Explore Humantay Lake: Ultimate Hiking Guide & Tips

Humantay Lake Cusco

Nestled high above sea level in the Peruvian Andes lies a natural wonder that captures the hearts of all who visit: Humantay Lake. This breathtaking body of water, with its turquoise hues reminiscent of the Caribbean set against a backdrop of rugged mountain terrain, is not just a destination but an experience. In this comprehensive guide, we embark on a journey to explore Humantay Lake, offering everything you need to know to make your visit truly unforgettable.

The Path to Paradise: Getting to Humantay Lake

Humantay Lake’s secluded charm is accessible from Cusco, the ancient capital of the Inca Empire. Visitors can opt for a day-long private tour from Cusco or the Sacred Valley, immersing themselves in the stunning Andean landscape en route to this serene destination. For the adventurous at heart, the Salkantay Trek offers an alternative path, weaving through the mountains to Machu Picchu with Humantay Lake as a highlight.

Humantay Lake - Cusco

Entrance Fees to Humantay Lake

To access the serene beauty of Humantay Lake, visitors are required to pay an entrance fee of 20 soles per person. This fee contributes to the maintenance of the area and ensures that the natural beauty of this lake is preserved for future generations.


Humantay Lake sits majestically at an altitude of 4,200 meters (13,780 feet) above sea level. This high elevation is what gives the lake its crisp, clear air and stunning vistas. However, visitors should prepare for the altitude by acclimatizing in Cusco and staying hydrated.

The History of Humantay Lake

The area around Humantay Lagoon is steeped in history and culture. Believed to be sacred by the Incas, the lake and its surrounding mountains were places of worship and reverence. The Incas, known for their sophisticated understanding of nature, regarded the lake as a source of spiritual energy. This historical significance adds a layer of profoundness to the visit, connecting travelers not just to the beauty of the landscape but to its ancient past.

Tours to Humantay Lake

A variety of tours are available to Humantay Lake, catering to different fitness levels and interests. Options range from full-day treks from Cusco, which include transport, a guide, and meals, to more extended expeditions like the Salkantay Trek that include a visit to Machu Picchu. Many tours also offer the option of horse or mule rental for those who may find the trek challenging.

Going to Humantay Lake in a horse

The Trek: What to Expect

The journey to Humantay Lake is as rewarding as the destination itself. Rated from moderate to challenging, the hike covers approximately 7.5 kilometers round trip, with an elevation gain that tests the resilience of even seasoned hikers. Preparation is key; acclimatization to Cusco’s altitude, proper hiking gear, and sufficient water are essential for a successful ascent.

Hiking Stats at a Glance

Starting Altitude12,630 feet
Lake Altitude13,780 feet
Hike DifficultyModerate to Challenging
Roundtrip Distance7.5 km
Elevation Gain470 meters
Humantay Lake and the mountain

Best Time to Visit

Timing your visit can enhance your Humantay Lake experience significantly. Early mornings or late afternoons are ideal for avoiding the crowds, with the added benefit of softer light for photography. The dry season, from May to September, offers clearer skies and more predictable weather, making it the perfect window for your adventure.

Read more at: Best time to visit Humantay Lake.

A Spiritual Connection

To the Incas and modern Andean communities, Humantay Lake holds profound spiritual significance. It’s a place where the natural and the divine converge, inviting visitors to partake in age-old traditions such as the offering of an ‘Apacheta’ to Pachamama, the Mother Earth deity. This act of gratitude and respect symbolizes the deep connection between humans and nature that Humantay Lake embodies.

Humantay Lake from different angle

Practical Tips for Your Visit

Navigating the terrain to Humantay Lake requires more than just physical preparation. Here are essential tips to ensure a memorable and safe experience:

  • Acclimatization: Spend at least two days in Cusco to adjust to the altitude.
  • Gear: Trekking poles, hydration packs, and sturdy boots are your best friends on the trail.
  • Respect the Sacred: Swimming in this lake is not allowed, as it’s considered sacred by the locals.

Capturing the Moment: Photography tips

The ethereal beauty of Humantay Lake offers endless inspiration for photographers. The contrast of the emerald waters against the snow-capped peaks provides a dramatic palette that begs to be captured. Early morning light offers a soft glow, while the afternoon can reveal the lake’s vibrant colors in full brilliance.

FAQs about Visiting Humantay Lake

Do I need to be in good physical condition to visit Humantay Lake?

Yes, due to the altitude and the steep ascent, a moderate level of fitness is recommended. Acclimatization to the altitude is also crucial.

What should I bring to Humantay?

Essentials include water, snacks, sunscreen, sunglasses, a hat, sturdy hiking boots, and warm clothing in layers. Don’t forget your camera!

How can I best acclimatize to the altitude?

Spend a few days in Cusco or a similarly elevated area before attempting the trek. Drink plenty of water and avoid alcohol and heavy foods.

Are guided tours available?

Yes, there are many guided tours available from Cusco. These tours offer various services, including transportation, meals, and an experienced guide to enrich your visit with historical and cultural insights.

Can I visit Humantay Lake on my own?

While independent visits are possible, joining a guided tour is highly recommended for safety reasons and for a more enriching experience.

Safety and Conservation

Your safety and the preservation of Humantay Lake’s pristine environment are paramount. Follow the guidelines set by local authorities, stay on marked trails, and carry all waste out with you. By respecting these rules, you contribute to the conservation of this magnificent site for future generations.

Humantay Lake, with its unparalleled beauty and spiritual significance, offers an adventure that transcends the ordinary. Whether you seek solitude, a challenge, or a connection to the ancient world, this destination awaits. We invite you to embark on this journey, to discover for yourself the magic that lies in the heart of the Andes.

Have you visited Humantay Lake, or is it on your bucket list? Share your experiences or tips in the comments below and join our community of adventurers.

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