- Support social projects in the villages we visit
Lares Trek 4 days at a Glance:
Day 1: Cusco – Lares Thermal Baths – Blue Lagoon (10 km, 4 hrs)
Start in your hotel in Cusco and drive for 3 hours to Lares hot springs, where we enjoy the natural pools with different temperatures. After breakfast, you will hike for 4 hours to the first Campsite at 3900 m (12795 ft). During the day, you will enjoy the beautiful views of mountains and waterfalls, visit Kiswarani Village, and hike along llamas and alpacas.
Day 2: Kiswarani – Condor Pass – Canchacancha Community (16 km, 7hrs)
Wake up with a cup of coffee or coca tea and enjoy breakfast with the mountains. Today's hike starts with a 4-hour hike up to Condor pass at 4750m (15583 ft), then 3 more down to Canchacancha village at 3,750 m (12,303 ft). During the day, you will visit several lakes, enjoy the views of the tallest mountains of the Sacred Valley, visit several lakes, birds, llamas, and alpacas, and interact with local children.
Day 3: Canchacancha – Huaran– Ollantaytambo – Aguas Calientes (12km, 4 hrs)
Wake up in your tent and have breakfast; we will visit the local villagers to learn about their lifestyle and start hiking down to the Sacred Valley for 4 hours, where we will have a special picnic lunch, visit Salineras of Maras, Ollantaytambo, and take the train to Aguas Calientes.
Day 4: Machu Picchu (The Lost City of the Incas) – 4 hrs
After breakfast, we take the early buses up to Machu Picchu for the sunrise, then explore Machu Picchu with your guide to take the Panoramic Vistadome train and bus back to your hotel in Cusco.
- Safety briefing the day before the tour
- Pick up from your hotel for the tour.
- All transportation during the trek
- Duffle bag up to 8 kilos for your stuff
- Free luggage storage in Cusco
- Professional tour guides
- Experienced chefs, porters
- Horses and muleteers to carry food & equipment
- 2 nights camping with comfortable equipment
- 1 night in a 3-star hotel in Aguas Calientes
- All meals during the trek
- Entrance ticket to Lares Hot Springs
- Entrance ticket to Salineras of Maras
- Entrance ticket to Machu Picchu
- Buses up and down to Machu Picchu
- Panoramic Vistadome to return
- All taxes and booking fees
- Sleeping bags, air mattresses, or trekking poles
- Last day Lunch
- Huayna Picchu Mountain tickets
- Montaña Machu Picchu tickets
- Tips for porters, chefs, guides
Optional hikes after the Machu Picchu guided tour:
Full itinerary of the Lares Trek to Machu Picchu
Day 1: Cusco – Lares Thermal Baths – Blue Lagoon
At 4.30 am, we will pick you up from your hotel in Cusco and take you by van to the famous Lares thermo-therapeutic pools. Whether you are located in Cusco or the Sacred Valley around Urubamba or Pisac, we can pick you up from a hotel, hostel, Airbnb, or any other spot. From Cusco, we will travel 1 hour to Calca in the Sacred Valley, where we will tour the market and shop for local products. We will then drive for another 2 hours to Lares Hot Springs, where you can jump into the therapeutic pools with varying temperatures that are helpful for bones, muscles and stress relief while enjoying the stunning mountain views. Afterward, your trekking chef will prepare you with an energizing breakfast.
After breakfast, you'll take a 30-minute drive to Pampacorral and begin a 2-hour hike to Kiswarani Village, where we'll enjoy a freshly cooked lunch made with local ingredients by our talented chefs. Next, we will hike for 2 hours to our first campsite at the banks of a beautiful Andean lake, passing through potato fields, waterfalls, and breathtaking mountain views as we make our way to Blue Lagoon at 3900 m (12795 ft). Once we arrive at the campsite, your tents will be set up, and a hot cup of coca tea or coffee will be waiting for you.
During the day, you will enjoy the fantastic views of the Sacred Valley, explore the Lares District, enjoy the Hot Springs, and take a short hike along the beautiful valley. You will also hike through potato farms, visit Kiswarani Village, interact with locals, hike along with llamas and Alpacas, and enjoy the Kiswarani Waterfalls. At the campsite, you will have warm water to wash, tea time, and stargaze before sleeping in our comfortable tents.
