It all started in Cusco a few days before our trek during an orientation. We were given maps and tips on what to expect on the Lares Trek. Most people come to Peru and do the Inca Trail, some applying six months in advance for their permit. I’ve also heard it being called the Inca ‘highway’ because so many people do it.
So for the people that didn’t get their permit (like us) or want to trek where there’s less people and want to experience more culture and visit villages, the Lares Trek is the choice.
Our tour included two nights of camping and one night in a hotel in Aguas Calientes, the gateway city to Machu Picchu. We had a guide, cook, sous chef, horseman and a few horses and the only people trekking were my mom, dad, brother and I.
View of Cusco’s main square:
Our tour started at 6 am when we were picked up from our hotel in Cusco. We were driven to a bakery in a small town to pick up some bread that we would give to people we met in villages we walked through. For some reason, a guy in the kitchen opened the door and took a picture of us with his phone. From far. Without our permission.
Then we were driven to a market similar to the Sao Paulo market except smaller. Upstairs, we had breakfast of bread (similar to the freshly baked bread we bought earlier) and coca tea. The tea is normally drunk in the high altitudes of Bolivia and Peru to help cope with altitude sickness. Next, we were driven to a pre Inca ruin and given a short explanation.
By the time we reached the town of Lares, where our trek started, it was about 11 am. We struggled to get through the first hour or so because my mom had to stop every few minutes to throw up. She says it’s probably the food we ate the previous night. Long story short, we didn’t do the trek.
As soon as we made the decision, our guide and my brother had to run to meet up with our cook, sous chef, horseman and horses to tell them to stop (they were going ahead of us to the next destination to set things up before we arrived).
Meanwhile, we learned about the weather in the highlands. It was very sunny and hot one moment and all of a sudden a huge cloud came and it started raining. Then a bit of hail. And then it just stopped, the sun came out and it was hot again.
What I had packed in my day backpack:
About an hour later we were making our way back towards Lares when our guide and my brother came back. They had apparently reached them in time.
In the beginning of the trek there are several horses probably waiting to attend other trekkers:
Now it was around 3 pm and definitely time for lunch and our cook definitely could cook! They set up a tent with a divider. One side was the kitchen and the other had a table all set with a table cloth even, where we ate. We had soup with every meal. This is asparagus soup:
After lunch, our guide came up with an alternative plan. By this time, my mom was feeling slightly better so we decided to trek to where I found out the next day was our cook’s house!
We started walking while our cook, sous chef and horseman were still packing. And moments later they were right behind us!
Here are the animals with our tents, food and belongings:
When the animals passed by with our belongings, I realized the chef and sous chef were also carrying things and were walking so fast, passing us very quickly so when we arrived at the site we were going to camp at, all the tents were set up and they were already beginning to cook.
I was amazed at how hard they worked and was even more surprised when I found out the sous chef was only 16.
The horseman happened to walk with us. He is 80 years old and is actually the cook’s father. He could walk faster than us and wore a traditional hat and cloth backpack. Apparently he walks every day on the trails that go up and downhill, some very steep and doesn’t even need a trekking pole like we needed!
I don’t really think much when I see a mountain or tree but during our alternative Lares Trek trekking, I just can’t put into words how amazing the scenery was. And I’m not really an outdoor kind of person. But it was absolutely amazing.
It was pitch black by the time we reached our campsite which was kind of like the entrance of a church and the backyard of the cook’s house. The tents were already set up. We even had a ‘bathroom’ tent which contained a dug up hole.
In the morning, again I don’t normally care, but the view was incredible. This was the entrance with a view of a glacier and water running through the valley and other tiny houses.
After breakfast we were in for a treat where we were given a tour of our cook’s home. In the main area, they have at least 20 guinea pigs running around and a few chicken that they sleep with for warmth. Outside, there were some ducks and this pig. Apparently they will eat this pig in 2014:
Then we started our trek. We walked down the mountain to the valley and then up the mountain across from our cook’s house. We encountered this waterfall:
Then we trekked to a lagoon where there were horses, llama and alpaca grazing. We were given some snacks from the cook (banana, cookies and juice) and enjoyed it by the lagoon.
Our final destination on the second day of our tour was to the Lares hot springs to camp. Even though it rained at night, since it was the weekend, there were so many people. The hot springs are opened all night for only campers. We had a hard time sleeping because our ‘neighbors’ behind our yellow tents wouldn’t shut up.
The next morning, we had breakfast, said goodbye to our cook, sous chef and horseman and walked into town to take a public van to the same town that we had breakfast in on the first day of the Lares Trek. We then had to take a taxi to the town of Ollantaytambo where the Lares Trek ends. It was in this town that we got a train with PeruRail to the town of Aguas Calientes.
Very early the next morning, at 4 am, we woke up to get in line for the buses to Machu Picchu. It’s just one of those places you always see pictures of and I had to get a picture of it for myself! Just amazing.
All in all, the tour was a great experience.
Are you on Instagram? Follow my travel photos at http://instagram.com/bethanylooi 🙂