15 Photos That Will Prove The Lares Trail is The Best Way to Discover Machu Picchu

A weaver along the Lares Trail to Machu Picchu
A weaver along the Lares Trail to Machu Picchu | © Jessica Vincent
Photo of Jessica Vincent
1 June 2018

Selling out up to 6 months in advance, the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu has become one of the most popular multi-day treks in the world. What many visitors don’t know, however, is that there are several, far less crowded routes to reach the world-famous Inca ruin. One of those is through the stunning region of Lares, where empty trails, remote weaver communities, and luxury lodges await.

Stunning landscapes

The Inca Trail may get all the attention these days, but the Lares route offers some epic scenery along the way.

Snow-capped mountain backdrops await on the Lares trail to Machu Picchu | © Jessica Vincent

The route is famous for its stunning dark volcanic mountains and bright green mossy lakes…

The Lares trail is marked by bright mossy lakes and volcanic rocks | © Jessica Vincent

As well as the occasional alpaca roadblock! For centuries – due to its rich soil and perfect weather conditions – the Lares region has been one of Peru’s most popular alpaca and llama herding grounds.

Lares is a popular alpaca herding ground | © Jessica Vincent

Crowd-free trails

The great thing about the Lares trek to Machu Picchu is that, despite its beauty, it still remains relatively undiscovered.

The Lares trails remain relatively undiscovered by tourists | © Jessica Vincent

This means that, unlike the traditional Inca Trail, you’re likely to get these pristine mountain-backed trails all to yourself.

Chances are you'll get many trails to yourself | © Jessica Vincent

In fact, you’re far more likely to bump into local Andean families than another hiker. As they don’t see many tourists along these routes, they’re really curious and will often approach you for a chat – especially the kids! If you’d like to give something back to the community, they really appreciate bread, fruit and kids toys.

Curious kids on the Lares trail | © Jessica Vincent

Traditional weaver communities

The Lares region is home to some of Peru’s best weavers.

You'll meet traditional weaving communities en route | © Jessica Vincent

While other parts of the country have turned to cheaper and faster production, the weaver communities here pride themselves on using ancient techniques and designs passed down from hundreds of generations…

The Lares region still practices ancient weaving techniques | © Jessica Vincent

As well as top quality alpaca wool dyed using only natural colourings from plants found in the region.

In a small town called Choquecancha they only used naturally dyed alpaca wool | © Jessica Vincent

Rarely visited ruins

Machu Picchu may be the show stopper, but there are hundreds of beautiful Inca ruins along the Lares trail waiting to be explored.

Crowd-free ruins in Ollantaytambo | © Jessica Vincent

Many of these ruins, such as the impressive Pisaq and the Ancasmarca sites, are even thought to pre-date the Incas.

The Ancasmarcas ruins pre-date the Incas | © Jessica Vincent

And the best bit? Despite these ruins being of huge archaeological importance, they’re still relatively undiscovered by tourists, meaning you’ll see far fewer crowds than at Machu Picchu.

Aerial views of the beautiful Pisaq ruins, seen on the Lares 5-day trail | © Jessica Vincent

A touch of luxury

While the Lares trail offers fantastic wild camping opportunities, those looking for a little luxury won’t be disappointed.

Luxury lodges await on the Lares trail to Machu Picchu | © Jessica Vincent

Mountain Lodges Peru, the only company currently offering luxury accommodation in the area, have built three stunning lodges along the trail.

Llamas roam in Mountain Lodges of Peru's Lamay Lodge | © Jessica Vincent

After a long day hiking at heights of up to 4,600 metres (15,000 feet), visitors can enjoy private hot tubs overlooking snow-capped peaks, world-class farm-to-table cuisine, and luxurious rooms equipped with double rain showers and comfy king-sized beds.

Private hot tubs at the Huacahuasi Lodge in the Lares region | © Jessica Vincent