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What will you see on our 4-day classic Lares trek? Stone houses with thatched roofs, children tending herds of llamas and alpacas, and women in colorful traditional dress spinning yarn. This is a hike rich in culture. You’ll be hiking along some of the same trails and paths that the locals use every day!
The Classic Lares route starts in the heart of the Sacred Valley. After travelling about an hour and a half by car we reach Huaran, the Lares trailhead. From here, the trail heads up into the highlands.
Over the next two days, we pass a series of stunning glacial lakes and two high passes. We’ll also trek through a number of traditional Andean villages, including Cancha Cancha, Quishuarani and Cuncani. On Day 3 we end up at the Lares hot springs for an enjoyable soak to rest our weary muscles!
As a result, we have a very close relationship with the people there, many of whom work as part of our trek staff, from porters to cooks to muleteers.
Apus Peru’s sister non-profit organization, Threads of Peru, also works with the weavers of Chaullacocha. Travelers who hike many of Apus Peru’s Lares Valley Treks often get a chance to visit the school and the weaving association – this is a totally different experience than the average Lares trek!
We recommend that you bring the following items with you:
For our full packing list for treks in the Andes, see What to Bring.
Our blog How to Prepare for a Trek in Peru will also give you some great tips for how to get ready for your trek, before you even leave home.
Our guides are all licensed and receive regular training. They share their experience, professionalism, knowledge and enthusiasm with our passengers on every trek.
Get to know our team!
Want to join a trek? Ready to confirm a departure date of your own, but interested in having others join you? Then Trekkers Wanted is for you! Our innovative Trekkers Wanted system matches people up who are interested in hiking the same trek, bringing costs down and multiplying the fun for everyone! Read More about Trekkers Wanted, post your trek or search for confirmed departures!
The Classic Lares hike starts with a pick up from your hotel early in the morning. We leave Cusco behind and head to the Sacred Valley. You’ll be left breathless as we come around a corner and you catch your first glimpse of this verdant valley, and the impressive Urubamba mountain range towering above it.
After passing through Pisac, we head to Huaran where we will start our hike. We will follow a small river up through the mountain corridor, passing pretty farmland along the way. After about 4 hours of hiking, we will reach the traditional Quechua community of Cancha Cancha (3800m / 12,467 ft), a highland plain scattered with stone houses.
We will hike through Cancha Cancha to the spot where we will set up camp for the night, surrounded by imposing peaks.
This morning, we start our hike passing the Upper Cancha Cancha village where we can sometimes see children tending their herds of llamas. After a climb, we reach two brilliant glacial lakes: Suirococha and Yuraccocha. It’s not uncommon to see several bird species here, including the Andean ibis and Andean goose.
From here, the trail climbs steeply upwards for about 2.5h to the first pass, Pachacutec (4700m / 15,419 ft). Near the top, we are rewarded with views of the snow-capped peaks of Pitusiray (5750m / 18,864 ft) and Chicon (5500m / 18,044 ft).
The path then continues for about an hour along a narrow, barren ridge before dropping down into a beautiful secluded corrie. The area is filled with glacial lakes, an area rich in bird-life. We follow a series of nine cascading waterfalls to the village of Quishuarani (3700 m / 12,139 ft), where we will camp for the night.
Starting early, we walk for about 3h, heading west up a small valley until we arrive at a lake. Here we will starting climbing up a steep, narrow trail to the top of the second pass, Abra Huillquijasa (4450m / 14,599 ft). From the pass, we’ll feast our eyes on the incredible sapphire blue lakes below.
We then continue on for about an hour to the village of Cuncani (3800m / 12,467 ft), where we will have lunch. After lunch, we will descend around 2.5 to 3 hours towards the town of Lares (3100 m / 10,170 ft).
Half an hour before arriving at Lares, we will stop for a well-deserved soak in the famous hot springs! We will camp here for the night.
