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Our 4 day Lares Trek to Machu Picchu offers a unique opportunity to experience modern-day Andean life first-hand while hiking to Machu Picchu.
Our Lares Trek to Machu Picchu begins near Ollantaytambo and visits Chaullacocha, a traditional highland Quechua community where we have the opportunity to visit the school (if it is a school day). Visiting this remote agricultural community is like stepping back in time, as the community lifestyle is largely unchanged since Inca times.
Finally, after visiting other local villages, we will descend to Lares for a dip in the hot springs before taking a 4 hour transfer back to Ollantaytambo. Here, we will take the train to Machu Picchu, dedicating the last day of our Lares Trek to Machu Picchu to visiting the famous Inca citadel of Machu Picchu.
Our multiple Lares trek routes are different than the norm, getting you off the beaten track. We have worked in community development in the Lares Valley communities since 2007, including supporting the local school. 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 often get a chance to visit the school and the weaving association – this is a totally different experience than the average Lares trek!
Please tell us at the time of booking if visiting the weaving association or school is important to you!
See What To Bring for our comprehensive recommendations on what to pack for your trek. For more great suggestions, check out our blog about How to Prepare for a Trek in Peru>. You may want to bring extra cash in soles as there will be an opportunity to purchase hand-woven textiles from artisans on Day 1.
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!
We leave Cusco bright and early and travel to Ollantaytambo, a quaint living Inca city full of stone architecture and cobblestone streets. If you missed breakfast at your hotel due to our early start, you’ll have a chance to grab a bite here before we start our trek. We recommend Hearts Café, a social enterprise run by the NGO Living Hearts. Proceeds from the café support children in the villages surrounding Ollantaytambo. After resting or enjoying a morning cappuccino, we’ll head up the mountain for about an hour by car until we reach the trailhead for our Lares Trek to Machu Picchu journey: Palqaq (3900m / 12,795 ft).
From Palqaq, we will walk for about 5h to the Chaullacocha Pass (4430m / 14,534 ft) where we’ll have gorgeous views of the surrounding mountains, grazing alpacas, and the lake from which the community gets its name (Chaullacocha means “fish lake” in Quechua!). Then, we walk down into the community itself (4121m / 13,520 ft) where we’ll have lunch.
Apus Peru has a special relationship with Chaullacocha as many of our porters come from this village. We have also been supporting community development projects in Chaullacocha since 2007, and it is one of the weaving associations currently supported by Threads of Peru.
Thanks to our close relationship with the community, we’ll have the opportunity to visit the local school. The nature of our visit depends a lot on the group and our timing, as we don’t want to interfere too much in the children’s daily lessons. Please note that this is not a chance for you to teach the children, only to visit and observe. Also, the school is closed on the weekend (including Fridays) and during statutory holidays. Be sure to carefully check your trip itinerary to see what day you will be passing through Chaullacocha! 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.
For an extra-special experience, why not spend the night with a traditional Andean family? Check out our Chaullacocha Homestay add-on options!
Total Walking Distance – 10km
Total Walking Time – 6h
Minimum Altitude – 4000m /13,123 / Maximum Altitude – 4430m / 14,534 ft
Altitude of camp – 4100m / 13,451 ft
Approx. night temperature –10°C
Total Walking Distance – 12km
Total Walking Time – 8hs
Minimum Altitude – 4000m / 13,123 ft / Maximum Altitude – 4440m / 14,566 ft
Altitude of camp – 4000m / 13,123 ft
Approx. night temperature – -10°C
If you have good pace and the weather allows it we can increase 2/3 hours to our day and visit the archaeological site of Huaman Marka
Total Walking Distance – 8km
Total Walking Time – 3h
Minimum Altitude – 3300m /10,826 ft / Maximum Altitude – 4000m /13,123 ft
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 from the Watchman’s Hut (also known as the Guardhouse). 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 we our driver will meet us and will transfer you directly back to your hotel in Cusco. Total travel time is about 4 hours from Aguas Calientes to Cusco.
The 4D trek with Apus Peru was an amazing experience for our family. We were a little reluctant about doing this with our daughters (ages 11 & 12), but Apus really set us up for success. We appreciated the driver’s and guide’s patience and accommodation of our daughter’s motion sickness. The meals were absolutely amazing! Delicious local cuisine, generous portions, enough variety to please everyone, even our picky eater.
We loved it! Our guide was knowledgeable, fun, patient, and the rest of the staff were helpful, attentive, kind. The trek was peaceful. It was beautiful! We really enjoyed being “off the beaten path” and did not see any other trekkers the entire trip! We did run into a few locals herding sheep in what seemed like the middle of nowhere!
The night we camped we were offered extra blankets and sleeping bag liners, as it was VERY cold out. The bathroom tent was nice to have and the warm water for hand/face washing at camp was a very nice touch!
The homestay with the family and the visit to their children’s school were definitely highlights of the trip. The family was very welcoming, despite the language barriers. It really made me wish I had learned a little Quechua before the trip! We learned a bit about their family and their home and their daily lives. The mother and daughter demonstrated weaving and one of our daughters got to have a turn! I was surprised to learn that they had electricity and plumbing, which made our stay more comfortable than we expected. They had comfortable beds with warm bedding (it was SO cold out there!). They showed us one of their alpacas up close and explained about the family’s farming and alpaca herd. We also got to meet some of the neighbor’s children who were helping their dad feed the trout in the lake nearby, which was a real treat!
Visiting the school was another highlight. The teachers allowed us to have brief visits in the classrooms and tell the children a little bit about ourselves and we taught them a little English and they taught us some common Quechua phrases (good morning, how are you, my name is, etc.). Our kids really appreciated getting to see the school, learn a little about their school day, and have some interactions with the students there.
Awesome! a very unique trek, the highlight of the trek was meeting the families in the village and helping them sort potatoes. It was really special to have the opportunity to see the local culture.
Love the flexibility to see different things and places along the way as well as talk of the flora, fauna, history, culture, and economy. The scenery was amazing! truly wonderful to be the only trekkers and meet the locals.
Highlights were… contact with local people; visiting someone´s home, watching alpacas being sheared, beautiful children along the way. The food was delicious! Really good. I was impressed he knew so many vegetarian dishes.