The Lares Trek and Short Inca Trail tour to Machu Picchu offers a unique experience for hikers to combine the beauty of the Andean mountains, local villages, and the Inca Trail 2 days, arriving at Machu Picchu twice. You will enjoy the natural gems of the Andes, visit local villages and explore the Iconic Short Inca Trail to Machu Picchu.
Lares Trek and Short Inca Trail 5 days
Lares Trek and Short Inca Trail 5 days trek combine a cultural hike in the most remote mountains and villages with the Short Inca Trail to Machu Picchu. You will be able to visit local villages, beautiful glaciers, piercingly blue lakes, and stunning waterfalls, hike the Short Inca Trail, arrive at Machu Picchu through the Sun Gate in the afternoon of day 4, and go back to Machu Picchu on the last day to enjoy the sunrise.
- Duration: 5 Days / 4 nights
- Hiking Distance: 54 km – 33 miles
- Depart: Cusco
- Difficulty: Moderate to Challenging
- Season: All year round except in February
- Destination: Machu Picchu
- Type: Adventure – Camping – Hotel
- Book with Confidence and Flexibility
- Visit the natural hot springs of Lares
- Hike the iconic Short Inca Trail
- Arrive at Machu Picchu twice (sunset & sunrise)
- Vistadome panoramic train to return (Vistadome or 360°)
Lares Trek and Short Inca Trail at a Glance
Day 1: Cusco – Lares Thermal Baths – Kiswarani - Blue Lagoon (10 km, 4 hrs)
Pick up from your hotel in Cusco at 4:30 am and drive for 3 hours to Lares thermal baths. The hot springs of Lares are perfect for your bones, muscles, stress, and headaches. After breakfast, we started the first day with a 2-hour hike until lunch in Kiswarani village—next, another 2-hour hike to the Blue Lagoon at 3900 m (12795 ft).
Day 2: Blue Lagoon – Condor Pass – Cancha Cancha (16 km, 7hrs)
Wake up early with a hot cup of coffee or coca tea in your tent. You will hike for 4 hours to Condor Pass at 4750 m (15583 ft). After exploring the summit, you will continue for 3 more hours to the campsite located at Canchacancha Village (3750 m / 12 303 ft).
Day 3: Cancha Cancha – Huaran – Ollantaytambo (12 km, 4 hrs)
After breakfast, you will visit the local houses, experience their way of life, and interact with villagers to start descending for 4 hours into the Sacred Valley for a special picnic lunch. After lunch, you will drive to the Salineras of Maras and Ollantaytambo to stay in a 3-star hotel.
Day 4: Ollantaytambo – Km 104 – Machu Picchu – Aguas Calientes (16km, 7hrs)
Breakfast in the hotel, board the first trains to Km 104 and start the Short Inca Trail to Machu Picchu for 7 hours. You will visit Chachabamba, Wiñaywayna and arrive at Machu Picchu through the Sun Gate. Spend the night in a hotel in Machu Picchu Pueblo (Aguas Calientes).
Day 5: Discover Machu Picchu (The lost city of the Incas) – 3 hours
On the final day, board the first buses, and explore the best of Machu Picchu, visiting the terraces, temples, palaces, and most important places in Machu Picchu. Return on the Vistadome Panoramic Train, finishing the tour around 7.30 pm in your hotel.
Included in the Lares Trek & Short Inca Trail
- Pick up from your hotel for the tour
- Free luggage storage
- Professional tour guide
- Door-to-door service (hotel to hotel)
- All bus tickets to Machu Picchu
- Entrance ticket to Inca Trail
- Entrance ticket to Machu Picchu
- 2 nights of camping in the Mountains
- 2 nights 3-star hotel
- Eureka tents for camping
- Sleeping Foam Mattress
- Duffle bag for your stuff up to 8 kilos
- Chef, Porters, horse riders.
