Scaling Machu Picchu: Lares Trek vs Inca Trail
So, you’re going to give Machu Picchu a crack.
I don’t blame you: the Peruvian Andes are right up there on most people’s bucket lists, and the 15th century citadel is well worth the trek.
The question: which way should you go?
There are several options available to you when it comes to scaling Machu Picchu: the Lares Trek and the Inca Trail. In this short article I’ll give you the pros and cons of each of them, allowing you to make your own mind up:
The Trek Itself
You’ve heard of this one, of course you have. The Inca Trail is one of the most well known trails in the world, and by trekking it to the top of Machu Picchu, you’ll be doing something that thousands of people all over the world dream of.
As well as being the more epic, the Inca Trail also gives you the option to visit Inca ruins that you wouldn’t be able to see anywhere else, and is the only way to go through the Sun Gate.
But here’s the downside: it’s a lot busier. There’s now a limit on the amount of trekking permits per day (500), so it could be worse, but the reality is that if you go on the Inca, you’re far more likely to see people than the Lares.
As I alluded to just then, the Lares Trek is a different kettle of fish – it’s far less popular, and you do get the sense of being alone and at one with your surroundings in a way that you don’t at the Inca Trail.
The Lares takes you to a higher altitude, so you’ll need to ensure you take the necessary precautions to give yourself the best chance of avoiding altitude sickness.
You’ll see less ruins on this trek, but what you will see are Andean people, with the route passing through farms and villages inhabited by the locals.
Where You Sleep
With the Inca Trail being the more popular one, there are a lot more regulations that come with it, and that includes the campsites.
You’ll find specific tent pitches on the Inca, as well as some toilet and shower facilities.
The Lares is a little bit different. You won’t find too many facilities or mod cons, so it really is like going back to basics, but because you’ll be staying near local settlements, you’ll get more opportunities to interact with the locals.
What You See
The Inca Trail has a lot to see on it, with plenty of Inca ruins to take in, as well as beautiful views from the hillside.
There are a few ruins on the Lares Trek, but not as many as the Inca Trail, so if it’s ruins you’re after the Lares perhaps isn’t for you.
What you get instead is beautiful views of lakes and peaks, as well as farms and villages and local communities along the way.
As you can see, there are pros and cons to both, and when it comes to the service you get during each trek, there really isn’t much to separate them.
You’ll get all your meals cooked for you, as well as good quality trekking equipment if you need it, with the only service difference being the porters you get on the Inca Trail, in comparison to the mule that takes your stuff up on the Lares Trek.
Ultimately it comes down to personal preference, so I can’t truly answer the question for you! You’ll have to weigh up the pros and cons and make your own decision, but if you want to chat through the options in more detail, just drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org and we can talk it through.
Whichever one you end up choosing, I hope you have a fabulous time. Scratch that, I KNOW you will.
Check our our recent video showing the highlights of our recent Inca Trail trip.