Explore the less-traveled route with our 5-day Lares Trek + Short Inca Trail adventure to Machu Picchu. This journey takes you through remote villages, immersing you in Inca culture as you engage with locals. You'll have the chance to visit glaciers, lakes, and waterfalls while also embarking on a short version of the iconic Inca Trail hike to reach Machu Picchu.

Trek details

Duration
5 days 4 nights
Activities
56 km - 34 miles
Difficulty
Challenging
Maximum Altitude
4680 m / 15354 ft
Destination
Lasres Hotsprings, Inca Trail, Machu Picchu
Group Size
12
Overview

The 5-day Lares Trek + Inca Trail to Machu Picchu tour begins in Cusco, where we'll take a van to the soothing hot springs in Lares. We'll venture through the most secluded villages, hike alongside llamas and alpacas, and conquer the final stretch of the legendary Classic Inca Trail. As the day unfolds, we'll reach Machu Picchu via the Sun Gate, arriving in the afternoon to behold its breathtaking beauty.

Highlights:

  • Hike off the beaten path and visit remote villages
  • Hike the shorter Version of the Classic Inca Trail
  • Arrive at Machu Picchu twice and take the best pictures
  • Support our Social projects while traveling

Lares Trek & Inca Trail 5 days at a Glance!

Day 1: Cusco — Hotsprings — Kiswarani Falls — Blue Lake

  • Depart Cusco at 5:00 a.m.
  • 3-hour drive to Lares Hot Springs for relaxation.
  • Breakfast and a 4-hour hike through Kiswarani Valley.
  • First campsite at Blue Lake (3750m/1230ft).

Day 2: Blue Lake — Condor Pass — Canchacancha

  • Morning coffee in your tent.
  • Challenging 4-hour climb to Condor Pass (4700m/15,354ft) with breathtaking views.
  • 2-hour descent to Canchacancha Village (3750m/12,303ft) for the second campsite.

Day 3: Canchacancha — Salineras — Ollantaytambo

  • Wake up with a hot drink and breakfast.
  • Explore the village and visit a local school.
  • Descend to the Sacred Valley and enjoy lunch.
  • Travel to Salineras and stay overnight in Ollantaytambo.

Day 4: Ollantaytambo — Km 104 — Aguas Calientes

  • Breakfast in Ollantaytambo.
  • Take the Expedition train to Km104 to begin the Short Inca Trail.
  • Visit Chachabamba, Wiñaywayna, and Sungate.
  • Arrive at Machu Picchu in the late afternoon.
  • Dinner at a Local restaurant and an overnight stay in a hotel.

Day 5: Explore Machu Picchu — Return to Cusco

  • Early start with a bus ride to Machu Picchu.
  • Guided tour of the best Machu Picchu
  • Return on the Vistadome panoramic train, arriving around 7:30 pm

Additional hikes after the Machu Picchu guided tour:

  • Huayna Picchu Mountain: Requires advance booking, takes 2 hours, and costs $75 per person.
  • Machu Picchu Mountain: Requires advance booking, takes 2 hours, and costs $75 per person.
Full Itinerary
Day 1: Cusco — Hotsprings — Kiswarani Falls — Blue Lake

Begin your adventure at 5:00 a.m. as you depart from your Cusco or Sacred Valley hotel. After a 3-hour drive, you'll reach the Lares hot springs, a haven of pure volcanic waters offering pools of various temperatures, perfect for soothing your muscles and relaxing before your trek. Following your rejuvenating soak, savor your first breakfast surrounded by stunning mountain views. Our skilled trekking chef will prepare a delectable meal using fresh, locally sourced organic ingredients.

Next, embark on a 30-minute drive to the Pampacorral Trailhead (3559 m / 11676 ft). The Lares Trek to Machu Picchu officially kicks off with a two-hour gradual uphill hike to Kiswarani Village (3820 m / 12532 ft). Along the way, you'll have the chance to admire diverse bird species, vibrant flowers, native plants, and vast potato fields, providing insight into the local agriculture. Lunch is served in the village, featuring a mouthwatering dish crafted by our chef using fresh organic produce from the area.

