Adventure, Experiential, Ecological, Cultural & Natural
Lares, hot springs, villages of: Huacawasi, Arurayoq, Mantanay, Yanahuara, Chinchero, Cusco
The Lares trek is an experience that takes you through the living culture of the Andes as you pass by Natives still living the customs of Incan days past. It also offers a beautiful natural geography distinct to Peru’s Andes including high-land lakes. The natural flora and fauna changes distinctly from one day to the next, especially as you pass through the conservation area of Mantanay.
After breakfast in your hotel, we will pick you up from your hotel, heading out in the morning from Cusco city through the Sacred Valley to the town of Calca where we will make a 25 minute stop to stretch the legs and make last minute purchases needed for the trek.
We then continue travelling to the highest point at an altitude of 4265 meters above sea level; from this point it is possible to see the mountain peaks of Sawasiray and Pitusiray. Later, we descend to the warmer valley of Lares; to an altitude of 3207 m.a.s.l. Lares is a typical colonial town with a Catholic church, main square and narrow cobbled streets. In this town we will also be meeting with our horsemen and mules having time to enjoy the medicinal hot springs while the horsemen pack and the cook prepares lunch. After lunch, we start our hiking adventure of the Lares Trek. The path ascends gradually as we hike a few short hours to the community of Huacawasi (3600 m.a.s.l.) where we will make camp for the night. Huacawasi is a charming and picturesque little village with small adobe homes made of mud and straw brick. Llamas and alpacas can be seen all along the way.
After breakfast, we depart our campground ascending slowly in the direction of Aruraycocha (at 4500 meters), the highest point of the trek. This point offers a rewarding view of the valleys below, and the pristine Aruraycocha Lake, which we will then head down towards. This is where we enter the conservation area of Mantanay, which provides a whole new array of vegetation to be seen. This is where we get to see a specific type of tree from the Incas known as Q’euñas, that are found along the way from the Yuraccocha Lake. These lakes were formed in part by the glaciers from the Pumahuanca and Kiswarani mountains. Close to one of these lakes we will enjoy a filling and delicious lunch.
If luck will have it, you just might glimpse one of the famous Condor birds in this area, but there are also varieties of other birds to be seen here, some on the verge of extinction (the Royal Churrete, Red flanked Blue tails, and Quenuales Bird are just some of the bird species specific to this area). We then continue in descent through a forested area on to the second campsite on the outskirts of Mantanay village, located 3800 m.a.s.l.
After a good sleep and breakfast, we prepare for the last part of the hike taking a route towards the town of Yanahuara, located at 2950 m.a.s.l. It’s a pretty village with a comfortably warm climate, located in the Urubumba valley, part of the Sacred Valley of the Incas. This is an important area with its large fields of corn produced for the Cusco area. This is where the large-grained white corn is mostly grown. Upon arriving to Yanahuara we will enjoy one last meal as a group, prepared by our chef. After a short rest, we will be picked up by our tourist bus for the return to Cusco city. It is optional to make a stop in the town of Chinchero on the way, to visit the hand-craft markets and see a demonstration of the textile and natural-dye making process, seeing how they make their products and learning of the skill that has been passed on for hundreds of generations. Finally, we make our way to Cusco city around mid-late afternoon, with final stops at respective hotels.
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