In an attempt to confront the heavy traffic of the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu, international organizations and local agencies are betting on alternate routes of sustainable tourism. People thing they have found the ideal place in the remote and spectacular Valley of Lares.
During the last 25 years, novice hikers and experienced adventurers have followed the famous Inca Trail to the citadel of Machu Picchu. As one of the most popular walks in the world, this route receives more than 100,000 visitors a year. Unfortunately, this heavy traffic coupled with failed conservation efforts and administrative inefficiency have led to its fast deterioration. In an attempt to confront the sad ecological reality of the Inca Trail, international organizations and local agencies have focused on the exploration of alternative routes within sustainable tourism parameters.
The Lares trek is a hike that lasts two or three days in Cusco, Peru starting nearby the town of Lares, approximately 64 kilometers north from Cusco and 56 kilometers east from Machu Picchu. It is placed on the mountain rage of Urupampa (on the east) crossing part of Sacred Valley. To start this trek you need to take a 5 hour trip on bus or van from the town of Lares. The trek route crosses typical zones from the mountains of Peru.
This road was used by the Inca culture in the past. They used this road to transport food and also to send messages to others towns. Only the domestic South American camelids were employed at that time and the most employed were the llama and the alpaca. The llama could only transport 20 pounds and the alpaca was used for clothing and food. In this valleys you can see people that still follows those traditions. During the trek we can appreciate thermal medicinal baths, lagoons, mountain ranges, cloud forest, rivers, snow-capped mountains and a variety of birds and plants.
This trek is a great way to learn about the Andean landscape with valleys, rivers, lakes of crystal clear waters, waterfalls, forests of quenuales and to know the way of life of the natives in the Andes. Unlike the popular treks in Cusco, the trek through the Valley of Lares takes you truly to remote locations and unknown (by many) destinations. This trip takes you to the heart of the Andes where few tourist have ventured. This wonderful trail leads you to beautiful natural landscapes adorned with impressive glaciers. It is a different world from ours, an Andean paradise where residents of small villages still use ancient forms of life. This trip also leads you to know the historical sanctuary of Machu Picchu (one of the 7 new wonders).
It is a little bit smaller and bigger in altitude than the Inca Trail and it is accessible from Cusco. Unlike the Inca trail, permits are not required to do the Lares trek.
The trekkers depart from Cusco early on the first day around 6 A.M. and then take a trip to Calca (2,928 AMSL). From Calca you need to take another 3 hour trip to reach Lares. There are thermal baths in there. The Thermal Baths of Lares are one of these thermomedicinal resources that the traveler will be able to enjoy when he goes to a region like Cusco. These thermal baths, as the name implies, are located in the district of Lares, which is located in the province of Calca.
They are formed by a group of four swimming pools. These are fed by waters that are tempered to different degrees. The temperature of the thermal pools of Lares fluctuate between 36 °C and 44 °C and the pools have dimensions of between 17 m2 and 120 m2, with depths that do not exceed the meter and a half, making it suitable for a greater number of visitors.
These thermal baths are visited due the properties that their waters presents, which besides offering comfort and stress relief, are also able to alleviate certain ailments. This is achieved thanks to the fact that the waters of these Thermal Baths are fed by minerals such as sodium, potassium, magnesium, calcium, iron, zinc, among many others, which combine to combat diseases such as arthritis , Osteoporosis, besides contributing to the rehabilitation of broken bones, to fight muscular, stomach problems, among many others. From Lares you trek for 5 hours to the first camping spot at Huacahuasi.
Huacauasi is a traditional weaver’s town and many tourist try to learn how to weave there. The second day is the shortest and steepest as you cross over the Ipsaycocha Pass. Then you camp beside the Ipsaycocha Lake. The last day of trekking is all on descend. You will cross over a lot of traditional towns including Patacancha and Huilloc before arriving to Ollantaytambo. From there you take the train to Aguas Calientes where you spend the night. There are also thermal baths in Aguas Calientes.
