Alarm clock be damned: It was just shy of 6 a.m. on the second day of my Lares Adventure to Machu Picchu, and I had already flung myself out of bed and laced up my hiking shoes. The opportunity to mingle with Lamay Lodge’s good-natured resident llamas before departing for Ancasmarca, a nearby archaeological site, had quickened my normally sluggish morning pace.
Unexpected, delightful details — including several run-ins with mama llama Angelica and her two kids, Cupid and Chimuela — dotted my five-day tour with Mountain Lodges of Peru (MLP). Starting in Cusco, the local operator skirts the traditional Inca Trail and takes guests on the less crowded but just as rewarding Lares Trail. This road less traveled twists and turns through the Sacred Valley, lending itself to one far-flung Andean village after another.
“The trip would appeal to someone who wants to have the experience of going to Machu Picchu, but with a little more depth,” said Nadia Le Bon, sales and marketing manager for North America for MLP. “This person likes the outdoors and maybe isn’t a committed hiker, but still wants to dabble in adventure.”
This story originally ran in the 11/23/15 issue of Explorer magazine. All photos are by Valerie Chen.