After your meal, you'll meet the entire trekking team, including chefs, porters, and muleteers. Explore Kiswarani Village, visit the local school, interact with organic potato farmers, and join llamas and alpacas on a two-hour hike, where you'll learn about their significance in local traditions, roles in the community, and unique lifestyles. The gentle uphill trek leads to the first campsite, beautifully situated at Blue Lake (3950 m / 12959 ft). En route, you'll pass by the Kiswarni waterfalls and may even encounter local children heading home from school. Upon arrival at the campsite, your trekking team will have prepared your tents, provided warm water for washing, served tea, and dinner, and prepared for a restful night. This campsite is ideal for stargazing, allowing you to connect with the night sky.

  • Campsite Altitude: 3950 m / 12959 ft
  • Distance: 11 km/6.8 miles
  • Duration: 4 hours
  • Meals: breakfast, snacks, lunch, dinner
  • Accommodation: Camping under the stars
  • Difficulty: easy
Day 2: Blue Lake — Condor Pass — Canchacancha

Start your day by waking up in your cozy tent, where you can savor a cup of coffee or soothing coca tea while taking in the breathtaking scenery of majestic mountains, the serene lake, and the locals guiding their llamas to graze on the hills. Today marks the trek's most challenging, stunning, and rewarding segment.

Following a nourishing breakfast, embark on a four-hour ascent to reach Condor Pass (4680 m / 15354 ft). The trail presents a steep and spiraling climb, offering awe-inspiring vistas of glacial lakes, llamas, alpacas, and mountain caracaras. We may even spot a majestic condor soaring above if fortune smiles upon us. Upon reaching Condor Pass, the highest point of your trek, take a moment to explore and soak in the extraordinary panoramas. Your dedicated trekking team will serve you a comforting coca tea to assist with altitude adjustment.

The second leg of the journey involves a two-hour descent to the quaint Canchacancha village (3950 m / 12959 ft). You'll have your lunch in this picturesque village and spend the night at the same location. After your meal, take the opportunity to explore the village, engage with local children, frolic with llamas and alpacas, or even partake in a friendly game of soccer with the children and your trekking team.

Canchacancha is a remote village with no access to roads, cell phone service, or internet connectivity. The residents of Canchacancha still converse in Quechua, the native Inca language. They are primarily potato farmers, llama and alpaca herders, and keepers of traditional Inca customs. Take the time to visit their thatched-roof homes, learn about their unique way of life, and consider making contributions to the local school, supporting the community in a meaningful way.

  • Campsite Altitude: 3950 m /12959 ft
  • Highest altitude: 4680 m / 15354 ft
  • Distance: 16 km/ 9.9 miles
  • Duration: 7 hours
  • Meals: breakfast, snacks, lunch, dinner
  • Accommodation: Camping
  • Difficulty: moderate to challenging
Day 3: Canchacancha — Salineras — Ollantaytambo

Following breakfast in the village, prepare for your final descent into the picturesque Sacred Valley. While in the town, you'll have the chance to visit the guinea pigs and discover how they have become one of Peru's most renowned dishes.

The next part of your journey involves a 4-hour descent into the village of Huaran in the Sacred Valley (2939 m / 9642 ft). During this descent, you'll pass through potato and bean farming areas and notice a swift change in temperature as you transition from the mountain's cold climate at the campsite to the warm embrace of the lush vegetation in the Sacred Valley. 

After Lunch, it will be time to bid farewell to your dedicated trekking chefs, porters, and muleteers. You'll then continue your journey by van to Salineras, where you'll witness more than 3000 salt pans used by locals for salt harvesting through the evaporation of salty water.

Following this intriguing visit, you'll proceed by car to Ollantaytambo, where you can explore the charming town, stroll along its streets, and settle in for the night at a comfortable hotel. Cap off your day with a delightful dinner at a local restaurant.

