Humantay Lagoon

The Humantay lagoon is one of the most visited tourist destinations in Cusco along with Machu Picchu and the mountain of the 7 colors. The landscape offered by the lagoon is one of the most photographed by tourists. To get there, you must make a route by vehicle transport to the district of Mollepata, approximately 100 kilometers from the city of Cusco. Then you must continue by car for 34 more kilometers to the town of Soraypampa where the walk to the Humantay lagoon begins for 2.5 kilometers.

What is the Humantay lagoon?

The Humantay lagoon is one of the best tourist attractions in Cusco and Peru. This lagoon stands out for its turquoise waters crowned by the snow-capped Salkantay. Due to its natural beauty, it is one of the most photographed places by tourists visiting Cusco.

What is its location? At what height is it located?

The Humantay lagoon is located in the Vilcabamba mountain range in the Andean region of Peru. The most important nearby snow-capped mountain is Salkantay. The Humantay mountain gave the name to the lagoon, which is 4,200 meters above sea level (13,779 ft).

Map to get to Soraypampa

Mapa de Cusco hacia la laguna de Humantay
Map of Cusco to the Humantay lagoon

How to get from Cusco with a tour?

The city of Cusco is where most of the tourist agencies that offer the trip to the Humantay lagoon are located. There are some variations of the tour although most prefer the 1 full day service (14 hours of travel). You can choose the offer you prefer. Remember that all tour packages include the transportation service from Cuzco to Soraypampa (2.5 kilometers from the lagoon) and vice versa.

How much does a tour cost?

The 1-day tour packages to the Humantay lagoon have an approximate cost of 60 USD, approximately (includes complete transportation, tour guide, entrance to the lagoon, breakfast and buffet lunch).

If you travel on your own you have to take into account the following (approximate) expenses:

  • Travel by bus from Cusco to Mollepata (round trip): 10 USD.
  • Travel by taxi from Mollepata to Soraypampa (round trip): 40 USD.
  • Entrance ticket to the lagoon: 3 USD.
  • Breakfast in Mollepata: 5 USD.
  • Lunch in Mollepata: 5 USD.

And how to get there on my own?

Getting from Cusco to the Humantay lagoon on your own is difficult, it can take between 5 to 6 hours and follow the following route:

  • Travel by public transport from Cusco to Mollepata (buses are taken at the Arcopata land terminal).
  • Travel by taxi from Mollepata to the community of Soraypampa (taxis are scarce and charge a high rate).
  • Hike from Soraypampa to the lagoon (you can ascend on foot or with the option of renting a horse).

This is the walk to the Humantay lagoon

The route to the Humantay lagoon follows a stretch by car from Cusco to the Soraypampa camp and, from there, necessarily on foot to the lagoon. This route can also be done on horseback for an additional cost. However, most tourists do it on foot as it is part of the adventure. Along the way you can see rivers, fields and the famous Salkantay mountain.

Information about the walk that you should know

  • Starting point: Soraypampa Camp.
  • Arrival point: Humantay Lagoon.
  • Starting altitude: 3,900 masl (12,795 ft).
  • Arrival altitude: 4,200 masl (13,779 ft).
  • Ascent distance: 300 meters (984 ft).
  • Walking distance: approximately 2.5 kilometers.
  • Walking time: 1 hour 30 minutes on average.
  • Average temperature: 7ºC. (44.6ºF).
  • Hiking terrain: rocky with mud in rain.

What should i bring?

  • Cotton polo shirt.
  • Cortavientos jacket.
  • Pants or leggings ideal for walks.
  • Thick socks.
  • Hiking shoes.
  • Cap or hat.
  • Snacks.
  • Water or rehydrating drinks.
  • Oxygen in shot.
  • Medicinal alcohol (to relieve some symptoms of altitude sickness).
  • Photo camera.
  • Cash.
  • Documents.

Go on foot or on horseback?

The first option during the walk to the lagoon is to go on foot. Most tourists do so. In addition, tourism agencies do not include the ascent by horse, so an additional amount has to be paid. The approximate cost of the horse and muleteer service is negotiable US $ 30. The money is paid in the same place talking with the muleteer who offers the service.

Young tourists in average fitness can make it to the top. Children and older adults can choose the option of going up on horseback, although there are many cases of children and the elderly managing to reach the lagoon on foot. Likewise, tourists who feel very bad due to altitude sickness, can choose to go up on horseback.

Children from 5 years to 12 years can climb the mountain without problems as long as they do it with the company and help of their parents. If this is the case, they can get a horse so that the child can climb without problems. If the child is used to hiking there is no problem for him to walk to the lagoon.

Unfortunately, it is not recommended to go up to the lagoon with babies. First, because walking uphill with the baby in your arms or on the baby backpack is a double effort for the father or mother who carries it. Second, because the intense mountain climate can affect the little one.

Seniors in good physical condition can walk up to the lagoon. It is recommended that you consult your doctor in case you suffer from a heart problem or high blood pressure since the cold high mountain climate can affect your health.

