Are you looking for a Peru itinerary that enables adventure travel for everyone in South America? A trip that a divergent group or family can enjoy together? Skip the set itineraries and choose a more flexible Lares adventure instead.
One woman in my group was clearly worn out after a hard day of hiking the day before and our extensive walk around the ruins this day. A bit winded by the altitude perhaps, not quite in shape for consecutive days of trekking. She didn’t look like she was going to fare too well on our route past several lagoons that afternoon.
“Would you like to go back to the lodge after this and just enjoy the views?” asked our perceptive guide.
“I can do that?” she asked, a look of cautious hope moving across her face.” Yes, we can stop in a town along the way if you want to look at any handicraft stores or we can just go straight to where we’re spending the night. You can rest up for tomorrow.”
One vehicle went to the start of the trek, the other ended up taking three people directly to the lodge after a shopping stop. Everyone was happy.
The Lares Adventures with Mountain Lodges of Peru do not follow a rigid set itinerary through the mountains. This is a “choose your own adventure” trip where the paths often diverge depending on who wants to go where. There are “soft adventure” walks through artisan villages where you can watch the weavers at work. There are strenuous hikes through high Andes passes. And there are bike rides, Inca ruins visits, and pisco sours in a hot tub that are on the menu too.
Years after I hiked through the Lares region of the Sacred Valley as the only yanqui in a group of Brazilians, it still stands out as one of my favorite adventure tours ever. Each day presents spectacular scenery, a real sense of place, and a gorgeous lodge to sleep in at night. We got into nooks and crannies of the Andes that the quick-trip tourists never see, with views like this when we were out for a walk:
The Cusco–Sacred Valley day—Machu Picchu path that you see on most itineraries is a well-worn one, filled with big crowds spilling from tour buses, with a blur of people filing in and out of the famous sites of Peru. Once you get off the standard route though, the Sacred Valley and the Andes Mountains look much different. You still see women in their traditional clothing, but they’re not posing for photos and asking for money. You see handicrafts laid out for sale now and then, but from the woman who made them with care, not from some unknown factory.You explore Inca ruins where you may be the only people there and ride down scenic roads through the Andes Mountains that most foreigners never have a reason to be on.
Here’s a sampling of what one day of that is like, with a peek at two different lodges.
Some Peru visitors may see “adventure” as exploring ancient local communities and getting a window into their way of life. Some may look forward to the adventure of trekking in the Andes Mountains, walking along trails the villagers have used for hundreds of years to get from place to place. (On one path we were walking with kids on their way home from school, miles away.) Others may dream of the adventure of learning more about the Incas and their amazing archaeological sites.
On the Lares route, sometimes called “the weaver’s route,” these options can co-exist, even for the same group traveling together. So it’s really adventure travel for everyone, not just the most hard-core buff bodies going for the extremes.
On your 5-day or 7-day itinerary, you generally have a group activity together in the morning after breakfast, then there are options for the afternoon, maybe an easy trek, a difficult trek, or something chilled-out instead. In the evenings everyone converges again for dinner.
The last two stops are all together though: the impressive ruins of Ollaytantambo, where you spend the night, then the pinnacle of Machu Picchu.