Humantay Lake or Humantay Lagoon looks like a turquoise blue mirror and is located near the flanks of the majestic snow peak of the Salkantay Mountain. The crystalline water of the lagoon has actually melted from the Humantay Glacier above. If you visit this spectacular destination on a day trip from Cusco you will be able to witness for yourself the magnificent mountains and glaciers of the Peruvian Andes. This pristine Lake is also a refuge for Andean wildlife as well as impressive awe-inspiring scenery. Humantay Lake is visited by hundreds of adventurous travelers. Anyone who visits Humantay usually wants to escape the noise and the humdrum routine of the cities. Here you can enjoy the perfect connection between the Pachamama, or Mother Earth, and the human essence. Inhale the pure mountain air of the high Andes and explore places where the local people have maintained their culture and traditions for thousands of years. Observe nature in its wildest state, and seek an unforgettable experience high in the Andes.
Humantay Lake is not only a place of incredible colors and panoramic views or a place where one can feel the magic of the amazing landscape. It is also a sacred and mystical spot where you can witness the fragility of the terrestrial ecosystem and view the effects of climate change. Certainly, those intrepid travelers who come to Humantay and witness these delicate interconnections between air, earth, and water will return to their homes at lower elevations and act as goodwill ambassadors who have seen personally the effects the global warming.
The turquoise-blue Humantay Lake is located in the Cusco region of Peru. It is found northeast of the City of Cusco high up on the side of the great snowy Humantay Mountain, close to the Soraypampa community in the Mollepata district.
Elevation: 4200 masl (13,780 ft.).
Co-ordinates: 13°24’41.72” South Latitude: and 72°37’2.43” East Longitude.
Extension of Humantay Lagoon: 618 meters long and 164 meters wide.
The name "Humantay" comes from the Quechua word HUMANTAY, which means “Head of the Gods”. This could possibly be because it is located at a dominant high point above the Amazon jungle.
There is not a lot of information about the geology of this lagoon. Geologists tell us that it is certainly of glacial origin. At some time in the past, snow and ice came down and covered the lower parts of the mountain. These great blocks of ice carved out depressions on the sides of the mountain. When the ice melted, the beautiful Humantay Lagoon was formed. Without a doubt, the magical turquoise color of the water in the lagoon is due to the purity of the glacial melt-water and to a species of algae called Microcystis aeruginosa y Oscillatoria.
Local traditions tell us that Apu Humantay was the youngest son of Apu Salkantay. They were both in charge of sharing the water that flows down from the eternal snow above to the villages and farms located on the sides of these great peaks. Therefore, these Apus are revered by the local people and they are recognized as representatives of Pachamama. This is why you will be able to see “apachetas” (man-made piles of rocks) in the area. These are mounds of stones placed one on top of the other by local people or by travelers. They could be an offering of Thanks to Pachamama, or of thanks for having made it safely to this sacred lagoon. It is said that the color of the lake is caused by the deep and true feelings of the Apu (the Sacred Mountain).
This hike takes you up to over 4,200 meters. That alone makes it difficult and is one of the main reasons why you should use a travel agency to get to Humantay. That way you won’t have to worry about anything except enjoying your Humantay Trek. The difficulty level of the trek is classed as moderate. The trail starts out going up a pretty steep incline. Then the trail then winds around curves and there are quite a few loose rocks. And, the final section is a short descent where you can look down and see the peaceful, clear water. Apart from the loose stones, the cold, and the high elevation, it is a relatively easy hike.