Why You Should Choose Lares Trek Over Inca Trail
I can't believe it's been a year since I went backpacking in Peru! If you're looking to do the 3-4 day trails in Peru, I highly recommend booking with G Adventures! They have amazing guides, itineraries and are super organized. They make your trip to Peru memorable and stress-free... well, if you can survive the hike.
The hotspot when visiting Peru is doing the Inca Trail. An intense but rewarding 4-day hike to Macchu Picchu. However, a lot of people don't take into consideration a road less travelled: The Lares Trek. I may be a bit biased here because I did the Lares Trek but it's for good reason:
Why you should go
This 3-day hike is absolutely stunning and with so few people on the trek, you feel like you're the only ones amongst the mountains.
Alongside the breathtaking view (literally, cause of the altitude), you also get to set up camp at night in the small villages where you will be welcomed by friendly locals with a warm smile.
Along the way, you will meet animals of all kinds: dogs, llamas, sheep, horses and maybe even pumas! They're all in such close proximity to you, you feel like a local. You'll even find yourself rolling your eyes at the tourists in Macchu Picchu going crazy over the llamas there.
What to expect
This is no easy hike, although it's one day shorter than the Inca Trail, definitely don't underestimate how tough it can get. The higher the altitude, the sicker you may feel and the slower you will walk. When you're 10,000 ft above ground, a small hill can seem like it goes on forever, as your lungs struggle for more air.
Regardless of how tough it gets, I promise you that the views and experience are 100% worth the struggle. Booking with G Adventures makes the trek easier as you have a fantastic guide that motivates you to keep going. The porters and cooks also make amazing food! They work very hard for you to have a great experience. It's also very impressive to see them run up large hills with heavy backpacks, as you struggle to walk with your tiny backpack.
The Lares Trek is not filled with historic Incan ruins like the Inca Trail. However, it's replaced with phenomenal views that encourage you to keep hiking and cultural experiences as you interact with the locals and see how life is like in the mountains.
I generally enjoy less touristy places, so I feel I truly experienced Peru for what it is with the Lares Trek; being amongst the locals and vast nature. That is one experience you won't get on the Inca Trail as it's packed with tourists. The Inca Trail also has a lot of stairs making it tougher on your knees, while the Lares Trek has gradual grassy inclines. A plus side from hiking all day with the Lares Trek is, you can look back at how far you've hiked and have a gorgeous picturesque view, a generous reward for how far you've come.
How to prepare
I met a couple within my G Adventures group who trained for the hike at home by running with masks, helping you get used to the lack of oxygen. But I bet since this pandemic, everyone is a little bit used to wearing a mask while exercising, so you already have a leg up on this hike. That being said, even if you are active, altitude sickness can affect anyone. So make sure you pack an extensive first aid kit: oral rehydration salts, ibuprofen, vitamins, antibiotics, anti-nausea pills, Imodium and coca candies (purchased in local towns in Peru). I thought I wouldn't use anything within my first aid kit but I ended up using almost everything. Also, definitely drink the coca leaf tea given to you, it will help with the sickness, but it is an acquired taste.
Check out G Adventures must pack packing list. You definitely don't want to leave these essentials at home!
Which do you think you'd choose, Lares Trek or Inca Trail? Do you think you could make it to Macchu Picchu?