- Cargo mules to carry food and equipment
- Emergency horse in case someone needs
- First-aid kit, satellite phones, oxygen tank
- Rain Ponchos, pillows, dining tent, chairs, tables
- Panoramic Trains to return
- All taxes and booking fees included
- Sleeping Bag, Air Mattress, Trekking Poles (Can be rented)
- Huayna Picchu Mountain
- Machu Picchu Mountain (different from Machu Picchu citadel)
- Lunch on the last day in Aguas Calientes
- Travel Insurance
- Tips (Optional)
Full Itinerary of the Lares Trek and Short Inca Trail
Day 1: Cusco – Lares Thermal Baths – Kiswarani – Blue Lagoon
TreXperience team will pick you up from your hotel at around 4:30 am (depending on your location) and drive you through the beautiful landscape of the Sacred Valley of the Incas to the famous Lares thermo-medicinal baths – arriving at approximately 8:00 am. We will jump straight into the medicinal pools set at different temperatures. The water is excellent for your bones, muscles, stress, and headaches; therefore, this is the perfect way to prepare for your TreXperience! after soaking our bodies, we will enjoy breakfast in a beautiful location surrounded by the majestic Andean mountains.
After breakfast, we will drive 30 minutes to the trailhead and start with a 2-hour hike to the Village of Kiswarani, where your chef will be waiting for well-deserved lunch. The second part of the day it's another 2-hour hike to the campsite on the shores of the Blue Lagoon at 3900 m (12795 ft). We will pass picturesque landscapes, potato farms, and fantastic waterfalls.
In the Lares region, villagers survive by farming potatoes and raising llamas and alpacas. On reaching our campsite, your tents and a hot cup of tea await you. This is a perfect place to relax, stargaze, and learn about Inca astronomy.
- Campsite Altitude: 3900 m (12795 ft)
- Distance: 10 km/6 miles
- Duration: 7 hours
- Meals: Breakfast, snacks, lunch, dinner
- Accommodation: Camping
- Difficulty: Moderate
Day 2: Blue Lagoon – Condor Pass – Canchacancha Community
We will wake you up early with a hot coffee or coca tea. This is our longest and most challenging day, and after breakfast, it is a 4-hour hike uphill to Condor Pass at 4750m (15583 ft) – the highest point of this journey. Along the way, we will enjoy beautiful lakes where Wallatas (Andean geese or 'love birds') swim in the crystal clear waters and pass the imposing Andean mountains of Pitusiray, Sawasiray, Qolquecruz, all of which are over 18,000 ft. At the summit of Condor Pass, we will serve you a well-deserved cup of coca tea, and you can take some time to rest while your tour guide performs a spiritual offering ceremony to the sacred mountains. It is then over a 3-hour descent through the breathtaking scenery to the second campsite. You can see lagoons, exotic birds, llamas, alpacas, vizcachas (which look a lot like rabbits), and Wallatas along the way.
Our campsite is at Canchacancha (3750 m / 12 303 ft) – the only Lares Valley village completely isolated from modern technology. This includes no drainage system, computers, internet connection, or cellphone service. Here they speak only Quechua – the ancient language spoken by the Incas. You will have time in Canchacancha to meet and interact with the local people, visit a local school, and help teach and play games with the children.
The villagers will welcome any donations of food, school supplies, or anything else you would like to give to help support this isolated community's health and education. Your guide will visit one of the family's homes late afternoon. Here you can first experience their traditional lifestyles passed down from the Incas, sample traditional food, and see how they raise guinea pigs, llamas, and alpacas. Our chef will have prepared dinner to enjoy together before a well-earned night's rest by the evening.
- Campsite Altitude: 3750 m / 12303 ft
- Distance: 16 km/ 910 miles
- Duration: 7 hours
- Meals: Breakfast, snacks, lunch, dinner
- Accommodation: Camping
- Difficulty: Moderate to challenging
Day 3: Canchacancha – Salineras of Maras – Ollantaytambo
Start the day with a beautiful view of the mountains and a delicious breakfast while you prepare for the final descent from the highlands into the Sacred Valley. First, we will say goodbye to the villagers still practicing Inca traditions and isolated from modern technologies.
