The Lares hot springs in southern Peru are made up of outdoor pools surrounded by tall stone walls, grassy fields, and outdoor showers. The natural hot springs have been used by locals in practices that extend back to pre-Columbian civilizations.
Lares is a small town in the Andes 40 miles north of Cusco. Getting there involves a rollercoaster of drive from Calca through breathtaking terraced mountains. A one-lane mountain pass winds erratically some 14,000 feet above the clouds. Streams wash over the road at hairpin turns and llamas wander below steep cliffs. From parts of the trip you will see glaciers atop mountains in the distance.
There are two resorts in Lares. The least expensive has four hot pools, one very large warm pool, one cold pool and many warm showers. The baths are colored by minerals but do not smell like sulphur.
The spot is in a valley between two almost vertical mountains. Sitting in the steaming water looking up the mountains, that seem about to fall on you, dissolve into the clouds. In mid-day the sun is hot, but the mountains shade the pools most of the day and they are open all night. Bathing in the starlight is recommended.
With your entrance fee you can pitch a tent and stay the night on the terraces overlooking the baths or for an extra fee you can stay in an underground geothermal bed room directly beside the springs.
Know Before You Go
How to get there: Take a bus or collectivo to Calca and then find a car or a van going to Lares. Once you are in the small town of Lares you can walk 1km up hill to the baths or ask your driver to take you there. It is possible to do the trip and back in one day from Cusco but staying the night is worth it and trying to come back late risks getting stuck. If you try to do this leave early to give your self time to get back, and be prepared to spend a night somewhere along the way in case there are no cars going back.
Entrance is s/10 and a towel rental is another s/5
Just outside the baths is a small restaurant that closes around sunset. The shop with snacks and sundries stays open late.