Explore a less-traveled path with our 5-day Lares Trek + Short Inca Trail to Machu Picchu. This journey takes you through remote villages, allowing you to immerse yourself in Inca culture and engage with the locals. Along the way, you'll have the opportunity to visit glaciers, lakes, and waterfalls. The trip culminates with a trek on a shorter version of the iconic Inca Trail, leading you to the breathtaking sights of Machu Picchu.

Trek details

5 days 4 nights
56 km - 34 miles
Maximum Altitude
4680 m / 15354 ft
Lasres Hotsprings, Inca Trail, Machu Picchu
Group Size
6 to 10

Immerse yourself in a life-changing 5-day, 4-night journey that combines the Lares Trek with the Short Inca Trail to Machu Picchu. This tour includes two nights of camping in the Andean wilderness and two nights in comfortable 3-star hotels in Ollantaytambo and Aguas Calientes. With our small group tours, experience a more intimate exploration of Peru's stunning landscapes and rich cultural heritage.

Enjoy exclusive picnic meals, spacious tents, and comfortable camping, all accompanied by expert tour guides. You will travel through remote communities, engage with local cultures, and visit the historic Salineras de Maras. Each step brings you closer to the breathtaking views from the Sun Gate and a peaceful exploration of Machu Picchu during the quieter afternoon hours, promising a truly memorable adventure.


  • Hike off the beaten path and explore remote villages, allowing you to experience a side of the region rarely seen by tourists.
  • Trek the shorter version of the Classic Inca Trail, which is perfect for those who want the experience without the longer journey.
  • Arrive at Machu Picchu twice, giving you the unique opportunity to capture stunning photos from different perspectives.
  • Support our social projects while you travel, contributing positively to the communities you visit.

Lares Trek & Inca Trail 5 days at a Glance!

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

  • Depart from Cusco at 4:30 a.m.
  • Enjoy a 3-hour drive to Lares Hot Springs for some relaxation.
  • Have breakfast and then embark on a 4-hour hike through Kiswarani Valley.
  • Set up camp at the first campsite by Blue Lake, situated at 3950 m / 12959 ft

Day 2: Blue Lake — Condor Pass — Canchacancha

  • Wake up to morning coffee in your tent.
  • Embark on a challenging 4-hour climb to Condor Pass, located at 4700 meters (15,354 feet), and enjoy the breathtaking views.
  • Then, follow with a 2-hour descent to Canchacancha Village, situated at 3750 meters (12,303 feet), where you'll set up camp for the night at the second campsite.

Day 3: Canchacancha — Salineras — Ollantaytambo

  • Wake up to a hot drink and breakfast.
  • Spend some time exploring the village and visiting a local school.
  • Descend to the Sacred Valley and enjoy lunch.
  • After lunch, travel to Salineras and spend the night in Ollantaytambo.

Day 4: Ollantaytambo — Km 104 — Aguas Calientes

  • Enjoy breakfast in Ollantaytambo.
  • Board the Expedition train to Km 104 to start the Short Inca Trail.
  • Visit the archaeological sites of Chachabamba, Wiñaywayna, and the Sun Gate.
  • Arrive at Machu Picchu in the late afternoon.
  • Have dinner at a local restaurant and spend the night in a hotel.

Day 5: Explore Machu Picchu — Return to Cusco

  • Start early with a bus ride to Machu Picchu.
  • Enjoy a guided tour of Machu Picchu's most impressive sites.
  • Return on the Vistadome panoramic train, arriving back at around 7:30 p.m.

Additional hikes after the Machu Picchu guided tour:

  • Huayna Picchu Mountain: Requires advance booking, takes 2 hours, and costs $68 per person.
  • Machu Picchu Mountain: Requires advance booking, takes 2 hours, and costs $68 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 hotel in Cusco or the Sacred Valley. After a 3-hour drive, you'll arrive at the Lares hot springs, a haven of pure volcanic waters with pools at various temperatures, perfect for soothing your muscles before your trek. Enjoy your first breakfast surrounded by stunning mountain views, prepared by our skilled trekking chef using fresh, locally sourced organic ingredients.

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

After lunch, 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 for a two-hour hike. Learn about their importance in local traditions, roles in the community, and unique lifestyles. The gentle uphill trek leads to the first campsite by Blue Lake (3950 m / 12959 ft). Along the way, you'll pass Kiswarni waterfalls and may see local children heading home from school. Upon arriving at the campsite, your trekking team will set up your tents, provide warm water for washing, and prepare tea and dinner. This campsite is perfect for stargazing and connecting with the night sky.