Along the way, you can observe different ecosystems – from the cold mountains, where only potatoes are grown, to the fertile soils of the Sacred Valley, where corn is the primary product. Our TreXperience concludes in a small town called Huaran (2700 m / 8856 ft), and from here, a private bus will drive us to Salineras of Maras and then to Ollantaytambo "Last Living Incan City." or as it is sometimes known, "World Capital of the Native American." We will take some time to explore these ancient streets and the water channel that has been in use since Inca time. We will have dinner in a local restaurant in Ollantaytambo and spend the night in a hotel.
- Campsite Altitude: 2700m / 8856 ft
- Distance: 12 km / 7.4 miles
- Duration: 4 hours
- Meals: Breakfast, snacks, lunch, dinner
- Accommodation: Hotel
- Difficulty: Easy to moderate
Day 4: Ollantaytambo – Short Inca Trail – Aguas Calientes
After an early breakfast in your hotel, we will take the train for 1 hour 30 minutes along the Urubamba river from Ollantaytambo (in the mountains) to km 104 at Chachabamba (in the cloud forest). We will head straight to the checkpoint at Chachabamba to start your TreXperience to Machu Picchu! Please note you will need your original passport to pass through the checkpoint. Our first stop is a beautiful Inca site at km 104 called Chachabamba. From here, we will hike along an ancient Inca Trail abandoned in the 16th century.
The first section of the trail is a gradual uphill hike for 4 hours until we arrive at Wiñaywayna (the place that never gets old). At this point, we will take some time to explore this stunning archaeological site and enjoy the Andes' spectacular views. A packed lunch and refreshments will be provided. Once fed and energized, we will continue our hike to the Sungate to catch your first glimpse of the Lost City of the Incas – a truly unforgettable sight. It's a one-hour downhill walk to the city from the Sungate, with breathtaking views. We will arrive at Macchu Picchu in the afternoon and have the unique opportunity to experience the city almost empty. This is the perfect photo-taking opportunity! We will then take the bus down to Aguas Calientes, have dinner and spend the night in a hotel.
- Aguas Calientes: 2000m / 6561ft
- Highest altitude: 2700m / 8858ft
- Distance: 16km / 10 miles
- Duration: 7 hours
- Meals: Lunch, snacks, dinner
- Accommodation: Hotel
- Difficulty: Moderate
Day 5: Discover Machu Picchu (Lost City of the Incas) – Return to Cusco
On the last day, we have to get up very early and get ready to experience the highlights of the Lares Trek and Short Inca Trail tour, visiting Machu Picchu. We will go straight to the queue and wait for the first buses to Machu Picchu at 5:30 am. As the sky brightens, we will enjoy incredible city views.
On a clear day, you can watch the spectacular sunrise over Machu Picchu, an unforgettable sight. Your guide will take you on a 2 to 3-hour comprehensive tour of the city before leaving you to Machu Picchu to explore on your own or climb Huayna Picchu or Machu Picchu Mountain (tickets must be booked in advance if possible). Your guide will explain how to take the bus from Machu Picchu back to Aguas Calientes for lunch (not included) and return on the Vistadome train and private van back to Cusco. The estimated arrival time is 7.30 pm.
- Duration: 3 – 4 hours
- Meals: Breakfast (hotel)
- Difficulty: Easy
Lares Trek and Short Inca Trail Tour Packing List
For the Lares Trek, you will have your daypack that you will carry every day and a duffel bag provided by TreXperience during the briefing at our office in Cusco the day before the trip. Your main luggage will remind at your hotel or in our lockers in Cusco, and you will only travel with the duffel bag with a maximum of 7 kg. Our porters will carry the duffel bag, food, and camping equipment.
