If you’re visiting Peru, chances are you will be going to Cusco. Often referred to as the “Sacred Valley” Cusco is a travel hub in South America. There are many ancient sites and hikes to do around the area. We decided to do the 5-day Trek to Machu Picchu in the Salkantay Trek. The first stop on this excursion was the Laguna Humantay Trek.
The tour company we decided to go with was Salkantay Trekking and they did not disappoint. Although I did this trek with a guide, I could gather the information needed as if I was doing the sections of this trekking trip solo. Laguna Humantay Trek is a top-rated and easily accessible destination for you to visit while traveling in Peru.
In this guide, I will go over how to get to the trailhead solo and the details of the trek itself.
Where is Laguna Humantay Trek Located?
The closest town located in comparison to Laguna Humantay is Soraypampa and this is where you’ll start your trek. The overall length of the hike is very short from this point. The main thing contributing to it being difficult is the altitude you are hiking. Below I will give you the details of the cheapest way to arrive at Soryapampa.
How to Get to Laguna Humantay Independently
The cheapest way is to take a collectivo from Cusco and then a cab to the trailhead. This will cut the price in half of a tour company. The added benefit of you going solo is that you’ll be able to start this hike a little bit later in the morning.
- Cusco to Mollepata one-way by Collectivo = 20 Soles (each)
- Mollepata to Saoryapampa one-way by Cab = ~30-40 Soles (total)
- Entrance to Laguna Humantay = 10 Soles
- Pay the Entrance Fee in Mollepata
- Laguna Humantay Trek w/ Tour Group = ~400 Soles
How to Get to Cusco, Peru
There are many different ways of getting to Cusco from throughout the country. Many people fly straight from Lima as it is their first stop. Below I will give the other options from different towns.
The cost of travel in Peru between cities and in them is affordable and easy. This is a big reason why I loved Peru so much and it gave me a glimpse of the local life while riding in the colectivos.
Lima to Cusco
This is a long bus ride from Lima to Peru. It will end up taking you around 22 to 24 hours in total. I highly recommend that you pay the extra money and get the VIP seats. These will be better for sleeping and overall make it a much more enjoyable ride.
- If you don’t want to go to the bus terminal, you can order your ticket on Redbus. This is the go-to for online bus tickets in Peru.
- Julio Ceasar is one of the highest-rated bus companies but they are all pretty good.
- Terminal Plaza Norte and La Victoria are two good stations
- The bus ride is around 22 hours. If you buy early, you can get tickets as cheap as $30.
Arequipa to Cusco
Arequipa is located southeast of Cusco and is much closer than Lima. The prices also reflect this and it is a much more doable bus ride.
- Once again, I suggest looking on Redbus to get an idea of where to look and the price.
- This bus ride is around 10 hours long and only costs $14.
- I would suggest taking the night bus as you will save money on accommodation for that night.
Best Places to Stay in Cusco, Peru
- Kokopelli Hostel Cusco: This is the most popular hostel in all of Cusco. It’s not the cheapest place but the atmosphere makes up for that.
- Wild Rover Cusco: If you’re looking for a more social atmosphere with partying, then Wild Rover is your choice.
- Intro Hostels Cusco: With free breakfast and only $8 a night, the Intro hostel is a great choice for backpackers and travelers alike.
My Suggested Hiking Gear
Below is a list of some of my favorite hiking/travel gear I bring everywhere. Everything below is something I currently use and never leave my house without.
- KEEN Durand II Mid Waterproof Hiking Boots: I finally upgraded my hiking boots in 2022 and these are fantastic. They have top-notch ankle support and are super durable.
- Petzl Tikka Headlamp: A headlamp for hiking is a must if you’re like me and love sunrise hikes. This is a great price for a quality headlamp and also has a good red light to not disturb others in the morning.
- Darn Tough Hiker Micro Crew Cushion Socks: I originally got these as a present but I had to buy more because these are the most comfortable hiking socks I’ve ever tried on.
- Grayl GeoPress Water Filter Bottle: You will never have to rebuy plastic water bottles. This is the best water filtering device on the market. It is excellent for hikers and travelers alike.
