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Humantay Lake Trek: Best Day Trip From Cusco, Peru


Modified: December 28, 2023

by Cecil Renfroe



Peru is not just about Machu Picchu and the Inca Trail. It is a land of diverse landscapes and natural wonders that leave travelers in awe. One such breathtaking destination is Humantay Lake, a hidden gem nestled in the Peruvian Andes. Situated at an altitude of 4,200 meters (13,779 feet), this turquoise-colored lake offers a serene and mystical experience that should not be missed.


The Humantay Lake trek is an ideal day trip from Cusco, Peru’s capital of the Inca Empire. This moderately challenging hike takes you through stunning mountain scenery, picturesque valleys, and vibrant meadows. The star of the trek is, of course, Humantay Lake, surrounded by snow-capped peaks and framed by lush vegetation.


What makes the Humantay Lake trek so appealing is its accessibility. Unlike other longer and more rigorous treks in the region, the Humantay Lake trek can be completed in a single day, making it a perfect option for travelers with limited time or who prefer a less strenuous adventure.


As you embark on this incredible journey, prepare yourself to be amazed by the natural beauty that unfolds before your eyes. From the vivid colors of the flora to the crystal-clear waters of the lake, every step along the trail is a feast for the senses.


Not only is the Humantay Lake trek a visual delight, but it also offers a chance to immerse yourself in the rich cultural heritage of the Andean people. Along the way, you will encounter local communities, witness their way of life, and gain insights into their ancient traditions.


So, if you’re ready for an unforgettable adventure, lace up your hiking boots and get ready to embark on the Humantay Lake trek. In this article, we will guide you through the journey, from getting to Humantay Lake to exploring its pristine surroundings. Get ready to experience the wonders of Peru like never before!


Getting to Humantay Lake

The starting point for the Humantay Lake trek is Cusco, the ancient capital of the Inca Empire. From Cusco, you have a few options to reach the trailhead.


The most common way to get to Humantay Lake is by booking a guided tour. Many tour operators in Cusco offer day trips to the lake, providing transportation, a knowledgeable guide, and often lunch as well. These tours are a convenient option and take care of all the logistics, allowing you to focus on the hike and enjoy the scenery.


If you prefer a more independent adventure, you can also arrange your own transportation to Soraypampa, the starting point of the trek. From Cusco, take a local bus or a shared van to Mollepata, a small town located approximately 100 kilometers (62 miles) away. From Mollepata, you can hire a taxi or catch another shared van to Soraypampa.


The journey from Cusco to Soraypampa takes around 3 to 4 hours, depending on the mode of transportation and the traffic conditions. It’s advisable to leave early in the morning to make the most of your day at Humantay Lake.


Remember to acclimatize to the high altitude of Cusco before embarking on the Humantay Lake trek. Spend a few days in Cusco and explore the city while allowing your body to adjust to the altitude. This will help minimize the risk of altitude sickness and ensure a more enjoyable trekking experience.


Once you arrive at Soraypampa, you’re ready to begin the Humantay Lake trek. Take a moment to soak in the beautiful surroundings and prepare yourself for the adventure that lies ahead.


Now that you know how to get to Humantay Lake, it’s time to delve into the details of the trek itself. In the next section, we’ll guide you through the thrilling journey along the Humantay Lake trail.


The Humantay Lake Trek

The Humantay Lake trek is a 7-kilometer (4.3-mile) roundtrip hike that takes approximately 3 to 4 hours to complete, depending on your pace and stops along the way. The trail is well-marked and relatively moderate in difficulty, making it accessible to hikers of various fitness levels.


As you start the trek from Soraypampa, you’ll ascend gradually along a path that winds through the stunning Peruvian countryside. The first part of the trail takes you through open meadows and rolling hills, offering panoramic views of the surrounding mountains.


As you continue on, prepare yourself for a more challenging uphill section. The ascent becomes steeper, and the thin air at high altitude can make breathing more difficult. Take your time, pace yourself, and listen to your body. It’s common for hikers to take short breaks along the way to catch their breath and admire the scenery.


One of the highlights of the Humantay Lake trek is the diverse ecosystems you’ll encounter. The landscape changes as you gain elevation, transitioning from meadows and grasslands to rocky slopes and eventually to alpine tundra. Keep your eyes peeled for glimpses of wildlife, such as Andean birds and the elusive vicuña, a relative of the llama.


