All about the Humantay Lake in Cusco
The city of Cusco offers its visitors an incredible variety of attractions that simply leave them in awe, not only for the beauty they are provided with but also for the amazing history behind each one of them. Speaking of the Humantay Lake, this is no exception; it is a beautiful lake with turquoise waters that simply cannot go unnoticed by nature lovers and lovers of destinations that look like something out of a fantasy book.
If your visit has Machu Picchu as its final destination, or any other attraction in Cusco, and if your itinerary includes a few days of rest in the same city, then the Humantay Lagoon may be what you are looking for to complement your experience in the imperial city.
The Humantay Lake in Cusco
What is the Humantay Lake?
Named after the nearby mountain that forms part of its origin (Humantay, 5,473 m), Humantay Lake is considered one of the most beautiful and sacred lakes in Cusco. Its turquoise waters crowned by the majestic snow-capped Salkantay (6,270 m) in the background, will show you why this destination is one of the most popular when looking for day tours in the city of Cusco.
In addition to the tourists who make one-day excursions to the lake, there are more adventurous tourists who make the so-called “Salkantay Trek“, this trekking route consists of a 5-day hike with final destination the wonderful citadel of Machu Picchu and during which they can visit this lake at their own pace, as this is one of the intermediate destinations that you can find on the route.
How to get to the Humantay Lake?
To reach the Humantay Lake from the city of Cusco, you will first have to travel about 120 km by road, passing through the towns of Limatambo and Mollepata, until you reach the community of Soraypampa.
Once in Soraypampa, your hike will start ascending about 2 km until you reach the iconic lagoon in the middle of the Andes. If you hired a tour package, transportation is included (including horse rental to facilitate your hike), as well as breakfast and lunch in the village of Mollepata.
Can I get to the lake on my own?
It is possible to reach the lagoon if you are traveling on your own, here we explain the route step by step:
- First you must take public transportation from the city of Cusco to the town of Mollepata. The bus leaves from the terminal located in Arcopata and costs around 15 soles (4 USD).
- Once in Mollepata, you will have to take a shared cab (colectivo) to the community of Soraypampa.
- Depending on the time you travel, you may not find this shared service, so you will have to take a conventional cab. In the latter case, the cab may cost 50 soles (approximately 12 USD).
- Finally, from Soraypampa, the hike to the Humantay Lake takes about 2 hours, along 2 km. This is a very pleasant experience, but we recommend traveling to the lake on your own only if you are used to this type of excursion, as the trip can be complicated and exhausting at 4,200 meters above sea level.
How much is the entrance fee to the lake?
The entrance fee is paid in the town of Mollepata and gives access to the Soraypampa camp, where the lake is located. The fee for foreign visitors is 10 soles (2.5 USD) and for Peruvian visitors is 5 soles (1.5 USD).
What to do in the Humantay Lake?
If you want to have a complete experience in the Humantay Lake, you can do some activities offered by the locality.
Observing the ceremony
In the Humantay Lake, an ancient ceremony is held in honor of the Pachamama, Mother Earth. Arriving at the lake you can participate in the ceremony by placing stones to express your gratitude for giving you the opportunity to arrive safe and sound to your destination.
The story tells the life of 2 brothers named Ausangate and Salkantay, they made the decision to travel to unknown lands with different directions to get food and end the famine suffered by their people.
Ausangate the older brother headed south, having luck in his journey finding food and sending it to the city of Cusco, while his younger brother Salkantay headed north where he had a better fate finding food that finally returned him to Cusco. It is there that was born his romance with the goddess Veronica, another iconic mountain that makes up the Andes mountain range in Cusco, such was the romance that Salkantay had which did not end in a happy ending, both brothers had to return to Cusco to stop the drought that was occurring, product of his contempt were punished by the gods and became snowy. As a result of their prolonged sadness, Salkantay’s tears became the beautiful lake that bears the name of Humantay Lake.
This story about the origin of Humantay Lake, a sacred lake since the time of the Incas, gave rise to an Andean legend that was transmitted from generation to generation.
In the middle of the snowy territory, located just 3 minutes walk from the lake, there is an Eco Camp where you can enjoy the magical experience of witnessing the sunrise and sunset in this dream destination, you will have time to explore the most fascinating corners of the Peruvian highlands.
Of course, it is recommended to bring special equipment for the cold in case of camping. This is due to the low temperatures that the climate around the lake will reach during the day.
The villagers of the Soraypampa community also offer a horse and mule rental service at the starting point of the hike to the Humantay Lake. This service is only available for uphill treks and costs approximately 90 Peruvian soles (23 USD).
What is the best time of the year to visit Humantay Lake?
The weather throughout the Cusco region is highly unpredictable, you never know precisely if it is going to rain or not. However, we can see a considerable number of tourists visiting Cusco during the dry season, which runs from May to mid-October. Undoubtedly, this season is more likely to offer you a full day of sunshine, where you can take that beautiful photo that can not miss on your Instagram, and even more so in the case of the lake, whose turquoise blue color can be appreciated more clearly.
Humantay Lake is accessible all year round, although during the rainy season you will find fewer tourists. Remember that, unlike the Inca Trail tour or tickets to visit Machu Picchu, the Humantay Lake tour is always available and does not require a previous reservation.