- Campsite Altitude: 3900 m (12795 ft)
- Trekking distance: 10 km/6 miles
- Duration: 4 hours
- Meals: Breakfast, snacks, lunch, dinner
- Accommodation: Camping under million stars
- Difficulty: Moderate
Day 2: Blue Lagoon – Condor Pass – Canchacancha Community
Begin the day with a steaming cup of coffee or coca tea in your tent, then get up early to begin packing for the most challenging day of the Lares trek to Machu Picchu. After breakfast, you will get snacks from our chef and start a 4-hour hike to the trek's highest point; the Condor Pass is 4750m (15583 ft). Beautiful lakes teeming with Wallatas, often known as Andean geese or "lovebirds," mountain caracaras, llamas, alpacas, and unobstructed views of the Andes await you along the journey.
Once we arrive at the summit, you can enjoy a 360° view of the mountains and lakes while your tour guide conducts a spiritual offering ceremony to the holy mountains above Condor Pass; we will bring you a cup of coca-tea to reward your efforts. From there, you'll have a two-hour trek down the mountain to Acopata, where you can have a delicious lunch.
Following lunch, you'll have another 2 hours of a downhill journey through the stunning landscape to reach the village of Canchacancha (3750 m - 12303 ft), where you can relax in your tents with hot drinks and take in the scenery of the mountains as soon as you arrive. You'll be able to engage with the locals as you wander the village, chase after llamas and alpacas, play soccer with the children, teach some English words, or learn some Quechua words.
- Campsite Altitude: 3750 m / 12303 ft
- Highest altitude: 4700 m / 15354 ft
- Distance: 16 km/ 10 miles
- Duration: 7 hours
- Meals: Breakfast, snacks, lunch, dinner
- Accommodation: Camping
- Difficulty: Moderate to challenging
Day 3: Canchacancha – Salineras – Ollantaytambo – Aguas Calientes
Our trekking team will wake you up in your tent with a cup of coffee or coca tea, start packing for the day and enjoy a healthy breakfast with a breathtaking view of the mountains. You will have time to relax and explore the village before descending from the highlands into the Sacred Valley for at least 4 hours hike. First, you will visit the local villager's houses, learn about their lifestyle, and visit the local elementary school, where you can donate educational supplies such as notebooks, pens, and toys. Canchacancha is one of the last villages with no electricity or route access, and the villagers only speak the Inca Quechua language.
Today's hiking route is mostly downhill from the high mountain area, where locals grow organic potatoes and beans, and hike into the Sacred Valley, where the locals grow corn and avocados, and the weather is warmer. Along the way, you will experience a variety of habitats, from the chilly highlands to the lush soils of the Sacred Valley. The end of the trek is at the village of Huaran (2700 m / 8856 ft) in the heart of the Sacred Valley, where we will enjoy a delicious picnic lunch and say goodbye to the chef and arrieros.
After finishing the Lares Trek, you will board our private van to the Salineras of Maras and explore the fantastic salty pools, where the locals have harvested salt since Inca times. The last but not least place to visit is Ollantaytambo, the "Last Living Incan Citadel, " The "World Capital of the Native American," named recently as The Best Tourism Village by UNTWO. Ollantaytambo is a unique place where the locals still use the same original Inca buildings, the water is still running in the original channels, and you can walk the original ancient narrow streets. You will explore the Inca citadel with your tour guide, have dinner in a Local restaurant and board the 7:00 pm Expedition train to Aguas Calientes town to spend the night in a 3-star hotel.
- Aguas Calientes: 2,000 m / 6,561 ft
- Distance: 12 km / 7.4 miles
- Duration: 4 hours
- Meals: Breakfast, snacks, lunch, dinner
- Accommodation: Hotel
- Difficulty: Easy to Moderate
Day 4: Machu Picchu (Lost City of the Incas)
You will enjoy an early breakfast at the hotel and then board the first bus to Machu Picchu to see the sunrise above the Inca citadel. You will pass the checkpoint of Machu Picchu and hike to the viewpoints before starting the 2-3 hours guided tour of the citadel.
The tour guide will show you the highlights of Machu Picchu and enlighten you on the site's extraordinary history, secrets, and engineering marvels. After the guided tour, you can go on your own to explore more or arrange additional hikes to Huayna Picchu Mountain or Montaña Machu Picchu (not included and must be booked far in advance). After visiting the Inca citadel, you will take a bus back to Aguas Calientes for lunch (on your own) before boarding the Vistadome Panoramic train back to Ollantaytambo and the private vehicle to Cusco. Return to your hotel is scheduled for around 7:30 pm.