The next day you take a short trip up to Machu Picchu.
There are a lot of more routes in the area, including some where you can stay with a local family instead of camping.
There are chances of getting in trouble in every trip so it is necessary to understand a series of factors and risks to ensure maximum enjoyment of the itinerary. For this reason in this article we give you a series of practical tips so your trip is a success.
This is the key to enjoy any trek, especially if you are going to walk for more than one day. A physical illness will make you focus more on the overexertion than in what surrounds you. In addition, on the next day of the physical activity, there will appear muscular pains that can prevent you from continuing. To achieve an optimal state, it is beat to work exercises on a regular basis such as jogging or cycling.
Similar to an engine with bad gasoline, you will give less good results. Your body will respond differently depending on what you have eaten. Avoid heavy meals and fats, and bet for a diet focused on carbohydrates (pasta, rice, bread, vegetables…), as well as fruits and vegetables for contribution in fibers and vitamins.
A wrong footwear can pose a high risk of injury. The ideal for a moderate difficulty trekking is a high boot to protect your ankles of possible kinks. The sole should be thick and with anti-slip drawing. In addition, the tip should be reinforced to protect your fingers. It is also recommended that your shoes are waterproof with GoreTex or similar so you can keep your feet dry. Very Important: Never use new boots in a long trek, this could result in blisters and discomfort. Use your boots before so they fit your feet.
Be realistic with your physical condition and plan the route according to your skills. If you are not in good shape you should spend more hours on the trek respecting your own rhythm. It is convenient to check the weather forecast to prepare your equipment according to the climate you will find.
Do not wait until being thirsty to drink. Thirst is the body alarm to dehydration so your body will appreciate being in a constant hydration. With all the physical effort you are going to need a minimum of 2 liters of daily water, it can be even more if the climate is warm.
This is a personal option. It can give you a little push to finish the trek but it has a particular flavor you need to get accustomed to.
In addition to what your guide brings, we recommend having some solid candy to suck while climbing. They seem to give you energy and they distract your mind from climbing!
Make a warm-up and stretch your entire body just before starting. This will reduce significantly the risk of injury. You should know that a cold muscle is less resistant and flexible that one that has been prepared for a certain physical activity.
Stilts, mosquitoes, flies or any flying type insect that stings, can turn into an authentic nightmare for the trekker, especially into the forest and in warm areas. It is important to bring a good repellent and to spread it periodically in the exposed areas of your body.
More altitude, less available oxygen. Form the 2,000 meters of altitude you can start to feel more tired. Lares is located at 3,100 MAMSL so the chances of getting altitude sickness are high. We recommend you spend 2 or 3 days in Cusco before the trek starts.
Blisters are generated in general by the friction or continuing impact. Avoid them using a good pair of shoes and thick synthetic socks. React before is too late if you feel a burning in your feet. Recommendation: Use “Leukoplast” tape to cover the areas with greater friction.
Even if you take a lot of precautions, it is always possible to slip or to stumble and fall down. It is important to carry a little first aid kit to contain the hemorrhages. This would be the basic first aid kit for wounds:
Yes, stretching after the exercise is as important as before. This favors the circulation, reduces fatigue and also reduces possible muscle aches.
If your body has been submitted to an intense physical activity, you will need more than ever to regenerate. Sleep the maximum hours as possible. The ingestion of alcohol or a heavy dinner may interfere negatively in a good rest.
Bringing a pair of walking sticks can help with a good posture = less fatigue and backaches. You will also have two additional support points and they can help you to avoid falls. Buy a light ones that can fold on themselves.
Synthetic, light, resistant and with a kick drying. Cotton clothing will make you feel moist after perspiring and this can cause colds or something worse. This also applies to the socks, use a synthetic ones. Finally, the coating outer should be also waterproof and with hood.
Here we also have what you need to bring in this trek:
We hope all this recommendations help you with your trip.