If you’re looking for a more in-depth guide on what to bring while hiking in this area, I suggest checking out my Salkantay Trek Packing List.
Laguna Humantay Hike Details
- Distance: This hike is around a 2.6-mile loop hike. This varies slightly depending on the trail you take early on.
- Duration: On average it will take people 2 hours to finish. This depends on fitness level and time at the laguna.
- Difficulty: I’d rank this hike as moderate to difficult because of the altitude and elevation gain.
- Incline: The elevation for this hike is around 1302 feet or 396 meters.
- Hiking Guide: A guide is not needed for this hike and is easily accessible by the public.
For more information and reviews on the Laguna Humantay Trek then, you can check it out on Alltrails
Things to Know Before Hiking to Laguna Humantay
Is Laguna Humantay Difficult?
The length of the Laguna Humantay isn’t what makes this trek difficult. What makes it difficult is the elevation gain combined with the altitude. At the trailhead of the Laguna Humantay trek, you will start at 12,900 feet or 3,900 meters.
The steepness of the hike also plays a factor in it being difficult. Over the course of two miles up to the lake, we gained close to 457 meters or close to 1,500 feet.
If you think the hike up to the lake will be too difficult, then you have an option. You’ll see men with horses at the base of the hill that leads to the lake.
It costs around 80 soles or $22 USD. I personally would never suggest anyone take these horses but if you need them, they are there.
Laguna Humantay Elevation
By reaching Laguna Humantay, you will have climbed 400 extra meters. Laguna Humantay sits at around 4,250 meters. This is why taking extra precautions to prevent altitude sickness when visiting Peru is highly suggested.
Tips for Altitude Sickness
A common fear of most people when traveling to these parts of Peru is the chance of getting altitude sickness. This isn’t fun and can ruin a trip. The hikes in Huaraz are perfect for helping with acclimatization for the other treks in Peru, like Humantay Lake.
Here are some of the best tips to lower the chances of this happening to you while traveling to Peru:
- Drink a lot of water (I like to aim for a gallon a day)
- Rest, Rest, Rest. Sleep is everything with recovery and health.
- If you’re planning on hiking, start with smaller hikes like Cristo Blanco (Wilcacocha if in Huaraz)
- Coca is very popular in Peru, and having some of the candy on hand can be smart
- Stop and rest wherever you are
- Take ibuprofen
Best Time to Visit Peru
The best time to visit Peru would be in its dry months or winter. This time frame lasts from April until November. It is also their peak season and many travelers come here hoping for clear skies and beautiful mountain ranges.
The opposite in weather has to do with Peru’s proximity to the Equator. It is located in the southern Hemisphere, which has the opposite effect of those in the North.
Best Time to Trek Laguna Humantay
The best time to trek to Laguna Humantay is during its dry season, which lies between the months of April to October. This was mentioned above but it can sometimes vary.
We did the Laguna Humantay Trek and the others along the Salkantay Trek in August. It was clear skies for the majority of the time.
Be prepared for cloudy skies and a more challenging adventure if hiking during the rainy season! Hiking during the rainy season will be more difficult but that might be up your alley.
Laguna Humantay Guided Tour
With Laguna Humantay being one of Cusco’s most popular day tours, there are plenty of guided tours to choose from. These tours are great too!
You’ll be picked up from your accommodation from Cusco early in the morning and drive a few hours until breakfast. After this, you’ll be guided through Soraypampa up to the lake.
Then after the lake, there will be a buffet lunch for everyone in the same town as the breakfast. It’s a long day but you must add this to your Peru itinerary!
FAQs about the Laguna Humantay Trek
How Long is the hike to Lake Humantay?
This depends on where you begin at. When taking a tour and starting at Soraypampa, it’ll take 1.5 hours to reach Humantay Lake.
Starting at Challacancha instead of Soraypampa’ll add another one to two hours to the hike.
Is Humantay Lake Harder than Rainbow Mountain?
