Humantay Lake is located in the mountains of Peru. Discover why this lake is called the most beautiful in South America and how to visit Laguna Humantay.
Laguna Humantay (Humantay Lake) is one of those places you only see in pictures.
You think, “No way it looks like that. The photographer edited the picture to make it look better or something.”
Then, you visit.
And it really does look like the pictures. And now people say you’re editing pictures!
Many people consider it to be the most beautiful lake in all of South America.
And, after visiting, you’ll understand why.
Why you need to visit Laguna Humantay immediately
There’s so much to visit in Peru.
But, the show at Humantay starts the moment you crest the last small hill to the lake.
Snow-capped peaks shoot impossibly high into the sky, surrounding the calm, crystal-clear lake waters. And the lake’s calm waters seem to quiet everything surrounding it. The animals and birds may even stop to stare at the view.
Apart from some people talking nearby, you only hear the slow rhythm of the water lapping against some rocks at the lake’s edge. And cool winds blow on you to dry the sweat from the hike up. The heat you generated on the climb up is gone. So, you slip on your jacket and plop down in the chilly dirt to take in the scene for a bit.
Mountain Salkantay and Humantay Lake form the perfect setting in front of you.
And, at this point, you’re not sure if you’ve hyperventilated and are dreaming or if this place is real.
At over 13,700 feet above sea level, both are possible.
Either way, you recline back and enjoy the moment for a while. You earned it.
Where Is Laguna Humantay Located?
Humantay Lake is about 75 miles northwest of Cusco in the Vilcabamba Mountains at an altitude of over 13,000 feet.
The closest villages to reach it are Soray (Soraypampa) and Mollepata.
Most visitors stop in Soray, whether on tour, visiting only the lake, or starting the hike to Machu Picchu. Either way, a stop at Laguna Humantay in Peru is worth it. And, to do it, you’ll need to get to Soray.
How To Reach Humantay lake
To reach Peru’s Lake Humantay, get a flight from Lima to Cusco.
From here, you have two options:
- Book a tour
- Go to Humantay from Cusco yourself
Book a tour
You can book a Cusco-Laguna Humantay tour from Cusco, and they will handle all the logistics for you. You just show up, bring the things you need for your Humantay Lake day trip, and everything else is dealt with.
A tour will usually run around$40-50, but you can find some as high as $200.
You will have no trouble finding a day tour if you head to the center of Cusco. Tour operators line the blocks, and you’ll find yourself in a van toward Humantay faster than you can say its name.
If you prefer booking with a recommended company, here are some of the top options:
- Day Trip with Minka Peru Expeditions
- Day Tour with exploor (more expensive, but you avoid crowds with earlier arrival time compared to others)
- Full Day Tour with Mega Expeditions
How to get to Laguna Humantay from Cusco yourself
If you’d like to do it independently, you definitely can!
And, if you’re hiking Machu Picchu on the Salkantay Trail, Laguna Humantay will be on the way!
Here are the steps to take:
- Go to the corner of Calle Arcopata and Umanchata in Cusco
- Get transportation to Mollepata (or Soraypampa if you can)
- Once in Mollepata, get a ride or hike to Soraypampa
In Cusco, head to the corner of Calle Arcopata and Umanchata, which isn’t far from Plaza de Armas.
From there, you can take a bus, colectivo, taxi, or private transport to Mollepata. Buses and colectivos are the cheaper option and run relatively regularly. Cabs will be a bit more expensive, but you’ll get there quicker.
Whichever way you take, head toward Mollepata. This town is as far as any buses or colectivos will take you.
So, you can get a local ride (the option I chose), find a taxi, or start hiking toward Soraypampa.
If you choose to hike, it’d be best to book a room to spend the evening because the hike will take some time.
Usually, there are plenty of rooms you can book when you arrive. However, if you’re more of a planner, you can book one ahead of time. My girlfriend and I booked an Airbnb dome before the start of our hike to Machu Picchu.