- Highest altitude: 2430m / 7972 ft
- Duration: 3 hours
- Meals: Breakfast (hotel)
- Difficulty: Easy
Lares Trek to Machu Picchu Packing List
During the Lares trek, your main luggage will remind in your hotel in Cusco, or you can leave with us. To the Trek, you will take your daypack plus a duffle bag that TreXperience will provide during the briefing held the day before your tour in our office in Cusco.
During the briefing at 6.00 pm, your tour guide will provide the final details of your trip and give you the duffle bags to put up to 8 kilos of your stuff. Our porter will carry this bag together with the food and camping equipment.
Essentials for the Lares Trek
For 3 days, you will be out in the mountain with no route, electricity, or cellphone signal. Having all the necessary equipment for this hike with you is essential; still, pack very light.
- Small comfortable backpack
- Original passport
- Hiking boots
- Trekking poles
- Warm jackets
- Good camera
- Emergency money is soles
What to put in the backpack?
The backpack will always be with you; you are responsible for carrying it while hiking during the day, and it must be as light as possible. Remember that duffle bags you will find only at the campsite and all you need during the day must be in your daypack.
- Passport.- Passports must always be with you in a safe and dry place; we recommend placing them inside Ziploc bags with money and other documents.
- Student Card.- if you have booked as a student, you must bring your student ID with you, especially when we enter Machu Picchu.
- Water bottle or camelback.- You must bring reusable water containers; they must be easy to handle and have a capacity of at least 2 liters.
- Rain Ponchos, rain jackets. – Plastic rain ponchos will be provided to you with the duffle bags; you still need to bring a waterproof or windproof jacket.
- Sunscreen, hat, and long-sleeved shirts.- You will be hiking over an open space without shelter and must always be protected.
- Warm jacket.- Early in the morning, the weather is chilly. You will start hiking with all your layers and remove them slowly as you begin warming up; always keep a warm jacket with you, even on the hottest day. The temperature in the Andes might vary in a matter of minutes.
- Mini First Aid Kit.- You must always have your medication and band-aids, altitude medicine, pain killers, Cipro, a pill for allergies, insect repellent, and others.
- Headlamp, camera, cell phone, sunglasses
- Toilet paper.- Must be in your day pack always with you
- Extra Cash.- It’s important to always have travel money with you; we recommend around 600 soles (200. USD) in Cash; it is better to have in small coins, about 20 Soles at least for anything to buy along the train, like water or souvenirs. The travel is not to spend; this is just for emergencies.
What to put in the duffle bag?
The duffle bag will be provided during the briefing held the day before in our office. You can out up to 8 kilos, including your sleeping bag and air mattress.
- Sleeping bag: A 4-season (-10°) sleeping bag is required for this Trek; you can bring your own or rent from us. If you rent from us, you will be provided with a liner, so you don’t need to get this. All our sleeping bags are suitable for the Lares weather and are cleaned and sanitized after every Trek.
- Inflatable mattress: We will provide a foam mattress; however, if you prefer extra comfort at night, we recommend bringing or hiring an inflatable mattress.
- Pillows: We will provide you with small camping pillows during this Trek.
- Shoes: For this Trek, we strongly recommend wearing hiking boots
- Socks: You will need about 5 pairs of thick wool hiking socks plus 3 pairs of light socks for the nights or to walk around after the Trek.
- 3 pairs of long trousers, hiking pants, or leggings work for ladies.
- Thermal Underwear.- this is very important for the nighttime.
- Swimsuit.- We will visit the Lares Thermal baths; we strongly recommend bringing a swimsuit for the first day.
- Sandals.- To change after the Trek and in the hotel.
- Toiletries.- Toothpaste, soap, shampoo, lip balm, moisturizer
- Towel.- Small and light towel
- Hand sanitizer and toilet paper
Price of the Lares Trek to Machu Picchu 4 days
Price per person:
- 590.USD for adults
- 550.USD for children and students
To book the Lares Trek to Machu Picchu, you need to make an initial payment of 200.USD per person, the remaining balance can be paid online, in installments, or Cusco with any credit card or PayPal with no booking fees at all.
- 40$ off per person
All travelers under 17 will have a $40 discount.
