Humantay Lake: 5 Essential Things You MUST Know Before Visiting This Breathtaking Peruvian Destination

humantay lake

Nestled high in the Peruvian Andes, there lies a hidden gem of extraordinary natural beauty. This crystal-clear, turquoise jewel, known to the locals simply as “Humantay Lake” is a mesmerizing alpine lake that captivates travelers from around the world. Surrounded by snow-capped peaks and lush green valleys, this Peruvian destination offers an unforgettable experience. In this blog post, we’ll explore five essential things you need to know before visiting this breathtaking locale.

What is Humantay Lake?

At an elevation of approximately 4,200 meters (13,780 feet) above sea level, Humantay Lake is a stunning high-altitude lake located in the province of Anta, in the Cusco region of Peru. Nestled in the heart of the Andes, it sits at the base of the majestic Salkantay Mountain, one of the most prominent peaks in the Cusco region. This lake is celebrated for its shimmering turquoise waters, which are framed by a strikingly white glacier that serves as a dramatic backdrop.

Geological Origins

The origin of Humantay Lake can be traced back to the retreat of the glacier that once covered this region. As the glacier receded over time, it left behind a series of meltwater lakes, one of which is Humantay. The glacial meltwater, infused with minerals from the surrounding rock, is responsible for the lake’s incredible turquoise color.

Sacred Significance

For the local people, Humantay Lake is not just a natural wonder; it holds deep spiritual significance. It is considered a sacred place by the nearby Andean communities, and offerings and rituals are often conducted here to honor the spirits of the mountains. The serene beauty and cultural significance of this destination make it a truly unique and remarkable place to visit.

How Far is Humantay Lake from Cusco?

One of the first things to consider when planning a visit to Humantay Lake is the distance from Cusco, the historical heart of the Inca Empire. The journey to this breathtaking destination is both awe-inspiring and challenging, as it takes travelers through the rugged terrain of the Andes

The Distance

The direct distance from Cusco to Humantay Lake is approximately 60 kilometers (37 miles) to the northwest. However, the actual travel time can vary significantly due to the mountainous terrain and the quality of the roads.

Travel Time

The journey typically takes around 3 to 4 hours by road, but the duration can be longer depending on road conditions, traffic, and stops along the way. The drive takes you through picturesque Andean landscapes, allowing you to witness the natural beauty of the region.

Trekking to Humantay

While road access is possible, many travelers opt for a more adventurous approach by trekking to Humantay Lake. The most popular trek is the Humantay Lake trek, which usually takes a full day. This trek offers a unique opportunity to immerse yourself in the beauty of the Andes and acclimatize to the high-altitude conditions while approaching the lake on foot.

Is Humantay Worth It?

The question of whether a visit to Humantay Lake is worth the effort is a common one. Here are several factors to consider when evaluating the worth of this breathtaking destination.

Natural Beauty

Humantay Lake is undeniably one of the most striking natural wonders in the Cusco region. Its pristine turquoise waters, surrounded by the snow-capped peaks of the Andes, create a truly mesmerizing sight. The beauty of this high-altitude lake is a major draw for travelers seeking a unique and unforgettable experience.

Cultural Significance

The cultural significance of Humantay Lake adds depth to the experience. For those interested in Andean spirituality and traditions, visiting a place considered sacred by the local communities can be a profoundly meaningful experience.

Adventure & Trekking

For adventure enthusiasts, the trek to Humantay Lake provides an exciting opportunity to explore the stunning landscapes of the Andes. The trek offers a combination of challenging terrain and rewarding natural beauty, making it a fulfilling experience for those who enjoy hiking.

Altitude Considerations

It’s important to be aware of the high-altitude conditions when planning a visit to Humantay Lake. The lake sits at an elevation of over 4,200 meters (13,780 feet), which can pose challenges for those not acclimatized to high altitudes. It’s advisable to spend a few days in Cusco to acclimatize before the visit to reduce the risk of altitude sickness.

Weather & Seasons

Weather conditions can vary throughout the year, impacting the experience. The dry season, from May to October, typically offers the clearest and most pleasant weather. The wet season, from November to April, can result in rainy and sometimes challenging trekking conditions.

Can You Swim in Humantay Lake?

One of the most common questions among visitors is whether swimming in Humantay Lake is allowed or advisable. The lake’s pristine appearance and tempting waters may lead some to wonder if they can take a refreshing dip. The short answer is ¨no¨, but let us learn why.

Cultural Respect

Out of respect for the cultural significance of the lake to local communities, it is generally discouraged to swim in Humantay Lake. The lake is considered a sacred site, and the practice of swimming or any other disruptive activities can be considered disrespectful to the local traditions and beliefs.

Water Temperature

Swimming in Humantay Lake is also limited by its frigid water temperature. The lake is fed by glacial meltwater, which remains very cold even during the warmer months. The extreme cold can make swimming an uncomfortable and potentially risky activity.

Environmental Conservation

Protecting the pristine environment of Humantay Lake is crucial for its long-term preservation. Swimming can introduce contaminants and disturb the aquatic ecosystem. Visitors are encouraged to minimize their impact on the lake and its surroundings by adhering to Leave No Trace principles and respecting any specific regulations put in place by local authorities.

Where to get the best tour to the lake?

Planning a visit to Humantay Lake often involves choosing a tour operator who can provide a safe and informative experience. Inca Peru Travel, a certified and widely trusted tour company run by Cusqueños, offers exceptional tours to this breathtaking destination. Here are some reasons why our tours are the best choice for exploring Humantay Lake:

Local Expertise

Our team at Inca Peru Travel is composed of local experts who have an intimate knowledge of the Cusco region and its attractions, including Humantay Lake. This local expertise ensures that you have the most authentic and culturally rich experience possible.

Safety & Quality

Your safety and comfort are our top priorities. Our tours are designed with the highest safety standards, and we provide all necessary equipment and support to ensure a smooth and enjoyable journey to Humantay Lake.

Sustainable Tourism

We are committed to responsible and sustainable tourism. We aim to minimize our impact on the environment and support the local communities. By choosing our tours, you contribute to these efforts and help preserve the natural and cultural heritage of the region.

Highly Competitive Prices

We offer competitive and fair prices for our tours, ensuring that you receive excellent value for your investment. Our goal is to make this extraordinary experience accessible to as many travelers as possible.

Customer Satisfaction

The satisfaction of our customers is our ultimate goal. We have received positive reviews and testimonials from travelers who have had unforgettable experiences on our tours to Humantay Lake and other destinations in the Cusco region.

To book your tour to Humantay Lake with Inca Peru Travel, visit our website and discover an amazing and affordable full day tour to this destination.


Humantay Lake, nestled high in the Peruvian Andes, is a treasure waiting to be explored. Its natural beauty, cultural significance, and adventure opportunities make it a destination worth considering. The journey from Cusco is a unique experience in itself, offering a glimpse of the stunning landscapes that surround this hidden gem. While swimming in the lake may not be encouraged, the chance to witness its beauty and immerse yourself in the rich Andean culture is an opportunity not to be missed. Choose a tour operator like Inca Peru Travel to ensure a safe and memorable adventure to Humantay Lake, and let this breathtaking Peruvian destination leave an indelible mark on your travel memories.

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