In the Lares Valley the Andeans are well known for the high quality of bright fabrics made of alpaca and llama so there is opportunity to purchase articles made from these fabrics. The Andes Mountains which are spread throughout Peru (Inca’ Empire) have numerous trails built by the ancient people to Machu Picchu.
Level: Moderate; good physical condition required Description: Hike around the Lares to Machu Picchu. Season: April to January. Departure: Private Service every day
A scenic two hour drive through the Sacred Valley of the Incas takes you to the start of your trek, at the small village of Totora. You follow an ancient Inca trail into a narrow canyon, where Inca tombs perch in the cliffs. Emerging from the canyon you pass through tiny rural communities before emerging to a delicious picnic lunch. Your bus then takes you to the small and very traditional community of Quishuarani, your camp for the night (3700m/12,140ft).
This is a stunning day hiking. You leave camp behind and climb past colourfully dressed locals, towards the native forests that Haku Travel has been heavily involved in re-planting. These forests harbour Andean deer, vizcachas and several rare species of birds and are essential to the future of this area.
A further push and you reach the stunning views from your highest pass of the trek, the Huchayccasa pass (4450 m/14600 ft.). A chain of emerald blue lakes fills the hillside below you, and in the distance rise the snow clad Urubamba Mountains. Descending through hand turned potato fields you come to the ancient community of Cuncani at (3800m/12,4600 ft.).
Fuelled by a tasty lunch you carry on along the valley floor to reach the once notorious village of Huacahuasi. Once home to bandits and cattle rustlers it is now a peaceful place to spend the night. You are sure to be visited by local women selling the hand woven textiles for which the area is famous and entertained by the cheery local children who accompany you as you walk.
Another great day awaits you. After a hearty breakfast you begin to climb gently towards your final pass. This is a day filled with encounters with locals. Strong legged men head off to work in the potato fields, wooden ploughs slung over their shoulder. Rough handed women sit; legs outstretched weaving their traditional clothes on wooden looms. And small children sit motionless guarding herds of alpaca and llama, their ever faithful dog by their side.
From your camp you begin towards the final pass. Lying at 4,200m/13,780ft the Ipsaycocha pass marks the border between Lares and the Patacancha Valley. You start gently and then climb one final steep section to gain the summit. If you are lucky, you will have spectacular views of Mount Veronica. You take lunch by the beautiful Ipsay Lake then follow an ancient trail to the Patacancha Valley and your final camp.
You start with a short but sharp climb to the impressive and little known ruins of Pumamarca. After visiting this extensive site, you take an Inca trail along old terraces, before winding your way through eucalyptus forests to the impressive ruins of Ollantaytambo. Enjoy lunch before exploring this charming village. This was the site of the last battle between the Incas and Spanish before the remaining Inca rebels fled into the jungles of Vilcabamba. The presence of the Incas is still evident, with most houses still containing Inca stonework and the local women still washing their clothes in the old Inca canals that run through the village. Late afternoon you catch the train to Machu Picchu Pueblo and your hotel for the night.
Relaxed after a comfortable night, you head back up to explore Machu Picchu with your guide before the crowds arrive. There is time afterwards to hike to the Inca Bridge, Watchman’s hut or else just wander through the ruins soaking up the atmosphere. In the afternoon you descend to the waiting train to enjoy one of the great train journeys of the world back towards Cusco.