Valid Student ID for Machu Picchu
To get the student discount, travelers should have a Valid ID with the following:
- 25 years or less at the time of entering Machu Picchu. Older than 25 can not enter as a student
- The ID must have the Name of the university, name, and photo of the student
- The ID must have a valid expiration date
Invalid Student IDs
Student IDs are not eligible for a discount when:
- Traveler is older than 25
- Expired ID
- Student Id without expiration date
- ISIC cards are not valid.
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Lares Trek 4 days frequently asked questions
There are many trekking routes to Machu Picchu, like the Salkantay Trek, Classic Inca Trail, and the Short Inca Trail, and also we have lesser-known tours like the Lares Trek to Machu Picchu. This beautiful route takes you off the beaten path to explore remote villages in the Peruvian Andes, visit pristine glacier lakes, and hike along with llamas and alpacas in their natural habitat.
Below are the most popular questions a traveler must know before going on the Lares Trek.
What is the Lares Trek?
The Lares Trek is an alternative trek to Machu Picchu that takes you on 4 to 5 days of adventure. This trek is perfect for those travelers who prefer a more cultural interaction, visit non-crowded routes, and explore remote mountains where llamas and alpacas are the locals.
How many days is the Lares Trek to Machu Picchu?
The Lares Trek can be done in 4 days and 5 days:
- The Lares Trek 4 days tour starts in the district of Lares. First, we visit the hot springs, hike through the mountains, visit the remote villages, visit the Salineras of Maras, and finish the Machu Picchu tour.
- The Lares Trek 5 days itinerary follows the same route as the 4 days Lares Trek and includes the Short Inca Trail 2-day hike at the end instead of just traveling to Machu Picchu by train.
Where is this tour located?
It is located on the Andes’ eastern side, near the District of Lares, approximately 150 km – 93 miles from Cusco. The trek starts in Lares’ hot springs (3250 m / 10662 ft), 3 hours drive from Cusco. Lares district belongs to Calca province in Cusco.
What is the average height?
- This tour’s pick-up is from your hotel in Cusco city at 3399m / 11151ft.
- Lares district, where the hot springs are located, is 3250 m / 10662 ft.
- The first campsite is located at 3750 m / 12303 ft.
- The highest point is Condor’s pass at 4700 m / 15354 ft.
- The second campsite is located at 2700m / 8856 ft.
- The final destination is Machu Picchu at 2430m / 7972ft
When is the best time to visit Lares Trek to Machu Picchu?
The Lares Trek weather is similar to Cusco, the Inca trail, or the Salkantay Trek. The average temperature during the day is from 10°C to 21° (50°F – 70°C). The nights are cold and could reach below 0°C (30°F).
All the region of Cusco has 2 seasons only; we don’t have summer, winter, fall, or spring in the Andes; we only have rainy and dry seasons:
- Lares Trek weather January: January usually starts with rain, when we expect rainier days and an average of 16 to 17 days of rain in the whole month. The positive part is that nights are not so cold, we have fewer travelers, and everything is green, perfect for spending a beautiful time away from the crowds.
- Lares Trek weather February: This month is known as the crazy February. Although we have lesser rain than in January, we expect more substantial rainfall. Like January, Lares Trek is the route to hiking during the rainy season.
- Lares Trek weather March: March is still inside the rainy season; however, we expect less rain than January or February. Temperature is warm during the day, and at night is not so close; it is the beginning of the harvesting season for farmers, and children are back to school.
- Lares Trek weather April: Just finishing the rainy season, there are still occasional rains; during a sunny day, temperatures are sweltering, and nights start to get cold.
- Lares Trek weather May: This month is one of the best of the year to hike any trek to Machu Picchu; it is the beginning of the dry season. However, there could be occasional rains, even in the driest months.
- Lares Trek weather June: The weather in June in the Lares Trek during the days is around 21°C (70°C), and at night could reach below 0°C (30°F). Morning is frigid due to the frost, and we see occasional snow in the Mountains.
- Lares Trek weather July: The weather in June in the Lares Trek during the days is around 21°C (70°C), and at night could reach below 0°C (30°F). Morning is frigid due to the frost, and we see occasional snow in the mountains. Despite being the driest months of the year, sometimes we have rain, and you must be prepared.
- Lares Trek weather August: August is the month of the Pachamama (Mother Earth) and is celebrated with great devotion by the villagers offering presents. This month is expected to have the rains back vital for farming; the locals believe that the first days of August represent each month of the year; this way, if we have rain during the 1st of August, it will be a good January for farming.
