The Lares Trek may not be the traditional route to Machu Picchu, but that doesn’t mean it’s any less worth the effort. The average route and the one I took (organised by G Adventures) was around 21 miles of hiking spanning three days. And it’s bloody tough but oh so worth it.
Just the journey to your starting point is amazing. Make sure to have your camera packed, with a whole load of extra batteries as you’ll be without access to power for days.
So why do the Lares Trek over the famed Inca Trail? There’s a multitude of reasons
- You can book this as close to the date as you need! The Inca Trail sells out very quickly, so needs to be booked very far in advance. We booked the Lares Trek 6 weeks ahead of completing it.
- It’s a lot emptier. You’ll likely encounter no other walkers apart from locals living in the areas you’ll trek near.
- You’ll get to shower before heading to Machu Picchu, and get some sleep. A lot of friends who have done the Inca Trail didn’t enjoy having almost no sleep and being unwashed by the time they got to Machu Picchu.
- And no queuing at the Sun Gate! Whilst that view is glorious, it’s very busy at sunrise.
and you may encounter many, many cute dogs.
Some of the views are so beautiful, and this is just day one. You get the sensation of being so remote. you feel like the Andes are your own. It’s an amazing feeling that’s hard to describe, but it is just so incredible to feel a million miles away from society.
And whilst we’re covering Day One here, it’s important to note Day One isn’t too hard a day. A lot of it is driving to where you’ll begin. The walk isn’t too hard, but it’s at a high altitude, as you can see from all the clouds below. Stock up on coca leaves, coca sweets and for the love of God, invest in altitude sickness tablets. They’re a godsend.
Altitude sickness is no joke, if you get hit with it bad, it could ruin your entire trip and send you to the hospital. Taking every precaution against it is really important.
This trek certainly isn’t a runner up to the Inca Trail. Both offer wildly different experiences, so it’s important to research both and you may find that the Lares Trek is more for you. I much prefer the open, vast expanse of nature whilst be isolated in the Andes, to a busier route focusing on manmade history. There’s no wrong choice though, both are amazing.
Day One ends with a half-decent campsite, by that I mean it has actual toilets. Sorta. They’re outside, there’s no light and they don’t really flush, but it’s pretty amazing. And there’s also a hut you can eat in, though it couldn’t fit everyone in, so I ate in a tent.
A little note to remember, save yourself the effort of bringing your own airmat and sleeping back from home, rent them from your guide organization running your hike. I believe it cost me about £20 total to rent all of my gear, including walking poles, which are an absolute must-have. As you’ll see in the wildness of Day Two.
And we’ll continue on Day Two, the hardest of the trek. One that takes you longer, higher and through wilder weather. It’s a true experience.
Lares Trek Day Three
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