To most this is a lifetime experience and they want the best of their trek to Machu Picchu. So, Salkantay Trek vs Lares Trek? We have outlined the best and the challenges of both treks on this post.
Almost every traveller who come to Peru visit the lost city of Incas, Machu Picchu. A vast majority of them desire to hike the 500 years old Inca Trail to Machu Picchu. This is the only trek that gives the opportunity to trekkers to see Machu Picchu at sun rise from the Sun gate (Intipunku).
Inca Trail offers a rewarding experience at every turn from Cusco to Machu Picchu. From Andean highland to cloud forest. Recently, National Geography Travel Magazine recognised this as one of the best 25 treks in the world.
However, in order to protect the trail, the authorities in Peru have restricted the accesses. The have limited it to 500 people a day. This includes guided, porters and cooks. So barely just 200 trekkers get to hike this a day. Permits are sold out 6-7 months in advance.
Both these treks offer distinct experience. As there are no restrictions on these treks, you can book this just a few days in advance. The best thing, both these cost much less than Inca Trail.
Salkantay Trek Highlights
Lares Trek Highlights
Salkantay Trek Challenges
Lares Trek Challenges
Salkantay Trek takes you to soaring mountain passes. It is the second most popular trek to Machu Picchu. It begins with a drive to a remote Andean village named Mollepata. The first day of the trek takes you to one of the most raved high altitude turquoise lagoons in Peru, Humantay Lake.
Hiking through the foothill of snow capped Andean peaks, you will reach the highest point of Salkantay Trek, Salkantay Pass. It is located at 4600 metres above sea level. From here you will begin the down hill trek to the tropical region of Cusco before hiking to Machu Picchu.
Unlike Inca Trail or Salkantay Trek, Lares Trek is not so crowded. It is an off the beaten track experience. The trek starts with a drive to Calca, a village in the Sacred Valley of Incas. You will be stopping at a town named Lares. Lares is popular for hot springs.
The highest point of the trek is at 4400 metres above the sea level. Lares Trek to Machu Picchu offers quite a different experience than any other trek from Cusco. It gives you the opportunity to get a first hand experience the contemporary Andean culture.
Lares Route passes through several remote Andean villages, home to indigenous Quechua speaking people. They are known to have preserved their age old agrarian way of life. Hiking through these remote villages, you be descending to Ollantaytambo. You will be boarding the train to Aguas Calientes (Machu Picchu Town) from here.
As one of the most popular treks, Salkantay trek has the best camping sites in Peru. Mostly the campsites are located on foot hills or on the banks of colourful lagoons. You will be waking up to scenic vistas.
Also, each zone has plenty of campsites. Hence not every group will camp at the same place. This makes it less crowded and tranquil.
The campsites on Lares Trek are quite basic. Campsites are located near the Andean villages. As most part of the trek goes through highland it gets extremely cold at night. Make sure to carry a good sleeping bag.
Salkantay Trek to Machu Picchu takes you through soaring high mountain passes. It offers a constantly varying view from start to end. The trek starts amidst the snow capped Andean peaks and ends in the tropical jungle.
The highest point of the trek is at 4600 metres and the lowest point is at 1000 metres. Along the way, you will be passing through many less popular Incan archeological sites.
Lares Trek is more popular with flora and fauna and cultural experience. The campsites on this trek are located in the village. This is the only trek that offers a first hand experience of the age old Andean lifestyle. People here are known for their vibrant textile traditions. You are likely witness this along the trek.