Thursday, October 11, 2007

Peru - Lares Trek

Trekking to Machu Picchu via the Inca Trail has to be one of the best treks in the world. Full of history, scenery and fulfillment it is no wonder that it has become very popular amongst travellers in recent years. So popular in fact that the Peruvian authorities who control the Inca Trail have restricted the numbers of permits issued to travellers to 500 per day - this includes porters and guides. This sounds plenty but the Inca Trail is so popular at the moment that permits are sold out months in advance. So you have your heart set on trekking to Machu Picchu but you cannot get a permit for the Inca Trail? is there an alternative? Travel Light are pleased to say YES... The Lares Vally.

Lares Valley Trek

Here's how Tucan Travel describe the Lares Valley trek "The Lares Trek is an exceptional alternative to the Inca Trail and it is so far off the beaten track that it has changed little over the past 500 years. Encompassing original Inca routes, spectacular scenery, thatched stone and adobe houses with herds of llamas, alpacas and their shepards roaming free. The Lares Valley is an authentic journey into ancient Inca civilisation, it is amazing that is has escaped the attention of mainstream tourism to date.

A great alternative to the Inca Trail then? Yes, except for one thing - The Lares Valley trek does not finish at the Sun Gate over looking Machu Picchu like the Inca Trail trek. It finishes close by but you will take a bus to Machu Picchu for a guided visit. Maybe not perfect but the Lares Vally trek has been getting some great reports from travellers liking it's "off the beaten track" feel and lack of crowds. It's not as commercialized as the Inca Trail and could easily become a major Peru highlight once word spreads on the bush telegraph.

So what do you need to know about the Lares Valley Trek?

Here's a list of FAQ's from GAP Adventures

How long is the Lares Trek and how many hours do we hike per a day?
The Lares Trek is 33 kms ( 20.5miles) long and depending on which campsites are used the approximate hours hiked per day are: Day 1: 5 hours Day 2: 8 hours Day 3: 4 hours

How difficult is the Lares Trek?
The Lares Trek is considered a moderate hike. It's not a technical hike but the altitude may affect some individuals. We recommend purchasing a wooden walking stick while in Peru as it will help with your balance and reduce the load on your knees. We ask that you not use a metal tipped walking stick as it can harm the fragile environment along the trail.

Is altitude sickness common? And how high is the Lares Trek?
It's impossible to predict who will be affected by altitude. Your ability to adapt to high altitude is determined by your genetic makeup and has little to do with fitness or health. Most people will have no problems as long as they take the time to acclimatize properly. A full day spent in Cuzco (3249m), taking it easy and drinking plenty of water, is usually enough for most people. The highest point you will reach while hiking the Lares Trek is 4550 meters.

Is it possible to skip the Lares Trek even if the tour includes it?
Yes! If you do not wish to hike the Lares Trek please advise us at the time of booking (it is very difficult to make these arrangements once you have already confirmed). If you choose not to hike the trail you will spend two nights in Cuzco and then take the train to the town of Aguas Calientes for the third night. You will rejoin your group at Machu Picchu the next morning.

When do we reach Machu Picchu and how much time do we spend there?
You will reach Machu Picchu early in the morning on Day 4. You will be met by a local guide who will take you on an informative 2-hour tour of the ruins. After the tour you will have a few hours of free time to explore the area on your own before the group travels by bus to Aguas Calientes where we catch the train back to Cuzco.

Do porters carry our luggage while on the Lares Trek?
No, llamas, pack mules and/or horses will be provided to carry your personal items. You will still need to bring a day backpack to carry any essentials you might want or need, such as water, snacks, camera, sweater, rain jacket, etc.

How cold does it get on the Lares Trek (will I need to bring hats and mitts)?
The high altitude means it can get quite chilly, especially during the Andean winter (May - September) when the temperature can drop to below zero degrees (Celsius) at night. It can still be cool at other times of the year and so we recommend bringing thermal underwear and a warm sleeping bag. You can purchase warm, inexpensive and locally made hand-woven hats and gloves in Cuzco.

What type of accommodation is used on the Lares Trek?
Three-person tents are used to accommodate two same-sex travellers for the first two nights. The third night will be spent in a simple hotel in Aguas Calientes. There are a few places where permanent but very basic toilet facilities exist and when they are not available our team will set up portable toilet tents. Trekkers are provided with a bowl of hot water (and a hot drink) every morning in their tent.

Is a sleeping bag and mat included?
Sleeping bags are not included and so we recommend bringing a compact three-season sleeping bag. A popular alternative is to rent a sleeping bag in Cuzco, which is done locally. They are clean, warm and cost approximately USD$10 (for all three nights). Some renters may choose to bring a sleeping bag liner or sheet. Foam mats are provided however some travelers also bring their own self-inflating mat (ie. a Thermarest).

Is purified water available on the trek?
Bottled water can be purchased on day 1 of the Lares Trek and you will be provided with clean boiled water every day of the trek.

What type of food will we get on the Lares Trek?
Our cooks prepare excellent high-energy meals appropriate for a trek of this nature. The menu usually includes pasta, rice, chicken, fresh fruit and vegetables and a variety of oatmeal, eggs and other breakfast foods.

SAVE R500 per person* on the Peru Panorama 15 day tour

*subject to availability and dates of promotion

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