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Wanders of the World

Lares Trek to Machu Picchu

PERU | Wednesday, 26 March 2008 | Views [4060] | Comments [2]

Patti: No wonder it’s one of the New Seven Wonders of the World. Machu Picchu was spectacular. It took us 3 days of trekking, van rides, a train ride, and a bus ride to get there on our Lares Valley tour. Day 1 we left from Cusco by van for about a three hour drive to get to the trailhead. Going over one of the high mountain passes there were actually some flurries but we dropped down into a valley and enjoyed some time at a thermal bath before starting our on our hike. Unfortunately, Amy continues to not feel well and she even considered passing on doing the trek. But she was a trooper and managed to push herself through most of the hiking. At the trailhead, we met with our 2 horsemen and the four packhorses. This meant that all we had to carry was a small daypack with water and raingear. Our two cooks had lunch prepared in the cooking tent and our dining tent set-up after our time at the bath. They provided a three course meal (avocado appetizer, soup, and main course) to give us energy for the hike and a snack to carry with us during the walk. So, our group consisted of 2 cooks, 2 horsemen, 4 horses, Miguel (our tour guide), another couple, Mike and Trinity from California, and us. It was a good ratio of staff to client. We found out that Mike and Trinity only signed up for this tour 3 days before it started so it could have just been Amy and me. They were great people to share the tour with and we had many common interests. They have done lots of outdoor activities at home and have also taken a year off from work to travel the world. The hike that day was a gradual ascent which took about 3 hours. Amy took advantage of one of the horses that was brought back for her after dropping gear at the camp so she got a ride for the last hour. Although it helped preserve some of her energy, the bouncing of the horse didn’t help her unsettled stomach. It was a treat to have a tent set up for us when we got to camp and all the provided equipment was great. It certainly didn’t feel like roughing it when there are 2 chefs preparing gourmet meals in a portable kitchen, a dining tent with chairs, real plates and cutlery, meal service, and a bathroom tent to boot. We had an early night for an early start the next morning.


Day 2 was expected to be the most demanding day. We had a climb from 3600 meters to 4450 meters over the main mountain pass in the Lares Valley. We followed a footpath that was used by the locals to transport goods from one village to another so we walked with them for a stretch. It was good to know that they to seemed winded climbing the hills. We also shared it with some llamas. It seemed incredibly remote in the valley with a few farmhouses and crop fields. However, kids would run from the hills to come and say “hola” to us. They have an expectation of getting some sort of treats from the tourists so I couldn’t help but reward a few of them with candy when they arrived to us completely out of breathe. This expectation can create a problem, it seems. One small group of boys did not receive any treats from the group of us except for a greeting and when we were passed, they through rocks at Mike! The last hour of the mountain pass was difficult but what was expected to take 3.5 hours only took us 2 hours. I was impressed with Amy as she was still not feeling well. The rest of the hike was a gradual downhill and we were at our camp for lunch at about 12:30. As there was little to do, our activities for the day focussed on eating. We had the 3 course lunch at 1:30; “tea” including fresh popped popcorn, fried cheese filled wontons, something like puffed wheat cake, biscuits and jam, and hot drinks at 5:30; and then a full supper at 7:30. It was a full moon that night but because we were in a valley, we could only see the glow of it off the mountainsides and not the moon itself.


Day 3 was a short, 40 minute hike to the nearest village to meet our van for further transport. The local Sunday morning street market was in full swing and after walking though, we simply watched the people go about there business. This seemed to be a genuine Peruvian experience as none of the goods were directed at tourists and the people paid little attention to us. It was a highlight. Another lunch from our cooks before they went back to Cuzco and the horsemen began their 12 hour trek with their horses back to their village. Our trekking was over at that point and we were in vehicles for the rest of the way to Machu Picchu. We drove to the village of Ollantaytambo to view some other Inka ruins and we also boarded the “Vistadome” train to carry on to the village of Aguas Calientes which is the access point to Machu Picchu. It was a beautiful 1.5 hour train ride in the Urubamba river valley which is part of a rain forest. There were great views of the mountains, beautiful lush plants and trees, more Inka ruins, and we could see the Inka trail that followed for some time on the other side of the river. Aguas Calientes exists solely as an access point to Machu Picchu. The only way to get there is by train. The only vehicles in town are the tour buses that shuttle thousands of tourists back and forth between the town and Machu Picchu. Any goods transported within town are moved in wheel barrels. The only buildings seem to be hotels, restaurants, and souvenir shops. Many buildings are being constructed. It was actually nice to be in a hotel with a nice shower and a soft bed.


Day 4 was spent at Machu Picchu. We had hoped to be there early enough to see the sun rise over the ruins by catching a 6:00 am bus, which we did, but unfortunately, the sky was overcast. Despite this, we weren’t to be disappointed. We had a brief tour from Miguel when we got there and then wandered the area on our own for several hours. The ruins are extremely well preserved with all walls still standing and only the grass roofs missing. They had been some work to restore the roofs but UNESCO put a stop to it to keep the site authentic. Probably the most amazing thing about the site was where the Inkas chose to build. It literally is on a mountain top and seemingly covers the whole area. They used the granite rock on site to build and created terraces to level of the area for agriculture and buildings. We discovered that many other ruins are in the area and we did a tough climb to Wayna Picchu on a mountain top that overlooks Machu Picchu. We had some great views and hopefully got some great photos (judge for yourself in the Peru Sacred Valley photo gallery). Instead of taking the bus back to town, which is a 8 km road on switchbacks, we walked the 2 km footpath. We were glad we chose to go down instead of up. There were beautiful wildflowers and I couldn’t help but use the “supermacro” feature on my camera to pretend I am a flower photographer (you can have a look at some of these also). We took in the museum at the bottom of the path which was very modern and provided more detailed information about Mach Picchu and had displays of many artifacts found there. We had a good play with a puppy that was hanging round the lobby. Another train ride and bus ride had us back to Cusco by 9:30. Overall, we enjoyed the tour but thought it would be better suited as a 3 day/2 night tour rather than a 4day/3 night considering all the downtime on Day 2 and the very short walk on Day 3 (these days could easily be combined).


So we are now back in Cusco basically counting down the days to get home (five). Amy is still feeling sick and I am definitely not 100%.  I am using my marathon running experience as a life lesson to apply to our 10 month plan of travel. It seems like we are at about the 17 mile (27 km, Bob) point and we had a decision to make based on the body being tired and sore. Either we push on to complete the goal originally set and risk further injury or we pack it in, take some time to heal and recover, and then do a half marathon in a month or so. Well, we have made the decision to take more time at home in April instead of leaving right away again on April 9 for Thailand. It will give us more time to see more people and we are again thinking about heading west to do some snowboarding that we didn’t fit in to our time in Canada in January. We hope to connect with many of you when we are in Winnipeg. See you soon!

Tags: wonders of the world



Hi girls, I enjoyed reading this story a lot since I want to go there soon. Thanks for the tip of 2 days instead of 3...
I hope I will have a chance to see you before you head back.
Take care

  Danielle Apr 1, 2008 3:32 AM


how are you cousin amy!?
this is your cousin peter.
heard you're coming to se asia?
I'm in korea. do the puzzle pieces fit?
email me if you can.
:) pete

  Peter Beresford Apr 29, 2008 11:53 AM

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