Category: Lares

Lares Hot Springs Trek

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Lares Hot Springs Trek

This popular alternative hike from Cusco to Machu Picchu today counts to one of the Classic Cusco Treks. However, not many people know that everything started back in 2004 when Jose Luis Olivera, the general manager of Andina Travel, started discovering the area together with the local people and established 16 different routes in the Lares district, one of them the Lares Hot Springs Trek.

Thanks to his efforts, Jose Luis secured an economic activity and a regular income for the local people in the tourism industry. Together with his business partner Dragoman Overland from the United Kingdom, Andina Travel established several community projects for example the reforestation of unused spaces in the Lares district, the maintenance of the schools in the local villages of Cuncani and Quishurani and the donation of camelids to the communities.

The local people of Lares are working for us as horsewranglers during the trek.

Let’s explore the stunning route of the Lares Hot Springs Trek, one of the most picturesque Cusco Treks, together.

Day 1: Cusco – Lares Hot Springs – Cuncani

On our first day we were picked up at 07:30 in the morning from our hotel Garcilaso in the center of Cusco. After loading all our belongings in the minivan, we started our journey towards the district of Lares, a four-and-a-half hour ride away from Cusco. However, the time passed quickly since we stopped at several viewpoints along the route. On our first stop we had an amazing view on the Sacred Valley and could purchase some traditional handicrafts and clothing from the local people. Ymail, our tour-guide, also explained the typical crops and native products of the region to us like choclo, beans, maiz moraya and many others.

Yamil, our guide, explaining the local products of the Sacred Valley

On our next stop we enjoyed the views on the town of Pisac and its terraces, built by the Incas for cultivating their plants and crops under a better microclimate.  After this visit to the viewpoint we drove down the hill, through Pisac and the Sacred Valley of the Incas and we crossed more mountain passes to reach the district of Lares.

Around midday we finally arrived at the Lares Hotsprings, a beautiful complex with various termal baths with different temperatures where we had the possibility to go for a quick swim before lunchtime. Our chefs served us a delicious mushroom soup, noodles with soy sauce, vegetables and qorn and some fruit for dessert. This meal gave us plenty of strength for the upcoming hike.

The Lares Hot Springs

The first portion of the trek was a bit steeper until we arrived at a football field where we took a little break and relaxed. From then onwards the well-marked gravel-path was less demanding and after about three hours of hiking we reached the road leading to Cuncani. We passed herds of llamas, alpacas and after another one-and-a-half-hours of hiking we reached our campsite at the school of Cuncani. This school has profited from the several community projects of Andina Travel and gives the local children the possibility to study in their native language Quechua.

We camped at the school’s playground and dinner was served in one of the classrooms. After our meal and a briefing for the next day we want to bed early since our wake-up call was set for 4:30 a.m.

Day 2: Cuncani – Playa Laberinto

Early the next morning the travellers where woken up by the guides and the cooks with a warm cup of coca-tea. Everybody got ready for the day, packed together their belongings and the whole group found themselves at breakfast about 45 minutes later. After enjoying a hearty breakfast, that included porridge, toasts and fruit salad, we all found ourselves at the campsite for the warm-up and then started hiking uphill into the mountains behind the school of Cuncani for about three and a half hours.

Views on the snow-capped mountains

Reaching the saddle and today’s highest point we were rewarded with a view on a lake with crystal clear water. Although the view was stunning, we didn’t stop for a long time since the cold wind on top made us descend. We walked along the lake and then reached a valley where we spotted little, adobe houses and two small girls from the community dressed in traditional clothing who were waiting for us to sell us some souvenirs and refreshing drinks. Although we didn’t buy much, they were happy about the cereal bars and fruits we left for them. After the second lake we climbed uphill again and then we descended into another valley to our lunch spot next to a small stream.

In the afternoon we hiked along the river where we had our lunch. After a relaxing two hours walk we reached the campsite at around 5 pm.

Day 3: Playa Laberinto – Yanahuara Alto

Business as usual – we were woken up by the mountain staff at 4:30 in the morning. We were lucky since shortly after our wake-up call we experienced a beautiful sunrise in the majestic mountains of the Lares district.

We watched the beautiful dawn for a couple of minutes before we all found ourselves in the dinner tent to enjoy a hearty breakfast that included some heavenly pancakes. After a short warm-up we were ready for the first challenge of the day: crossing the stream next to us. Our guides reached for our hands and were helping us over the little river and thanks to them all of us made it safe and sound on the other side without getting their feet wet.

