Laguna Humantay: Discover The Hidden Beauty
Nestled high up in the Vilcabamba mountain range in the Andes of Peru, lies the Humantay Lagoon. Located in Cusco, visitors can explore the beautiful areas surrounding Laguna Humantay’s turquoise waters. Hidden from view, taking the journey to experience this mystic gem truly is a trek worth taking.
About Humantay Lagoon
Peru is a country full of history and beauty. With places like Machu Picchu, Lima, and The Sacred Valley of The Incas, Peru has lots of gems. One such gem lies off the Salkantay Trail, located between the two majestic mountains Salkantay and Humantay. The lagoon of Humantay (pronounced Uman-Tie) lies hidden from view practically until you’re at the water’s edge.
Formed by the thaw of the Humantay mountain, the lagoon presents a unique landscape to the district of Mollepata (Anta). Surrounded by snowy peaks, the water has a special turquoise color that is mystifying. The lagoon has been visited by shamans and tourists from all over the world. They often leave offerings to the Pachamama, a deity that represents mother Earth in the Inca culture. You can see the numerous offerings made through the placement of stone mounds that have been left around the lake.
Getting To The Laguna Humantay
After arriving in Cusco, Peru, it is not very hard to get to Humantay Lake. There are a number of tour operators available that offer trips going to and from the mysterious lake. The quickest and easiest way there is by vehicle and we recommend Kantu Peru Tours or Haku Travel. Both operators offer some really great day tours. If you want more time at the lake and have experience hiking, then a self-guided tour is an option. However, if you are inexperienced and unfamiliar with the area, a guided tour is best.
Both companies offer tour transportation via van to a hiking point, about a 1.5-hour-walk from the lake. Overall though getting from Cusco to the lake will take about 3 to 4 hours. The hike to the lagoon is a moderate difficulty but well worth the effort. Make sure that you are properly acclimatized before attempting it! The tours offered also include breakfast and lunch but if you need to bring snacks, you can do so. You’ll want to make sure you don’t get hungry or headaches while hiking. You may also want to bring pills to address the possibility of altitude sickness, due to being at such high elevation.
With bilingual tour guides and transportation to and from your hotel or hostel, these tours offer top-notch trips and services.
Along your journey, you will pass through the towns of Mollepata and Soraypampa before reaching the Humantay Lake. In Mollepata, you’ll stop in the morning to eat some breakfast. Afterward, you’ll have time to gather any additional supplies that you think you may need for your trek. When you reach Soraypampa, there is where you will stop driving, and start your 1.5-hour hike to Laguna Humantay. If hiking up is going to be too difficult for you, you can plan ahead. For an additional cost, you can rent a horse to journey most of the way up to the lake instead of having to walk.
Exploring Humantay Lagoon
Only after reaching over 4,000 meters do you get to set your gaze on the beauty of Humantay Lake. Surrounded by the snowy mountain peaks, the water is as crisp as the air as you stand among the glaciers.
Humantay Lake Activities
When taking one of the guided tours of Humantay Lake, you’ll find there are a few activities that are quite common. After making your way to the top, you will have a guided tour of the lake. Once that is completed you will be able to enjoy a bit of free time to take photos and explore. Around the noon hour, you will get ready to hike back down to Soraypampa which will take about 1.5 hours.
Some of the common activities done while on guided tours include photography, hiking, and exploring. For visitors who are brave enough to face the cool waters, some folks even swim in the lake. However, this is usually done in warmer weather and while the sun is shining. Visitors who stay longer than the time allotted on guided tours even can be found doing activities like standing paddle-boarding. But you have to bring your own board!
Tips For Hiking Humantay Lake
When taking on such an expedition of this caliber, it is wise to make sure you are properly prepared. Here are a few noteworthy tips to help make your trek as pleasant as possible.
Anytime you are doing any prolonged or strenuous outdoor activity it is essential to stay hydrated. By bringing water and staying hydrated you will help to prevent headaches and other ailments of dehydration.
Wear Sunscreen and Bring Layers
Being at such extreme altitudes comes with increased risks of UV intensity, therefore you sunburn much quicker. It is vitally important to protect your skin from the intense UV rays. The temperature is also much cooler being at such a high elevation and can reach 0 degrees sometimes at night. Having the proper layers and clothing for the elements is just as important. Make sure to check local weather so that you can plan accordingly.
There will be places that you will stop for food or supplies. Some entrance fees and gratuities are not included in the cost of most tours. It’s wise to have a little extra cash on you for additional items or costs along your journey.
Bring Toilet Paper
It is worth mentioning because sometimes it can be the furthest thing on your mind. When needing to use a restroom, the only ones available are at the beginning of the hike. Usually, you won’t find any toilet paper in there so if you think you’ll need it, you should bring it.
Bring A Snack
The hike is not extremely difficult but it will make you work for its rewarding view. It is a workout and it can take a bit of energy out of you. Bring a snack to keep your energy levels up and to avoid hunger headaches.
A trek to Laguna Humantay can take some work to get to, but the reward is great. For those willing to make the journey, this hidden gem of Cusco offers travelers a one of a kind experience.