I’ve just been on the alternative Lares trek and it was absolutely amazing! For many in the know, it’s considered better than the Inca Trail. It’s a tough trek, so still a good challenge, reaching a higher altitude than the Inca Trail – 4600m. On the Lares Trek the scenery is spectacular and diverse; glaciers, lakes, forests and mountains. We only passed two other groups in 3 days and camped in the middle of nowhere! You do not see any Inca ruins but you get to visit an Andean family, which gives an incredible insight into life in the highlands.
On the final night you stay in a hotel in Aguas Calientes before catching the bus (30 mins) to Machu Picchu at approx 5 – 5.30 am on day 4. This means you’re well-rested and fresh so you can really appreciate this mind blowing site. You can get up to the best viewing spot (the Guard House) as the sun rises over the mountains and before the crowds descend. This is the best time for photos. By the time those on the Inca Trail arrive, they are usually exhausted and the site is crowded. Plus you still have time to walk to the Sungate and admire the views after your guided tour (allow approx 2 hrs).
– Clare Bailey