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Peru's 4 Day Lares Inca Trail Guided Hiking Tour Itinerary

An incredible alternative to the Classic Inca Trail, hike the Lares Inca Trail for a more culturally rich experience, without the crowds of tourists.

As the sister hike to the Classic Inca Trail (the Classic Inca Trail being the most famous hiking trail to Machu Picchu), Peru’s Lares Inca Trail is the perfect way to follow in the footsteps of the ancient Incas, but by hiking a trail less travelled you’re guaranteed to get a far greater connection to the local Peruvian culture, and you won’t have to worry about rubbing shoulders with crowds of fellow hikers while you’re enjoying the stunning mountainous vistas of the Peruvian Andes.

Read on to look over the day-to-day itinerary for our 7 (or 14) day 'Jaguar' trip which explores Cuzco and the Sacred Valley before setting off on our Lares Inca Trail guided tour to Machu Picchu. Stay on board and journey further to discover Lake Titicaca and the Amazon Basin too - we're locals in Peru and we have the absolute best bilingual guides, so we'll show you Peru's 'hidden gems' and put you in touch with the local culture like no other tour company can.

Skip to: How to prepare for your hike | Guided hiking tour itinerary | Required fitness |  What's included on the tour | What to bring | How to book

Day 1 - Starting point Lares Inca Trail, hiking with Peruvian families

Photo: Hikers setting off at the beginning of the Lares Inca Trail, accompanied by local Pervian friends

Colorful Peru!

“Peru is a marvelous canvas of color, music and history; beautiful people, delicious food and breathtaking scenery. This adventure to Peru was amazing! It was a dynamic journey full of beauty and fun. From an unforgettable hike at the Lares Inca Trail to submerging into the life of the local families at Amantani Island! Everything during the trip was executed in an organized and safe manner. Thank you to our fantastic group leader, Erick, and to all my lovely travel Amigos for making this adventure a colorful one! This is how you celebrate Life!
Abinette from Puerto Rico”
– South Carolina, United States
Jaguar, October 2016
Read Reviews

Before your hike – preparation is the key to a successful journey

Remember the biggest mistake any keen hiker can make when they’re planning their journey to Machu Picchu via the Lares Inca Trail, is to expect to begin the hike the same day they arrive in Cuzco. The first day of hiking the Lares Inca Trail takes you to an elevation of almost 13,000ft, which is high enough to feel the full effects of altitude sickness. So in our 20+ years’ experience we’ve learned that the best way to prepare for your trek is to take a couple of days to explore the city of Cuzco and take a gentle bike ride in the Sacred Valley. This allows your body to catch up to the lower oxygen levels at a relaxed pace, while you get a first-hand taste of the local culture and cuisine and break away from the norms of day to day life back home.

So below you’ll see that day 1 and day 2 below are designed to set you in perfect steed for the journey ahead – then your hike to Machu Picchu on the Classic Inca Trail will begin on day 3 of this 7 (or 14) day tour to Machu Picchu.

Guided hiking tour itinerary - cusco to Machu Picchu on Peru's Lares Inca Trail

Day 1 - Arrive in Cuzco, hike Sacsayhuamán fortress

Our trip starts in Cuzco, the heart of the Inca Empire. Your trip leader will greet you with a cup of hot coca tea – a local speciality to help you adjust to the altitude. After lunch, we’ll set off for a walk around this amazing ancient city and up to Sacsayhuamán fortress overlooking the main Plaza and Cuzco Valley. The fortress, meaning 'House of the Sun', is a magnificent archaeological site representing a set of jaguar’s teeth with massive, perfectly fitted stones weighing up to 130 tonnes each and was the place where the Incas made their final stand against the Spanish conquistadores. No one really knows what the Incas used Sacsayhuamán for – some say it was a sanctuary and temple of the sun, others say it was a granary. No matter who’s correct, you’ll have a lot of fun hearing all the stories this amazing area inspires. Later, we’ll take a walk through the colourful Cuzco street markets. If you prefer, you can take some time to soak in the vibrant atmosphere of Cuzco’s lively town square and meet up again later for an evening meal.
Accommodation: Local Hotel, Cuzco
Meals: Lunch, Dinner

