14 Oct Lares Adventure – the ‘Weavers’ Way’, Peru
Lares Adventure – the ‘Weavers’ Way’, Peru
Lares is a small town located to the north of the celebrated ‘Sacred Valley of the Incas’ (Urubamba Valley), in a region less visited – and less crowded – than other areas. Only recently has the road from Cuzco been paved and new and comfortable lodges built to offer easier access into this area, formerly the almost-exclusive domain of trekkers.
Now, in addition to trekking, a programme of cultural encounters has been developed which opens up this beautiful area to those whose hiking days may be behind them, or who may simply prefer to spend more time coming to understand other cultures. Often called the ‘Weavers’ Way’, the Lares route offers opportunities for visiting and learning about remote communities where traditional Andean life continues to this day, with local families still wearing colourful traditional attire and continuing their centuries-old weaving techniques and farming practices.
From the provincial town of Calca the road climbs out of the Sacred Valley, home to the more well-known towns of Pisac and Ollantaytambo, and crests a spectacular pass, 4,461m above sea level. In villages high up in these dramatic mountains, the Quechua people maintain a way of life little changed from ancient times. Life is tough at this altitude and the local farmers make a living herding alpacas and llamas and farming what many believe to the true ‘Inca gold’ – the potato. This is where a good Quechua-speaking guide is invaluable as they can translate and our guide helped us talk with some of the farmers who, despite having so little, were very welcoming and generous, pressing gold into our hands (okay, it was really potatoes!)
The lodge at Huacahuasi (3,780m) is built into the hillside above a charming community of farmers and weavers. Driving through we can see how the route earned its name, with several of the local women sitting in the fields weaving, continuing the tradition inherited from their Inca ancestors – the making of superb textiles. This local community is an integral part of the lodge and vice versa: many of the staff members are from the village and they all choose to continue wearing traditional dress. In addition to providing employment, the profits of the lodge are also shared with the community and it is hoped that projects like this can give greater value to local customs and cultural beliefs, helping to preserve them for us all. For the lodge’s guests there’s the opportunity to gain a far greater insight into Peruvian lives that are less changed here than for those living in larger towns and cities.
The lodge is comfortable and warm, especially with its heated floors and fireplace, and the food is excellent. You’ll also enjoy the amenities of the spacious guestrooms with hot showers – or relax before dinner in the hot tub that’s in front of each room (for those who’ve chosen to trek the hot tub is a wonderful place to soak your tired limbs).
Taking the appropriate time to acclimatise is very necessary for travel in this high-altitude region, whether you spend a day or two around the town of Lares, in the Sacred Valley or in Cuzco.
As with the journey to Manu National Park, this trip may not be for everyone but for those seeking to fulfil such a ‘special’ interest, the rewards are significant.
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