Lares: Relaxing hot springs in Cusco’s Andes, and an alternate trail to Machu Picchu
27 February 2020
The town of Lares is a lovely destination for those looking to relax at an Andean community situated away from the more congested destinations in the Cusco region. The main attraction at Lares is the hot springs (aguas termales), a group of 7 concrete pools where you can soak and warm your bones in a very nice mountain setting.
Lares is a traditional town located about 65 km. It is home to Quechua farmers, weavers and artisans, and its Andean textiles are renowned. The local people are friendly and happy to meet visitors.
Relaxing in the famous hot springs
The hot springs are mineral-filled, and thus the water has a slight brownish color, which might put off some visitors expecting crystal-clear springs. But it feels great to take a good soak. The pools’ temperatures vary from a scalding hot 45 C, to a moderate 35 and with a cold pool.
From Cusco city, you can reach Lares via public buses, which can take up to 5 hours, or on more comfortable organized tours. Full-day guided tours for groups, or with private guides and transportation, are readily available in Cusco. The hot springs are a 20 minute uphill hike from the town. The pools open at 4 am for early birds, and close at 10 pm. Admission is a bargain, 10 soles, or about US$ 3, and in general weekdays are a lot less crowded than on weekends.
Resting at night
As for accommodations and dining in Lares, these are somewhat basic and limited. A room with bath might cost about S/. 50 soles (US$15). Camping is also available. It is recommended to take good care of your valuables, as some thefts have occasionally taken place, but lockers are available.
Trekking in Lares
Lares is also the point of departure for the excellent Lares Trek to Machu Picchu. There are variations of the trekking route, on alternative trails. The Lares trek can take three days; it is a generally bit shorter and easier than the main Inca Trail, although it reaches a similar altitude. It’s definitely less crowded and does not require the costs and permits that are needed for the Inca Trail. The Lares trek goes past some traditional weavers villages, with great scenery, and eventually reaches Machu Picchu.
You too can traverse the Lares Trek to Machu Picchu, and the best way is to arrange an all-inclusive tour in Cusco, including a stop at the hot springs. Please contact us at andeanlodges.com and we’ll be happy to help you plan a full journey of wonderful treks, with acclimatization activities and special cultural destinations in the Cusco region. And depending on the time of year, you might consider Andean Lodges’ specialty: the very best trekking programs in the Andes, on the Route to Ausangate. Check it out on our website!