If you get a ride, you have about a 30-minute drive ahead of you.
Either way, you’ll also owe around $10 for an entrance fee to the park.
How to do the Laguna Humantay hike
Once you’re in Soraypampa, getting to Laguna de Humantay is easy, especially if you’re at a campsite.
Well, kind of.
Ahead of you, you have a mile hike to the lake. However, that mile involves a 1,000+ foot gain in elevation. But, hey, once you’re there, at least it’s beautiful, right?
Here’s a quick recap of the hike’s details:
- Distance: 2 miles up and back
- Elevation gain: 1,100+ feet
- Duration: 2-3 hours
Laguna Humantay Hike Map
Tips for the Laguna Humantay Hike
So, to make your hike as enjoyable as possible, here are some top tips to follow:
- Take your time. You’re at a high altitude. You get less oxygen, and that makes the hike even harder. So, take your time, and you’ll reach this beautiful piece of Mother Earth (Pacha Mama) in good shape.
- Wear sunscreen. It’s deceptive at this elevation, but it’s very easy to get sunburnt. You have less protection from the sun, so make sure to protect yourself with some sunscreen.
- Bring plenty of water. Because it’s so dry at Laguna Humantay’s altitude, you don’t realize how much water you’re losing. Have plenty of water on hand to keep yourself hydrated. Think you have enough? Bring more.
- Bring a jacket. Even when it seems warm, it gets chilly in the 1,000 feet you gain on the hike. Have a jacket handy, just in case.
- Enjoy the beauty. Humantay Lagoon is a slice of Heaven. Take the time to enjoy it properly.
Best time to visit Humantay Lake
The best time to visit Humantay Lake is from April to October.
These months are the dry season for the area, so you’ll have plenty of clear skies and dry days to enjoy the lake. If you go on the shoulder months (April/October), you have a chance for more rain, but costs will be lower as the tourist season has passed.
There’s also a higher chance you’ll have the Lake to yourself as there won’t be as many tourists.
Common questions about Humantay Lake in Peru
There are always questions that I can’t cover in the rest of the post.
And this is the section for some of those commonly asked questions.
How long is the Laguna Humantay hike?
The Laguna Humantay hike is about two miles, to the lake and back, with around 1,000 feet of elevation gain.
It takes around 2-3 hours to finish.
Can you swim in Laguna Humantay?
No, you can’t swim in Laguna Humantay.
You should only enjoy the scene and leave it the way it is. Peru takes significant measures to ensure this area stays as pristine as possible.
And, if you don’t follow the rules, a friendly tour guide is undoubtedly nearby and ready to be not-so-friendly.
So, stay out of the water.
Can I go straight from Laguna Humantay to Machu Picchu?
Yes, you can follow the Salkantay Trail from Humantay Lake to Machu Picchu.
The beginning of the trail starts near the campsites in Soray, and you will frequently see hikers beginning their journey. In fact, some hikers have visited Humantay Lake at the start of their trekking.
Can I get to Laguna Humantay from Cusco?
Yes, Cusco is one of the only ways to get to Humantay Lake!
I’d recommend spending a few days in Cusco before visiting. This is because right near the Laguna is Salkantay Mountain, one of the highest mountains in the Vilcabamba region.
Can I take a train to Agua Calientes from Laguna Humantay?
No, hiking the Salkantay Trail is the only way to get to Agua Calientes (without going back to Cusco) from Humantay.
The Salkantay Trail usually takes hikers about 2-3 days before they arrive in Aguas Calientes.
So, will you visit Laguna Humantay soon?
Humantay Lake is like a painting in my mind.
I know it’s there, and I know it’s real. But it’s hard to believe such a perfect landscape exists. And it’s not hard to reach!
So, now is the time you should visit before even more crowds get there.
Don’t stop here, though. You’ll definitely want to check out as many ruins in Cusco as possible while you’re there.