Older adults should go up to the lagoon slowly and enjoying the landscape without demanding too much. Finally there is always a possibility of hiring the service of a horse and muleteer to reach the lagoon.

And how is the return walk?

The return path from the Humantay lagoon to the Soraypampa camp follows the same route as the ascent, that is, it extends for 2.5 kilometers. Because the road is downhill, the time it takes to travel it is only 1 hour.

While ascending to the lagoon on foot from Soraypampa is difficult, the descent is much easier. The physical effort is much less. The only drawback is slipping on the rocky terrain that gets muddy during the rains.

Go with tour or on my own?

To visit the Humantay lagoon you can choose to do it through a tour package or on your own. Of both, the best option is to choose an all-inclusive tour: transportation, breakfast, lunch, entrance fees, and tour guide service.

If you travel on your own, the most difficult thing is to get transportation to the community of Soraypampa. To do this you will have to take public transport from Cusco to Mollepata and from there hire a taxi to Soraypampa for the round trip. These taxi services are difficult to find and expensive (the taxi driver can charge $ 50 for the service).

Therefore, if you hire a tour package, you will have no problems getting to Soraypampa since the tour includes full transportation. You can get tourist packages through the website of a tourism agency or in the city of Cusco.

Can I camp?

To preserve the place, in the Humantay lagoon it is not allowed to camp. However, in the Soraypampa camp there are several places where you can camp for an additional cost.

In Soraypampa there are several camps that are very well equipped for the cold. Tourists who make the famous 5-day hiking route to Machu Picchu called 'Salkantay Trek' arrive there.

This is the climate in the Humantay lagoon

The climate in the Humantay lagoon is cold. The average temperature is 8ºC. (46ºF.). It rains a lot, especially from November to March, which is the rainy season. From April to October the climate is dry, so during those months the so-called dry season occurs. According to the visitors who went there, April and May are the best months to go.

Month by month temperature

The climate in the Humantay lagoon varies according to the time of year. February is the rainiest month. However, keep in mind that it can rain at any time of the year.

Month of the year
Temperature Max.
Min temperature
Frequency of rains
January18ºC. / 64ºF.6ºC. / 42ºF. high
February18ºC. / 64ºF.6ºC. / 42ºF.high
March18ºC. / 64ºF.6ºC. / 42ºF.high
April19ºC. / 66ºF.4ºC. / 39ºF.Half
May19ºC. / 66ºF.2ºC. / 35ºF.Low
June18ºC. / 64ºF.0ºC. / 32ºF.Low
July18ºC. / 64ºF.0ºC. / 32ºF.Low
August19ºC. / 64ºF.1ºC. / 33ºF.Low
September19ºC. / 64ºF.3ºC. / 375ºF.Low
October20ºC. / 68ºF. 5ºC. / 41ºF.Half
November20ºC. / 68ºF. 5ºC. / 41ºF.Half
December18ºC. / 64ºF.6ºC. / 42ºF.Half

It rains a lot?

In the Humantay lagoon, as in most of the Andes Mountains, it can rain at any time. However, from November to March there is the so-called rainy season where rains are more frequent. February is definitely the rainiest month.

When is the best time of year to go?

Any time is good to visit the lagoon. However, according to the visitors who have already been there, the months of the dry season (from April to October) are the best to visit the Humantay lagoon. Of these months, the most suitable for the trip are April and May since it is not so cold or so hot, so the temperature is correct.

Although on those days it is colder in the afternoons and nights, the mountain that crowns the lagoon is seen with more snow while the lagoon acquires a more intense turquoise color.

Can I swim in the lagoon?

A few years ago, some brave tourists were allowed to overcome the cold and bathe in the waters of the Humantay lagoon. However, this is currently prohibited. The reason is that the residents of the neighboring towns use the waters of the lagoon for their daily work.

What clothes to wear?

If you are thinking of visiting the Humantay lagoon, do not forget to bring the following to combat cold weather:

  • Cortavientos jacket.
  • Sweater or jacket for the cold.
  • Comfortable pants for walks.
  • Thick socks.
  • Gloves.
  • Trekking shoes.
  • Poncho for the rain.
  • Sunscreen.
Laguna humantay
Laguna humantay
Laguna humantay
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Additional information for your trip

Although it is possible to get to the lagoon on your own, the best option is definitely to choose a tour package. These include everything you need for a carefree trip. It is the safest and even economical way to go.

If you want to get to the lagoon on your own, keep in mind that the trip from Mollepata to Soraypampa has to be done in a taxi and that these are rare and expensive. If you manage to get one, you definitely have to convince him to wait for you for the return trip, after the visit to the lagoon.

No matter what time of year you visit the lagoon, it will always be cold. Bring gloves, a warm jacket, and thick socks with you. Of course, during the walk you will warm up so also take light clothing with you such as a polo shirt, windbreaker and hiking pants.

You can also bring a rain poncho, snacks, drinks, a camera, the necessary documents for the trip and cash in case of some extra purchases.