There are hundreds of different trails through the Andes Mountains that the Incas have used for generations and the Classic Inca Trail certainly the most well-known, and most well-worn, with 500 people hiking it per day! By comparison the Lares Inca Trail is an off-the-beaten-path trek that takes you in to the Andean wilderness and through remote villages that have little contact with the outside world.
Just beyond the massive snowcapped peaks that mark the Sacred Valley’s northern edge, sits the Lares Valley. In the remote Lares Valley, life continues much as it has for centuries. In highland villages locals in traditional Andean dress plant potatoes by hand, raise herds of llamas and alpacas, and weave cloth as they have for generations. As you make your way to Machu Picchu you’ll meet farmers and artisans and very few other Western trekkers.
There's no crowded campsites or queues of people waiting for the toilet here! The Lares trek usually starts at the tiny town of Lares, home to a famous hot spring, and passes through several villages. Along the way it provides close-up views of several high-altitude lakes and of the impressive Mount Veronica (5822 metres, 19100 feet). The trail ends on the third day near the historic ruins of Ollantaytambo and from there you’ll make your way by train to Machu Picchu town (also known as Aguas Calientes), where there are hot springs to relax in after your hike. Very early on the last morning you’ll head up to the ruins of Machu Picchu, and you can hike up to the sungate to catch the sunrise with everyone else. If you organize a guided tour in advance, you can also explore nearby Huayna Picchu and the Temple of the Moon cave.
Here are two quotes from folk who have hiked the Lares Trail with Active Adventures South America: "We had no idea that the Lares Trail wouldn't have many more people on it... We were completely thrilled that we had chosen this trail based on the information that we'd see more of the local way of life, etc. The amazing icing on the cake was that we were all by ourselves on that trail. That made our trip very, very special. The solitude might be worth mentioning in the literature. It would have helped me know for sure that this was the trail I wanted to take." Sandra Fields (New Mexico, United States)
“My favorite portion of the trip was the Lares Trail hike where we were able to get away from the tourist areas and see people living in the mountains the way that they have lived for centuries. I may need to go back and do the classic Inca Trail for comparison.” Jill Norling (Washington, United States) Active Adventures South America list the full day-by-day itinerary for the Lares Inca Trail on their website.