The Humantay lagoon is one of the most visited tourist attractions in Peru. It is one of the most beautiful natural landscapes of Cusco. Its turquoise waters crowned by the imposing snowy Salkantay give it a unique beauty. From the time of the Incas, this lagoon was adored by the Andean settlers. It is the third most popular tourist attraction in Cusco, after Machu Picchu and the 7 Colors Mountain.
- The Humantay lagoon
- The trip to the Humantay lagoon
- More information about the Humantay lagoon
- Frequent questions
- How to visit the lagoon with the Salkantay trek?
- Which tourism agency to choose?
- How to combat altitude sickness?
- Does the tour include a ‘payment to the land’ ceremony?
- Can I get a horse halfway?
- Are there toilets nearby?
- At what time of the year does it rain the most?
- What similar tours are there in Cusco?
The Humantay lagoon is one of the main tourist attractions of Cusco along with Machu Picchu and the 7 Colors Mountain. It is recommended to visit this place after acclimatizing to Cusco. This because the lagoon is at a high altitude. You get there after a difficult walk of approximately 2 kilometers.
The Humantay lagoon
What is the Humantay lagoon? Why is it popular?
– Humantay is the snowy mountain that gave the name to this impressive lagoon, considered one of the most beautiful and sacred in Cusco. Its fame is mainly due to its turquoise waters adorned by the white snow of the snowy Salkantay. In addition to the visitors who make the 1-day tour to the lagoon, tourists who make the so-called ‘Salkantay Trek’ (5-day trek to Machu Picchu) have the opportunity to visit this lagoon.
Where it is located? How high is it?
– The lagoon is located near the snowy Salkantay in the Andes Mountains of Cusco, Peru. The lagoon is 4,200 meters above sea level (13,779 ft).
How to go?
– To get to the Humantay lagoon from the city of Cusco, you must follow a road trip of approximately 120 kilometers, passing through the towns of Limatambo and Mollepata until arriving at the community of ‘Soraypampa’.
Once in ‘Soraypampa’, an uphill walk of approximately 2 kilometers begins until you reach the lagoon. If you travel with a tourist package, transportation is included as well as breakfast and lunch in the town of Mollepata. If you travel on your own you must hire public transport in the city of Cusco.
How to get to the Humantay Lagoon
What is the temperature in the lagoon?
– The climate in the Humantay lagoon is cold. It varies from 10ºC. (50ºF). at 0ºC. (32ºF). Because its waters come from the snowy melt, the temperature can be even lower. There are two seasons in the year: a) the dry season (without rain and colder) and the rainy season (with more probability of rain and less cold).
The trip to the Humantay lagoon
Can I go to the lagoon on my own?
– Yes. To go to the lagoon on your own you must take public transport from the city of Cusco to the town of Mollepata. The buses leave from the ‘Arcopata’ terminal and have an approximate cost of 15 Peruvian soles (5 USD).
Once in Mollepata you must get a collective taxi service to the Soraypampa community. There are times when you will not find this transport so you must get a taxi. This service could cost 50 Peruvian soles (15 USD).
Finally, in Soraypampa you must make the walk to the Humantay lagoon. Due to the complexity of the trip by public transport, it is recommended to choose a tourist package with transport included. It can be cheaper and safer than going on your own.
How much does the entrance to the lagoon cost?
– In the town of Mollepata you must pay to enter the Soraypampa camp where the lagoon is. The cost for foreign tourists is 10 Peruvian soles (3 USD). The cost for Peruvian tourists is 5 Peruvian soles (2 USD). Some tour packages include this entry while others do not.
How long does the walk last?
– The final section of the trip is the walk from Soraypampa to the Humantay lagoon. This section is approximately 2 kilometers long and can take from 1 to 2 hours, depending on the physical condition of the visitor. Tourists who are not used to this type of hiking can rent a horse as transportation to the lagoon. It is common for tourists to feel the symptoms of altitude sickness, whether in Cusco, Machu Picchu or Humantay.
How to rent a horse? How much?
– The residents of the Soraypampa community offer horse rental at the starting point of the trek to the Humantay lagoon. The service is only for the uphill stretch and has an approximate cost of 90 Peruvian soles negotiable (30 USD).
