Dilemma: You’ve always wanted to do the Inca Trail but you also value the finer things in life. Get the best of both worlds by doing one of the luxurious lodge to lodge treks on offer near Cusco.
You’ll get the chance to hike in one of the most spectacular corners of the Andes and you’ll visit remote villages and Inca ruins. You’ll experience a way of life that modernity has passed by and you’ll spend your last day immersed in the majesty of Machu Picchu.
Lodge to lodge treks give you the chance to live out an authentic Andean trekking experience without having to sleep on hard ground or eat stodgy pasta. On both the Lares and Salkantay treks you can rest assured that the locally-inspired cuisine will be gourmet, the showers hot and the beds luxurious.
If the idea of a less crowded, more luxurious and ultimately more spectacular experience appeals, read on to find out more about the various options.
The Salkantay Trek
This is a bona-fide Andean trekking experience which requires you to hike from one lodge to the next. Over the course of seven arduous days you will summit immense mountain passes and ford torrential snowmelt rivers. You will hike through some of the most magnificent and diverse mountain scenery on the planet and bathe in glorious outdoor Jacuzzis at the end of every day.
You will visit glacial lakes and summit a 15,200ft pass. You will tread sections of the Qhapaq Ñan (the ancient Inca road network) and come face to face with the mighty 20,000ft peak the trek takes its name from: Salkantay, the second-most sacred peak in Inca mythology. You will trek through cloud forests which teem with lush vegetation and colourful butterflies and you will even visit a remote coffee plantation.
And when, on the seventh day, you finally reach the sanctuary of Machu Picchu you will know that you have gotten there ntirely on your own steam, in much the same way that the Incas would have done. Watch the video below for inspiration and then check out this link to the Salkantay itinerary. If all this hiking sounds like too much for you, you’ll be relieved to know that you can also experience the Salkantay Trek on horseback – just ask your Destination Expert for details.
The Lares Trek
The Lares Trek is an irresistible combination of adventure travel and cultural immersion. There are five and seven-day options, with several ‘a la carte’ activities to choose from every day. You’ll be driven between the lodges but will also get plenty of chances to hike in the Andes, including a couple of (optional) full-day hikes over immense mountain passes.
The itinerary takes in many of the highlights of Sacred Valley, including Pisaq, Ollantaytambo, Maras and Moray but it also gives guests an opportunity to visit remote traditional villages in the almost impossibly picturesque Lares valley. And of course it culminates in a day-long excursion to Machu Picchu.
You don’t have to select the a la carte activities beforehand, so you can tailor the experience to suit your mood and energy levels. What’s more different members of your party can opt for different experiences on any given day – useful if you’re travelling with teenagers! Oftentimes it’s really hard to make a decision, as all of the options are equally appealing. On Day Five, for example you can choose between visiting a local farmer’s market; exploring the Sacred Valley by mountain bike; or hiking seven hours from Huacahuasi to Patacancha.
You’ll stay in a combination of intimate, remote lodges and slightly more conventional hotels…Although the focus on luxury and attention to detail will remain the same throughout. Unlike the Salkantay trek, you’ll often spend two nights in the same establishment.
If this sounds like your cup of emoliente why not watch the official video to seal the deal? Now all that remains is choosing between the five-day and seven-day itineraries.
Still can’t decide?
Members of the SA Expeditions team have completed both the Lares and Salkantay treks. Why not contact one of our Destination Experts to discuss which experience is best for you.
Credit to Arup Malakar for the cover image of this blog, which was taken during the Lares Trek.