Itinerary – Lares Trek + Short Inca Trail

“We must go beyond textbooks, go out into the bypaths and untrodden depths of the wilderness and travel and explore and tell the world the glories of our journey.”

This trek is the adventurer’s dream.  A perfect combination of our standard Lares Trek and our Short Inca Trail Trek, this five day package allows you to experience a challenging mountain trail and a piece of the classic Inca Trail with only two nights of camping.   This trek will bring you over snow-capped peaks, to waterfalls, and hot springs while witnessing the traditions and customs of the local Quechua culture.  This is an opportunity for a truly unique and intimate look at the Andean way of life that should not be missed if you have the time.

**The children in these local communities are extremely friendly and will often offer to help you carry your things.  Please consider bringing or purchasing small gifts or school supplies for them before you begin your trek.  If you are interested in doing more, please ask us how!**

This is a full-service trek.  A duffel bag will be provided prior to hiking for your personal items and our staff will transport the bag and all other equipment (tents, food, cooking supplies) from campsite to campsite.  All you will need to carry is your day pack.

  • You’ll want to grab breakfast or a light snack before we pick you up from your hotel in Cusco around 5:30am. We have about an hour and half on the beautiful Sacred Valley roads before we get to the tail head in the town of Calca (2,700m/8,858ft). We’ll meet up with the staff here and give them your pre-packed duffel bags to transfer to the first campsite.
  • Once you’re ready to go with your day pack, we’ll start our adventure with a 4 hour climb. The trails are very well maintained, but it is mostly uphill today so you’ll want to take lots of breaks while you enjoy the scenery. We’ll see lots of different crops and plants as we gain elevation and start to feel the climate change. You might be so distracted by the variety of plants that you’ll forget all about the challenge of hiking uphill until we get to the lunch spot.
  • Our chef will prepare an amazing, filling lunch to give you all the fuel you need to finish the day. We have another 2 hours up to our first campsite in Cancha Cancha. This village is full of local Quechua people who will be so excited to meet you while you enjoy Andean Happy Hour (tea and snacks) before dinner.
  • Kick off your hiking shoes and rest your legs for the night – another big day is coming tomorrow!
  • Walking Distance: 12 km/ 7 miles (6 hours)
  • Elevation: Minimum: 2700m/8858ft Maximum: 3,750m/12,303ft
  • Difficulty: Moderate/challenging – all uphill
  • Weather: Cold, windy, could rain
  • Includes: Lunch & Dinner
  • Fill up on some delicious breakfast because today…is going to be an adventure! The hike today will be the most challenging for sure, but it’s easily the most incredible as well.
  • We’ll start out with a 3-4 hour climb to the summit of the Pachacute Mountain (4,680 m/15,354ft ) and you’ll be rewarded with absolutely stunning views. The Sacred Valley of the Inca is unreal and this view will be a front-row seat. Take as much time as you want here to rest and be rejuvenated.
  • The second part of the day is blessedly downhill and we’ll have lunch near a beautiful lake. After lunch, we will keep up the downhill action for 3 hours through lush vegetation the until we get to the Lares Hot Springs where we’ll camp for the night.
  • Be sure to pack your swimsuit. because you’ll want to take a dip in the hot springs – enjoying any of the various pools composed of pure volcanic waters believed to be good for your bones, muscles, headaches, and managing stress. Your body will need it after this long day of hiking!
  • We’ll have dinner here, but you’re welcome to stay in the hot springs as long as you like or got out in the village to chat with locals or purchase handicrafts.
  • Walking Distance: 14km/8 miles (7 hours)
  • Elevation: 3,750m/12,303ft to 4680m/15354ft
  • Difficulty: Challenging/Difficult
  • Weather: Cold during the day; chilly in the evening
  • Includes: Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner
  • Today we will say goodbye to the horsemen, chef, and porters after breakfast.  You will have only known them for 2 days, but you will be surprised by how much you bond and appreciate their hard work. They will be missed! At this time, it is customary to provide tips if you feel the team has done a good job.
  • We will have a nice surprise with an early morning van ride for 1.5 hours to the Inca site of Ankasmarka – a sprawling area full of stone storage houses where they used to keep crops after the harvest.
  • You’ll have a guided tour of the site, meet the locals who maintain the area, and then walk on a hidden trail for 2 hours back to the waiting van.
  • From there, we’ll enjoy another ride to the town of Ollantaytambo, where we’ll check into a hotel and have hot showers and comfy beds for the night.
  • You will have plenty of time this afternoon to walk through the Ollantaytambo fortress ruins and/or enjoy a cold drink in the quaint little town before we meet for dinner at a local restaurant.
  • Walking Distance: 6 km /3.7 miles (3 hours)
  • Elevation: 3100m/10,562ft to 2792m/9160ft
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Weather: Cold in the morning, warm in the afternoon. Watch out for mosquitoes this day
  • Includes: Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner
  • We’ll grab breakfast in your hotel before heading down to the Ollantaytambo train station around 7:30am.  We’ll take this picturesque train ride along the river for just over an hour to our stop on the famous Inca Trail – KM104.  Your duffel bags will continue on with our staff and you will just get off the train with your day pack.
  • From the checkpoint, we’ll visit the first Inca site called Chachabamba before beginning the most challenging part of our trek.
  • Today, you’ll start with a 2-hour steady incline through thick vegetation until you reach the infamous Inca Steps.  You’ll spend the next 2 hours climbing and descending through a series of stairs until you finally reach the Inca site of Wiñay Wayna (Forever Young).  Don’t be afraid! It’s not all bad!  While you’re completing this stone step maze, you’ll see huge waterfalls, rivers, beautiful flowers, and all the unique animals and Inca sites you can only find in the Peruvian Cloudy Forest.  It’s going to be a tough challenge, but we know you can do it, we’ll support you every step of the way, and you will love it in the end!
  • Once we get to Wiñay Wayna, we’ll take a well-deserved rest and enjoy our boxed lunch. 
  • We still have 2 more hours today, but it’s smooth sailing with a level, easy path to Inti Punku (the Sun Gate) – the Inca Trail entrance to Machu Picchu.
  • We’ll spend a little time resting and taking photos at the Sun Gate before descending into Machu Picchu and doing a quick walk through.  Unlike most other tourists, you have the unique opportunity with this hike to come back to Machu Picchu and explore tomorrow, so for now, we’ll take the shuttle down to Aguas Calientes where you’ll have a comfy bed, hot shower, and a last dinner together with us. 

