Salkantay Trail vs Lares Trail
What trek should I do?
Here is the reason why Salkantay is “more popular”:
- On this route, you can walk almost to Aguas Calientes, while on the Lares route it is necessary to take the train from Ollantaytambo.
- Geographically, the Salkantay one is closer to the traditional Inca Trail than the road through Lares.
- When the limits were set on the traditional Inca Trail, the agencies started selling Salkantay as the "Inca Alternative Trail". That is why travel guides tend to enlist you as the second most popular hike.
- There are more people who have done the Salkantay Trek than those who have done the Lares trek and they tend to talk about how impressive this hike is, so it gives the impression that is more popular.
- We do not think Salkantay is necessarily easier than the other, the two are very similar - the highest point of Lares is 4400 MAMSL (depends on the route you take) and 4600 MAMSL in Salkantay.
- Culturally? In any of the routes, you can see ruins, unless you go through Llacatapata on the Salkantay route. We can say it would be more likely that you appreciate traditional culture on the Lares Trail since the other one is certainly starting to show signs of its "popularity".
Differences between Salkantay trek and Lares trek
- Both routes are in the high Andes.
- Salkantay actually ends at Machu Picchu (well, very close - in Santa Teresa, just a few kilometers away), while the other one does not end in Machu Picchu - usually/sometimes it ends in Huaran and then you have to take the train from Ollantaytambo to Machu Picchu - several hours of travel.
- Salkantay has good view to snowy, for example Huamantay and Salkantay, more descends in the humid forest of eyebrow near Santa Maria.
- Lares has MUCH LESS tourist influx than Salkantay and you go through a couple of very traditional villages.
- Lares has breathtaking views of lakes and some beautiful waterfalls.
- Lares has excellent thermal waters - but there are also hot springs in Santa Maria and in Aguas Calientes.
- Neither the route of Salkantay nor the one of Lares counts on ruins - whereas the traditional Inca Trail yes, counts.
- The trek of Lares in general will be more expensive than the one of Salkantay, since there is involved a train ticket of the return from Ollantaytambo (it cost around $ 75 minimum). Good travel agencies will include a Vistadome ticket from Ollantaytambo to Aguas Calientes because the itinerary is much more suitable. This means an additional return ticket of about $ 100, which raises the price of the Lares one quite a bit).
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