Even though Rainbow Mountain is at a higher elevation, Humantay Lake might seem like a harder hike. This is due to the elevation gain when hiking up to the lake.
You’ll gain a lot of elevation in a short period of time during the Laguna Humantay Trek.
Rainbow Mountain, on the other hand, is relatively flat until you lay your eyes on the color mountain.
Where is Lake Humantay Located?
Lake Humantay is located in the Vilcabamba mountain range outside of Cusco. The closest town to the start of the trail is Soraypampa.
This hike can be done as a day trip or with the rest of the Salkantay Trek.
Can you Swim in Humantay Lake?
It’s currently illegal to swim in Humantay Lake. There used to be a time when this was allowed but it was made illegal to preserve the area’s natural beauty.
The water is also extremely cold so only the bravest people would have attempted this!
Are There Toilets Along the LakeHumantay Trail?
There are no toilets along the trail to Lake Humantay. We stopped for the bathroom for the last time in Soraypampa. This costs around two soles but it’s always a good idea to bring your own toilet paper for the hike!
My Experience on the Laguna Humantay Trek
My experience might be a little different than yours. This is because we did the complete Salkantay Trek with a tour group. Doing this with our tour actually increased the length of this hike. It didn’t bother me much as I wanted to warm the legs up for what was ahead.
In a way, the Laguna Humantay Trek was an acclimation hike for the rest of the adventures we’d be going on.
Arriving at the Trailhead
Instead of arriving at the closest town to Laguna Humantay, we stopped at the town a little bit south called Challacancha. Although it was flat for the majority of the trail, it added on around 2.5 to 3 miles for us that day.
As I said, this was fine and a perfect way to get warmed up to this high altitude again after a couple of weeks off.
Once we got to the town of Soyrapampa, we stopped for a long lunch and a light nap. We then began our short trek up to Laguna Humantay.
Cheap Transportation to Laguna Humantay Trek
I spoke about this a little bit earlier but a lot of avid hikers love to do these things independently. You will have to take a Collectivo from Cusco to Mollepata and then a cab to Soraypampa.
Mollepata is where you’ll buy your entrance ticket for the Laguna Humantay trek.
Alternatively, you could get a cab to take you to Challacancha instead. This will add time to your hike but it could save you some money in the process.
Laguna Humantay Trek Up
After our amazing lunch and re-energizing nap, we made our way up the trail to head toward Laguna Humantay. It is around 1 mile from the sky camp that you’ll see at the bottom. It really isn’t a hard hike up but this is the day that I felt the most out of breath. My guess is that it was my first hike at this altitude in a couple of weeks.
If you are worried about the altitude, there will always be someone at the bottom of the hill that can take you up to Laguna Humantay instead of doing the trek.
Once we reached the top, we were rewarded with turquoise-colored water and an amazing backdrop of the Mountain peak Humantay.
If you want, you can hike up another few meters to get more of an ariel view of the lake.
Humantay Lake Weather
When doing the Laguna Humantay Trek, the weather will vary greatly depending on when you travel to Peru. We went in August and had no rain, partly cloudy, but overall amazing weather.
If you travel outside of April to Oct/Nov, you will have a higher chance of cloudy with a chance of rain.
Other Activities to do in Cusco, Peru
Cusco is popular for a reason. There is so much to do around this beautiful area of Peru. This is mainly a huge hiking hub but there are other activities for those that don’t. Some of the activities around here include the Laguna Humantay Trek, Rainbow Mountain, Machu Picchu, and Salkantay Pass. Below are some amazing tours that you can book with just a click of a button.
Final Thoughts on the Laguna Humantay Trek
I never have a bad thing to say about these hikes in Peru and it is the same with this one. The Laguna Humantay Trek is a must when visiting for this reason. With its popularity and ease of access, there are really not many other hikes around the area that can compete. Overall you will have an amazing time with a ton of great views along the way. You will regret it if you don’t add this to your Peru bucket list immediately.
Thank you for reading my guide on the Laguna Humantay Trek! I hope this guide has helped you complete this hike, whether it be with a tour or independently.