  • Campsite Altitude: 3950 m / 12959 ft
  • Distance: 11 km/6.8 miles
  • Hiking time: 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. There, you can enjoy a cup of coffee or coca tea while taking in the breathtaking scenery of majestic mountains, the serene lake, and locals guiding their llamas to graze on the hills. Today, the trek’s most challenging, stunning, and rewarding segment will be featured.

After a delicious breakfast, embark on a four-hour ascent to reach Condor Pass (4680 m / 15354 ft). The trail offers a steep and spiraling climb, providing amazing views of glacial lakes, llamas, alpacas, and mountain caracaras. With some luck, you might even spot a majestic condor soaring above. 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 comforting coca tea to help with altitude adjustment.

The second leg of the journey involves a two-hour descent to the quaint Canchacancha village (3750 meters—12,303 feet). Here, you will have lunch and spend the night. After your meal, explore the village, interact with local children, play with llamas and alpacas, or even join a friendly game of soccer with the children and your trekking team.

Canchacancha is a remote village without road access, cell phone service, or internet connectivity. The residents still speak Quechua, the native Inca language, and maintain their traditional ways of life as potato farmers, llama and alpaca herders, and guardians of Inca customs. Take time to visit their thatched-roof homes, learn about their unique lifestyle, and consider supporting the local school to contribute meaningfully to the community.

  • Campsite Altitude: 3750 meters (12,303 feet)
  • 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

After breakfast in the village, prepare for your final descent into the picturesque Sacred Valley. While in the town, you will learn about 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 areas of potato and bean farming and experience a swift change in temperature as you move from the mountain's cold climate 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 over 3000 salt pans used by locals for salt harvesting through the evaporation of salty water.

Following this intriguing visit, you'll travel by car to Ollantaytambo. Here, 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 the Ollantaytambo Train Station. From there, you'll board the first train to Km 104, marking the start of your Short Inca Trail adventure. The 1.5-hour train journey offers captivating views as you travel alongside the Urubamba River, watching the landscape transition from the Andes to the Cloud Forest.

Upon reaching Chachabamba at Km104 (2156 m / 7073 ft), you'll need to present your original passport at the checkpoint, use the restroom facilities, and then begin your hike along the shorter version of the renowned Classic Inca Trail.

Almost immediately, you'll encounter the Chachabamba Inca sites, featuring 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 is one of the largest and most remarkable archaeological complexes along the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu, complete with waterfalls, temples, dwellings, aqueducts, and terraced farms. Lunch will be a packed meal provided at the start of the trek.

After lunch, continue trekking for an additional hour to reach the Sun Gate (Inti Punku), where you'll be greeted with your first and arguably the most spectacular view of Machu Picchu. Then, it's another hour of hiking to arrive at the upper portion of Machu Picchu. Arriving late in the afternoon, when there are fewer visitors, offers a unique opportunity to experience this awe-inspiring citadel in a tranquil setting, ideal for taking 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, enjoy 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 the final and most significant day of your journey, start early with breakfast at your hotel. You can conveniently leave any extra bags at the hotel that you won't need for your day at Machu Picchu.

Catch the first buses up to Machu Picchu. After passing through the checkpoint, begin your exploration of this iconic site. Discover the best of Machu Picchu, including its temples and palaces, complemented by an informative overview of its 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 require separate tickets and are not included in the standard visit to the citadel).

After finishing your exploration, board the bus back to Aguas Calientes, where you can enjoy lunch (not included). Later, in the afternoon, take the Vistadome Panoramic train 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 p.m., marking the end of your adventure on the Lares Trek to Machu Picchu and the Inca Trail.

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


  • 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)

What's the total distance of the Lares Trek + Short Inca Trail to Machu Picchu?

The total walking distance of combining the Lares Trek with the Short Inca Trail to Machu Picchu is about 33 miles or 53 kilometers. This journey mixes different landscapes, starting with the remote and scenic paths of the Lares Trek and ending with the historically rich Short Inca Trail.

How challenging is the combined Lares Trek and Short Inca Trail?