  • Ollantaytambo Altitude: 2850m / 9350 ft
  • Distance: 12 km / 7.4 miles
  • Duration: 4 hours
  • Meals: breakfast, snacks, lunch, dinner
  • Accommodation: Hotel
  • Difficulty: easy
Day 4: Ollantaytambo — Km 104 — Aguas Calientes

After breakfast at your hotel, you'll be picked up around 5:40 a.m. and transferred to Ollantaytambo Train Station. There, you'll board the first trains to Km 104, marking the beginning of the Short Inca Trail adventure. The 1.5-hour train journey itself is a marvel, offering captivating views as you travel alongside the Urubamba River and witness a rapid transformation in the landscape from the Andes to the Cloud Forest.

Upon reaching Chachabamba - Km104 (2156 m / 7073 ft), you'll need to present your original passport at the checkpoint, utilize the restroom facilities, and commence your hike along the Shorter Version of the renowned Classic Inca Trail.

Almost immediately, you'll encounter the Chachabamba Inca Sites, characterized by splendid structures, water temples, and sacred altars. From there, embark on a 4-hour gradual uphill hike along the left side of the Urubamba River, eventually arriving at Wiñaywayna (2639 m / 8658 ft). This site stands as one of the largest and most remarkable archaeological complexes along the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu. Explore its waterfalls, temples, dwellings, aqueducts, and terraced farms. Lunch will consist of a packed meal provided at the start of the trek.

Following lunch, trek for an additional hour to reach the Sun Gate (Inti Punku). Here, you'll be rewarded with your first, and arguably the most spectacular, view of the magnificent Inca city of Machu Picchu. Then, it's another hour of hiking to arrive at the upper portion of Machu Picchu. You'll reach this iconic site late in the afternoon, when it tends to have fewer visitors. This provides a unique opportunity to experience this awe-inspiring citadel in a tranquil setting, perfect for capturing stunning photographs.

After your exploration, descend by bus to Aguas Calientes (2056 m / 6745 ft), where you can freshen up with a rejuvenating shower at your hotel. In the evening, indulge in a delightful dinner at a local restaurant.

  • Highest altitude: 2708m / 8884 ft
  • Distance: 15km / 9.3 miles
  • Duration: 7 hours
  • Meals: Lunch, snacks & dinner
  • Accommodation: Susanna INN (or Similar)
  • Difficulty: Moderate
Day 5: Explore Machu Picchu — Return to Cusco

On your journey's final and most significant day, begin your day early with breakfast at your hotel. You can conveniently leave any extra bags at your hotel that you won't be taking with you to Machu Picchu.

You'll catch the first buses heading up to Machu Picchu. After passing through the checkpoint, your exploration of Machu Picchu commences. Explore the best of Machu Picchu, including visits to its temples and palaces, along with an informative account of Machu Picchu's history.

Once the guided tour concludes, you'll have some free time to explore Machu Picchu further or opt for an additional hike to either Huayna Picchu or Machu Picchu Mountain (please note that these hikes are not included and are distinct from the Machu Picchu citadel).

After concluding your exploration of Machu Picchu, you'll board the bus for a descent to Aguas Calientes, where you can enjoy lunch (not included). You'll take the Vistadome Panoramic train in the afternoon back to Ollantaytambo. Here, the Ultimate Trekking staff will be ready to transfer you by van to Cusco. You'll be dropped off at your hotel around 7:30 pm, marking the end of your Lares Trek to Machu Picchu and Inca Trail adventure.

