Two weeks ago, I could finally visit the town of Lares and its hot springs, something I wanted do for quite some time. I will say right away that, in spite of the long and tiresome journey, it was totally worth it.
There are several options for getting there, but I chose the low budget, non comfortable way: I chose to take one of the mini vans. Therefore, I went to the street Puputi, where several companies offer to take you up to Calca, a small town about half an hour past Pisaq. Actually, you may take those same mini vans if you wish to visit the Pisaq market. Anyhow, at Calca I had to board another van, the trouble was I got there past 3pm and most transportation left for Lares during the morning, so now you know, you have to leave Cusco in the morning so you get to Calca in time to take the second van. Fortunately there was one more van at 5pm, which I boarded eagerly. The second part of the journey was a drive that felt longer than it actually was, probably due to the fact that the dirty road was undergoing maintenance. Hopefully the road is now smoother! On the bright side, this road allows many spectacular views of valley and its mountains, which you will be able to appreciate as you enter and exit banks of clouds gently leaning on the mountain sides.
By the time I got to Lares, around 7pm, it was already dark. Once there, I grabbed a bite and started my way to the hot springs, which are a 20 minute walk away from the town. Note that if you get there after dark it is imperative that you take a flashlight, because this is a small paradise in the middle of nowhere and between the town and the hot springs there is not a single light bulb. After the walk, I got to a fence, in front of which stood a welcome sign: to say the facilities are nice is an understatement; I really did not expect to find such a place. It is agreeable, comfortable and clean, without imposing on nature or constituting an eyesore. There are several pools with increasingly hot water for all tastes, and a pool of freezing cold water, as well as showers next to the pools. I decided to camp out there, so as soon as I got there, I set up the tent and dove for the pools of hot water, which have the benefit of not only relaxing every muscle in your body, but also relieve joint pains. Needless to say, relaxing in those pools in the pitch black night was a unique experience. By morning another surprise awaited me: having arrived at night I could not appreciate the spectacular view you may enjoy from the site. I stayed at the hot springs till noon and then set out on the journey back home. I did not realize it at the time, but it is absolutely necessary that you take sun block; I learnt it the hard way.
I have nothing but nice memories of that trip. You may visit the hot springs using mini vans or a private van, definitely a better choice if you do not have much time and do not want to go through the hassle of dealing with several, unscheduled vans. My conclusion is: I will definitely visit the Lares hot springs again, and I recommend you do so too.
By Sofía Odello