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The Magical Humantay Lake

Written by:
Claire Dean

Published: 31-05-2023

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 a stunning turquoise lake located near the base of the Humantay Glacier, in the Vilcabamba mountain range. You can visit on a day trip or as part of the Salkantay trek to Machu Picchu!

Prayer Tower Humantay

 

Why is Humantay so Special?

 

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 lake's striking turquoise color is due to minerals from the surrounding mountains. It is surrounded by snow-capped peaks and the imposing Humantay Glacier, creating a dramatic and picturesque landscape. Visit Humantay Lake on Cusco day trips!

Ice caps Melting

 

Where is Humantay Lake?

 

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.

 

Mules are often used on the Humantay Lake trip to help visitors who may find the hike challenging due to the high altitude and steep terrain. On Cusco tours, mules can also be used to carry people´s backpacks, making the trekking easier.

The Mules from Mollepata

 

Facts about The Lake

 

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.

 

Humantay Lake is considered sacred by the local Quechua people. The local people have a deep spiritual connection to the land. It is common to see offerings such as coca leaves and other items left at the lake as part of traditional rituals and ceremonies when you travel to Cusco Peru.

The Lagoon

 

Where does the lake get its name?

 

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.


How is Humantay Lake formed?

 

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.

 

Visitors to Humantay Lake are encouraged to practice responsible tourism. Follow designated trails and respect the natural environment on Peru adventure tours to Humantay. Due to its popularity, efforts are being made to protect the lake from environmental degradation.

Hiker at The Lake


The Cultural Significance of The Lake

 

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).

 

Humantay Lake is a natural gem that showcases the beauty and diversity of the Peruvian Andes. a visit to this stunning lake is a must-visit destination for nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts on their Peru adventures.

Humantay Lagoon

 

What to expect on a day trip to Humantay Lake

 

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.

 

Humantay Mountain is accessible from Cusco by road. The towns of Mollepata or Soraypampa serve as starting points for treks to the mountain and the stunning Humantay Lake. Book your Cusco adventure tours with Valencia Travel to this magnificent lake!

Magical Humantay


If you are interested in a day trip from Cusco, to visit this magical and mythical lake contact us here for more information!

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