What kind of clothes to wear?
– Due to the cold climate of the Humantay lagoon, it is recommended to wear a warm jacket as well as gloves and chullo. Of course, during the walk wear light clothing since the visitor will inevitably perspire. A rain poncho is also important since it can rain at any time.
With which tourism agency to travel?
– In Cusco there are several tourism agencies that offer the 1-day tour to the Humantay lagoon. All services must include: full transportation, breakfast, lunch and tour guide service. Choose the tourism agency that meets your expectations. Remember that you can also contract the service through the website of the tourist agency.
Can I get a tour once in Cusco?
– Yes. Unlike the Inca Trail tours or the entrances to Machu Picchu, there is always availability for the tour to the Humantay lagoon. Therefore, you can get a tour of the lagoon once in Cusco, without any problem.
More information about the Humantay lagoon
On what date is it recommended to go?
– The best time of year to go to the Humantay lagoon is during the dry season (April to October), when it is less likely to rain. During those months the snow-capped mountains are more majestic since they are whiter and more imposing. The sun can be uncomfortable during the walk but reveals a splendid landscape once in the lagoon.
Can I camp near the lagoon?
– It is not possible to camp next to the Humantay lagoon, but it is possible to camp in the Soraypampa camping area, 2 kilometers from the lagoon. Keep in mind that the cold is intense there, so it should be prepared with a coat, hot water and a suitable mat. The cold by the lagoon is much more intense at night.
Can I go with children?
– Although it is a bit difficult for both parents and children, it is possible to go with children to the lagoon. The best option is to rent a horse to go up with children. Remember that the walk is demanding and at an altitude and temperature that can cause discomfort to the little ones. On the other hand, it is not recommended to go with babies to the lagoon. Instead, you can go to Machu Picchu with children or babies.
Can I swim in the lagoon?
– Currently it is not allowed to enter the frozen waters of the Humantay lagoon. First, because water is used for the consumption of the population that inhabits these mountains. Second, because human contact can alter the natural coloration of the lagoon. Also, the water temperature is not recommended for visitors.
What is the cheapest way to go to the lagoon?
– Definitely, the cheapest way to go to the Humantay lagoon is to hire an all-inclusive tour package. If you go on your own you will have to risk looking for transportation from Mollepata to Soraypampa, which is difficult and expensive. Therefore, choose the tour that best suits your budget.
How to visit the lagoon with the Salkantay trek?
The 5-day Salkantay trek tour offers a visit to the Humantay lagoon on the afternoon of the first day, after a walk of approximately 3 to 4 hours. Because some tourists are exhausted, they prefer to rest in the Soraypampa camp and not go to the lagoon.
Which tourism agency to choose?
Choose a serious travel agency that has recommendations on online forums, such as TripAdvisor.
How to combat altitude sickness?
The Humantay lagoon is 4,200 meters above sea level. At that altitude you can suffer some symptoms such as fatigue, headache and nausea. To better combat altitude sickness, you should drink plenty of water (avoid alcoholic beverages).
Does the tour include a ‘payment to the land’ ceremony?
Some tours to the ‘Laguna Humantay’ include a ceremony of ‘Payment to the land’ in the middle of the lagoon. This depends on the tourism agency you choose. You can consult it before booking the tour.
Can I get a horse halfway?
Yes, the transfer service on horseback is available at all times of the walk to the Humantay lagoon. If you run out midway, you can take a horse for a cheaper cost (due to the distance already traveled).
Are there toilets nearby?
During the trip to the Humantay lagoon you will be able to access toilets at the Soraypampa camp (2 kilometers away). During the walk and in the lagoon itself there are no toilets.
At what time of the year does it rain the most?
Definitely, the months of January, February and March are the rainiest. If you visit the lagoon, it is recommended to bring a rain poncho and waterproof shoes.
What similar tours are there in Cusco?
In Cusco there are other tours similar to the Humantay lagoon. For example, the tour to the 7 colors mountain, the tour to the Inca site of Waqrapukara, the tour to the 7 lagoons, etc.
By Ticket Machu Picchu – Last updated, April 17, 2021