- Lares Trek weather September: With the rains back after the long dry season, the landscape becomes green, ponds are back, and birds are. The day temperature is warm, and the night temperature is not so cold anymore.
- Lares Trek weather October: The beginning of the wet or rainy season; however, in some years dry season could extend longer, like this 2022, the rains were back almost December. The days are warm, and the night temperature is not very cold.
- Lares Trek weather November: The beginning of the wet or rainy season; however, in some years dry season could extend longer, like this 2022, when rains were back almost December. The days are warm, and the night temperature is not very cold.
- Lares Trek weather December: The weather in the Andes is unpredictable; we could go weeks during October, November, and December and not see rain at all, or it could be the opposite. Rains are expected during this month; however, we can have one day raining in a week and the rest.
What are the best attractions in the Lares Area?
- Hot springs of Lares: The highlight of the trek, the natural hot springs are a compound of different pools with different temperatures from cold to very hot (36°C – 44°C or 96°F – 112°F). Pure volcanic water contains many minerals locals consider suitable for your bones, stress, muscles, and headaches.
- Kiswarani Waterfalls: Visit the beautiful 7 waterfalls near the Kisawarani village on the first day.
- Blue Lagoon: Locally known as K’oyalay, this beautiful Andean lake is located at 3750 m / 12303 ft.
- Llamas and Alpacas: Staring on the first day, you will see herds of llamas and alpacas grazing high in the mountain.
- Condor pass: With 4700 m / 15354 ft, the highest mountain pass in the Lares trek gets this name since we can sometimes see the Andean Condor and other birds. The view of the highest mountain in this place is spectacular.
- Canchacancha Village: Located at 2700m / 8856 ft, this remote village is located 4 hours from the closed route; locals travel on foot to get supplies and use llamas to transport goods.
- Salineras de Maras: Located in the Sacred Valley area, there are more than 3000 saltpans where locals harvest salt using ancient techniques.
- Ollantaytambo: Ollantaytambo town is considered the “Last Living Inca Citadel” since locals still use the original Inca streets, doorways, and even water channels running since the Inca times.
- Machu Picchu: The Final destination; after a long 3 days tour, we arrive on the morning of the last day in the great city of Machu Picchu.
What is the best Itinerary?
All trekking trails lead to Machu Picchu; the best Itinerary with different experiences is:
- Day 1: Cusco – Lares Thermal Baths – Kiswarani Village
- Day 2: Quiswarani – Condor Pass – Cancha Cancha Community
- Day 3: CanchaCancha – Huaran– Ollantaytambo – Aguas Calientes
- Day 4: Machu Picchu (The Lost City Of The Incas)
This Itinerary will allow hiking from Lares to Machu Picchu rather than going back and forth.
How to book the tour?
- Book your trip to Machu Picchu with a trekking tour operator rather than with an online travel agent; this way, the money paid will benefit straight to locals. Ensure the company you hire is a locally licensed tour operator and verify reviews and pictures.
- Verify the hotel category offered in the tour, the inclusions, the buses to Machu Picchu, and the train category included.
- Book as early as possible your tour to get the best shifts in Machu Picchu, the best hotels, and the best train schedule.
How much is the cost of a group tour?
There are many tours and itineraries for Lares Trek; for a group tour of about 8 people, the regular prices are between 500.USD to 600.USD per person.
TreXperience charges 590.USD per person for an almost all-inclusive tour with 3-star hotels and Panoramic Vistadome Trains.
How challenging is the Lares Trek?
Comparing the best trekking tour to Machu Picchu: the Classic Inca Trail, Salkantay Trek, and Lares Trek, this last one is considered less intense; however, it reaches the highest altitude. This trekking is considered in a medium to the moderate range with a daily hike of an average of 6 hours. Travelers must be physically capable of hiking for several hours on an average of 3500 meters high.
How to prevent altitude problems in the Lares Trek?
We cannot avoid altitude sickness; it doesn’t matter the age, fitness level, or experience; it can affect anyone, even experienced hikers. The best way to prevent this is by arriving at least 2 days before your trek departure, resting in Cusco before the tour, eating light, and drinking a lot of water; you must also bring altitude medicine.
When is the best time to hike the Lares Trek and visit Machu Picchu?
Unlike the Salkantay Trek or Inca Trail, Lares Trek is available all year round due to the heavy rains.
The best time to visit Machu Picchu is from April to November, when it is the Dry season, April and November are the Shoulders months, and a weather increase is expected.