We love the hike to Lake Humantay because there’s always a magical feel to it with its pristine, turquoise waters at an altitude of 4,200 meters (around 13,800 feet) above sea level and surrounded by its protector Andes mountains (Salkantay and Humantay, which provide the water for the lake from its glaciers). It’s no wonder that the Cusco Humantay Lake Tour is the third most popular tour in Cusco, Peru after Machu Picchu Tours and Rainbow Mountain Tours.
From Cusco to the Lake Humantay hike starting point (the valley of Soraypampa) involves a drive of around 4 hours, so we want to leave as early as possible to get to the lake at an optimal time. There’ll be time for breakfast at Mollepata on the way there and lunch in the same town on the way back.
The hike itself is around 1-2 hours long depending on your fitness level. We’ll be walking mostly uphill during that length of time (with some flat sections mixed in), the entire ascent being around 350 meters (or 1,200 feet). For your effort, you’ll be rewarded with the beautiful views afforded by Lake Humantay. There’ll be plenty of time to rest, relax, and take photos before heading back to the city of Cusco.
Pro tip – for an extra cost, there’s actually the option to ride a horse on the way up if you think you’ll have a hard time with the uphill trek. Although you can’t ride the horse back down because of the steepness, the downhill hike back down is generally much easier.
How far is Humantay Lake from Cusco?
The distance from Cusco to the starting point of the Humantay Lake Hike is around 120 meters (390 feet). From there, the hike takes around 1-2 hours.
What should I wear on the Humantay Lake Hike?
Humantay Lake is at very high altitude (4,200 meters or 13,800 ft), so you need clothes for hiking in cold weather. A down jacket, gloves, scarf, and beanie or toque would be ideal for when you've cooled down from your hike, but you'll also need warm sweat-wicking layers for when you start sweating during the hike. You should also pack a rain jacket or poncho to prepare for sudden rainy periods, which can come out of nowhere when you're in the Andes mountains.
Can I swim in Lake Humantay?
It's not possible to actually enter the Humantay Lake glacial water because it's used for consumption by towns nearby and also because human contact can change the natural color of the water.
Can I camp at Lake Humantay?
Unfortunately, you cannot camp by Humantay Lake, but there are camping spots in the nearby town of Soraypampa.