Humantay Lake Facts – A Complete Guide to Visiting the Sacred Lake Near Cusco

Humantay Lake Facts

Humantay Lake is a beautiful, crystal clear lake located in a Sacred Peruvian Valley near Cusco. The Humantay lagoon is a sacred site to many people and it’s considered one of the most important and beautiful lakes in all of South America. Below are some Humantay lake facts that you may find interesting!

Humantay Lake is more commonly known to locals in Spanish as Lago Humantay or Laguna de Humantay. The lake is a great place to visit during the dry season from May through September and is surrounded by snow-capped Andes peaks that create an incredible backdrop for pictures.

Vital Fast Humantay Lake Facts

  • Laguna Humantay is located roughly 75 miles (122 KM)to the northwest of Cusco
  • Machu Picchu and the Inca trail are located to the south of this sacred lake
  • The surrounding mountains, Humantay Mountain and Salkantay mountain are part of the greater Vilcabamba Mountain range which includes Macha Picchu
  • Spanish is the local language of Peru
  • Sol is the currency of Peru. 1 sol = 24 US cents (0.24c)
  • You can travel to the lake without tour guide
  • The cost of entry to the Lake National Park is 10 soles ($3) entry fee (per person)
  • The blue and green coloration of the lake is due to the mineral high run off from the surrounding glaciers
  • The lake is located in the mountains at an altitude of 4,200 metres or 13,780 feet
  • The Lake was considered sacred by the Incan people and to this day is visited by Shamen and other spiritual healers.
  • The tradition is for travelers is to leave an ‘Apacheta’ or stone offering at the lake edge, balanced on top of other offerings and offer a thank you to Pachamama for safe passage to the laguna and return travels
  • Due to the altitude it is recommended to acclimate in the town of Cusco for at least two days prior to attempting the assent hike
  • Humantay lake is a cold area all year round. Yearly averages are between 4-12 degrees Celsius
  • Summers are humid and rainy, while winters are chilly and bright. The weather is bitterly cold from November to March. Summer comes between April and October.

Where is Humantay Lake?

I for one like to have a sense of my bearings and developing a basic understanding of my tour destination. It is far more beneficial before hiring a professional guide. With that knowledge comes a greater understanding of where you’re visiting and what to watch out for while on this sacred camino to Lake Humantay.

The lake trail head of Mollepata/Soraypampa is a few hours drive from Cusco city and followed by a shortish but steep hike to the sacred lake. You can either take a taxi or a bus to reach Mollepata or take a organised tour to the starting point of the trail.

The lake is located on the Salkantay Trail and near the glacier of the same name which runs between the mountains Salkantay and Humantay. The trail you will walk is one stitched into the fabric of Incan and Peruvian culture. History and spirituality abound here in an area so peaceful and tranquil.

Cusco street artist
Cusco street artist

What are the coodinates of Humantay Lake?

The coordinates are 13.5164° S, 71.9766° W

Should I Hire a Taxi and Go On Your Own?

There are benefits to taking a taxi, like being in charge of your own time and getting to the lake before the hordes arrive in bus convoy from Cusco. However, if you’re traveling solo the tour would definitely be the better option and having a shared experience with like-minded travelers.

If you are with 1 or more people it is best to hire a taxi and pay for the return trip from Cusco to the trailhead drop off point. The Taxi driver will wait for you while you complete your walk to the lake and drive you back to Cusco.

How Much Does A Taxi to Humantay Lake Cost?

Like most other poorer nations, the price is negotiable. While you don’t want to do a man out of an honest day’s work, make sure to haggle a little and don’t take the first offer. In the region of 250 soles ($75 USD) is the normal price for the trip.

When you arrive, you will be charged a fee of 10 soles ($3 per person)to enter the national park where the trek begins.

How Much Does a Tour To Lake Humantay Cost?

A group tour to Humantay Lake is 80 soles ($25 USD) person and this does not include your 10 soles entrance fee. The buses all leave super early in the morning which may or may not be an inconvenience depending on how much beer or moonshine you drank the night before.

At the end of the day, the choice is yours but the taxi option affords you more time and less crowds.

Best Tour To Humantay Lake

There are hundreds of tour companies in Cusco. If you are looking for the best price, stick to a large company with lots of reviews and feedback like Andean Trails or Peru Treks.

You can also book in advance with the world reputable GetyourGuide.com who partner with many local tour guides to world over. This tour is one of the most popular among those taking tours to the lake.

When to Go to Humantay Lake?

This is another very important question. The best time to visit is early in the morning when the crowds are at their lowest ebb and you can enjoy all that Humantay Lake has to offer without any hassle or rush. Always good to have a few people around on the trail too for safety purposes.

The dry season from May to September is the best time to hike to Humantay lake, of course it’s hot but faced with freezing cold from November to March and rainy season from March to May this is by far your best bet for a good hike. Always check your weather forecast prior to committing to the hike as too much rain can make the hike impossible as can the cold become unbearable.

All About the Humantay Lake Hike

It’s all uphill the whole way from the start of the trail. Make sure to use the restrooms at the beginning of the trail and Leave No Trace.

The hike itself is like climbing up stairs for 45 minutes straight. The path is steep and slick in some areas. Having experienced it, it was a delight once you take your time and drink in the spectacular mountain views. Why would you rush when you’re walking such an important camino?

Humantay Lake view
Humantay Lake view

What to Bring With You When Hiking Humantay Lake?

A lot of these things go without saying for any experience traveler and hiker but use it as a checklist if you need to. You can read my guide to hiking solo as woman for some general tips on what to bring and self care.

  • Cash for your entry to the Humantay Lake National Park
  • Cash for use of the restrooms at the trail head
  • Sunscreen as the rate of burn is much higher at altitude
  • Water – You’ll need at least 1-2 litres of H2O for the hike up. Bear in mind that with altitude you may need to drink more water than you are accustomed to
  • Layer of clothing – don’t get caught out. The weather changes quickly up here so have a base layer and various layers to load on or peel off as required
  • Loo paper – Toilet paper is rare commodity up at the lake so make sure you bring your own supply
  • Good hiking shoes – I’d be lost without my Merrels – check out mine here

Can you Swim in Humanatay Lake?

No. This is seriously frowned upon as such a sacred place.

You may see others enter the waters but please don’t be tempted. While nobody is policing the shores to stop people swimming, it’s just not the done thing. Keep your warm clothes on you. Sit by the shore and drink in the emerald glass waters of Humantay instead, reflect and drown in the sensory delights of this amazing place.

Tips and What to do at the Humantay Lake

If you are with an organized tour, you will not have time to hike around the perimiter of the lake. By making your own way there, you can take your time and enjoy every aspect of the lake and it’s emerald waters.

Bring your own energy snacks especially if you’re not on an tour. Tours so provide food but you may need a little something extra after the strenuous hike.

Bring Nuun an electrolyte replacement in your water. I’ve used them for years in all sports, and as general way to get me to drink more water. Hydration is something I’m not great at!!

If you are taking a tour, make sure you get to bed early the night before. Most tours leave Cusco between 4 am-5 am.

Conclusion

All in all this is a fabulous trip to undertake in the Cusco region and ever so rewarding to see the sacred lake. If you work a trip to Humantay Lake as well as the nearby Machu Picchu you will have accomplished a lot wile visiting Peru.

Let us know about your trip in the comments and any more Humantay lake facts which I may have missed out on. If you need the number of the taxi driver we used just let a comment and I will get back to you.

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