Day 2 - Cycle Sacred Valley, visit Pisac market, hike Pisac ruins

We’ll head into the fertile Sacred Valley of the Incas this morning, stopping just above Cuzco, where we’ll jump on our bikes and ride down through breath-taking scenery, dotted with local villages and surrounded by the massive green slopes of the Andes. We’ll finish our ride in the small town of Pisac, where we’ll have a chance to check out the colourful mercado artesanal. From here we’ll begin a spectacular hike up to the Pisac ruins. These Inca terraces rise 600 metres (2000 feet) up from the river below. It’s a heart-pumping walk up through ancient agricultural terraces – you’ll never forget the views of Pisac and the Urubamba Valley! After exploring the ancient complex, we’ll descend the original Inca stairways and head back down the valley to Cuzco. This is the largest existing fortress-city of the Incas, and it’s the perfect warm-up for your Inca Trail trek tomorrow!
Accommodation: Local Hotel, Cuzco
Meals: All meals

 View of Peru's Sacred Valley before starting the Lares Inca Trail hike

Photo: Peru's Sacred Valley, a stunning day of exploring before setting off on the Lares Inca Trail hike

Day 3 - Begin the 4 day Lares Inca Trail to Machu Picchu

Lares Trail Day 1: Cusco – Lares – Cuncani

Very early, as the sun begins to shine on the roofs of Cusco, our guide will pick us up from the hotel and we will head in the direction of the Sacred Valley. The Calca market will be our last stop before losing contact with the big cities. This is our final chance to buy any last minute items we might need for the trek. The road leads to Lares and crosses the Amparaes Pass a 4,770m. This phenomenal drive winds through arid landscapes, crosses rivers and you’ll see some of the most stunning mountain vistas in Peru. Our final destination is the hot baths of Lares. Here, naturally occurring hot springs await us before we set out on our trek.

From the thermal baths unfolds a small track used by local children and community members of Lares. We’ll pass through hand tilled fields and crops of quinoa and potato, amongst quaint stone houses. After a gradual climb of a few hours we’ll stop for a delicious lunch, before continuing on to the community of Cuncani, where we’ll set up camp for the evening.

Approaching camp day 1 Lares Inca Trail hike

Photo: Approaching camp at the end of day 1 on Peru's Lares Inca Trail hike

Accommodation: Camping
Meals: All meals

Hiking distances and elevations:
Maximum altitude : 3883 m / 12739 ft
Minimum altitude : 3260 m / 10695 ft
Distance Travelled : 8.04 km / 4.99 ml
Approximate Walking Time : 5h30

Lares Trail Day 2: Cuncani – Paso de Pumahuanca – Paccha

If we have clear skies at sunrise, we’ll wake to the imposing view of Colque Crus, a majestic mountain capped by a glacier, which provides water to the local community. We follow the path next to an icy stream that will take us towards the pass. The ascent is challenging. We will have a few hours of demanding but rewarding uphill, on rocky trails passing through incredible landscapes punctuated by high altitude lagoons. As we get closer to the pass, the trail becomes steeper and rockier. On reaching the summit a stunning view of the Pampas of Anta awaits us, followed by a descent that will be most welcome after the challenging climb. The descent is steep but beautiful, crossing a small forest of ‘Polylepis’, the endemic and endangered trees of the high Andes. Just after the forest and with an incredible view of the valley below we will stop for lunch. After which the drop continues until we reach our camp, a tranquil paradise surrounded by trees and crossed by a small river. Tonight, if we find some dead tinder, we’ll enjoy a cosy campfire.

Happy hikers on top of the highest pass Ipsay Qasa - Peru's Lares Inca Trail

Photo: Happy hikers celebrating a successful ascent to the top of the highest point on the Lares Inca Trail - 'Ipsay Qasa'

Accommodation: Camping
Meals: All meals

Hiking distances and elevations:
Maximum altitude : 4809 m / 15777 ft
Minimum altitude : 3883 m / 12739 ft
Distance Travelled : 15.95 km / 9,32 ml
Approximate Walking Time : 9h30

Lares Trail Day 3: Paccha – Piscigranja – Ollantaytambo – Train to Aguas Calientes

This morning will be our last on the trail and after breakfast there will be a chance to take photos withour porters, cooks and field staff. All those who made this trip possible. From here the walk becomes easier down to the piscigranja (fish farm). As we descend we’ll feel the climate changing, becoming warmer and more alive, with more variety in vegetation, and we’ll be accompanied by hummingbirds along the way. After a few short hours we will meet our private transportation that will take us to Ollantaytambo Station to board the train to Aguas Calientes.