After the first challenge follows the second challenge of the day: our highest mountain pass of the tour at 4700 m.a.s.l. which we would reach shortly before midday. To start with, we ascended through a high-mountain valley where we spotted several llamas and alpacas along the way.

Then after walking for about one-and-a-half hours the hike got steeper and we started to walk steadily and slowly in babysteps in order to save our energy until the highest pass of our hike from Cusco to Machu Picchu. We also took a couple of breaks to catch our breath, eat some snacks and recharge our energies for the next part. Around 11 a.m. we finally reached the highest point our tour, a big achievement for all of us. Another turquoise lagoon was lying in the valley below us and after taking several pictures, alone and as a group, we descended towards the beautiful lake.

The group made it to the highest pass at 4700 m.a.s.l.

It took us another two hours to reach the lunch spot where we could recharge our energies by taking a break and some of us even took a short siesta in the grass next to the dinner tent and enjoyed the warm sunrays.  For today’s lunch our cooks prepared Chaufa, a fusion-dish of Andean and Chinese cuisine made out of natural quinoa and fresh vegetables, and sweet potatoes as a side.

In the afternoon we hiked downhill through a forest located at an altitude of 4500 m.a.s.l. We descended for about four to five hours and while walking we noticed that the microclimate changed from cold Andean Highland Climate to the more pleasant climate in the valleys. We arrived at our final, well-equipped campsite of our hike from Cusco to Machu Picchu shortly before sunset and after three days in the mountains we all appreciated a hot shower even more.

Around 7 p.m. the last dinner on our hike from Cusco to Machu Picchu cooked by our mountain chefs was ready in the dining room of the lodge located next to the campsite and we celebrated the fact that all of us made it safe and sound over the mountains on one of the most beautiful Cusco Treks.

Day 4: Yanahuara Alto – Ollantaytambo – Aguas Calientes – Machu Picchu

For the first time in the mountains our alarm wasn’t set for 4:30 in the morning, instead we had a lay-in until 7 a.m. and then prepared us for breakfast and our upcoming visit to Machu Picchu. After an English Breakfast we packed together all our belongings, said good-bye to the mountain staff and our assistant guides and boarded our minivan that would take us to Ollantaytambo.

Farewell ceremony

As soon as we arrived to Ollantaytambo, a one-and-a-half hour train ride was waiting for us that would take us to the tropical town of Aguas Calientes where we had to take the bus up to the arqueological site of Machu Picchu.

The first sight of Machu Picchu was stunning and the complex was bigger than everybody expected. For two-hours our tour-guide Yamil showed us around the ruins and shared with us the interesting history of this sacred site for the Incas. We visited agricultural site of the ancient town, the old village and took several pictures as souvenirs. To sum up this afternoon was for all of us a dream come true.

Exploring Machu Picchu

After getting down to Aguas Calientes we enjoyed the evening in this small, tropical town by strolling through the market and going out for dinner.

Day 5:

On the last day of our hike from Cusco to Machu Picchu we returned by train back to Ollantaytambo and then by bus back to our starting point, the hotel Garcilaso in Cusco.

The Lares Hots Springs Trek counts to one of the most beautiful and lesser known Cusco Treks. This activity can booked as a 4-day trek without Machu Picchu or as a 5-day tour that includes a visit to the world-famous citadel. At Andina Travel we can offer you our best service in a private departure. You’ll head off to the mountains with your guide, your personal cooks and horse-wranglers who’ll be responsible for the mules that carry your baggage – an authentic and once-in-a lifetime experience.

Ruben, Congratulations on Your Graduation as a Mountain Guide!

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Yamil, Ruben, PieroRuben (in the picture in the middle between Yamil on the left and Piero on the right) has recently graduated from the Antonio Lorena Institute here in Cusco, Peru and became our newest mountain guide – one example of an opportunity that redistributing the tourism income can open up.

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Lares – Alternative Route to Machu Picchu

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###Lares_BaaaThe remote Lares Valley is an excellent trekking place if you want to escape the crowds, clicking of cameras and experience genuine encounters with the local people.[1]

Remote Andean Villages

Breathtaking Landscapes

Hot Medicinal Springs

No Crowds or Overly-Traveled Trails

Personalized Service, Quality, Equipment, and Excellent Meals

‘Situated among the eastern slopes of the Andes and the northern sector of the Cordillera Urubamba, the Lares Valley is a wondrous place of brilliant glacial lakes and sub-tropical valleys filled with a rich assortment of vegetation and wildlife’ [2] with glaciers in the background. Small Quechua-speaking communities live in the Lares Valley continuing centuries old the farming, herding and weaving traditions of their ancestors.

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