There is a reason Machu Picchu is one of the biggest tourist destinations in the world, it’s nothing short of mind-blowing. However, the journey there via a hiking & camping trek is even more incredible.
We took the Lares Inca Trail, which is a little less intense than the Classic Inca Trail (from what I’ve heard), but it is definitely the road less travelled. We didn’t see a single other tourist or backpacker in the 5 days spent along the trail. For a guided trek, we used Amazonas Explorer and I would highly recommend them. They bring tents and most of the camping gear for you, set everything up every night, a mule carries all your gear during day hikes, and they even cook all your meals for you. Yes, the 6 hour a day hikes over passes almost 15,000 ft. high are intense, but you’re not exactly roughing it either. Be prepared for huge temperature and weather swings though, we would wake up to sunny skies and summer heat only to be bundling up the layers in a hail storm hours later.
If you happen to be a fast hiker, make sure your guide takes you to the natural, geothermic hot springs along the Lares trek. It is like something out of an Indiana Jones movie. There are pools with varying water temperatures and constantly flowing water coming from stone shower spouts into them. This is one of those hidden gems in the middle of nowhere that you would not be able to find without a local guide.
When you stop in Machu Picchu Village / Aguas Caliente, make sure to eat at Indio Feliz. This was one of the most unique and eclectic restaurants I have ever been in my life. Just go there, it will blow your mind with intrigue and your belly with awesomeness.
Once you get to Machu Picchu, be sure to reserve a hike to Huayana Picchu, which is the sharp peak that overlooks the sacred ruins. They only let 400 people do this hike per day, which sounds like a lot, but you need to book in advance, Machu Picchu is crawling with tourists. If you book a trek with Amazonas, it is included in your trip. Warning: if you get vertigo or are scared of heights, you may wanna pass on this one.
There are way too many rad experiences that you will have along the trek to list here, you just have to get out there and experience it for yourself. Peru is one of those really magical places that will make you feel more like a human being who is connected to this incredible planet. For me, I just can’t wait to go back someday soon.
/ Photography by Matt Titone
For more photos from this Peru trip, please visit my Tumblr site and scroll down: