HUMANTAY LAKE PERU
Cusco is a very beautiful region in this part of the Andes mountains, offering not only indigenous people and their histories, music, art, and mouth-watering food, but also the natural wonders of all kinds along with the most uncharted places yet to be known. Until recently, the Humantay Lake remained hidden to the outside world. In nowadays, this turquoise lake has become a gem not to be missed for nature enthusiasts visiting Cusco and its iconic Machu Picchu. This is the one day Humantay Lake Peru exploration guide and join us on a journey full of rewarding experiences of a lifetime.
Table of Contents
What the Humantay Lake offers us:
- Driving distance from Cusco: (77 Miles /124 KM)
- Driving time: 3 hours one-way. Approx. 6 hours in total.
- Entrance fee: S/ 10 / $ 3.00
- Base elevation: (12,700 ft. / 3850 masl.)
- Difficulty: Moderately – difficult hike.
- Trail: Sand gravel road at the beginning, flat for about 30 minutes. Then the climb has rocks all over the way. The last part of the path is winding, rocky and slippery.
- Hiking Distance: (4.5 ML / 7 KM round trip)
- Horse rentals: At the beginning of the hike for $ 21/ s/. 80 (one way)
- Walking time: 1H 30M to get to the lake. And 01H for coming back.
- Top elevation: (13,800 ft. / 4200 masl.)
- Duration of the complete day: 12 – 13 hours.
- Elevation difference during trek: (1312 ft. / 400 m)
WHAT IS THE HUMANTAY LAKE?
Humantay Lake is a relatively small lake, but what makes this body of water so popular is that on a good sunny day everyone can see the turquoise at its best. It has a 100 % glacial origin.
WHERE IS HUMANTAY LAKE LOCATED?
It is located at 77 Miles /124 km northwest of Cusco, in the Mollepata district, Anta province, Cusco region.
WHY IS THE HUMANTAY LAKE TURQUOISE?
One of the widely accepted reasons for the turquoise coloration, not only at Humantay Lake but elsewhere on the planet, is the presence of mineral flours or dust carried by the icy waters as it comes along the way. Those tiny mineral flours never sink at the bottom of the lake. Moreover, the presence of microalgae (Microcystis aeruginosa and Oscillatoria), plus the sunlight, reflect the beautiful turquoise color.
IS HUMANTAY WORTH IT?
The photos of the Humantay lake speak for themselves, and yes, it is worth it. If possible, climb up the lookout on the left bank to walk around and you won’t regret it. Because there is a perfect angle for the pictures and the views from above the valley down are stunning.
PREPARATION FOR THE ALTITUDE SICKNESS
Do not underestimate proper acclimatization, stay in Cusco for at least a couple of days. Every average fit traveler or a person who does sport from time to time should not have significant trouble reaching the lake. However, altitude sickness can affect anybody. Now not everyone gets sick at high altitudes, and it is hard to predict who is likely to be badly affected by it. For most travelers, it is nothing more than a headache and a dizzy sensation that diminishes over a short period from one to two days.
If you are short on time, talk to your doctor about which lifesaving drugs you should take on your hike for medication. In addition to that, you can also face it by drinking some coca tea, this herbal tea helps with altitude sickness and is also widely popular amongst locals. Those are almost in every hotel or restaurant in Cusco. It is pretty hard to avoid altitude sickness but at least you can limit the effects by doing that.
WHEN IS THE BEST TIME FOR HUMANTAY LAKE PERU HIKE?
Weather in the mountains of Cusco is unpredictable. However, we can see the growing number of visitors to this region during dry seasons running from May until early October. This Indeed is a good season to avoid rain downpours on the hike. On those mostly sunny days, you can see the lake with the color at its best. After all, Humantay Lake can be visited year round, expect less people in the rainy season.
HOW IS THE HUMANTAY LAKE WEATHER?
Weather during the dry season is very cold in the morning but as long as you go prepared, you will be ok. For those who travel Cusco during the rainy season and can’t pass by Humantay Lake Peru, the climate will be warmer, the path most likely muddy but it will be sunny most of the time, as gray clouds fade revealing beautiful landscapes. The average weather in Cusco ranges from 32 °F / 0°C – 68 °F / 20 °C.
ARE THERE RESTROOMS ALONG THE TRAIL?
Restrooms are at the beginning of the hike. Then the other restroom spot is on the way within 30 minutes or so. Know the use of these restrooms are paid S/ 1.00 and make sure to carry a bath tissue with you just in case. As you approach Humantay Lake you won’t find any other restrooms. Make sure you use them at the beginning.
THE OVERLOOK OF THE SALKANTAY AND HUMANTAY MOUNTAINS
As you get closer to Soraypampa campsite traveling through the bendy dirt road, You can get the first glimpse of the Salkantay Mountain, with its 20,580 ft. / 6273 masl. This Salkantay Mountain rises slightly behind the Humantay Mountain 17,500 ft / 5,334 masl. Then when it comes to sunny days, both mountains display an awesome view, a spectacle of grandeur standing there.
MULETEERS ALONG THE TRAIL
There is a select group of mules placed into the barbed wire fence destined to work for Humantay lake hikers. These mules are used due to their strength and endurance in high elevations. Mules are the exclusive beasts of burden in the Salkantay trek to Machu Picchu as well. Once you reach the Soray pampa camp, mules will surely be there going back and forth hurried up by muleteers. Well these mules are returning after three days’ work. clanging and ringing bells hang on their necks. The other ones will be working for the same amount of time carrying supplies, tent equipment and so forth for hikers to Machu Picchu.
HUMANTAY LAKE A PREFERRED TOURISM DESTINATION AND HOW IT BEGAN
Let’s get back a little bit into the story of what happened when the famous Inca trail became overcrowded. There had to be some way to get to Machu Picchu, thus why well into the XXI century, a team of two expert mountain guides decided to venture traversing the Salkantay pass and the valleys behind in order to set the trail. As a result, Salkantay trek became the official Alternative hiking path to Machu Picchu.
Later on, while following this trek, visitors would frequently hear from the locals about Humantay Lake. They would point its location just behind the moraine not far from the Salkantay base camp. Then visitations began and as same as in the Rainbow Mountain travelers flooded social media with photographs of it.
HOW THE HUMANTAY LAKE FORMED?
When the glaciers began their latest retreat less than 20, 000 years ago, masses of ice carved and scrubbed the land as they moved slowly along leaving moraines. Now the melting waters from the remaining ice of Humantay Mountain filled the depression between the lateral and terminal moraines, and Humantay lake Peru has originated taking the same name of the mountain above.
IS THERE ANY DANGER ON THE HIKING PATH?
As you may be wondering about dangers on the way, the path is easy to follow. There could be stone rocks protruding from the ground that can make you stumble across, so make sure where you set your foot on. Also it can be slippery in places. We just talked about mules, then stand aside and avoid a painful mule kick, we never know when these things can take place. It hardly can occur rock slides or large avalanches. There are avalanches but they aren’t enough to get through the valley, they are just tiny ones up in the snowy peaks.
HOW IS CELL PHONE SERVICE THERE?
There is no cell tower nearby; therefore no signal available for wireless internet connection. You may want to check your GPS or maneuver whatever operation that requires internet connection, there is no way of operating it. If it is an urgent situation you can hire a USB Wi-Fi signal for some minutes from the grocery store at the base camp. Only if necessary, overall you won’t need it because later you will get the internet on the way back.
- The earlier you leave Cusco, the better it gets, as you will arrive at the lake before anyone else.
- Humantay lake is actually the third most visited place after Machu Picchu and Rainbow mountain.
- It is not allowed to get into the waters of the lake by no means.
- We recommend you to visit on a sunny day when the colors become the most vivid. When it is raining or misty, the lake tends to lose its turquoise color.
- Know there are horse/mule rentals only for the way up.
- Do not forget that health and safety always go first. If you start to feel dizzy, nauseous, get a headache or feel tired during the trek, do not continue and get back to a lower altitude as soon as possible.
- The first two hours driving from Cusco is by paved road. Following the same road that leads to Lima the capital.
- Humantay and Salkantay have been known as a holy mountain since time immemorial in this part of the region.
- Soraypampa camp houses several campgrounds, with nowadays popular geodesic dome tents offering tourist views of the starry sky all night long.
- The terrain can get quite rough but the mulas are sure-footed.
WHAT TO PACK FOR THE HUMANTAY LAKE DAY TRIP?
Hiking the humantay lake Peru is like any other high altitude trek, so it is essential to be well prepared. As it begins in the dead of night morning, consider to pack the following Items:
- A down and rain jacket. – It will be cold in the morning and just in case it rains you can use a rain jacket.
- A pair of gloves. – Don’t let the freeze numb your fingers in the morning.
- A hoodie/hut and sun glasses. – To protect against cold in the morning and sun radiation during the day.
- A good pair of hiking shoes. – Although you can reach the lake in sneakers it is better to wear sturdy shoes.
- Rain poncho. – if you know you are going in the wet season you must take a rain poncho.
- Hiking poles. – If hiking with the support of poles is more your style, take them with you. It will help you balance too.
- Water bottle or camelback. – Hydrating in the high will help the lack of oxygen
- Sunscreen. – high altitude UV rays are intense
- Snacks. – boosters for extra energy.
- Camera. – Bring extra batteries, it can be discharged easily.
- Cash. – There may be a time when you need a lift on a mule, so you can pay for it, or buy some snacks. Same as for the use of restrooms.