This trek takes us into the Lares region of the Peruvian Andes, passing green valleys, tranquil mountain lakes, and high passes, with breathtaking views of snow-capped Andean peaks rising to just under 6,000 meters. Our route takes us through many small villages that offer a rare and fascinating insight into traditional Andean life. Finally, we’ll make our way by train to Aguas Calientes to Machu Picchu: the legendary Lost City of the Incas.
We start off our trek with scenic drive through the Sacred Valley, passing through Chincheros and stopping in the town of Urubamba, (2,700m). From there, we continue our drive to the beginning of the Pumahuanca Valley, known for its white corn crops and Chicha, the Inca´s favorite corn beer. We will have a locally guided tour of the Incan complex of Inca–Kancha, while our certified chef spoils us with delicious Peruvian cuisine. Continuing along the way, you will be able to see native trees such as qeuñas and eucalyptus. After another leg of our hike, we camp by natural scenic waterfalls in Cuyoc (3,950m).
On our trip, we will also be taking part in community service. Rising early, we will be introduced to a local family! We will join a traditional breakfast with the community before our journey for the day begins. We’ll also participate in an Incan ceremony to offer thanks to Pachamama (Mother Earth) for all that she provides and ask for her grace. Then you will plant your tree with a local family. We’ll spend the rest of the day doing community service with the family, helping them go about their daily tasks. This could include anything from shepherding llamas or alpacas to caring for guinea pigs, shearing wool, weaving or farming potatoes and quinoa. You will learn some basic Quechua, the native indigenous language, as you become friends with the family members. For dinner – a Pachamancha; a traditional Peruvian feast done by digging a hole in the Earth and cooking with hot stones. A meal you (and your taste buds) will never forget!
We’ll have an opportunity to visit the house of our ‘arriero’. You’ll be able to witness his unique way of life; deep connection to nature, traditional customs preserved through agriculture, weaving, and use of medicinal plants. Afterwards, enjoy a soak in the natural hot springs of Lares!
We will conclude our tour on the last day by exploring Machu Picchu early in the morning. Our private guide will lead you on a two hour tour, then you will have time to discover the ancient city of Machu Picchu on your own. Machu Picchu is tangible evidence of the urban Inca Empire at the peak of its power and achievement—a citadel of cut stone fit together without mortar so tightly that its cracks still can’t be penetrated by a knife blade.
The complex of palaces and plazas, temples and homes may have been built as a ceremonial site, a military stronghold, or a retreat for ruling elites—its dramatic location is certainly well suited for any of those purposes. The ruins lie on a high ridge, surrounded on three sides by the windy, turbulent Urubamba River some 2,000 feet (610 meters) below.
The Lares to Machu Picchu trek starts in the village of Pumahuanca, in the Sacred Valley, and finishes in the hot springs of Lares, with a visit to the village of Cuncani along the way. On Day 3 of the trek we’ll take a bus from Lares to Ollantaytambo and then carry on by train to Machu Picchu.
- Starting Altitude – 2,800m / 9,186ft.
- Highest Altitude – 4,780m / 15,682ft.
- Walking Distance – 34km / 21 miles
- Longest Day – Day 1, approximately 14km / 8.7 miles
- Coldest Night – Day 1 around 0º celsius
- Overall Difficulty – Moderate
Day 1: Cusco – Urubamba – Pumahuanca Valley – P´acchayoq
Our private bus leaves Cusco at 05:45am for a scenic drive through the Sacred Valley, passing through Chincheros and stopping in the town of Urubamba, (2,700m) for a brief rest and the chance to buy any last minute snacks, water, etc. A small picnic breakfast will be served at this time. Departing Urubamba around 07:15, we’ll drive 20 minutes more to the beginning of the Pumahuanca Valley, land of the famous white corn crops and the Chicha, the Inca´s favorite corn beer. This is where we will meet our horses and handlers, (arrieros), and trek staff. All of our equipment will be carried by mules and horses. We commence our hike through the beautiful Polylepis Qeuñas Valley with a gentle switchback ascent on a gravel path from 2,850m to 3,600m. It’s a four hour walk to the Incan complex of Inca–Kancha for a guided visit, and a stop for our first lunch. Our talented cook will spoil you with delicious Peruvian food. Continuing along the way, you will be able to see native trees such as qeuñas and eucalyptus. After several hours of walking, we will reach a series of small waterfalls and the beautiful campsite of Cuyoc (3,950m).
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, Snacks
Maximum Altitude: 3,950m
Minimum Altitude: 2,700m
Distance Travelled: Approx. 14km
Approximate Walking Time: 7 hours
DAY 2: COMMUNITY SERVICE
Rise early and be introduced to a local family! You will have a traditional breakfast with the community before our journey starts. We’ll also participate in an Incan ceremony to offer thanks to Pachamama (Mother Earth) for all that she provides and ask for her grace. Then you will plant your tree with a local family. Your tour guide will explain the importance of environmental conservation to the local family and ask them to care for the tree that you’ve planted. We’ll spend the rest of the day doing community service with the family, helping them go about their daily tasks. This could include anything from shepherding llamas or alpacas to caring for guinea pigs, shearing wool, weaving or farming potatoes and quinoa. You will learn some basic Quechua, the native indigenous language, as you become friends with the family members. As the day comes to a close, we will help prepare a traditional Pachamanca (traditional cooking method using hot stones) for a delicious dinner to share with your family by the campfire.
