The Andes are incredible. In and around Cusco, there are an endless number of absolutely stunning hikes just a few hours drive from the main plaza, many of which end up at Machu Picchu itself. To date, we have done 4 of these hikes – Inka Trail, Salkantay, Huanca, and now Lares. Each hike has been different and magnificent in its own way from the last.
This time, as we get more and more savvy in our traveling and money saving habits, we did the trek on our own without the help of an expensive tour agency. Organized through our spanish school, Dan and I paid for our own food, rented a stove, tent and sleeping bags, and paid the local prices for cheap bus transport to and from the destination. What usually cost tourists $450 US cost us each around $60 total, for 2.5 days of some of the best views we have seen thus far. With our school coordinator Esther as guide, and 3 other students accompanying us, our small band hiked through fields, ruins, a tangled wood, all en route to ascending a pass 4970 meters high (16,300 ft) and then back down into a sunlit valley that literally took our breaths away. Sweet Moses do I love the Andes.