Trekking to Humantay Lake has to be one of the best day trips from Cusco, Peru. The mind-blowing turquoise lake high in the mountains is a photographer's dream, and the hike that leads to it gets well-deserved attention among travelers visiting the area. Even if you've never heard about the beautiful blue-green lake surrounded by towering jagged peaks of the Andes where the fog and clouds keep rolling all day long, you do not have a chance to escape it. The Humantay Lake is simply magnificent!
It forms part of the Mollepata District within the Anta province. While you need to embark on a proper Humantay Lake hike to reach this location, it’s one of the most impressive, breathtaking locations you will ever visit. It feels like something out of a sci-fi movie, a serene location from a distant planet.
The most common way to reach the Humantay Lake is on a tour from Cusco. These guided tours start at 3 or 4 AM, and a van picks you up from the hotel. Then you will go directly to the lake. The route is direct, however, it will be a 3-hour drive until you reach the lake. If you want to take the Humantay Lake hike, you can start from Soraypampa and go to the lake directly. The trail is near Mollepata, and it’s known for being quite difficult. This is why it makes more sense to go with a dedicated tour rather than hike yourself, especially if you lack any hiking experience.
The one-day Humantay Lake Tour starts early in the morning when a van picks you up at the hotel and includes the entrance fee to the lagoon, guide, transfer, breakfast, and lunch. The hike's first section is flat, you will pass several campgrounds, with nowadays popular glass domes offering tourists views of the starry sky all night long. When the weather plays along, you can see snowy peaks and green pastures with cows and horses in front of you. It is quite important to say that the valley and the lake area is often foggy, so the views are often hit or miss, but on the other hand, this is precisely the type of weather that gives Humantay Lake the sought-after mysterious atmosphere. It takes three hours to get to the trailhead by either taxi or standard minivan, so you will spend six hours in transport that day, which, together with the hike itself, guarantees a long day on the road. The reward, however, is well worth it. Humantay Lake, the same as many lakes in this part of the mountains, have a glacial origin, and the insane watercolor is caused by minerals coming from the melted snow. If you have more time, it is worth it to walk around the lake's shore a bit, take photos from a different angle, and play with perspective.
It is also possible to visit Humantay Lake as a part of the Salkantay Trek that leads from Cusco to Aguas Calientes and, consequently, to Machu Picchu. If you plan on hiking Salkantay Trek anyway, you can include a short detour to Humantay Lake is an excellent option as it saves you time and money. If you combine the Humantay lake with The Salkantay trek it has the advantage of arriving at the lake when the day trippers have already left, so definitely worth considering!
The Humantay Lake hike route can be quite challenging. While the path itself is easy to follow, you will encounter stones that protrude from the ground. Additionally, the trail is also slippery in some locations, making the experience even more difficult. Rockslides or avalanches are not that common, but they do happen at times. So yes, the Humantay Lake Trek itself can be quite difficult, not because of the route, but due to the weather and other similar factors. If you were wondering how hard the Humantay Lake hike is, you should be prepared for a bit of a challenge. Yet it’s well worth visiting!