Peru is a diverse country with countless natural attractions that are enjoyed by millions of tourists every year. While most travelers set their sights on reaching Machu Picchu, there are many other hidden gems in the Andes that are overlooked by many. Tucked away along the Salkantay Trek, this glacial lagoon is surrounded by amazing views of snow topped mountains and rolling valleys that will give you a glimpse into life in the Peruvian highlands.
Lake Humantay can be reached in various ways, it all just depends on how you want to get there. As previously stated, many reach the lagoon on the first of five days of the Salkantay Trek. After eating lunch in Soraypampa, hikers will then have to walk one to two hours to reach the lake and then one more hour to return. While not necessarily difficult, the attitude of 4200 meters can cause problems for those who haven’t taken the time to properly acclimatize.
Those with less time can opt for a day trip which will bring you directly to the village of Soraypampa where you will begin the same three-hour round-trip hike. Day tours can typically start from 4-6 in the morning depending on when or who you booked with. Transportation will arrive directly at your hostel to pick you up to start the 3-hour bus to ride to the beginning of the trail.
It is also possible to reach Lake Humantay by yourself. This first requires that you go the Arcopata, a bus terminal about 15 minutes walking from the Plaza de Armas. From there you will have to pay 15 soles to get to Mollepata, another 70-80 soles to get to Soraypampa by taxi, and then finally another 10 soles to actually enter Lake Humantay. Although this option may work for some, the extra steps you have to take offset the differences in costs of the other options.
WHAT TO BRING
The climate in the Peruvian highlands can change very rapidly so it can be difficult to dress accordingly. The best outfit is one that covers multiple types of weather at once. Pants, boots, and a light but warm jacket are must have items. You may have to shed some layers during the ascent and descent but when you stop to enjoy the view it can get pretty cold. Bringing a sunhat or beanie is recommendable in case the sun is glaring or completely hidden altogether. It’s also advisable to bring walking sticks as the path can be rough on the knees.
In terms of food, small fruits and snack bars can help out immensely because the breakfast provided may not fill you up. Cusco has a ton of small markets that you can visit the night before to stock up on anything you might need. Specifically, oranges and bananas are great because they provide the body with natural sugars that can give you a much needed boost of energy. You can also find coca leaves almost anywhere in the city. A small bag typically costs 5 soles but will be enough to last at least a week. These leaves help cure altitude sickness almost immediately and are best mixed with hot water or chewed up directly. While bringing water is absolutely necessary, try not to weigh yourself down with too much. 2 liters is plenty and should easily get you through the day.
- – Horses are available to those who can’t or don’t want to make the ascent to the lagoon at an additional cost.
- – Food and snacks in Soraypampa are significantly more expensive then in Cusco.
- – Tour guides will be well versed in both English and Spanish.
- – There are hostels available in both Molletamba and Soraypampa to stay in.