Day 3 Approaching Ollantaytambo Lares Inca Trail

Photo: Hikers approaching Ollantaytambo on day 3 of the Lares Inca Trail hike

As the train travels along, the valley turns into a canyon and the scenery alters, as the clourd forests begin to appear, on our approach to the Machu Picchu Sanctuary. We will disembark the train at Aguas Caleintes. Hotel staff will be waiting to help us with our luggage and escort us to the hotel. After a well-deserved shower we’ll enjoy a delicious dinner at one of the best restaurants in town.
Accommodation: Local Hotel, Aguas Calientes
Meals: All meals

Hiking distances and elevations:
Maximum altitude : 4074 m / 13366 ft
Minimum altitude : 2875m / 9432 ft
Distance Travelled : 10 km / 6,21 ml
Approximate Walking Time : 4h20

Lares Trail Day 4: Machu Picchu guided tour and back to Cuzco

Very early morning, accompanied by our guide, we take a 25 minute bus ride to the sanctuary of Machu Picchu (2,400m / 7,874ft).

View from Machu Picchu main entrance

Photo: Your view of Machu Picchu from the main entrance, on the morning of day 4 of the Lares Inca Trail guided tour

Our guide will lead us in an exploration and discovery of the many curious corners within the enigmatic Citadel. The guided tour will have an average duration of 2 hours. Afterwards you’ll still have time to visit other places you didn’t get to see with your guide – like heading west from the centre of Machu Picchu, the Inca bridge is a 30 minute / 2km walk along a narrow path. If you feel like an uphill challenge, you have the option to climb the infamous mountain of Huayna Picchu. It is important to mention that to climb this mountain, you need to buy a separate ticket in advance. Please confirm that you want to make this climb at the time of making your booking with us. There are only 2 entrance times: 7am or 10am. The trail consists of many steep narrow steps (not recommended for people who suffer from vertigo), the height of the mountain is 2,700m / 8,858ft (the climb is 300m).

Huayna Picchu from Machu Picchu

Photo: Looking over at Huayna Picchu from Machu Picchu

At the end of our visit we’ll take the bus down to Aguas Calientes for lunch and the board the train to return to Ollantaytambo where our private transport will be waiting to take us back to the city of Cusco.
Accommodation: Local Hotel, Cuzco
Meals: All meals

How fit do I need to be to hike the Lares Inca Trail?

As long as you enjoy hiking, you'll love the Lares Inca Trail - but there's no rush to get from A to B and you can take it at your own pace along the way. In fact, the slower the better we say, as that way you get plenty of time to enjoy your surroundings, while letting your body acclimatise to the altitude.

We recommend doing plenty of practice before you arrive, as the fitter you are, the more you’ll enjoy your experience. That said our trips are designed for regular active people, so you don’t need to be a triathlete or anything - though if you are you won’t be bored!

What’s included in the Lares Inca Trail guided tour?

  • All transport, food and accommodations from the moment you arrive in Peru’s city of Cusco
  • Bilingual guides
  • Briefing about the hike the night before departing to Lares
  • Chef (and assistant chef for larger groups)
  • Quadruple tents to be used by 2 people, allowing more comfort and more space to store backpacks.
  • Mules (for equipment and personal items) and muleteers
  • Inflatable mattresses
  • Sleeping liner and pillow
  • Saddled horse in case of emergencies or if you’re making very little progress (this horse is with the group at all times)
  • First aid kit and oxygen bottle
  • Kitchen tent and dining tent with camp tables and chairs
  • Toilet tent
  • Duffel bags (up to 7kg / 15lbs per person. These are provided by the guides at the briefing
  • Train tickets to Aguas Calientes
  • 1 night accommodation in Aguas Calientes in a local hotel
  • Bus ticket from Aguas Calientes to Machu Picchu and vice versa
  • Dinner and lunch in Aguas Calientes
  • Entrance to Machu Picchu (if you want to visit the mountain of Huayna Picchu, let us know when you’re booking)
  • Train ticket to Ollantaytambo and transfer to Cusco (where the 7 day trip finishes – or the second half of the 14 day trip begins).

