Laguna Humantay – a hidden gem in the Andes


Peru tops the bucket list of many travellers. Most of them travel to visit the iconic lost city of Incas, Machu Picchu. However, the country has many sites those are not explored yet. Infact, Peru is a lot more to offer than Machu Picchu.

One of the newly discovered attractions are the turquoise waters of a glacial lake, Laguna Humantay. It flows on the foot hills of Mt. Humantay, after which it is named. The melting glaciers of Mt. Humantay feeds the lake.

The turquoise lake is one of the scenic spot on the renowned Salkantay Trek to Machu Picchu. The trek takes trekkers through the base of the snow capped Salkantay Peak which is the highest peak in the Vilcabamba mountain range. However, many travellers are unaware that it is possible to visit Laguna Humantay on a day trip from Cusco.

Agriculture was the main source of income to Incas, The Andean cosmology is characterised by offering respect to many energy entities. This includes, Mother Earth (Pachamama), the sun, moon, peaks and lakes. This hidden gem is one of the sacred sites to the people in Andes. Shamans (Andean priests) often visit the lagoon to express their gratitude to Pachamama (Mother Earth). They do offerings in form of Apacheta, its a process of piling stones, each on top of the other.

Visiting Laguna Humantay:

The easiest option is signing up for a tour. There are many tour companies in Cusco who operate this tour. Most tours leave at 0500 AM from Cusco and returns by 0600 PM. The tours include transport, breakfast, lunch and a local guide. It is a two and a half hours drive to the trailhead from Cusco.

This is a high altitude trek. The hike up is through highland farms. You will also get to see many Andean Camelids (Alpacas, Llamas and Vicuñas). This is one of the scenic treks in the region. The captivating views of nature’s beauty and Peru’s finest will certainly make your hiking an unforgettable one.

Best Time to Visit Laguna Humantay:

Laguna Humantay is located high up in the Peruvian Andes. There are two seasons here, monsoon and dry season. It rains from December to March. During monsoon season, the trail gets slippery and there is a risk of landslides too. It is best to visit Laguna Humantay during the dry season, from April until November.

Know before you hike:

The Lagoon nestles at 4,200 metres above sea level. As a high altitude trek most trekkers are prone to altitude sickness. However, spending a couple of days acclimatising in Cusco would help to avoid altitude sickness. It is also recommended to bring coca leaves, water and hiking sticks as well as other necessaries.

The Hike:

The hike to Laguna Humantay starts at a dusky Andean village called, Sorayapampa. It takes two hours to reach the lagoon from there. Majority of the trek happens in a steep section. So, if you are finding it hard you can always rent a horse from the base camp. The locals own the horses, they lead them on foot while you will be riding on them. So there is no fear of risking.

Recommended To Carry:

  • Carry plenty of water. One of the easiest ways to prevent altitude sickness is by staying hydrated.
  • Wear a sturdy pari of hiking shoes.
  • Carry winter coats, gloves, hats and scarf. The weather gets extremely cold on top.
  • It is highly recommended to carry a pair of walking sticks.
  • Make sure to carry extra batteries. Batteries get consumed rapidly at high altitudes.
  • Having some coca leaves will be helpful to overcome altitude sickness.

Trekking Laguna Humantay is one of the rewarding experiences in Cusco. This is one of those trips that you cannot miss in Cusco. You will certainly be thankful to have experienced the tranquility of the pristine glacial lake up in the Peruvian Andes.