As you near the end of the trek, you’ll catch your first glimpse of the glimmering blue waters of Humantay Lake. The sight is truly awe-inspiring and will motivate you to push through the last stretch of the hike.


Finally, you’ll arrive at the picturesque Humantay Lake, surrounded by towering peaks and a sense of tranquility. Take a moment to marvel at its beauty and reflect on the journey you’ve just completed. The lake’s vivid turquoise color is a result of the minerals and sediments present in the water, creating a truly unique sight.


After soaking in the beauty of Humantay Lake, take some time to explore the area and find a spot to rest and have a snack. You can also choose to participate in a traditional offering to the Apus (mountain deities), an ancient practice that the local Andean communities continue to uphold.


With memories made and your energy refueled, it’s time to begin your descent back to Soraypampa. The return journey takes around 1.5 to 2 hours, depending on your pace. Take care with footing as you navigate the downward slopes.


As you reach the end of the trail, a profound sense of accomplishment washes over you. The Humantay Lake trek has offered you an incredible adventure, immersing you in the stunning natural beauty of Peru.


Now that you have experienced the trek itself, let’s explore the scenic views that await you along the Humantay Lake trail in the next section.


Scenic Views along the Trail

The Humantay Lake trek offers an abundance of breathtaking scenic views that will leave you in awe throughout your journey. As you make your way along the trail, you’ll be treated to a stunning display of natural beauty that showcases the best of the Peruvian Andes.


One of the highlights of the Humantay Lake trek is the panoramic vistas of the surrounding mountains. As you ascend, the peaks come into view, standing majestically against the clear blue sky. The rugged slopes and snow-capped summits create a dramatic backdrop that adds to the allure of the trek.


Along the trail, you’ll also encounter sweeping valleys dotted with vibrant meadows. The lush greenery that carpets the landscape is a testament to the region’s fertile soil and provides a stark contrast to the towering mountains above.


The diverse flora and fauna along the Humantay Lake trek make it a nature lover’s paradise. Keep an eye out for the colorful wildflowers that bloom during the warmer months, adding a pop of color to the already picturesque scenery. Andean birds, such as the Andean condor and the Andean goose, can also be spotted soaring through the sky, providing a spectacle that is truly captivating.


As you ascend higher, you’ll reach the alpine tundra, where the vegetation becomes sparser, and the rocky terrain takes center stage. This rugged landscape offers a different kind of beauty, with its rugged cliffs and boulders showcasing the raw power of nature.


Perhaps the most breathtaking view of all is when you first lay your eyes on Humantay Lake itself. After hours of trekking, the sight of the deep turquoise waters nestled among the mountains is simply awe-inspiring. The tranquil atmosphere and the reflection of the surrounding peaks on the lake’s surface create a scene that is nothing short of magical.


Throughout the trek, don’t forget to take the time to pause, catch your breath, and soak in the stunning vistas around you. Whether it’s a sweeping view of the valleys, a close-up of a vibrant wildflower, or the mesmerizing beauty of Humantay Lake, each vista along the trail is a moment to be cherished and remembered.


Now that you’ve witnessed the breathtaking scenic views along the Humantay Lake trail, let’s venture into the next section to explore what awaits you when you finally arrive at the shimmering waters of Humantay Lake.


Arriving at Humantay Lake

After a rewarding trek through the stunning Peruvian Andes, you’ll finally arrive at the crown jewel of the Humantay Lake trek: Humantay Lake itself. As you stand at the edge of the lake, you’ll be captivated by its serene beauty and the sense of tranquility that envelops the area.


The first thing that strikes you when you arrive at Humantay Lake is the vibrant turquoise color of its waters. The lake’s intense hue is a result of glacial minerals and sediments, creating a mesmerizing spectacle that is a photographer’s dream.


Surrounded by towering peaks and rugged cliffs, Humantay Lake feels like a hidden gem nestled in the heart of the Andes. The sheer magnitude and natural grandeur of the surrounding landscape make it a truly memorable sight.


Take a moment to soak in the stillness of the lake. The mirror-like surface reflects the towering mountains and wisps of passing clouds, creating a picturesque scene that is nothing short of breathtaking. It is a place of tranquility and serenity, away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life.


