This Sunday I came back home from a trip to Chile and Peru- a trip that was one of the most incredible travel experiences I've ever had. One of the highlights of our trip was the Lares Trek (3 nights/4days) through the Sacred Valley to Machu Picchu. We started in the town of Lares, then hiked through the Andes higher and higher through the clouds until we got to our highest mountain pass at an elevation of 4600m. It was not an easy climb for me at that point- the air was thin, the wind was bitterly cold, and despite being on Diamox I got hit hard with altitude sickness. Thank goodness for the 'emergency' horse! The beauty of our surroundings made everything worthwhile, and although I was too unwell to take many photos at the highest part of our climb, I'll remember the scenery forever.
Unlike the more heavily marketed Inca Trail, the Lares Trek is pretty well 'off the beaten track'. You'll have the trail to yourselves, and I only briefly glimpsed one other small trekking group once during our hike.
The Lares Trek takes you through tiny villages dotted through the Andean highlands, and the locals are super friendly and love being photographed. They also really enjoy seeing themselves on photos! One of the fun things we did on the hike was take a polaroid camera and a few packets of instant film- we used these to take photos of the locals for them to keep. They were delighted to get a photo of themselves for the first time. I'll put up some of these images in the next blog post.