DAY 1: CUSCO – PISAC – PAMPA CORRAL – MAP’ACOCHA-QUISHUARANI:
We pick you up from your hotel at 5.00am and drive 2 hour to Ancash Marka inka site where you will have breakfast. After that we continue in our van for 40 minutes to Pampa Corralniyoc (old village 3450 m / 11320 ft) which is at the beginning of the trail. Our cook will provide you with a snack and you’ll get ready for the hike. There are some local houses at the trailhead and we’ll start walking along the lovely Vilcanota mountain range. The first 4 hours that we hike before we reach our lunch stop, the trail is a gradual up and down. It offers amazing views of the Lares Valley, local farming areas, llamas, alpacas and we’ll have the chance to see the famous PUYA RAIMONDII, also known as “Queen of the Andes”. This is the only place in Cusco to see this largest species of bromeliad. After taking in these gorgeous views you will arrive at Kiswarani Andean Village where we’ll have lunch. It is another 2 hour hike gradual up to our first campsite in the shores of the lagoon Koriccocha ( Blue lake 3850 m / 12631 ft), Along the way you will enjoy the great views of the 7 lines waterfalls with about 50 meters high , upon your arrival at campsite you will enjoy the amazing views of the andean mountains that surrounds around and the magical sunset over the andes, espcially the view of the lagoon and the visit to the local families house.
Walking Distance: 12 km/7.8 miles
Elevation Gain: 400 meters / 1312 ft
Camp Elevation: 3850 meters / 12631 ft.
DAY 2: QUISWARANI – CONDOR PASS – CANCHA CANCHA VILLAGE:
Today you will be awakened by your porters with our service of hot drinks in your tents around 5.00 am. This is a perfect way to be awakened, as you will have amazing views of the colorful lake and the valley of Kiswarani. Of course, the local people will already be up and about, taking their llamas and alpacas out to graze. Breakfast will be served as soon as you finish packing your gear. Then we’ll fill up our water bottles and organize snacks and you will begin the most memorable day of your expedition to Machu Picchu! It will be a 3 to 4 hour climb to get to the summit of the mountain, this pass is called Pachacute or Condor Pass. This uphill can be a little taxing – quite steep, but we’ll zigzag our way up. It is a great adventure, the views of the area are stunning – lakes, waterfalls, llamas, and alpacas. We will have an emergency horse to ride in case you are tired at this point, and once you arrive at the Condor Pass you will feel like you are in the Heaven – way above the clouds, above the mountain peaks and the surrounding 360° views are astounding!! In front of you is the majestic mountain of Pitusiray which is at 5700 m/ 18700 ft and the Condor pass is at 4680m/ 15354 ft. Afterwards we will enjoy the hot drink service that your porters will carry with them. After taking advantage of some phenomenal photo opportunities, we’ll will start our descent and say “Good bye!” to the toughest part of the hike.
You will begin the descent towards lunch, just about 1 hour downhill to El Mirador (vista point) where you will enjoy lunch – perhaps with some llamas grazing nearby. After lunch you will hike the last 3 hours downhill with fantastic views of many lakes, llamas and alpacas before arriving at your campsite – the village of Cancha Cancha which is the only village that does not have the introduction of modern technology. Cancha Cancha is a village ( 3750 / 12303 ) where people still practice the real traditions of Incas. In this Incan village, 85% of the houses are the original ancient construction, made of stone with grass-thatched roofs. This is the only village where there is no electricity and no cars – unlike the other villages in the Lares Valley. Here you will not only enjoy the wilderness, your porters will set up your tents and then you will have time to meet with the local children! We take food and school supplies and we also invite our travellers who would like to support the education and the health of this native village to share what you would like with them. You can join us and bring anything you would like to supplement the lives of these Quechua-speaking children. Then your guide will take you to one of the local family’s houses where you will learn about the lifestyle of the locals. You can see how they raise their guinea pigs, and you will learn about the traditional hand-woven textiles made of llama and alpaca wool, just as the Incas used to do. This is the best day of your hike. In the evening you will enjoy hot drinks and dinner.
Walking Distance: 14 km/8 miles
Elevation Gain: 830 meters / 2723 ft
Camp Elevation: 3750 meters / 12303 ft
DAY 3: CANCHA CANCHA – HUARAN -MARAS SALT MINE – OLLANTAYTAMBO – AGUAS CALIENTES:
Our porters will wake you up with a hot drink at your bedside, you will have some time to pack your backpacks and duffle bags, enjoy breakfast, and get to take in the lush green mountains that surround you. After breakfast you’ll still have some time to explore the village and maybe visit the local elementary school – where the ancient Inca language, Quechua, is still taught. Once you are ready, you’ll begin the last leg of your Lares trek. Say “Good bye!” to native villages and your introduction to this fascinating civilization. It will be 4 hours of walking downhill along this lovely path, passing by more llamas and alpacas, these being the traditional animals of local culture. We’ll pass by farms where they cultivate potatoes, fava beans, and many other traditional tubers, in the traditional Inca style. This is a great opportunity to learn about Peruvian agriculture where people still farm by hand using traditional Inca farming tools. Now we will start to descend to the warmer area, The Sacred Valley, and you can begin to feel the microclimate changes and start seeing other kinds of crops that people farm, different from in the high mountains. Around the Sacred Valley people farm corn, quinoa, kiwicha, peaches, avocados and other types of fruits. Of course, this area is also a perfect area to learn about Inca history. You will end the tour at the little village of Huaran in the Sacred Valley at 2700m/ 8858 ft where you will say good bye to your horses, horsemen, chef and porters as they will be going back to their villages as our staff will return to Cusco.
From Huaran we will catch a van and make the short drive into the valley to visit the Salineras salt pans at the town of Maras. Here, at 11,000 feet above sea level, a salt water spring gushes forth and spills down the side of the mountain. Over 3,000 small evaporation chambers have been created and look as if they are tumbling down the mountainside (amazing photo op!). These have been in use since pre-Inka times and look like something from another planet! The salt is said to have healing properties, loaded with natural minerals – some of it even comes out pink! Local families each own one of these pans and make their living supplying salt to the people and towns of the area. There is a small shop on site if you care to take some salt home with you.
After visiting Salineras we will climb aboard the van again for a 45 minute drive that skirts along the Sacred Valley to Ollantaytambo. Ollantaytambo is a magnificent intact living Inca village, the only one, and still has many Inca water channels, houses and walls. Your guide will take you around to view this small town until dinnertime which will be at a local restaurant. We’ll then catch the 7pm train for Aguas Calientes, the town for Machu Picchu. (We sometimes take the 3:36 train or 4:30 train, depending on the train availability and also how far in advance you are booking your trip). Upon your arrival to Aguas Calientes you will check-in to your hotel (with private rooms and at last you will enjoy a hot shower!)
Walking Distance: 9 km/6.2 miles
Aguas Calientes Elevation: 2000 m / 6562 ft
Weather: Cold in the morning, warm by the afternoon. Watch out for mosquitoes this day.
DAY 4: MACHU PICCHU – OLLANTAYTAMBO – CUSCO:
Day Four is the most magical day: Machu Picchu!!! You will wake up really early to take one of the first buses (around 5:30 AM) for the 30 minute ride up to Machu Picchu to see the sun rise over the ruins. Your guide will take you for a very informative 2 hour tour and then afterwards you will have plenty of time to explore on your own and/or hike Huaynapicchu if you choose (this is a separate entrance ticket and costs $25 per person). In the afternoon, you’ll catch a 2 hour train back to Ollantaytambo and then a bus back to Cusco where we will transfer you to your hotel.
Weather: Warm and humid