Bonus Tip:  The weather today is going to be totally different than the weather you’ve been experiencing the last few days.  You’ll be in the rainforest at this point to it will be hot and muggy, but we still recommend you wear pants and long sleeves if possible, to prevent against bug bites and the strong sun.

  • Walking distance: 14KM/8.7miles (6.5 hours)
  • Elevation: 2100m/6,889ft to 2700m/8,858ft
  • Difficulty: Challenging
  • Weather: Hot with a good chance of a little rain.  Watch out for mosquitos.
  • Includes: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
  • Today is the easiest day and the cherry on top of the cake!  We will check out of the hotel, leave all our bags in storage, and head to the bus station according to the designated time on our tickets.  The bus will take about 30 minutes to get to the entrance to Machu Picchu.   
  • Once we get into the city, your guide will start a 2-hour guided tour where you will learn about all the major highlights of this mysterious place and have the opportunity to take as many pictures as you like.
  • Following the tour, if you purchased a ticket in advance to climb Huayna Picchu or Machu Picchu Mountain, you will complete those hikes at this time (tickets to Huayna Picchu or Machu Picchu Mountain are not included and must be purchased separately).  After your hike, you will meet your guide back at your hotel in Aguas Calientes.
  • If you didn’t purchase a ticket to climb Huayna Picchu, your guide will take you back out to the buses for your ride down to Aguas Calientes.   Depending on the time, you can grab lunch or snacks on your own before we pick up your duffel bags from the hotel and take you to the train station.  We’ll ride the train for 1.5 hours to Ollantaytambo where our van will be waiting to take us all back to your hotel in Cusco.   Unless you booked any other tours with us, your guide will say “Hasta Luego!” at this time and hope you will keep in touch.  If you feel the guide has earned some gratuity, now would be an appropriate time to share it.
  • Walking distance: varied! The walking tour takes 2 hours, but you may walk more if you added on one of the additional, optional climbs.
  • Elevation: 2400m/7874ft
  • Difficulty: Moderate. Machu Picchu city is large and requires many trips up and down stairs to see it all.
  • Weather: Hot and humid (bring water and rain gear)
  • Includes: Breakfast
  • All transportation (car, train, bus)
  • All Entrance fees
  • English speaking guide
  • Tent for double occupancy (single tents will be an extra charge)
  • Basic First Aid kit including emergency oxygen bottle
  • All meals as listed in the itinerary (dietary restrictions can be honored with proper notice)
  • Accommodation in Aguas Calientes in a three star hotel (Double occupancy. Single occupancy available for additional charge)
  • Sleeping mat
  • Duffel bags to be carried by porters (up to 15pounds/7kilos per person)
  • Clean water at every meal stop
Does Not Include
  • Breakfast – Day 1
  • Lunch and Dinner – Day 5
  • Tax
  • Ticket for Machu Picchu Mountain or Huayna Picchu optional climb (+ $65)
  • Tips for the guide, cook and porters. (To see our guide for tipping, please click here.)
  • Walking Sticks (+$12 per pair)
  • Sleeping bag (+$30 per person)
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