If you are in Cusco for an period of time this location must be put on the list. We don’t quite remember the time it takes to drive from Cusco to the beginning of the hike, a couple hours more or less, but regardless it such a short venture out from the city that there is no excuse for missing out.
Humantay Lake is nestled so perfectly into the mountains and the hike to reach it, while entirely uphill, isn’t too demanding as long as you are not in a rush. The elevation is no joke and it will most likely be the difficulty in breathing that sets you back more than the actual physical effort for the hike. Cusco itself sits high above sea level and it is always recommended to give yourself a few days to adjust to the altitude before you begin any strenuous activities. Cusco is worth a few days exploring anyway… go out for some pisco sours, eat a bunch of ceviche from restaurants all over the city, get some fresh fruit smoothies from the market and check out the bars around the Plaza de Armas.
As always, pack snacks and water for the hike. It took us roughly two hours to reach the lake and once you start there is no opportunity to purchase anything until you have returned to the parking area. The hike brings you high into the mountains, with nothing but sky and snowcapped tips surrounding you. The lake itself sits in what almost seems like a crater, with an incredible mountain backdrop on all but one of it’s sides. It is forbidden to swim in the lake or be in the water in any capacity, but it is freezing so it should be easy to follow the rules. There are tons of trails all along the sides of the lake that allow you to explore it from many different vantage points and take in the view from multiple heights and angles. We personally enjoyed the left side of the lake, where we snapped the leading photo for this blog.
This rock juts out from the side of the trail, on a slight but gradually sloping hillside that eventually meets the lake. This rock creates an opportunity for an incredible perspective, making it look as though the water is extremely far away, however you can easily jump down from the rock and land with certain safety. When you make your way here one day you will have to seek out the rock and check it out for yourself. It was our most favorite view of the lake by far and we had the most fun here taking photos and relaxing from the hike up. From here this is an awesome little trail that leads you all along the left side of the lake and toward the mountain, a ridge line that not many people walk along. The majority of the people that you will see here remain at the lake’s edge, where the hike officially ends. As with most locations like this, after a tiring hike, most people don’t want to explore any further. This is why this spot was one of our most favorite places from our time in Peru. All the big name locations, like Machu Picchu for example, are going to be full of tourists. Humantay was quite the opposite. While we were far from the only people present at the lake, no one seemed to wander along the small trails that etched the lake in.
The more we travel, the more we enjoy having places to ourselves. You can very easily have Humantay all to your self by simply continuing up along the right or left side of the lake and you will be far away from anyone else. Some people will see you branch off and might follow after a little while but the more you wander off the quieter it becomes.
We recommend packing some warm clothing for the hike because once you get to the lake you will most likely feel cold. The hike up is strenuous enough that you will probably need to drop some layers to remain comfortable and keep yourself from sweating, but you will need to re-layer if you want to be comfortable when the hike has ended. There are a few shops at the parking area where you can get some snacks, waters and even a cold beer to celebrate the end of the journey once you have made it back down from the lake. As with all places like this the prices are going to be much higher than if you were to pick things up in advance so we definitely recommend picking up your snacks and waters in Cusco the night before you head out. Being prepared for hikes like this is what makes them easy. Be sure to pack light for the hike so you don’t weigh yourself down, but don’t neglect to bring along some energy packed snacks to help you make it up into the mountains.
Photo Rights Owned and Managed by Kelly and Kody, @positravelty.
Copyright: Positravelty LLC