While swimming in Humantay Lake is not allowed, you’ll still have the opportunity to immerse yourself in its beauty. Find a comfortable spot to sit and simply be in the moment. Feel the cool mountain air, listen to the gentle lapping of the water, and take in the panoramic views that surround you.


For the more adventurous souls, consider taking a short hike to the viewpoint above the lake. From this vantage point, you’ll have a bird’s-eye view of Humantay Lake and the surrounding landscape. The elevated perspective offers a different perspective and allows you to appreciate the sheer magnificence of the area.


While capturing the beauty of Humantay Lake through photographs is tempting, don’t forget to also take the time to appreciate the experience firsthand. Sometimes, the most powerful memories are the ones etched in our minds rather than on a camera roll.


After enjoying the serene beauty of Humantay Lake, it’s time to explore the surroundings and delve into the natural wonders that await you. In the next section, we’ll uncover the hidden gems and remarkable features that make the Humantay Lake area a nature lover’s paradise.


Exploring the Surroundings

While Humantay Lake itself is a breathtaking sight, the surrounding area offers even more natural wonders to explore. From mystical waterfalls to sacred mountains, there is no shortage of remarkable features to discover on your adventure.


One notable attraction near Humantay Lake is the Humantay Waterfall. Located just a short distance from the lake, this cascading waterfall offers a stunning display of power and beauty. The sight and sound of the rushing water as it plunges into the valley below create a truly enchanting atmosphere.


If you’re up for more exploration, consider hiking to the nearby Salkantay Pass viewpoint. Salkantay Mountain, known as the “Savage Mountain,” is one of the most sacred peaks in Andean mythology. From the viewpoint, you’ll be treated to panoramic views of this majestic mountain, as well as the lush valleys and snow-capped peaks that surround it.


Another option for adventure-seekers is to continue the trek from Humantay Lake to Salkantay Lake. This extended hike takes you to another stunning high-altitude lake, offering a different experience from Humantay. The trek to Salkantay Lake is more challenging and time-consuming, but it rewards you with even more breathtaking natural beauty.


For those interested in cultural experiences, take the opportunity to interact with the local Andean communities that call this area home. You may have the chance to engage in traditional rituals and learn about the ancient customs and beliefs that have been passed down for generations. The warm hospitality and rich cultural heritage of the Andean people will leave a lasting impression.


As you explore the surroundings, keep an eye out for unique wildlife sightings. This region is home to various bird species, including Andean condors, hummingbirds, and colorful parrots. The diverse flora and fauna of the area add to the overall richness of the experience.


Whether you choose to embark on additional hikes, engage with the local communities, or simply take in the natural beauty around you, there is no shortage of exploration opportunities in the surroundings of Humantay Lake.


After immersing yourself in the wonders of the area, it’s time to make your way back to Cusco. In the next section, we’ll provide you with some tips to make the most out of your Humantay Lake trekking experience and ensure a safe and enjoyable journey.


Returning to Cusco

As your exploration around Humantay Lake comes to an end, it’s time to make your way back to Cusco, the starting point of your adventure. Here are a few options to consider for your return journey.


If you booked a guided tour for the Humantay Lake trek, your transportation back to Cusco will likely be arranged by the tour operator. They will provide a comfortable vehicle for the return journey, ensuring a hassle-free and convenient trip back to the city.


If you arranged your own transportation to Soraypampa, you have a few choices for your return. Consider hiring a taxi or catching a shared van from Soraypampa back to Mollepata. From Mollepata, you can then find transportation back to Cusco, either by shared van or local bus.


The return journey from Soraypampa to Cusco takes several hours, so it’s recommended to plan accordingly and leave ample time for your return. Depending on the mode of transportation and the traffic conditions, the journey can take around 3 to 4 hours.


As you make your way back to Cusco, take the opportunity to reflect on the incredible experience you had at Humantay Lake. Allow the memories to linger and cherish the moments spent in nature’s embrace.


Once you arrive back in Cusco, take some time to rest and rejuvenate. The Humantay Lake trek can be physically demanding, and it’s important to give your body time to recover. Explore the vibrant streets of Cusco, indulge in delicious Peruvian cuisine, and perhaps even treat yourself to a well-deserved massage to soothe your tired muscles.


