Food Culture, Travel

Marvel and Beauty Await on the Trek to Lares*

A Local Man Hiking the Trail to the Top (Hebert Edgardo Huamani Jara)

A Local Man Hiking the Trail to the Top (Hebert Edgardo Huamani Jara)

For those who love to experience nature and adventure, Cusco has many different trails for you to hike. Of course, there is the Inca trail, the routes to Choquequirao and Salcantay,a s well as more. One of the magical treks, though is from Yanahuara to Conoc.

If you leave Cusco without a formal guide, you take the local bus that leave from Puputi Street or from Pavitos Street. You must leave early, around five am. That is the recommended time since you take a bus to Urubamba and the trip lasts one hour. From there, you take another local bus to Yanahuara and that trip lasts 20 minutes. From there you begin walking. From seven am to 11 am the air is cool and it is good to take advantage.

The Narrow Trail by the Lake (Hebert Edgardo Huamani Jara)
The Narrow Trail by the Lake (Hebert Edgardo Huamani Jara)

All along the route, from the time you leave Cusco, on either side of the road you see amazing natural scenery, fields of corn, potatoes, quinoa, and tarwi as well a many fruit trees. There are apple, peach, capuli, plum, sauco, and pear trees. Throughout the sacred valley you will see this natural fruit growing. In towns you will see stores—grocery stores, beer dispensaries, mechanics, restaurants, hotels, pharmacies, and more.

At the Yanahuara stop, on the bus from Ollantaytambo, you can see signs indicating the route you take to Conoc. You walk through the town and then enter little by little the canyon until the town disappears from view. From there everything is dressed in green while flowers and colors jump like plays of light before you. The morning scenery is fresh with the scent of turned earth, fruit, and fresh grass.

A Highland Lake, the Origin of Life (Hebert Edgardo Huamani Jara)
A Highland Lake, the Origin of Life (Hebert Edgardo Huamani Jara)

All along the route, cactus pears grow like fat ears on the spiny plants,. They grow on top of walls of mud and stone and guide us on our way until be reach the entrance to Mantanay. This is a private, conservation zone where the sound of the river welcomes us. The path seems to giggle in joy at our passing and makes us forget about globalization. We feel the natural vibrations. The path is beautiful and we walk accompanied by the sounds of crickets, or birds, the river, and the wind. A great forest of native queuña trees surrounds us and seems warm and magical.

The queuña trees hold to the earth, to the rocks, and join together as if hugging each other. They make us feel their warmth and their peculiar way of growing. All along the route the canyon surprises with its natural beauty.

As we climb to the pass, the air and the geography changes. The wind and cold make themselves felt as we go up. About one pm we reach the other gate of Mantanay where there is a small town where both Peruvian and international hikers take a pause to eat and recharge their energies.

Taking a Picture of a Beautiful Flower (Hebert Edgardo Huamani Jara)
Taking a Picture of a Beautiful Flower (Hebert Edgardo Huamani Jara)

After we eat and rest a bit, around 2 pm we returned to hiking. The road is gravely here and damp from the river’s overflow. Cold increases but we are comforted from seeing the whole landscape bathed in sun. The first lake we see from the path shine beautifully and brightly among the mountains. Waterfalls drop from the heights and shine like pearls from the sea. It takes an hour and a half to reach the next lake. It is larger and colder than the first. The path that takes us by it is also much more narrow and goes right on the shores of the lake.

From there you can see much closer the top of the Abra Sacsa Llave pass whose name means the Full Key. We speed up because it is getting late and because of the cold of high altitude. From the pass everything looks different, amazing. You see everything at your feet. The lake looks to be sleeping in the sun that shines on the mountains while wind whistles in your ears.

The Thermal Baths of Conoc Seen from Above (Hebert Edgardo Huamani Jara)
The Thermal Baths of Conoc Seen from Above (Hebert Edgardo Huamani Jara)

After only fifteen minutes of being lost in so much beauty, we continue out path. Around 5:30 in the afternoon the sun bids us good bye nd gives way to a full moon which greets us to the place and gives us a continued guide down the path until we reach the town of Waca Wasi (Cow House). It is a stop where we can buy food and get to know it a bit while we eat. In it the people still maintain the traditions of our ancestors.

Its homes are made of stones and mud. The majority of thatched with straw although some use corrugated tin. They retain their corrals where they keep their alpacas, llamas, cows, sheep, horses, and donkeys. These are also made from stone. All of the people there, from children to the oldest use colorful dress in great variety and designs they have made for themselves. They make their own pants, skirts, shawls, ponchos, and even hats. The people of Waca Wasi maintain their Quechua and they spoke ot us in that language.

In the dark now we return to the route with our energies filled. The full moon shows us the path and even though you can only see shadows of mountains and of trees, the wind, fog, and the sound of birds cause us to quicken our steps until we reach our destination at 7:30 pm. After a long walk we arrive at the thermal baths of Conoc where we set up campo. We go to relax in the hot water of the baths while the moon watches us from the sky.

  • We mistakenly put Conoc instead of Lares in the title. We apologize for this error.
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