Humantay Lake: A Must-See Destination Near Cusco

Monday January 08, 2024 | Travel Tips | Posted by Team About Cusco

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Humantay Lake A Must-See Destination Near Cusco

Peru is a country that has it all: breathtaking landscapes, rich culture, and amazing history. One of the most popular destinations in Peru is Cusco, the ancient capital of the Inca Empire. Cusco is not only a place full of history and tradition, but also an excellent hub for many outdoor adventures, including the tour to Humantay Lake. This stunning natural wonder is located in the Vilcabamba mountain range, just a few hours from Cusco. If you are looking for a day trip full of adventure and natural beauty, the tour to Humantay Lake is a must-see destination near Cusco and one of the top 10 most popular Tours in Cusco.

Why Go to Humantay Lake?

Lake Humantay is a magical place that will leave you breathless. The lake sits at an elevation of 4,200 meters (13,779 feet) above sea level, surrounded by impressive mountains and glaciers. The lake’s color changes from deep blue to turquoise, depending on the weather and the angle of the sun. The scenery is truly mesmerizing, and you will feel a sense of peace and serenity that is hard to find elsewhere. The lake is considered sacred by the local communities, and its beauty is a reflection of the Andean worldview, where nature and spirituality are deeply intertwined. Humantay Lake is a must-see destination near Cusco.

How long is the hike to Humantay Lake?

The tour to Lake Humantay is a full-day adventure that starts early in the morning in Cusco, around 4:00 am. The reason for the early start is that the drive from Cusco to the trailhead takes about 3-4 hours, depending on the traffic and the weather conditions. Once you arrive at the trailhead, you will start the hike to the lake. The hike is about 7 kilometers (4.3 miles) long, and it usually takes around 3 hours to complete. The hike is considered moderate to challenging, as you will be hiking uphill most of the way, and the altitude can make it more difficult. However, the views are totally worth it.

What do you see on the Hike to Lake Humantay?

Along the way, you will pass through a variety of landscapes, including Andean forests, rocky trails, and open meadows. You will also have the chance to see local flora and fauna, such as llamas, alpacas, and different bird species. The last part of the hike is the most challenging, as you will climb steep switchbacks until you reach the lake. But once you arrive, you will be rewarded with one of the most beautiful views you have ever seen.

After taking in the breathtaking scenery, you will have some time to relax and enjoy the peacefulness of the lake. You can take a dip in the icy water, take some photos, or just sit and meditate. The guides will also provide you with a snack, which usually consists of local fruits and bread. After some time, you will start the descent back to the trailhead, which takes around 2 hours. Once you arrive at the trailhead, you will have some time to rest and relax before the drive back to Cusco.

Is the Hike to Lake Humantay hard?

The hike to Lake Humantay is considered moderate to challenging, depending on your fitness level and altitude tolerance. The trail is uphill most of the way, and the altitude can make it more challenging. It’s important to be prepared physically and mentally for the hike, and to take your time and rest whenever you need to. Also, don’t do this hike when you have just arrived to Cusco, it is better to first visit the lower destinations (Machu Picchu (by train), the Sacred Valley) and save the more challenging tours to the end (Rainbow Mountain, Lake Humantay, Salkantay Trek, Inca Trail).

Remember to bring appropriate clothing, including warm layers, rain gear (especially between October and March – check Cusco weather), and hiking boots. Bring some snacks and water with you to stay hydrated.

How to prepare for the Lake Humantay Tour?

To make the most out of your tour to Humantay Lake, it’s important to come prepared. First of all, make sure you are acclimatized to the altitude. Wear comfortable hiking shoes, bring plenty of water, snacks, sunscreen, and warm clothing. The temperature can be quite chilly at the top, so it’s important to dress in layers. Don’t forget to bring a camera, as the views are truly spectacular and you’ll want to capture the moment.

Tour to Lake Humantay Peru

Where to book a Tour to Lake Humantay?

In terms of tour options, there are several companies in Cusco that offer tours to Humantay Lake. It’s important to choose a reputable company with experienced guides who are familiar with the area and can provide you with a safe and enjoyable experience. There are private tours, and group tours. Private tours are generally more expensive, but they offer more flexibility and personalized attention from your guide.

We recommend:
Book One Day Humantay Lake Tour

Go to Lake Humantay

If your schedule allows and you love hiking in Peru, a tour to Humantay Lake is a must-do activity for anyone visiting Cusco. The hike is challenging, but the reward is well worth the effort. The scenery is simply breathtaking, and it’s an experience you’ll never forget. Make sure to come prepared, choose a reputable tour company, and enjoy the journey to one of Peru’s most beautiful destinations.

Is Humantay harder than Rainbow mountain?

Both the Humantay Lake hike and the Rainbow Mountain hike present unique challenges, and the difficulty can vary for each person based on factors like fitness level and acclimatization to altitude. Let’s break down the key aspects of each hike:

Visiting Lake Humantay Cusco Peru
  1. Humantay Lake Hike:
    • Location: Near Mollepata in the Cusco region.
    • Altitude: The lake sits at an altitude of around 4,200 meters (13,780 feet).
    • Hiking Distance: The round trip is usually around 7 kilometers (4.3 miles).
    • Terrain: The trail is well-defined but can be steep in some sections.
    • Time Required: It typically takes a few hours to complete the hike.
  1. Rainbow Mountain Hike (Vinicunca):
    • Location: Near Cusco, in the Ausangate region.
    • Altitude: The summit is at a high altitude of approximately 5,200 meters (17,060 feet) (higher than Humantay Lake).
    • Hiking Distance: The round trip is about 14 kilometers (8.7 miles).
    • Terrain: The trail includes both gradual and steep ascents, with rocky and uneven paths.
    • Time Required: It’s a longer hike compared to Humantay Lake, often taking a full day.

Factors to Consider:

  • Altitude: Both hikes involve high altitudes, which can contribute to the difficulty. Altitude sickness may affect some individuals.
  • Fitness Level: Both hikes require a reasonable level of fitness, but Rainbow Mountain is generally considered more challenging due to its longer distance and higher altitude.
  • Weather: Weather conditions can vary, and rain or snow can make trails slippery.


  • Acclimatization: Spend a few days acclimatizing in Cusco before attempting either hike.
  • Proper Gear: Wear appropriate clothing and footwear, considering the weather and terrain.
  • Hydration and Nutrition: Stay hydrated and have snacks to maintain energy.

While both hikes offer stunning views, Rainbow Mountain is often considered more challenging due to its longer distance and higher altitude. It’s important to assess your own fitness level and altitude tolerance before embarking on either journey.

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