During the Short Inca Trail, we will not have porters anymore. You will only travel to the IncaTrail with your backpack; the duffle bag must return to Ollantaytambo. On request, we can transfer the duffle bag directly to the hotel in Aguas Calientes. However, we recommend traveling light.
Essentials for the Lares trek and Short Inca Trail
This is the equipment that every hiker should have:
- Original Passport
- Small hiking backpack
- Hiking pants
- Hiking boots
- Trekking poles
- 2 liters of water
- Rain gear
- Extra money
What to put in the bag for the Lares Trek.
The backpack will always be with you. Your responsibility is to carry it with you when hiking during the day must be as light as possible. Remember that you can only find duffel bags at campsites, and everything you need during the day must be in your backpack.
- Passport. – The original passport must always be in a safe and dry place.
- Student card. – If you have booked a student ID, you must also bring your student ID.
- Water bottle. – Reusable water containers for at least 2 litters must be carried
- Poncho, raincoat. – Plastic poncho will be provided to you together with the duffel bag.
- Sunscreen, a hat, and a long-sleeved shirt. -You will hike in open spaces without shelters and must always be protected.
- Warm jacket. -In the early morning and late afternoons, the weather is freezing.
- First Aid Kit: You must always carry personal medicine, band-aids, painkillers, Cipro, allergy medicine, Diamox, etc.
- Headlights, cameras, mobile phones, sunglasses
- Toilet paper. -Must be carried at all times
- Extra cash. -Be sure to bring money with you in small denominations.
What to put in the duffle bag during the Lares Trek?
- Sleeping bag. – 4 seasons (-10°) sleeping bags are required for hiking; you can bring your own or rent them from us.
- Air mattress. -We will provide foam mattresses; however, if you want extra comfort at night, we recommend bringing or renting an air mattress.
- Pillows.- During this trip, we will provide you with small camping pillows.
- Shoes.- For this hike, we strongly recommend that you wear hiking boots
- Socks.- You need about 6 thick wool hiking socks and 4 light socks to walk around at night or after hiking.
- 3 pairs of trousers, hiking pants, or ladies' leggings are also suitable.
- Thermal underwear.- This is very important at night.
- Swimsuit. -We will visit Lares Thermal baths.
- Sandals. -Change after hiking and in the hotel.
- Toiletries. – Toothpaste, soap, shampoo, lip balm, moisturizer
- Towel. – Small and light towels
- Hand sanitizer and toilet paper
What to pack for the Short Inca Trail?
Remember that we don't have porters for the Short Inca Trail; you must carry your belongings. Below is a list of recommended items to bring:
- A small day pack or large fanny pack to carry your belongings while trekking
- Original passport
- Walking sticks or a hiking pole
- Comfortable walking shoes or hiking boots
- Sunscreen and hat
- Sunglasses -Bug spray
- Candy, snacks, and energy bars
- Water bottle or camelback
- First Aid kit, including supplies for blister care
- Jacket or poncho in case of rain
Price of the Lares Trek and Short Inca Trail 5 days
Price per person:
- 790.USD for adults
- 750.USD for children and students
- 40$ off per person
All travelers under 17 will have a $40 discount.
If you are 25 years old or under when traveling, you can get a 40$ discount with your student ID. Please advise by email to give you a code for the discount.
Valid Student ID for Inca Trail and 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 and Short Inca Trail frequently asked questions.
The Lares Trek and Short Inca Trail Machu Picchu takes you off the beaten path to explore remote villages in the Peruvian Andes, visit pristine glacial lakes, hike with llamas and alpacas in their natural habitat, and hike the Short Inca Trail to Machu Picchu.
Below you will find the most common questions about this fantastic trek.
What is the Lares Trek and Short Inca Trail to Machu Picchu?