Don’t forget to reflect on the memories and beauty of Humantay Lake and the surrounding landscapes. Consider sharing your experiences with friends and family, or even writing a journal entry to preserve the magic of your journey.


The Humantay Lake trek is an adventure that will stay with you for a lifetime. The stunning landscapes, the cultural encounters, and the sense of achievement will be treasured memories of your time in Peru.


Now that you’ve completed the Humantay Lake trek and returned to Cusco, we’ll provide you with some tips to ensure a successful and enjoyable experience in the next section.


Tips for the Humantay Lake Trek

Embarking on the Humantay Lake trek requires some preparation and planning to ensure a successful and enjoyable experience. Here are some tips to keep in mind before and during your journey:

  1. Acclimatize to the altitude: Spend a few days in Cusco before the trek to allow your body to adjust to the high altitude. This will help minimize the risk of altitude sickness and ensure a more comfortable trekking experience.
  2. Dress in layers: The weather in the Andes can be unpredictable, with temperatures fluctuating throughout the day. Dress in layers so that you can adjust your clothing accordingly as you hike and the temperature changes.
  3. Stay hydrated: It is crucial to stay hydrated, especially at high altitudes. Carry a reusable water bottle and drink plenty of water throughout the trek to prevent dehydration.
  4. Protect yourself from the sun: The sun at high altitude can be intense, so remember to wear sunscreen, a hat, and sunglasses to protect your skin and eyes from the UV rays.
  5. Bring snacks and pack a picnic: There are no food stalls or restaurants along the trek, so pack some light snacks and a picnic lunch to enjoy at Humantay Lake. Consider energy-boosting snacks like granola bars, nuts, and dried fruits.
  6. Wear comfortable and sturdy footwear: The trail to Humantay Lake can be uneven and rocky, so wearing comfortable and sturdy hiking shoes is essential. Make sure your footwear provides good traction and ankle support.
  7. Take it slow: The hike to Humantay Lake involves some uphill sections and a high altitude, so don’t rush. Take your time, rest when needed, and listen to your body. It’s not a race – enjoy the journey at your own pace.
  8. Respect the environment and local culture: While exploring the surroundings, remember to follow Leave No Trace principles and respect the local culture and traditions. Do not litter, avoid damaging vegetation, and be mindful of the sacred nature of the area.
  9. Capture memories responsibly: While cameras are a great way to document your journey, remember to be present in the moment and not solely focused on capturing the perfect picture. Take time to soak in the scenery and create lasting memories in your mind.

By keeping these tips in mind, you’ll be well-prepared to take on the Humantay Lake trek and make the most of your experience.


After an incredible adventure in Peru’s beautiful landscapes, it’s time to wrap up your journey. In the concluding section, we’ll reflect on the Humantay Lake trek and the wonders of Peru.



The Humantay Lake trek is a remarkable journey that showcases the natural beauty and cultural heritage of Peru. From the moment you set foot on the trail to the awe-inspiring sight of Humantay Lake, every step is an adventure that leaves a lasting impression.


This day trip from Cusco takes you through diverse landscapes, from meadows and valleys to rocky slopes and alpine tundra. Along the way, you’ll encounter panoramic views of majestic mountains, colorful flora, and fascinating wildlife.


Arriving at Humantay Lake, you’ll be captivated by its vivid turquoise waters and the serenity that surrounds it. Take a moment to appreciate the stillness, reflect on the journey, and immerse yourself in the beauty of this hidden gem.


Exploring the surroundings, you’ll discover hidden gems such as the Humantay Waterfall, viewpoints of Salkantay Mountain, and opportunities to engage with the local Andean communities. These experiences add depth and cultural richness to your adventure.


As you make your way back to Cusco, remember to savor the memories you’ve created. Reflect on the stunning views, the challenges overcome, and the sense of accomplishment. Capture the essence of the experience through mindful observation and appreciation.


The Humantay Lake trek is an invitation to connect with nature and discover the wonders of Peru beyond the iconic Machu Picchu. It is an opportunity to witness the grandeur of the Andes, immerse yourself in Andean culture, and create memories that will last a lifetime.


So, lace up your hiking boots, embrace the adventure, and embark on the Humantay Lake trek. Let the beauty of the Peruvian Andes captivate your heart and inspire your soul.