The Sacred Valley and Lares Adventure to Machu Picchu is remote, unique adventure at its finest. And I was lucky enough to do the trek with AdventureSmith Explorations this past October. Never have I been on a guided group tour so immersive and exploratory. To give you a glimpse, here is a photo tour of my top 10 memories, listed in no particular order:
1) Hiking through small villages. I loved how many of our trails would pop out into small hamlets where we would get to pass children walking home from school and watch local life go by.
2) Llamas and alpacas! This was literally a dream for me to cross the paths of so many camelids on the trail every day. This does not happen on the nearby Salkantay Trail as there are so many mules and other hikers.
3) Encounters with local families on the trail. This mother and son pair came out to greet us along the trail and sell a few handmade items. It was so fun to meet local children along our path. One little boy even had his teddy bear hiding under his poncho.
4) Saving a bird. This image doesn’t look like much, but it was one of the best moments of the trip for me as this coot was stuck in the muck below a reservoir near Challwaccasa Pass and was desperately trying to fly up the wall. After many minutes of trying to help/figure out what to do, I was able to give him a push up with my hiking pole on one of his attempts & we watched him swim off into the reeds. Freedom!
5) Hiking down to the Pisaq Archeological Site from the small village of Viacha was a beautiful experience – what a way to first see the ruins (bird’s eye view)!
6) Buying yarn from the lovely ladies at Choquecancha. This ball of yarn was hand-spun and naturally died using the blood of the cochineal parasite found on local cacti.
7) Meeting Celedonio! This landowner let us set up camp to eat lunch by his Ipsaycocha Lake. He was so cute and friendly, and loved the ladies on our trek – see our encounter!
8) A chinchilla crossed right through the Temple of the Sun when we were visiting Machu Picchu! I didn’t realize chinchillas lived in Peru, and I encountered them twice on Lares hikes.
9) Meeting such great people! Our crew was comprised of architects, entrepreneurs, advisors, travel professionals and a Pilates instructor. On a trip like this, spirits are kindred and lean on the side of adventure.
10) A guide with us until the end. The continuity of having one lead guide who we’d get to know over the week was valuable. This picture shows Joseph talking us through some of the history of Machu Picchu. He was such a fun guide!
Read my full review of the 7-day Lares Adventure for more detailed information on my trek and more photos.