The Lares Trek and the Short Inca Trail is a combination of 2 of the most popular treks to Machu Picchu:
- The Lares Trek is a 3-day trek that takes you through the stunning Andean mountains and into the heart of the Inca Empire.
- The Short Inca Trail is a 2-day trek that takes you to Machu Picchu, one of the most iconic archaeological sites in the world.
Both treks are an incredible way to see Peru's most beautiful scenery and learn about its rich history and culture.
What are the differences between the two treks?
A few key differences exist between the Lares Trek and the Short Inca Trail.
- The Lares Trek is more of a cultural trek where you visit isolated Andean villages, explore beautiful lakes, and hike in the remote mountains in solitude. The Short Inca Trail follows the ancient Inca Trail to Machu Picchu, full of history and Inca sites.
- The Lares Trek is less crowded; few people will be hiking this trail compared to the Short Inca Trail, which can have up to 250 people daily.
- The Lares Trek is a high-altitude hike, while the Short Inca Trail is located in the Cloud forest region close to the Amazon basin.
What is the Lares Trek?
The Lares Trek is a popular alternative to the classic Inca Trail hike. It is a less crowded, more authentic Andean experience that takes you through beautiful mountain scenery and traditional villages. The trek starts in Lares, about 3 hours from Cusco, and follows a valley up to the pass at 4,750 meters. From there, it descends into the Sacred Valley of the Incas, finishing at Ollantaytambo or Aguas Calientes.
What is the Short Inca Trail?
The Short Inca Trail is a 4-day trek that starts in Cusco and ends at Machu Picchu. The trail is shorter and less crowded than the Classic Inca Trail, making it a good option for those who want to avoid the crowds but still experience the Iconic Inca Trail to Machu Picchu. The Short Inca Trail includes all major sites along the Inca Trail, such as Chachabamba, Wiñay Wayna, and Inti Punku (the Sun Gate).
When is the best time to hike the Lares Trek?
The best time to complete the Lares Trek is during the dry season, from May to September. The weather during this time is more predictable, with lower rain chances, making for a more enjoyable trekking experience. Even though it may be hot during the day, the nights can still be cold, so it is important to pack accordingly.
When is the best time to hike the Short Inca Trail?
The best time to hike the Short Inca Trail is in the dry season, from May to September. The weather is milder, and there is less chance of rain. However, it is also the busiest time of year, so you must book your trip well in advance.
What is the highest altitude on the Lares Trek?
The highest altitude on the Lares Trek is Condor Pass at 4750m (15583 ft)
What is the highest altitude on the Short Inca Trail?
Sun Gate is the highest altitude on the Short Inca Trail, with 2700m / 8858 ft.
How long does the Lares Trek take?
The Lares Trek is a 3-day hike and covers a total distance of 38 km (24 miles). The trek is challenging but incredibly rewarding, and you'll experience traditional Peruvian culture firsthand.
How long does the Short Inca Trail take?
The Short Inca Trail to Machu Picchu takes 1 day to hike and covers 16 km (10 miles).
How to prepare for either trek?
Assuming you have a basic level of fitness, preparation for either the Lares Trek or the Short Inca Trail should not be too daunting. Here are a few key things to keep in mind:
- Prepare in advance for the trek by going on regular hikes back home
- Bring proper hiking equipment for the trip
- Both tours are at high altitudes, so give yourself plenty of time to acclimate before undertaking either.
- We recommend arriving in Cusco at least 2 days before your trek starts.
- Pack plenty of layers, as the temperature can vary significantly throughout the day, especially in the Lares Trek.
- Make sure your footwear is well broken in and comfortable - you'll be doing a lot of walking!
- Listen to your body and take it easy if you're not feeling 100%. It's better to rest up and be ready for your hike than push yourself too hard and risk getting sick or injured.
How many people can go on the Lares Trek?
A maximum of 16 people can go on the Lares Trek at once. However, groups are usually very small, and we seldom get full groups.