Day 3: Cuyoc – Pumahuanca Pass – Cuncani Campsite
We’ll wake up at 06:00 am with a cup of coca leaf tea and good breakfast of quinua pancakes. At 07:00am we’ll recommence our trek with scenic views of Chicon, San Juan and Veronica mountains.
Surrounded by a native forest for a challenging five hour climb along a dirt road, until we reach some zig zag switchbacks that will lead us towards the Pumahuanca Pass (4,740m). Once we reach the pass, we’ll honor the top of this mountain with coca leaves as is the local custom. Then we are ready to descend for an hour along a stone road until we arrive to our lunch spot, near impressive lakes. After lunch we’ll walk downhill for two more hours. Enroute, we may meet local campesinos (local people) in colorful costumes; this is the tradition with all villages around Lares. Our campsite is at Cuncani (3,700m) where we’ll enjoy dinner and camp for the night. Cuncani is also very famous for its textile production and ancesteral weaving techniques.
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, Snacks
Maximum Altitude: 4740m
Minimum Altitude: 3700m
Distance Travelled: Approx. 16km
Approximate Walking Time: 7-8 hours
Day 4: Cuncani Campsite – Lares Hot Springs- Ollantaytambo – Aguas Calientes
Before we begin the final leg of our trek, we’ll wake at 7:00am and have breakfast. We’ll also have the chance to visit the home of our arriero, who will share with us their lifestyle of deep connection with nature and preservation of traditional customs. He will show us the weavings from generations past, use of medicinal plants etc. Then it’s a simple four hour walk to reach the Lares village. Once we arrive we can soak in the medicinal hot springs. After lunch, it’s a three hour drive to Ollantaytambo, where we will have a Peruvian-style dinner. We will then take a 2-hour train ride to the town of Aguas Calientes where we will stay overnight.
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Accommodation: Hostel in Aguas Calientes
Maximum Altitude: 3200m
Minimum Altitude: 2700m
Distance Travelled: Approx. 12km
Approximate Walking Time: 4 hours
Day 5: Aguas Calientes – Machupicchu – Ollantaytambo – Cusco
At 5:00am we’ll have an early breakfast before taking the 5:30am bus directly to Machu Picchu. **The option is there for those still are able/wanting to walk to leave at 04:30am and walk up to Machu Picchu to meet us at 06:00am**
Machu Picchu is still a fifteen minute walk from the drop-off point to the entrance. Enjoy an early tour of Machu Picchu with your guide who will unfold the mysteries of this magical site. Your tour of Machu Picchu should finish between 10 and 10:30am, and then you’ll have free time to explore by yourself. Around 10:45am the guide will leave you at the trail head to climb Huayna Picchu if you booked this in advance.
Maximum Altitude: 3400m/11186ft
Minimum Altitude: 2100m/6909ft
- All necessary tools for tree planting
- Ceremony with your tour guide and locals
- Pick-up from hotels from 5:25 to 05:45am or meet in our depart point Plaza Cusipata
- Transfer in bus to Lares, Quiswarani (starting point of the trek)
- 2 person per tent Igloo tents (new, spacious and comfortable)
- A roll pad mattress
- Dining and cooking tents with tables and chairs
- Excellent tour guide (2 guides for groups over 12)
- Full board meals: 3 Meals per day, snacks each afternoon
- First-aid kit including emergency oxygen tank
- Chef and cooking equipment and kitchen tent
- Horses/mules to transport (tents, food, cooking equipment)
- Hot water every morning and evening for washing purposes
- Boiled water to fill in your water bottle every morning
- Vistadome Train from Ollantaytambo to Aguas Calientes
- Expedition Train return from Aguas Calientes to Ollanta and private transport to Cusco
- Entrance fee to Machu Picchu Archaeological Complex
- Guided tour of Machu Picchu
- Hotel in Aguas Calientes (double or triple accommodation)
- Porterage of 6 Kg per person.
- Round Trip Bus Tickets
- Meals: 4 Breakfasts, 4 Lunches, 4 Dinners
- Dinner on the last day
- Tips for your crew: cooks, horse herders, guides. Tips are not mandatory but are a great gesture of gratitude.
Trekker’s Packing List:
- Backpack or a daypack
- Hiking boots (sneakers or running shoes are not recommended)
- Trekking poles
- Warm clothes– layers for variable temperatures, especially at night
- Flashlight with extra batteries
- Camera & Batteries / Charger
- Sun Protection : Hat, Sunscreen, Sunglasses
- Thermals, Wool Socks & Wool Hat for cold nights
- Gloves, Scarf
- Insect Repellant for valleys and Machu Picchu
- Rain Poncho / rain jacket
- Toiletries, Toilet paper, small towel
- Bathing clothes for the hot springs
- Trekking pants
- Water bottle, Water purification tablets
- Personal medical kit
- Original passport and ISIC student card is applicable
- Extra money for souvenirs, drinks & tips to your staff
OPTIONAL : Little presents for kids of communities along the trail: school supplies, second hand clothes, toys, etc.
