Charlie Bennett is an adventurous nomad in love with exploration and meeting new peoples. He writes for the Peru travel experts at G Adventures.
Peru is a dream destination if you're looking for outdoor adventures. It's home to amazing cultural sites such as the city of Cuzco, the famous Nazca Lines and Colca Canyon. A lot of people choose a Peru Travel adventure is for the chance to make their way to the Granite City that rests on top of a mountain ridge in the Urubamba Valley; the beautiful and ancient site of Machu Picchu.
Reaching Machu Picchu is the reward for braving the famous Inca Trail; an adventure through amazing Peruvian wilderness that passes through many other historical sites. This 55-mile journey takes around four or five days to complete.
Recently concerns have been raised about tourists' constant use of the trail. The local Peruvian government has even taken to applying restrictions on the number of daily visitors allowed on the trail. Because of this, bookings fill up very quickly, making it tricky to reserve a spot.
You’re not out of luck though, if you were still hoping to hike the path to Machu Picchu there is another, lesser-known trail...
The road less travelled
The Lares Trek is a three-day journey that begins near the village of Lares. It is seen as an alternative to the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu but is not a dedicated path. The Lares Trek actually begins at a starting point five hours by bus from the city of Lares and forms a circuit that approaches but does not end at Machu Picchu, with many travellers taking a short bus ride to reach the mountain.
The scenery on the Lares Trek is no less gorgeous than the Inca Trail. The path leads through the beautiful Lares Valley. One of the best things about the trek is that it brings adventurers closer to the indigenous Quechua people. Their villages are home to many traditional weavers, offering you the perfect opportunity to buy hand crafted souvenirs
The journey reacehs heights of nearly 5,000 meters and many tour groups spend nights sleeping at around 3,600 meters. Altitude sickness does happen, although it is hard to determine who is likely to be affected. By properly acclimatising yourself you can reduce the risk of it occurring.
Why choose the Lares Trek?
As the more popular Inca Trail is now being operated with restrictions, the Lares Trek has become a budget-friendly alternative. The local government is controlling access to the Inca Trail by selling usage permits for touring companies operating on the trail. This is not the case with the Lares Trek as it’s used much less frequently by tourists. As permits are not required, the operating cost for tour groups is lower, meaning big savings for the budget-savvy adventurer.
Being a lesser-known trail also means that booking a trip does not require as much advance planning, although you should still make hotel and train reservations before you set off.
Getting away from it all
With fewer people around, you’ll have the feeling of travelling back in time, following paths that were walked upon centuries ago - a time when life was less complicated.
Hosting a tiny number of tourists in comparison to the Inca Trail, the Lares Trek is a peaceful escape. The chance to unwind with a three-day hike may sound a little contradictory, but being away from it all - the noise, the traffic and the hustle and bustle - is the perfect way to relax.
What should you bring?
When heading out on an adventure like this you need to be prepared and take the right equipment. You should bring:
• Hiking boots, because the rocky terrain will tear up regular footwear. Remember, this is not a paved path; you will grateful for ankle support on the uneven surface.
• All-weather jacket to slip on in case of rain and long sleeved shirts for the evenings when it gets colder.
• Long trousers for chilly evenings.
• Shorts for warm days.
• Flashlight or headlamp- when it gets dark up there, you’ll be glad to have one.
• Water bottle and water purifying tablets.
• Hat or cap.
• Sunscreen (the higher the elevation the more protection you will need).
• Insect repellent.
What are you waiting for?
If you’you've been looking for a new adventure, especially one that isn't overcrowded, the Lares Trek may be the journey you've been seeking. So, book a ticket, grab your walking stick and lace up your boots, Peru is waiting for you...
Have you ever hiked the Lares Trek or the Inca Trail? Share your tips with us in the comments...
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