The town of Lares
The town of Lares is located in the province of Calca in the department of Cusco. It is considered one of the towns of the Sacred Valley of the Incas. It is famous for two main reasons: for its relaxing thermal baths and for being the starting point of the famous trek known as the Lares trek, which ends in Machu Picchu. Its inhabitants preserve traditions from the Inca and colonial times.
All about the town of Lares
Lares is one of the eight districts that make up the province of Calca in Cusco. It has an Andean geography with beautiful landscapes and close to lagoons and snow-capped mountains. Its main tourist attractions are its thermal baths and the hiking route known as the ‘Lares trek to Machu Picchu’ (4-day route).
The town has a total area of 74,467 square kilometers. According to statistics taken in 2017, it has 5,743 inhabitants. The town is located in a small valley surrounded by the high mountains: Sihuasiray, Chicón, Sirihuani and Capacsaya.
Lares is north of the city of Cusco, about 98 kilometers by road (almost 3 hours 30 minutes by car).
Geographically the town of Lares is 3,150 meters above sea level.
How to get?
To get to the town of Lares by public transport you must follow the following route:
- By minivan from the city of Cusco to the town of Calca (route of almost 2 hours). The cost of the trip is 5 Peruvian soles on average.
- By minivan or collective taxis from the town of Calca to the town of Lares (route of almost 1 hour 30 minutes). The cost of the trip is also 5 Peruvian soles on average.
History of Lares
The Lares district was founded as a district on October 22, 1892. Its origins date back to colonial times. Before, on July 25, 1857, the town was annexed to the province of La Convencion.
One of the most difficult chapters of the town occurred on January 14, 1958 when a landslide from the hill caused the Yanatile River to fall off. The flood left dozens of dead and thousands of homeless. On the day of its foundation (1892) the district was made up of 14 peasant communities.
Today Lares is a progressive district that managed to adapt to the tourism of the Cusco region. The thermal baths of the place are its main tourist attraction. Different tourists arrive there every day, most of them are part of the ‘Lares trek’ (4-day trekking route to Machu Picchu).
These are the main tourist attractions of Lares:
- The thermal baths of Lares – The thermal waters are only 1 kilometer from the town. They are made up of three pools whose temperatures vary from 35ºC. up to 41ºC. These waters come from a natural spring at the top of the hill. Because they are rich in sodium, magnesium, calcium, chloride, sulfate, potassium, and other minerals; they are good for muscular and rheumatic pain. Admission costs 10 soles for foreigners and 4 soles for Peruvians.
- The Lares trek to Machu Picchu – This hiking route lasts 4 days, covers 32 kilometers and ends in the Inca city of Machu Picchu. S name is due to the fact that it begins in the town of Lares. Before starting the walk, the tours include a moment of relaxation in the town’s thermal baths. Then an arduous two-day hike is made until arriving at the town of Ollantaytambo. There you travel by train to Aguas Calientes the third night. The last day is dedicated to visiting Machu Picchu and returning to Cusco by train and bus. Because it travels through several Andean towns full of traditions, it is recognized as the ‘Cultural Trek to Machu Picchu’.
Lares has a cold temperate climate with temperatures that vary from a maximum (in the mornings and afternoons) of 23ºC. and a minimum (at night and early morning) of 0ºC.
The rains are more frequent from November to April (especially in January, February and March). From May to October it is the dry season, characterized by the most cold at night and the little presence of rain.
The most representative patronal feast of Lares is held on September 8 in honor of the Virgin of the Nativity. The festivities include masses, dances, marching bands, fireworks and a varied local cuisine.
The inhabitants of Lares preserve cultural aspects belonging to their ancestors from the Inca and colonial times. For example, most of its inhabitants have Quechua as their mother tongue. They worship Christian figures but also respect the mountains, the lagoons and the other gods of Inca origin.