The combined route of the Lares Trek and Short Inca Trail is moderately challenging. It requires good physical condition as the path includes several days of walking, high altitudes up to 4680 m (15354 ft), and some steep climbs and descents. Preparation and acclimatization to altitude are important for enjoying this trek.

What key landscapes and sights are unique to the Lares Trek + Short Inca Trail?

The journey offers diverse and stunning landscapes, including high Andean peaks, traditional Quechua villages, and vibrant agricultural terraces. As you near Machu Picchu, the environment changes to lush cloud forests filled with orchids and birdlife, culminating in the iconic views of Machu Picchu itself.

What cultural experiences does the Lares Trek offer?

The Lares Trek provides a rich cultural experience as it passes through several small Andean communities where the locals maintain traditional farming techniques and wear colorful hand-woven clothing. Trekkers can learn about local customs and textile weaving and may even participate in community activities.

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

Trekkers should pack for variable weather conditions. This includes thermal clothing for cold nights, waterproof hiking boots for rugged terrain, a rain jacket, a good sleeping bag, a sun hat, high SPF sunscreen, a durable water bottle, a headlamp, and any personal medication.

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

Can you list the main archaeological sites visited on this route?

On this trek, you will explore several lesser-known but fascinating Inca sites, including Chachabamba, Wiñaywayna, the Sun Gate, and finally Machu Picchu. Each site offers unique insights into Inca history and architecture, enhancing your journey through these ancient landscapes.

What type of wildlife is commonly seen during the Lares Trek + Short Inca Trail?

Along the trek, you might see a variety of wildlife, such as llamas and alpacas grazing in the highlands and colorful hummingbirds. If you are very lucky, you might catch a glimpse of the rare Andean condor or even the elusive spectacled bear.

What are the camping and hotel accommodations like on this trek?

During the Lares Trek, an expert trekking chef will travel with your group to prepare fresh meals. For the Short Inca Trail portion, a boxed lunch and dinner at local restaurants are provided, ensuring you enjoy a variety of dining experiences throughout your journey.

What kind of accommodations can I expect during the trek?

During the Lares Trek, you will comfortably camp in tents at designated campsites equipped with basic facilities. For the Short Inca Trail portion, your accommodation includes two nights in 3-star hotels in Ollantaytambo and Aguas Calientes. This arrangement provides a comfortable conclusion to your trekking adventure.

How are meals managed throughout the Lares Trek and Short Inca Trail?

A cook who travels with your group will prepare fresh meals during the Lares Trek. During the Short Inca Trail, a Box lunh and Dinner in Local restaurants are provided.

What are the fitness and health requirements for completing this 5-day trek?

To complete this five-day trek, trekkers need to be in good physical health and have a decent level of fitness. The trail involves long, strenuous walking days at high altitudes. It’s advised to engage in physical training before the trek and spend a few days acclimatizing to the altitude.

How do weather conditions vary along the Lares Trek + Short Inca Trail?

The weather along the trek can be quite varied, with cold, windy conditions in the high passes and warmer, more humid conditions in the lower cloud forest regions. Rain can occur, especially outside the dry season (May to September), so waterproof clothing is essential.

Are there specific permits or fees required for the Lares Trek and Short Inca Trail?

Yes, while the Lares Trek itself does not usually require permits, the Short Inca Trail and Machu Picchu portion does require a permit that should be obtained well in advance due to limited availability. There may also be small fees for community visits or site entries during the Lares Trek.

What support staff accompanies hikers on the Lares Trek + Short Inca Trail, and what are their responsibilities?

The support staff includes a professional guide knowledgeable about the trail and local culture, porters or horsemen to carry gear, and a cook to prepare meals. Their main responsibilities are to ensure the safety, comfort, and well-being of all trekkers, manage logistics, and enrich the trekking experience through cultural and historical interpretation.

How does this trek incorporate interactions with local communities?

This trek often involves meaningful interactions with local communities. You may have the opportunity to visit local homes, participate in traditional farming or weaving activities, and learn directly about the indigenous culture and lifestyle, offering a deeply immersive experience. Additionally, the horsemen and porters accompanying your trek are locals from the areas you visit, further enriching your understanding of the region.

What are the cancellation and refund policies specific to the Lares Trek + Short Inca Trail?

To book this trek, we require a non refundable initial deposit of $200 per person. This deposit is used to secure Inca Trail permits, Machu Picchu tickets, hotel accommodations, and train tickets.