It wasn’t exactly the Inca Trail – but then it wasn’t NOT a kind of Inca trail either. What the celebs, with six ladies diagnosed with breast cancer did, was the Lares Trek, with a day of Inca Trail added on at the end.
Lares is a mountainous area outside the city of Cusco, not too far from Machu Picchu. There are various hikes you can do here – called Lares Treks because they start or finish in the town of Lares.
Is it cheating not to do the Inca Trail?
Not at all. Take a look:
Day 1: Hot springs and waterfalls
They went by car up into the mountains and a height of 3700m to begin the trek. It’s a tough start on the steep zig-zag path that heads up to the pass at 420mm. The rewards though are views of beautiful blue lakes and waterfalls as they head down to the town of Lares. Just outside of town is the fabulous Lares Hot Springs. There is one large pool you can swim in, then three smaller pools that go from fairly senderismo en chilly to ‘oh my, I can only manage a minute’ hot. It is a great place to camp the night but the celebs carried on that day to the small community of Cuncani.
People in these villages grow potatoes and other root villages and keep llamas or alpacas to earn a living. It is a very basic lifestyle. Women still weave their clothes in a traditional way and wear the circular round hats that distinguish where they come from. People live in stone-built houses with thatched roves and cook on basic wood fires, and have no doubt never heard of the visiting celebs.
In the kitchen you are bound to find plenty of guinea pigs squealing. These animals have special significance and are eaten on festival and celebration days, not a pleasant idea for the vegetarians in the group!
Some villages in the Lares valleys have benefitted from tourism with organizations supporting local
Definitely no phones, internet or other trappings of modern day living!
Day 2: Snowy peaks and mountain communities
The ladies will probably have got up stiff after a night in a tent at altitudes. No hot showers up here! Some typical effects of altitude are difficulty sleeping, strange dreams and flatulence.
Hopefully the ladies woke up to a good hot cup of coca tea. The coca leaves are enthusiastically chewed or made into tea in this area to help with the effects of altitude. These leaves have been used in the mountains since way before anyone thought of making them into cocaine.
It’s likely that the large group of foreigners attracted the attention of plenty of local children who follow along asking for sweets. It’s now the practice in the area that guides will advise people what to do about this and might suggest visitors give out bread or school supplies instead.
This day will have seen them pass some spectacular scenery. The Lares area has some white giants brooding over it in the form of the snow capped peaks of Chicon and Pumahuanja and huge open valleys populated with azure lakes.
Finishing in the community of Huacahuasi (pronounced wakawasi), it is quite common to set up camp in the stone shelter of a llama corral. These corrals are a feature of the landscape here. It is often the job of the children to bring the animals in at dusk to keep them safe from predators such as pumas.