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The Lares & 2 day Inca Trail hike is the perfect way to hike to Machu Picchu when 4 day Inca Trail permits are sold out. Combine the adventure of remote Andean trekking with the sense of accomplishment that comes with completing the famous Inca Trail.
>>Read more about the Lares Valley Trek in our blog!
Day by Day on the Lares & 2 Day Inca Trail Trek
Starting at the Lares hot springs, this route takes you away from the crowds and through the Lares Valley in the opposite direction, hiking over two passes before reaching the remote Andean village of Chaullacocha.
From here, you are transferred to Ollantaytambo in order to catch the train to km 104 where you begin a one day Inca Trail hike, retracing the steps of ancient Incas until you walk through the Sun Gate and into Machu Picchu! Bypassing the site itself, you then walk down to Aguas Calientes where you will spend the night in a comfortable hotel.
Our 4-day Lares Inca Trail trek ends with a visit to Machu Picchu itself, where you will enjoy a full guided tour of this fascinating piece of Inca history. If you want to additionally hike Huayna Picchu or Machu Picchu Mountain, enjoy this Machu Picchu tour in the morning; for a more relaxed experience with fewer tourists, choose to have the morning free and then visit Machu Picchu in the afternoon. See more information about visiting Machu Picchu.
The Lares & 2 day Inca Trail is a not-to-be-missed experience that combines wilderness trekking, local Andean culture, Inca history and the thrill of completing a famous Machu Picchu hike!
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 any Lares Valley Trek with Apus Peru may get 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!
li>Altitude of camp: 4000m (13,123ft)
From Cusco, we drive for about 4h this morning until we reach the Lares hot springs. This is a well-known spot for trekkers and locals alike, and you will have a chance to take an enjoyable soak! We’ll have lunch here and then begin our climb up towards Maranpaqui, continuing on until we reach our campsite at Totoraqocha for the night (3900m / 12,795 ft).
We start off early from our campsite this morning, and head towards the Colquepata Pass (4450m / 14,600 ft), a strong uphill climb. From here, we continue along the ridge for most of the day, passing a series of stunning glacial lakes along the way.
Then, we turn and head down towards the village of Chaullacocha (4200m / 13,780 ft), arriving there in the late afternoon. Apus Peru has a long-time and close relationship with this community, and it is also one of the communities supported by Threads of Peru. Time permitting, we’ll have an opportunity to really engage with some community members, perhaps learning about their weaving tradition or visiting the school if it is a school day. In preparation for this community visit, we encourage you to read about being a Responsible Tourist. You can also ask for our Traveler’s Code of Conduct and read about appropriate gift-giving. We will spend the night at a homestay in Chaullacocha.
For an extra-special experience, why not spend the night with a traditional Andean family! Check out our Chaullacocha Homestay add-on!
It’s another early morning (5 am) as we get picked up in our private transport in order to drive about 2 hours to Ollantaytambo. From Ollantaytambo, we travel by train on a very picturesque route for about 2 hours until we reach Km 104, the start of the Inca Trail for us. Shortly after crossing the bridge over the Vilcanota River we visit the site of Chachabamba (2050m / 6726 ft), a lovely archaeological site with water channels and fountains.
From here, we will hike upwards for about 8km (approximately 4 hours). The trail is well established, but there are many stairs and the hike is mostly upwards! While this is one of the easiest treks around the Cusco region, you still need to have a reasonable level of fitness to complete it. After our upwards climb, we arrive at what many consider the most impressive site on the whole Inca Trail: Wiñay Wayna (‘Forever Young’) (2680m / 8792 ft). This is an impressive complex made up of an agricultural center with numerous terraces, a religious sector and an urban sector.
From here, we continue for about another hour until we arrive at Inti Punku, the Sun Gate (2730m / 8956 ft), where you will have your first dramatic view of Machu Picchu (2400m / 7874 ft). After getting those classic photos, we will walk down the last part of the trail towards Machu Picchu, taking a detour before we reach the entrance to go down to Aguas Calientes. From here, we take the bus down to Aguas Calientes. After checking into our accommodations for the night, we’ll enjoy a celebratory dinner and then it’s off to bed, in preparation for the next day’s early start.
After a very early breakfast at the hotel, we will take the bus up to Machu Picchu in the pre-dawn hours, allowing us to take in the sunrise over the site. Your 4h visit to Machu Picchu can be spent exploring some of the alternative routes, like the Inca Bridge, after which your guide will give you a 2-3h walking tour of the historic citadel.
If you’re feeling adventurous you may wish to hike Huayna Picchu or Machu Picchu mountain, but take note: this requires an extra permit, and they can sell out well in advance! Be sure to tell us at booking if you would like to add one of these hikes. For more tips on what to see, check out our Visiting Machu Picchu page.
After visiting Machu Picchu, you can take the bus back down to Aguas Calientes (or walk down!). From there, we return to Cusco in the afternoon by the Expedition (tourist class) train from Aguas Calientes to Ollantaytambo, where our driver will meet us and transfer you directly back to your hotel in Cusco. Total travel time is about 4 hours from Aguas Calientes to Cusco.
Very impressed. All went smoothly and stress-free.
Loved the variety between the Lares trek and Inca Trail. Loved the lack of crowds. The highlight of our trip was the 3rd day’s trek – spectacular, but with our later start, no crowds – amazing! Liked the solitude of the Lares, saw no trekkers.
The homestay was a nice option for night 2, though it maybe could be developed more to allow more time to interact with the family.
Liked all the unexpected extras, too. Level of detail to our enjoyment high.