Natural landscapes, cultural experiences, thermal waters and trails between mountains are some of the attractions that the traveler has in store in Lares. A walk through the Valley of Lares can take you to the mythical Machu Picchu by a different route to the traditional Camino del Inca. This alternative route to Machu Picchu will enrich your body and soul.
How to get to Lares?
The town of Lares, capitol of the district of the same name is 115 km from Cusco. You can arrive by taking a bus direct, which runs about two hours, or a slower route that allows you to take in the wonders of this lovely area.
The best option is to leave early from Cusco and visit the Animal and Rescue Sanctuary only 45 minutes from the city. Here you will find typical animals of the region: llamas, alpacas, pumas, cóndors and colored jungle birds. 20 minutes further down the road is Pisac a town surrounded by Incan ruins and natural beauty.
Pisac is famous for its Inca ruins that are just above the city. It is a historical tourist attraction that has as a picturesque quality. Also don’t miss the central market, visited by hundreds of tourists every day.
From Pisac you can travel to the town of Lares on a trip that lasts about 2 hours. The landscapes that along the way are wonderful. The area is cold and snows is common. It is essential that you stay warm to avoid getting sick.
Video TOUR Machu Picchu por el VALLE de Lares
The treasures between the mountains
The town of Lares is 3,200 meters above sea level (masl), 114 kilometers north of Cusco, near the Sacred Valley of the Incas and almost 60 kilometers east of Machu Picchu. This town is known for its thermal waters, many travelers come to this destination looking to relax in some of its five natural pools. Indeed, the hot springs are an excellent place to rest the rest of the afternoon and prepare for the trek to the Machu Picchu archaeological site.
But Lares are not just hot springs, it’s a historical, natural and cultural heritage of Peru
The Valley of Lares is surrounded by the imposing summits of the snow-covered Verónica (5,900 masl), Sawasiray, (5,700 masl), Pitusiray and Chicón (5,500 masl). In this region so high and so cold you can see several lagoons of glacial formation. You can also marvel at the deep gorges with a subtropical climate; and learn about the varied flora and fauna in this area.
The entire Lares Valley is a natural habitat for alpacas, llamas and vicuñas. But also pumas and condors live here, very important animals for the Andean environment. The Valley of the Lares is dazzling, it will leave you speechless not only for the majestic mountains and the Inca ruins that there are in the way, but also because it is a way to get away from the massive tourism. The alternative of traveling to Machu Picchu through the Valley of Lares is one of the best options you could take.
Communities in Lares
Lares is one of the 8 districts of the province of Calca. As in other regions of Peru, in Lares the official language is Spanish but the co-official (and widely used by locals) is Quechua.
Lares was founded on the basis of a decree issued by Simón Bolívar himself in 1825. The district population barely exceeds 10 thousand inhabitants. It is a very cold region due to the high altitude.
Despite the hostile climate, in this region live small communities where the old Quechua is still spoken and the peasants are wrapped in their multicolored ponchos. They maintain their centuries-old customs and traditions, dedicate themselves to the raising of llamas and alpacas, the production of textiles, and the cultivation of potatoes and corn.
Hiking through Valle de Lares
Without a doubt it is one of the more difficult but most impressive trekking to reach Machu Picchu. Do not expect to do it in a day as it is complex.
The first day of trekking through the Valley of Lares involves 8 to 9 hours of walking through impressive Andean trails. During the journey we will find communities that are isolated but that live on their typical fabrics and trade. There are also plenty of typical animals such as llamas, vicuñas and alpacas, which have inhabited these lands for thousands of years.
The destination for the first day of travel is Patacancha. Located at 4.500 masl, an impressive height. It is recommended that you have a Sorojchi pill in your backpack in case you suffer altitude sickness.
We always recommend a brief acclimatization time in Cusco before venturing into this kind demanding trekking, so that your body can resist the demands of the altitude.
In Patacancha there are no accommodations or hotels so the best options are camping or to stay in a family home.
The mountain, valley, and jungle: Ollantaytambo and Aguas Calientes
The goal of the second day to reach the foot of Machu Picchu, the city of Aguas Calientes.
The weather conditions change rapidly on the descent from the mountain to the valley and then to the jungle. It is necessary bring clothes according to these changes so as to not get too cold or too hot.
An alternative is to make a short stretch in a vehicle to an easier point to start the day’s walk. Trekking includes the pre-Inca ruins of Pumamarca before reaching the beautiful city of Ollantaytambo, a true jewel of the Sacred Valley. The trekking time is almost 4 hours in total.
Ollantaytambo is a beautiful city that is next to the Urubamba River and surrounded by mountains. Within the city are its ruins, which are very old, more than 500 years old. It is highly recommended to walk through this area and then get to know the city. Most of the constructions are with Inca stones but it is intermingled with the colonial architecture that the Spaniards built during the conquest.
From Ollantaytambo, the train goes to Aguas Calientes. The trip lasts around 3 hours. The goal is to arrive at night to rest before Machu Picchu.
Machu Picchu THE tourist attraction
How to describe such a natural attraction in words? Machu Picchu is almost a mecca for any traveler in the world. It is the most chosen tourist destination in all of Peru and the popularity of Machu Picchu makes it the most acclaimed site in all of America.
While in Aguas Calientes there are two options to reach the archaeological complex. The first is by bus, which leaves at 5.30 in the morning and will leave you at the door of this architectural and natural wonder. The second alternative is walking. The first has a cost but it leaves you more energy to travel throughout the complex. On the other hand, the second option is free and is an adventure in itself since you must climb the mountain to the top of the complex. The hike starts at dawn as the journey is a bit complex and usually rains before dawn.
It is almost two hours that it takes to get to the door of Machu Picchu but being there the satisfaction is so great that fatigue is forgotten.
The valley of Lares to Machu Picchu
Arriving at Machu Picchu by hiking through the Lares Valley is an alternative proposal to the typical routes that take you to the majestic archaeological complex. There is no need to travel in a hurry because the landscapes that can be known are impressive. It is an unforgettable adventure. The region has unique offerings: from its thermal waters, to the communities that keep alive centuries-old traditions. It is a trekking of learning and a way of doing cultural tourism since the inhabitants of this area are specialists and have a special interest to share their skills.
If you choose our Lares and Machu Picchu tour you can live a unique natural and cultural experience, because although the destination seems the most tempting, the road is the most important. Doing this route you can reach the renowned archaeological park in three days and enjoy the room in Machu Picchu. It is a circuit that connects it with the history, people and culture of this region. You will discover in this experience that you will be able to make long walks but you will also connect in a very deep way with the native communities of the Valley of Lares.
If your desire is to live a different adventure; lose yourself, discover and experience a little known route, we invite you to know the Valley of Lares, you will not regret it.