The Two Day Lares trek in Peru
The two day Lares trek from Patakancha to Lares is a spectacular hike through the Peruvian Andes. One of the most popular alternative hikes to the Inca trail, the Lares trek can be done as a three day / two night trek, or quicker over two days and one night, camping en route. One of the best things about this two day lares trek is that you can avoid the tourist crowds and gain an insight into local culture: while other Peru treks focus exclusively on landscapes, with the two day Lares trek you get to hike through the country’s Quechua highlands and pass rural communities along this spectacular hike. Aracari arranges the two day Lares trek on a private basis only, not as a group tour.
The village of Patakancha
I recently had the chance to take this two day trail through breathtaking landscapes, where life remains much unchanged since the time of the Incas. Our journey began with a drive through the Sacred Valley where upon reaching Olllantaytambo, we climbed our way up a partially-paved road for 45 minutes until reaching the small community of Patakancha. This small village is charming, with thatched roof buildings of stone or adobe bricks and cheery locals making their livings as they have for centuries from weaving textiles and farming and raising animals.
Meeting the Porters
It was here that we met up with our team of porters and muleteers. Once our mules were loaded and sunscreen had been applied to shield us from the strong Andean sun, we began our walk out from Patakancha. Heading gently upwards through the agricultural terraces and passing flocks of grazing llamas, there was already a feeling that we had escaped the main tourist trail and were experiencing Andean life as it always has been.
The Lagoon of Ipsa Cocha
After a couple of hours of slow ascent, the terrain flattened out as we approached the lagoon of Ipsa Cocha at an altitude of 4,200m—a great spot to take a break and enjoy lunch of fresh trout, expertly prepared by Livio, our in camp chef. After a mug of coca tea, we were all feeling great and opted to push on further along the trail, climbing up to the Ipsa Pass, the highest point on the trek at an altitude of 4700m (15,419ft). The terrain up to the pass changed from springy ichu-grass marshland to hard stone, and our porters told us that these rocky outcrops are the home of the elusive puma and that Andean condors are frequently seen flying overhead. The chilly breeze of the high pass meant that this was not the place to hang around bird watching, and as camp was set up just a short distance away, we continued on our descent.
Luxury Camping Peru
We camped overnight. I opted for Luxury Exploration Trekking- Aracari offers two camping levels for Peru treks: Luxury Exploration Trekking and Luxury VIP trekking. Read more on the Peru luxury trekking options for camping trips. Luxury Exploration Trekking is best described as ‘appropriate luxury’ – extra comforts like 3 person tents used for 2 for more space, inflatable (not foam) mattresses and equipment details that will ensure a comfortable night’s sleep. Luxury VIP trekking is all-out luxury camping, where you can expect your own dedicated massage tent, shower tents with premium toiletries.
Following a good night’s sleep, a spectacular sunrise and a hearty breakfast, the trail continued down into the Huacahuasi valley. Ladies and children from the village came out to greet us, keen to display their elaborate hand-woven textiles, made using traditional methods and native dyes.
The Hot Springs of Lares
Passing Huacahuasi the agricultural life of the natives becomes increasingly apparent, fields of barley, quinoa, potatoes and corn line the river, continuing steadily downhill until reaching our destination of Lares. Here, having completed a total of 21km (13mi) and enjoyed another sumptuous lunch, we celebrated with a soak in the thermal hot springs before bidding farewell to our team of porters and muleteers and making the drive back to the Sacred Valley.
Alternative Peru Treks
The Patakancha – Lares trek is highly recommended and the fact that you can do it either in two days or three means the route suits all hiking abilities and can be adapted depending on how fast you might plan to walk. The fact it is a relatively short hike also makes it easy to combine with the one day inca trail to Machu Picchu. Another of the most popular alternative hikes to Machu Picchu is the Salkantay Trek, which can be done either as a camping trek, or lodge-to-lodge trek.