Peru’s Lares Adventure: Immersing Yourself in Cultural Travel

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On a recent trip home I decided to try Peru‘s Lares Adventure which is operated by Mountain Lodges of Peru (who also run a Lodge to Lodge Trek in the Salkantay region).

This offers numerous a-la-carte activities to choose from each day for example visits to local communities and weavers villages; archaeological ruins of Pisaq, Chinchero and Ollantaytambo or alternatively hikes over the Sacred Valley with its breathtaking scenery ultimately arriving in Machu Picchu. The quality of accommodation is very good, you stay in comfortable, well located lodges, which is very welcome after a day’s trekking.

The scenery throughout was stunning and we met some of the local farmers from the indigenous communities, we had the opportunity to learn about their way of life which has century old traditions.

Trekking in the Sacred Valley
Trekking in the Sacred Valley

Day 1: Cusco – Pisaq – LamayOur guide came to pick us up from the smart El Mercado Tunqui hotel in Cusco, we left at 7 am after breakfast. Our driver Melquiades took us through the Sacred Valley arriving in the town of Pisaq one hour later, famous for its colourful market. We stopped briefly in Pisaq to use the toilet facilities, and then continued our journey to Amaru, during which we took a small diversion onto a dirt road through small villages and communities.

Our helper with her childOn our arrival in Amaru, a lady with a baby on her back was already waiting for us. She is in charge of carrying the emergency kit and the basics for our trek, she had 3 donkeys for the task. Luckily all you need at this stage is your daypack and a camera (you can’t help but end up with plenty of pictures!), everything else is taken care of. We started our trek in Amaru at 13,150 ft and immediately you can feel the altitude, the first 30 minutes were especially tough for me, the altitude hits hard and I had to take it easy, luckily the guides were extremely helpful one of them was at the front leading the group and another guide was at the back making sure we were all OK. After one mile we reached Challwacasa pass at 14,200 ft where we had spectacular views of the valley, after a brief stop we continued our trek towards Viacha passing lake Totoracocha.

Lake Totoracocha
Lake Totoracocha

Higidia and her baby, she came with us on day 1.This part of the trek was all downhill until we arrived at the local community of Viacha (12,929 ft), where lunch was waiting for us in the form of ‘Pachamanca’ ( all sorts of different meats cooked on the ground, this is a typical Andean meal dating back to the time of the Incas). To be honest after such a filling lunch, we thought we couldn’t possibly continue trekking, but off we went continuing our steep descent, passing through beautiful scenery, before coming to a Mirador where we could gaze upon Pisaq ruins – this hilltop Inca citadel has some of the most impressive agricultural terracing in the world, harmoniously blending into the landscape and spreading over an impressive area. Our driver was waiting for us in the car park to take us to our comfortable hotel – Lamay Lodge, a wonderful property with a hydro massage used by several of my fellow travellers. This was our treat of the day.Local children

Hydro massage at Lamay Lodge
Hydro massage at Lamay Lodge
Lovely views from Ancasmarca ruins
Lovely views from Ancasmarca ruins
Machu Picchu ruins - Peru
Machu Picchu ruins

Day 2: Lamay – Lares – HuacahuasiThe next day, after a good breakfast we headed to Calca visiting its market and seeing the locals doing their daily shopping, it was so colourful and contained plenty of fresh produce brought from the mountains. We then stopped in the Ancasmarca ruins with amazing views of the granaries, we met two small children who accompanied us for our visit to the ruins.Engaging with children from Ancasmarca.A lunch box was provided in the town of Lares famous for its natural hot springs, we then headed towards Cuncani (12,595 ft) where we started our trek towards the Cruzccasa pass (13,838 ft).  Despite being an uphill hike, it felt easier and the highlight was to see some llama herders, carrying potatoes which were enroute to taking a delivery to a remote community. We continued the trek down through the various lakes and finally arrived at our lodge Huacahuasi, which included our own private Jacuzzi. After dinner I had a much needed massage to try to relieve my aching legs !From Ancasmarcca ruins there are amazing views.Day 3: Huacahuasi to OllantaytamboWe headed towards the Sacred Valley in the van passing through increasingly stunning scenery and villages, that are home to weavers. Two and a half hours later we arrived at Calca, today I decided to take it easy and visited the Inkariy Museum. It was an absolute treat, it gave me a much better understanding of the different cultures of Peru. Lunch followed at a local restaurant, then we were off to our hotel Pakaritampu for the night.Day 4: Ollantaytambo – Machu PicchuWe walked to Ollantaytambo ruins at 7 am, this spectacular Inca ruins rise above the Ollantaytambo town, it served as a temple and a fortress in the times of the Inca empire. It proved sensible to visit the ruins early as hardly anyone was there. We waved goodbye to Ollantaytambo later and set off by train to Aguas Calientes (the village just below the site of Machu Picchu), and stayed at the comfortable Inkaterra Pueblo Hotel for the night.Day 5: Machu Picchu – CuscoOn our last day, we had an early rise to visit the majestic citadel of Machu Picchu which is now ranked as one of the 7 New Wonders of the World. The Lost City of the Incas is one of the world’s archaeological jewels and one of South America’s major attractions. Having taken hundreds of pictures it is time to sit and marvel at the scenery, that will no doubt create memories that will stay with me forever.

Photos © Elena Larkin

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