machu picchu inca trail

4 Day Lares Trek + Short Inca Trail to Machu Picchu

The Lares Trek offers a unique blend of natural beauty and cultural immersion, 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, and interaction with local Quechua-speaking communities, witnessing traditional Andean life, and visiting remote villages, while passing through amazing sceneries. 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 hike through the Inca Sun Gate (Inti Punku) for your first view of the Lost City of the Incas, Machu Picchu. The Lares trek and short Inca Trail can also be done in 5 days at a slower pace to enjoy the beauty of the Andes.

This alternative itinerary Lares trek 4 days to Machu Picchu 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 – Sun Gate – Aguas Calientes

You will be picked up from the hotel at 5:30 a.m. and we will go to the train station to leave on the 6:10 a.m. train from Ollantaytambo. The train follows the Urubamba River until we reach Km 104, where we’ll begin our trek. Once you have everything you need, we’ll take a group photo before visiting our first Inca site. After the orientation and visit of the Inka site, we will begin hiking upwards, as we head for the Day 4 section of the Classic Inka 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 will reach the gorgeous Inka ruins on the Inca Trail, Wiñay Huayna (Forever Young) at 8,500 ft (2600m). Most people do not get the opportunity to see the elaborate water fountain, 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 Huayna, 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 to yourself. After taking photos, we take the bus down to Aguas Calientes and head to your hotel. After dinner, we recommend going to bed early to make the most of the next day.

Total Distance: 12 km (7,800 miles)

Estimated Walking Time: 5 hours

Maximum Altitude Point: 2,700 m (8,858 ft)

Weather: warm/hot

Accommodations: Wiraccocha Inn (or similar)

Day 4: Aguas Calientes – Machu Picchu – Cusco

We will wake up early in the morning in order to catch the sunrise at Machu Picchu (weather permitting). You will have a two-hour guided tour by your private English-speaking guide. After that, you will have time to explore Machu Picchu by your own. Those who have tickets to Huayna Picchu will have time to climb the mountain, which takes approximately an hour and a half, round-trip. When you are done exploring, you can either take a bus, or walk, down to Aguas Calientes for lunch (not included). Following this, you will take the train back to Ollantaytambo or Poroy, and then a bus to Cusco, where you will be brought back to your hotel.

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