Guest Post: Lares Trek to Machu Picchu
The adventurous traveler, looking for that extra kick outdoors, will definitely have Peru marked as one of their choice destinations. Not only because of its pristine mountain paths and country sides, but because of its world-renowned cultural sites such as the city of Cuzco, the Colca Canyon or the perplexing Nazca Lines. The mesmerizing ancient site of Machu Picchu, also known as the Granite City, nestled atop the remote mountain ridge of Urubamba Valley, is the real reason people choose a Peru travel adventure. With the Lares Trek, that adventure becomes even more memorable.
The Lares Trek to Machu Picchu
Hikers taking on the popular Inca Trail have been enjoying the unsurpassed beauty of the Peruvian wilderness, passing multiple historic sites on their way to reach the ultimate reward of their strenuous journey, arriving at Machu Picchu. Standing in a place that was inhabited centuries ago, by a people far more advanced than those in the Western world, and seeing the monumental structures erected by the Inca in ancient times, makes the 55 mile hike, which can take up to 5 days, seem trivial.
The highly frequented trail has led to recent concerns about the number of tourists taking advantage of it and the impacts this has on the environment. The local Peruvian government has meanwhile restricted the number of daily visitors allowed on the trail, which has led to tours booking out quickly and making it harder to reserve one of the coveted spots on the trail.
But don’t fret; there is an alternative the adventure seeker will likely enjoy even more.
Getting Away from it All
The greatest advantage for the adventurous traveler is that the Lares Trek is a less populated route. This really gives you the feeling of traveling back in time, following along paths that were walked upon centuries ago, a time when life was less complicated and stressful than it is today. That’s why this hike can bring you peace and relaxation. It may sound like an oxymoron that a three-day hike is relaxing, but it really is. Being away from it all – the noise, the traffic, the hustle and bustle, is very relaxing.
Hiking the Lares Trek
When hiking the Lares Trek, be aware that you will be reaching close to 16,400 feet, which means you have to acclimatize your body to the thin air quality in order to avoid altitude sickness. Most travelers spend at least two nights at a lower elevation of about 11,800 feet, so they can continue on without, for the most part, falling victim to altitude sickness.
The journey begins with a 5 hour bus ride from the village of Lares, hence the trek’s name, to the entry point of the Lares Trek. It takes approx. three days to hike up the mountain and close to Machu Picchu, from where many travelers opt taking the bus, which takes them for a short ride, culminating in their arrival at the Granite City. Although it’s not the dedicated path to the historic site, it is known as an alternate route.
The Lares Valley leads through breathtaking natural scenery, interrupted by man-made things only when passing villages of the Quechua, the indigenous peoples of the Lares Valley. Known for their traditional weaving, they offer opportunities to purchase the beautifully handcrafted souvenirs that are appreciated worldwide.
Advantage Lares vs. Inca
Not only is the Lares Trek less populated, making it feel more organic, its use is also free of charge, whereas the Inca Trail has become pricier because of the governmental restrictions. They enforce these restrictions by selling permits to the touring companies using the trail. As a lesser known trail, it also means that booking a trip to the Lares Trek does not require as much advance planning, though comprehensive plans should still be made in advance to guarantee hotel and train reservations.
What you should have with you?
When heading out on an adventure like this, it’s good to be prepared and have the right equipment with you. Here are some of the most important things to have in tow:
- Hiking Boots because the rocky terrain will tear up regular footwear. Remember, this is not a paved path; you will grateful for ankle support on the uneven surface.
- All-weather jacket to slip on in case of rain and long-sleeved shirts for the evenings when it gets colder
- Long pants for the chilly evenings
- Shorts for the warm days
- Flashlight or headlamp when it gets dark up there, it’s really dark
- Water bottle and water purifying tablets
- Hat or cap
- Sunscreen (the higher the elevation, the more protection you will need)
- Insect repellent
What are you waiting for?
If you’ve been looking for a new adventure, especially one that isn’t overcrowded with other like-minded tourists, then the Lares Trek may be just the journey you’ve been seeking. So, book a ticket, grab your walking stick, and lace up your boots, Peru is waiting for you!
About the author: Charlie “Chuck” Bennett is an adventurous nomad in love with exploration and meeting new people. He writes for the Peru travel experts at G Adventures.Read More