lares trek

3 Day Lares Trek + Inca Trail km 104

The best Alternative hike to Machu Picchu. This 3-day trek is designed for travelers who have less time but still want to reach the citadel of Machu Picchu by walking through the sun gate, there is one simple reason why True Mountain Traveler has the best trekking route to Machu Picchu.

You trek off the beaten track on the Lares Trek, which is our cultural tour focused on local people and their lifestyle, while passing through amazing scenery. This is then combined with the Short Inca Trail, which will give you the full package of camping in the Andes under the stars, stunning views and the famous walk through the Inca Sun Gate (Inti Punku) for your first view of the Lost City of the Incas, Machu Picchu.

This alternative itinerary Lares trek to Machu Picchu 3 days with short inca trail is generally believed to be one of the most beautiful hikes the Sacred Valley of the Incas has to offer.

Day 1: Cusco – Sacred Valley – Huaran – Cancha Cancha

We will start at 5:00 a.m., where we will pick you up directly from your hotel and drive 2 hours to the town of Huaran (2840m) located in the Sacred Valley between Pisac and Urubamba. Before starting your walk, you will meet your horses and horsemen (arrieros). Breakfast will be prepared and served before you start walking and the team will be presented at that time. After breakfast, you will prepare to start the trek. The first 4.5 hours will be gradually uphill until lunch. After lunch, we will continue leaving the Sacred Valley behind us, heading north following a path that climbs gently alongside the small river for 2 hours to reach our destination, the small village called Cancha Cancha where we spend the night. Cancha Cancha (3,750 m / 12,303 ft) doesn’t have modern technology and people still practice real Inca traditions. In this Inca town, 85 percent of the houses are still made up of original, old buildings, made of stone, with thatched roofs. Unlike any other town in the Lares Valley, this town has no electricity or cars. Your porters will set up your tents while you have time to meet with local children. We provide them with food and school supplies on each Lares trek we do, and we invite our travelers to share in the support of education and health in this native village. You can join us and bring whatever you want to complement the lives of these Quechua-speaking children. Next, your guide will take you to one of the local family houses, where you will learn about the locals’ lifestyle. You can watch them raise their guinea pigs and learn about traditional hand-woven textiles made from llama and alpaca wool. This will be without a doubt one of the best days of your trek. In the evening you will enjoy hot drinks and dinner and an early night to be ready for the next day.

Walking distance: 14 km

Campsite Elevation: 3800 meters

Weather: warm/Cold

Trail Conditions: Rocky , dusty and slippery (trekking shoes required)

Day 2: Cancha Cancha – Pachacutec Pass – Quishuarani – Ollantaytambo

Leaving Cancha Cancha we continue northeast through the valley, passing small stone houses with thatched roofs. After 2 hours of gradual ascent, the path flattens out for a bit before steeply climbing for 2 hours to the highest pass called Paso de Pachacutec (4758m). From there, you will be rewarded with magnificent views of Lake Pachacutec and the snowy peaks of Pitusiray. After taking some time to soak up the views, we walk for another 3 hours to the village of Quishuarani (3,870m / 12,694ft) for lunch.

After lunch, we take our private transportation to Ollantaytambo, where we will check in to our hotel.

Walking distance: 14 km

Maximum Altitude Point: 4758 meters

Weather: warm/Cold

Trail Conditions: Rocky , dusty and slippery (trekking shoes required)

Difficulty: challenge

Accommodations: Tunupa Lodge (or similar)

Day 3: Ollantaytambo – Inca Trail – Machu Picchu – Cusco

You will wake up in your hotel at 4:30 a.m. and walk for 10 minutes to the Ollantaytambo train station from where we will depart on the 6:10 a.m. train. The train follows the Urubamba sacred valley River, until we reach Km 104, where we’ll begin the hike. Along the way, you’ll see spectacular views of farmlands, snow-capped mountains and the mighty Urubamba River, one of the sources of the Amazon River. At Km 104, we will begin our trek. Once you have everything you need, we’ll take a group photo before visiting our first Inca site. After orientation and a tour of the Incan ruins, we are going to begin hiking upwards, as we head up to reach the Classic Inca Trail. If the weather is clear, we’ll have tremendous views of Machu Picchu mountain, the Urubamba River and other surrounding Incan sites.

After hiking for 3-hours, we reach the most beautiful archaeological site on the Inca trail, Wiñay Wayna (meaning ‘Forever Young’) at 2,600 m/8,500 ft. Most people do not get the opportunity to see the elaborate water fountains, temples and agricultural terraces, which provide a perfect opportunity to learn about the history of the Incas. The site is bordered by steep drops, allowing you to see the stunning mountains surrounding the area. From Wiñay Wayna, we’ll walk to the Sun Gate, from where we’ll see the picturesque landscape of Machu Picchu. After taking in the once-in-a-lifetime views, we will begin our descent to Machu Picchu itself.

A big advantage of this hike is that, by the time we reach Machu Picchu, most of the day travelers will have returned home, so you will have the area nearly to yourself. After taking photos, you will have a two-hour guided tour lead by your private English-speaking guide. After that, you will have time to explore Machu Picchu by your own.  When you are done exploring, you can either take a bus, or walk, down to Aguas Calientes for dinner (not included). Then you will take the 6:30 pm train back to Ollantaytambo, and then a bus to Cusco, where you will be brought back to your hotel. You will arrive around 10 p.m.

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