At PumaPath, your comfort and safety are of our utmost concern. Therefore, we provide all necessary camping equipment for your trek. Included in prices are: sleeping tent, rollmat and pillow for your comfort. Please feel free to bring your own sleeping bag if you prefer.
Price Per Person US$ 975
- Student Discount: US$20 (Requires ISIC Card to qualify)
- Single tent: US $75
- Personal mule (half) to carry extra 7kg of personal items: US $75
- Full mule to carry 14kg of personal items: US $150
- Walking Pole: US $20
TRAIN TIMES: On the fifth day we will take the 2:55, 4:42 or 6:45PM train from Aguas Calientes to Ollantayatambo and then we will transfer you back to your hotel in Cusco.
HUAYNAPICCHU MOUNTAIN: If you are thinking of climbing Huaynapicchu mountain, you must book this at the same time as your trek. Only 400 people can hike Huaynapicchu per day. You will climb it on your own after the tour in Machu Picchu around 10:00 am. The price is $25 per person.
HORSES OR PORTERS: On this trek we provide horses to carry food and camping equipment. There will be one cook, his assistant, two horsemen, and one porter who will be picking up trash on the trail. You will have a personal allowance of 7kg for your gear. This will not be available during the day as the horsemen will be ahead of the group.
OUR GUIDES: Most of our guides began as porters before they went to Cusco University and Institute where they learned about the Inca history. They are always learning in order to be the best guide. They each speak English fluently, along with Spanish and Quechuan, the Inca Language. They are all able to communicate with natives from around the area and have lots of history to share with you.
OUR FOOD: Definitely one of the highlights of the tour is the food. It is always fresh and most of it is organic. There is always a lot to eat and a variety of options including vegetables, meat, chicken, fish and other types of protein and carbohydrates. Everyone sits down to eat together and we go out of our way to accommodate all dietary requirements including vegetarian options and any food allergies. We do not provide any alcoholic drinks on the trek but if you would like you can bring your own.
OUR EQUIPMENT: We provide 4 man tents for only 2 people and foam mattresses for everyone. Our dining equipment includes a spacious dining tent, tables and chairs, plates and utensils. We do not supply walking sticks, but they can be rented from PumaPath. We bring an extra blanket for all our hikers for those especially cold nights. Just ask and your guide will provide you with this.
Please note that if you are over 1.95 meters / 6´4″ tall then you won´t be able to rent a sleeping bag in Cusco. In this case it is recommended to bring your own.
WE ARE SUSTAINABLE: We always pick up waste along the trail as we go. We respect the local people, teach them to keep the land clean, and help the local children. We always take one extra porter who will be on the trail just to clean up the bottles and plastic bags that those who came before us threw away.
WE ARE RESPONSIBLE: We treat our hikers, porters and all the local people from the villages with the utmost respect. We travel in small groups to give personalized tours to each traveler. We pay good salaries to our porters and follow the Porter’s Law. We provide all our porters with their hiking gear such as shoes, pants, jackets, t-shirts, hats, sleeping bags and most importantly, health insurance.
FITNESS: The trek is certainly not easy but you do not need to be an athlete or a trekking expert to complete it. Fitness is naturally important but this is the kind of trek that anyone with a positive attitude and determination can do. Obviously the more fit you are the more you will enjoy the trail and the more chance you will have to take in the scenery and appreciate the Inca ruins dotted along the way. If you do not exercise regularly, it is advisable to do some extra walking or some kind of aerobic activity in the months leading up to your trip.
Many people worry whether they will be able to cope physically but complete failure is rare and would usually only result from severe altitude sickness or a person lacking even a basic level of fitness. People of all ages (from teenagers to pensioners) complete the trek and age itself is no barrier if you are positive minded and live an active lifestyle. Before departing for your tour, we recommend visiting your doctor who will be able to provide you with more information.
STORAGE DURING THE TREK: During the trek your main luggage will be stored in Cusco and you will receive a small duffel bag at your trail briefing (briefings are normally set for the evening before the trek) to pack clothes for 3-4 days. Your team of porters will carry these bags together with the food and equipment. Please note that you will not have access to these items until the end of each day as the porters will always be ahead of the group. You should therefore bring a day pack in which you can carry personal belongings such as your camera, water, sun screen, etc. By Peruvian law the duffel bag carried by the porters must not weigh more than 7kg (14pounds). You can either store your luggage at your hotel or you can leave it with us.
BOOKING: The Lares Trek to Machu Picchu is available to depart any day of the week so long as we have two people. You still need to book in advance.
Thanks for traveling with PumaPath, a 100% local company.