Humantay Lake Hike

Cusco offers its visitors a wide variety of attractions that simply leave them amazed by the history behind each one. As you can imagine, Humantay Lake is no exception; it is a gorgeous turquoise lake that simply cannot go unnoticed by nature lovers.

If your visit is destined for Machu Picchu, or some other attraction in Cusco, and if your itinerary includes some days off, then Humantay Lake may be what you are looking for.

What is Humantay Lake?

Humantay Lake is named after the nearby mountain (Humantay, 5,473 m) and is considered one of the most beautiful and sacred lakes in Cusco. Its turquoise waters with the snow-capped mountains of Salkantay (6,270 m) in the background, whisper directly to you the reason why it is so popular.

In addition to tourists who make day trips to the lake, there are more adventurous tourists who go on the “Salkantay Trek“, which is a 5-day trek to Machu Picchu and during which they can visit this lake at their leisure and at their own pace.

Here is the most updated information for the Humantay Lake hike

We do highly recommend doing the trek with a Licensed Tour Operator, you can get it as cheap as $45 USD for a large group to $100 to $150 USD for smaller groups, with a minimum of 2 persons for a guide, transportation and food (breakfast and lunch). Before booking make sure you know what it includes and the size of the group. As with all treks and tours, shop around before you decide to make a payment.

If you wish to go by yourself here is how you get there:

(also included is an expected budget)

Salkantay mountaiun

Start early, because it is not close to Cusco. You will have to take a car from Cusco to Mollepata, at the Arcopata bus terminal (S/ 20.00) which takes about 1 hour and 40 min. In Mollepata, you will have to find a place where you can have breakfast (S/ 10.00). After breakfast, you have to hire the services of a taxi driver to take you to Soraypampa, the taxi will charge you an approximate of S / 70.00 and if by chance there are more people who want to go, the price per person will go down. You should also budget for the entrance to Lake Humantay (S / 10.00).

After arriving in Soraypampa, you will have to walk for at least 1 hour and 30 minutes to reach the Humantay Lake. If you do not want to walk, you can rent a horse. The first 30 minutes of walking is not steep, however, the rest of the hike is a definite uphill.

You have to consider that there is no regular transportation to return to Soraypampa. We recommend that you negotiate with the taxi driver to wait for you or come to pick you up at a designated time. (here is where your negotiation skills enter). If there is no transportation available when you come down from the lake, there are lodgings that range from 20 to 40 soles. There are also camping areas (take your tent) where you can stay. If you plan to camp, make sure you have a very warm sleeping bag since it is very cold at night. Also if you are feeling really adventurous you can take a swim in the (very cold) lake.

Note: By the time you add up all of the transporation costs and entry fees, you might as well go with a guide with a licensed tour operator. Negotiating transportation costs is not easy if you do not speak Spanish and of course tourist will pay more. Also, finding transportation back from the isolated area may be a challenge that you do not want to deal with.

Humantay Lake Tour

What is the best time of the year for visiting Humantay Lake?

The climate of the highlands and mountains is not very predictable. However, we can see a considerable number of tourists visiting Cusco during the dry season, which runs from May to mid-October. This season undoubtedly provides a full day of sunshine to take that photo that we can’t wait to post on Instagram, and more so in the case of the lake, whose blue-turquoise color can be seen more clearly.

Humantay Lake is accessible all year round, although during the rainy season you will find fewer tourists. Remember that, unlike the Inca Trail tour or the tickets to visit Machu Picchu, the Humantay Lake tour is always available.

Things to Keep in Mind for the Humantay Lake Hike

The day trip to Humantay is easy to navigate yourself as long as you are well prepared and do some planning. Consider the following to make the day as enjoyable as possible.

Good Altitude and vibes!

Even though the hike up doesn’t look too challenging or long, it can take a while and take its toll on your body due to the high altitude. Make sure you spend a couple of days in Cusco before taking the trip and always be prepared with a small bottle oxygen and some coca tea, leaves or candies.

Good and healty Food and Drink

Bear in mind that with a tour you will have food included in the trip. When going by yourself, however, you’ll have to plan in advance. You can get breakfast in Mollepata but it’s best to take some snacks and sandwiches to eat in Soraypampa when you come back down or even at the lake if you wish.


This trip will take the whole day, and for this reason we recommend you leave early in the morning, around 6am is good, or even earlier if you can. This is because it becomes harder to find transport back from Soraypampa the later in the day it gets, and you don’t want to get stuck without a way to get back.


At the top of the lake you’ll find it gets very chilly after you’ve stopped walking for a few minutes. It can also start to rain even when the morning seems bright and sunny. Because of this, you should take waterproof clothes as well as protection from the sun.

Enjoy Your Hike

Now you know how to get to Humantay Lake and back, it’s time to plan your trip and enjoy a once in a lifetime view.

What the Humantay Lake offers us:

  • Driving distance from Cusco: (77 Miles /124 KM)
  • Driving time: 3 hours one-way. Approx. 6 hours in total.
  • Entrance fee: S/ 10 / $ 3.00
  • Base elevation: (12,700 ft. / 3850 masl.)
  • Difficulty: Moderately – difficult hike because the altitude
  • Trail: Sand gravel road at the beginning, flat for about 30 minutes. Then the climb has rocks all over the way. The last part of the path is winding, rocky and slippery.
  • Hiking Distance: (4.5 ML / 7 KM round trip)
  • Horse rentals: At the beginning of the hike for $ 21/ s/. 80 (one way)
  • Walking time: 1H 30M to get to the lake. And 01H for coming back.
  • Top elevation: (13,800 ft. / 4200 masl.)
  • Duration of the complete day: 12 – 13 hours.
  • Elevation difference during trek: (1312 ft. / 400 m)


Hiking the humantay lake Peru is like any other high altitude trek, so it is essential to be well prepared. As it begins in the early hours of the morning, consider to pack the following Items:

  • A down and rain jacket; It will be cold in the morning and just in case it rains you can use a rain jacket.
  • A pair of gloves; Don’t let the freeze numb your fingers in the morning.
  • A hoodie/hut and sun glasses: To protect against cold in the morning and sun radiation during the day.
  • A good pair of hiking shoes; Although you can reach the lake in sneakers it is better to wear sturdy shoes.
  • Rain poncho; if you know you are going in the wet season you must take a rain poncho.
  • Hiking poles; If hiking with the support of poles is more your style, take them with you. It will help you balance too.
  • Water bottle or camelback; Hydrating in the altitude will help the lack of oxygen
  • Sunscreen; high altitude UV rays are intense
  • Snacks; boosters for extra energy.
  • Camera; Bring extra batteries.
  • Cash; There may be a time when you need a lift on a mule, which you will have to pay for or buy some snacks. Same as for the use of restrooms.

*** The 2 days Humantay Lake Trek itinerary was provided by Orange Nation Peru

Get a quote from our recommended local trek operator in Peru.

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