Extend your trip by one day and visit the unparalleled Machu Picchu! Check out our Machu Picchu Trek Extension for more information.
We consider it “moderate” due to the elevation, more than the difficult terrain. While it is no walk in the park, ascents and descents are more gradual compared to other treks, making for easier trekking. There is a joke among trekking guides that the Lares trail features “Inca flat” terrain – a more gently undulating path, compared to the steep ascents and descents of other treks in the region! But make no mistake – it is not really “flat”.
The real challenges are the high altitude and the weather. Lares features some high altitude campsites, so you must be properly acclimatized in order to avoid altitude sickness.
Weather in the Andes is always unpredictable, especially at high altitude. You can expect cold, windy and even wet weather (especially if you are hiking out of season).
We always recommend you get in shape before embarking on an Andean trek. The fitter you are, the easier it will be!
Any kind of multi-day hiking or cardiovascular exercise in the gym would be beneficial prior to the trek. Please consult your doctor or fitness trainer before starting any exercise regime. They can help guide you to ensure your training regimen suits your abilities and fitness level.
For more information about how to get in shape for your trek, see our Trekking Tip #3!
So how can you avoid feeling sick from the altitude on the trail? Acclimatize first! This is pretty easy to do, as all your body needs is time to get used to high altitude conditions.
You can spend time in a high altitude place like Cusco, where this trek departs from. Luckily Cusco (3400m / 11,154 ft) is a great place to hang out for a few days, so you probably won’t mind! We recommend a minimum of 2 days’ acclimatization for most treks, but truly, the more time you can spend acclimatizing, the better.
While acclimatizing, we recommend taking it easy. Don’t overtax your body right of the bat. Instead, get lots of rest, do some gentle walks, nothing too strenuous. We also recommend eating light, nutritious meals, and drinking plenty of water (avoid alcohol).
For more about how to prepare, reach our Altitude and How to Acclimatize page.
There are basically two seasons in the Andes: wet season and dry season. Dry season runs from about May through September, and is characterised by – you guessed it – dry weather conditions. The days are typically clear and sunny, and the trails dry (and sometimes dusty). Despite the cold nighttime temperatures that also accompany dry season, this is an optimal time for hiking. However, dry season is also peak tourism season around Cusco, so that’s when you’re most likely to be sharing the trail with other groups.
Unlike a lot of other routes in the Andes, you can also hike Lares during wet season. From December through March, the temperatures warm up slightly and the chance of rain increases dramatically. You can expect rain showers pretty much every day, sometimes heavy. Of course there are far fewer trekkers at this time of year, providing a more peaceful experience on the trails!
For more info about the pros and cons of hiking during wet season, check out the best time to hike.
The first and last days are the easiest. On Day 1, you’ll hike about 4h, and on Day 4 there is actually no hiking at all! That is the day we enjoy the Lares hot springs one last time and then return to Cusco.
Days 2 and 3 are the longest days, with 7 and 9 hours of trekking, respectively.
Want more comfort on the trail?
Our highly trained trail chefs can prepare meals to rival any restaurant in Cusco – even when they’re cooking on top of a mountain!
You will not be disappointed with the variety, quality and quantity of food provided on the trek. In addition to the main meals, we also provide regular snacks to help you up and down the mountains.
Our team will also provide filtered or boiled drinking water for the duration of the trek.
You can see more about meals and equipment here: What to Expect on the Trail.
For other customization options, please send us an Enquiry to speak with one of our Trek Experts!
In this day pack you should carry things like your water bottle, a waterproof jacket, sun protection (sun hat, sunscreen and glasses), beanie, and camera.
Water is important on any trek. You should start the day with 2L, depending on how much you normally drink, and knowing that you can refill your water bottle at lunchtime. There will also be many beverage options at meal times!
For more information about what the Lares region is all about, check out our Lares homepage. We have many different trekking routes through the stunning Lares valley!
…or Take the Long Way