Lares & Short Inca Trail | 4 Days • 3 Nights
The Lares Trek + Short Inca Trail is the perfect adventure for those who want to combine local Andean culture with the classic Inca Trail to Machu Picchu. The Lares trek is a lesser known trail which means few tourists and a lot more tranquility. Along the way, we’ll visit local villages. Plus, you’ll get to enjoy a relaxing soak in the Lares thermal hot springs. Eventually we’ll connect to the classic Inca Trail where we’ll continue our journey to the Sun Gate, the ancient entry point to our final destination – Machu Picchu!
- Bilingual professional guide (English and Spanish)
- Entrance fees
- Guided Machu Picchu tour
- Meals (excluding lunch on Day 4)
- Lunch on Day 4
- Hot springs (optional activity)
DAY 1: OUR ADVENTURE BEGINS
We leave Cusco early in the morning and head to Urubamba in the Sacred Valley of the Incas where we’ll stop to enjoy a light breakfast before we start our hike. After breakfast, we’ll drive to the starting point of the trek in the small village of Pumahuanca.
Today will be a challenging hike up the side of the valley, climbing about 1150 m (3373 ft). So we’ll take it slow as we make the steep ascent up the side of the valley. Few people walk this trail so enjoy the peace and serenity of your surroundings. On the way, we visit the small Inca site of Pumahuanca. You’ll also learn about the flora and fauna native to this special area.
We camp for the night at Puyoc which sits at 4100 m (1345 ft). During the dry season (May-September), it’s not uncommon for it to snow in this area. So warm gloves and hats are recommended.
Walking Distance: 14 km / 8.6 miles
Starting Elevation: 2800 meters / 9180 feet
Campsite Elevation (Max Altitude) – 4100 meters / 13,451 feet
DAY 2: LARES HOT SPRINGS
Today is a spectacular day of hiking and a little easier than yesterday. After breakfast, we leave our campsite and head toward the village of Cuncani. Enjoy the breathtaking beauty of the region’s snow-capped peaks and mountain lakes. You’ll meet some people from the Cuncani community and learn about their unique and colorful culture. You might even pick up a few local Quechua phrases and some alpaca souvenirs along the way.
Once we leave Cuncani, we’ll head towards the hot springs of Lares, passing through several small farming communities growing a variety of Andean crops like quinoa and tarwi. We arrive at the hot springs, where you can enjoy a relaxing soak in the natural thermal waters, surrounding by sweeping views of the Lares Valley. After some time in the hot springs, we’ll have a delicious dinner and camp for the night.
Walking Distance: 19 km / 11.8 miles
Starting Elevation: 4100 meters / 13,451 feet
Campsite Elevation (Max Altitude): 4800 meters / 15,750 feet
Difficulty: Moderate to Challenging
DAY 3: INCA TRAIL
Our day will start with an early breakfast. Then our driver will pick us up to take us to the small Andean town of Ollantaytambo where we board the Expedition train to our starting point of the Inca Trail, KM 104. It’s about a 2 hour drive to the Ollantaytambo train station and a 1.5 hour scenic train ride. Leaving early gives us more time to enjoy the views and nice weather.
We begin our hike near Vilcanota River, visiting 2 Incan ruins along the way, hidden gems on the Inca Trail. The first site we come to is Chachabamba, a stone altar used to worship the sun and mountains. We continue walking south and start a gradual climb. After 3 hours, the road descends into cloud forest where we’ll come to a waterfall and eventually the impressive ruins of Winaywayna. This is where we’ll stop for lunch.
After lunch, we continue our hike through the cloud forest, filled with bromeliads, orchids and tree ferns. And at end of the trail, you’ll climb 50 steps before reaching the Sun Gate (Inti Punku) where you’ll enjoy a spectacular view of Machu Picchu from above!
We’ll make our way to the main entrance of Machu Picchu where we board the bus to the town of Aguas Calientes. Here, you can relax with a nice dinner and a restful sleep at the hotel.
Walking Distance: 13 km / 8 miles
Starting Elevation: 2100 meters / 6900 feet
Maximum Altitude: 2720 meters / 8920 feet
DAY 4: MACHU PICCHU
We’re going to Machu Picchu today! It’s an early start. We wake up before the sun rises to catch one of the first buses up to Machu Picchu. Let us know if you want to start later but we highly recommend taking one of the first buses to allow you to explore this ancient city without the large crowds. Your guide will take you on a 2-hour tour which will include history, culture, and fun facts about this ancient site. You will then have a little time to explore on your own.
Afterwards, we’ll head back to Aguas Calientes for lunch and a bit of free time before heading to the train to start our journey back to Cusco.