 What should I bring on the Lares Inca Trail trek?

  • Sleeping bag (you can hire this from us if you like)
  • Small, light-weight backpack with a change of clothes for when you are hiking during the day, remember to bring a variety of suitable clothing to account for vast changes in temperature
  • Warm clothes; remember the temperature can reach below zero during the nights of the winter months. Feather jackets, fleeces, scarf, beanie and woollen gloves
  • Rain gear (trousers and jackets if possible)
  • Thermal clothing, especially for the night
  • Trekking boots, preferable waterproof
  • Sandals to let your feet breathe at the camp. It’s an amazing feeling
  • Swimsuit for the hot springs
  • Travel towel
  • Flashlight with extra batteries
  • Walking poles (if desired). You can also hire these from us. Note: all hiking poles must be rubber tipped if you’d like to use them at Machu Picchu
  • Camera (NB: batteries are consumed faster in cold climates)
  • Binoculars (if you have them)
  • High-level sunscreen and a hat
  • Sunglasses
  • Mosquito repellent
  • Non-disposable canteen
  • Cash for souvenirs, gifts and tips
  • Original passport

 This list doesn’t include anything that’s provided by the guides on a Lares Inca Trail guided tour… so you can see the benefit of taking mules and porters. Stay safe on the Lares Trail – choose your guided tour wisely. Look for a tour operator that takes the most interest in your ability and travel plans, takes care of the environment, and has the most experience.

How to book the Lares Inca Trail hike to Machu Picchu

The ‘Jaguar’ trip is our all-inclusive guided tour of Cuzco, the Sacred Valley and the Lares Inca Trail hike to Machu. The full ‘Jaguar’ trip is 14 days that also explores the Amazon Rainforest, Lake Titicaca, Amantani and Taquile Islands. But if you’re only interested in hiking the Lares (or Classic) Inca Trail to Machu Picchu you can simply request to join us for the first 7 days.

Remember – the ‘Jaguar’ tour from Cuzco to Machu Picchu is 7 days (opposed to only 4 days like the hike to Machu Picchu) because we’ve perfected the art of getting you prepared for the hike, and connecting you to the Peruvian culture and cuisine before setting off on the trail. We’ll spend the first two days exploring the city of Cuzco, cycling the Sacred Valley and taking a hike to the Pisac Ruins.

Check our ‘Jaguar’ trip availability today, and secure your hike to Machu Picchu on the Lares Inca Trail! Note: each departure of the ‘Jaguar’ trip splits at the start of day 3, depending if you choose the Lares or Classic Inca Trail. Everyone regroups again when you return to Cusco after hiking to Machu Picchu.

Choose Your 'Jaguar' Departure Date

Learn more about the 'Jaguar' trip

Hike the Lares Inca Trail on your journey to Machu Picchu on the following Peru adventure tour:

  • Jaguar Ultimate Peru Adventure

    • 14 Days
    • Peru
    • US$4,599

    4.49 out of 5 (from 1782 reviews)

    Jaguar

    The 'Jaguar' is our most action-packed multi-activity trip in Peru. Start your trip in the heart of the Inca empire where you'll explore fortresses and surrounding valleys. Hike over stunning mountain passes to Machu Picchu, cycle into the Sacred Valley of the Incas, view Amazon wildlife up close and sea kayak across Lake Titicaca to stay with an indigenous family.

    The variety of activities and landscapes on this trip will give you a Peruvian adventure like no other – and an experience you’ll never forget! It captures everything this beautiful country has to offer, from the towering peaks of the Andes down to the steamy depths of the Amazon rainforest. You’ll have a blast in this land of geographical and cultural extremes!

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It's all about getting there under your own steam – on foot, in a sea kayak, or by bike. What better way is there to experience mind blowing scenery? If it's your first time, no worries – our expert guides have got you covered.

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