  • Highest altitude: 2490 m / 8169 ft
  • Duration: 3-4 hours tour in Machu Picchu
  • Meals: Breakfast (hotel)
  • Difficulty: Easy

Included:

  • Hotel Pick up & Drop off
  • Transportation to the trailhead
  • Entrance ticket to Lares Hot Springs
  • Professional Tour guide
  • Cargo mules to carry food and equipment
  • Emergency horse (in case you struggle)
  • Comfortable camping equipment (tents, tables, chairs)
  • Eureka 4-men tents for each two travelers
  • Duffle bags up to 7 kilos for your stuff, carried by mules
  • Trekking team (Chef, porters, muleteers)
  • All meals included except last-day lunch
  • Drinkable water during the Lares Trek
  • Vegan, vegetarian, and gluten-free options are available upon request
  • First-aid kit and oxygen tank
  • 1-night hotel stay in Ollantaytambo (Tunupa Lodge or similar)
  • Expedition Train to Km 104 to start the Inca Trail
  • Buses to and from Machu Picchu
  • 1-night hotel stay in Aguas Calientes (Susanna INN or similar)
  • Entrance ticket to Machu Picchu
  • Vistadome Panoramic train to return
  • All taxes and booking fees

Not Included

  • Huayna Picchu Mountain tickets
  • Machu Picchu Mountain tickets (Different from Machu Picchu Citadel)
  • Sleeping bag, Air mattress, Trekking poles (can be rented from us)
  • Last day lunch
  • Travel Insurance (Highly recommended)
FAQs

What is the Lares Trek + Short Inca Trail 5-day tour?

The Lares Trek + Short Inca Trail 5-day tour is a combination of the scenic Lares Valley Trek and a shorter version of the classic Inca Trail. It offers a unique blend of cultural and natural experiences, taking trekkers through traditional Andean villages, beautiful landscapes, and eventually to the iconic Machu Picchu.

What is the best time to do the Lares Trek + Short Inca Trail?

The best time to do the Lares Trek + Short Inca Trail is during the dry season, which runs from April to October. During this time, the weather is generally clear and sunny, with cooler temperatures at night.

What is the difficulty level of the Lares Trek + Short Inca Trail?

The Lares Trek + Short Inca Trail is considered a moderate to challenging trek. Participants should be in a good physical condition and have some prior hiking experience. The trek involves several days of walking, steep ascents and descents, and high altitudes (up to 4,600 meters or 15,092 feet).

Do I need a permit for the Lares Trek + Short Inca Trail?

Yes, a permit is required for the Short Inca Trail portion of the trek. These permits are limited and sell out quickly, so it is essential to book your trip well in advance. The Lares Trek itself does not require a permit.

What should I pack for the Lares Trek + Short Inca Trail?

Essentials for the trek include:

  • Lightweight, moisture-wicking clothing (both warm and cool layers)
  • Waterproof jacket and pants
  • Sturdy, broken-in hiking boots
  • Trekking poles (optional, but recommended)
  • Hat, sunglasses, and sunscreen
  • Water bottle or hydration system
  • Personal first aid kit
  • Headlamp or flashlight
  • Camera and extra batteries
  • Passport and permit
  • Snacks and energy bars
  • Small daypack

Will I have access to electricity and internet during the trek?

Electricity and internet access will be limited during the trek, particularly in remote areas and while camping. It is recommended to bring extra batteries or a portable charger for your electronic devices, and inform friends and family that you may be out of contact during the trek.

Are there age restrictions for the Lares Trek + Short Inca Trail?

There are no specific age restrictions, but the trek is physically demanding and may not be suitable for very young children or elderly individuals with limited mobility. It is essential to assess your own fitness level and consult with your doctor before embarking on the trek.

Can I hire a porter to carry my luggage?

Yes, it is possible to hire a porter to carry your luggage during the trek. This can be arranged through your tour operator. Keep in mind that there are weight restrictions for porters, and you may need to pack light or hire an additional porter if you have a lot of gear.

What kind of accommodations can I expect during the trek?

Accommodations during the trek will vary depending on your tour operator. You may stay in a mix of local guesthouses, homestays, and campsites. Be prepared for basic accommodations and shared bathroom facilities in some locations.

Are there any specific health concerns or precautions I should take before the trek?

It is essential to consult with your doctor before embarking on the trek, especially if you have any pre-existing medical conditions. Make sure you are up-to-date on vaccinations, and consider