Humantay Lake: An Amazing Day Trip from Cusco, Peru

Humantay Lake - An Incredible Day Trip from Cusco Peru

Humantay Lake is easily one of the best day trips you can take from Cusco Peru. It’s one of the most gorgeous places I have ever been! If you’re planning a trip to Peru, don’t miss this hidden gem!

Humantay Lake - An Incredible Day Trip from Cusco Peru

How to Get There

It’s very easy to visit Humantay (pronounced Uman-Tie) Lake from Cusco. If you want to go with a tour, there are an abundance of tour agencies offering day trips from Cusco. You don’t need to book in advance, you can just stop by the tour office the day before you want to go. Most of the tour agencies are located in the main square (Plaza De Armas) and the tours cost about 80 soles ($24 USD).

But you can also hire a taxi and go on your own.

Humantay Lake - An Incredible Day Trip from Cusco Peru

I went with a group, and while overall I had a good experience, if I could do it again, I would definitely hire a taxi so I could go on my own schedule!

If you decide to go with a group to Humantay Lake, I recommend Conde Travel Adventures. Their office is on Portal Espinar, one block over from the Plaza De Armas. Our guide was great and the food was delicious! Breakfast and lunch is included.

Humantay Lake - An Incredible Day Trip from Cusco Peru

Why Go On Your Own?

The group tours leave around 4 AM. This is not the most pleasant way to start the day. The hike is a bit challenging, so you definitely want to be well-rested. With a taxi, you can sleep in a bit and start at a more reasonable hour. The 3-hour drive will also be way more comfortable in a private taxi than a bus.

You can also skip the crowds. All the tours leave Cusco at the same time (very early in the morning) so they all get to the lake at the same time. You can leave a bit later and have the lake all to yourself.

Humantay Lake - An Incredible Day Trip from Cusco Peru

When to Go

It’s about a 3-hour drive from Cusco to the Humantay Lake trailhead. The hike takes approximately 1 to 1.5 hours, depending on your level. The groups start leaving the lake around noon. By 12:30, I had the lake all to myself.

If you leave Cusco around 7 AM, you’ll probably get there while there are still people there (which is good, I always like having other people on the trail just in case) but you’ll definitely have plenty of alone time at the lake also.

Humantay Lake - An Incredible Day Trip from Cusco Peru

Hiring A Taxi

With a little negotiation, you should be able to hire a taxi for the day for around 250 soles ($75 USD). They will take you to Humantay Lake, wait for you while you do the hike, then bring you back to Cusco when you’re done. This will not include the 10 soles ($3) entry fee (per person) to the national park where the hike starts.

Read my Rainbow Mountain post for more tips on hiring a taxi and going on your own. The experience will be very similar, just different locations: How to Hike Rainbow Mountain in Peru.

Humantay Lake - An Incredible Day Trip from Cusco Peru

By comparison, a group tour to Humantay Lake is 80 soles ($25 USD) per person (also does not include the 10 sole entry fee). So if you are 2 people or more, it’s not that much more expensive to go on your own, and it will be way more comfortable! You can have Humantay Lake all to yourself and stay up there as long as you want.

Humantay Lake - An Incredible Day Trip from Cusco Peru

About the Hike

The hike is steeper than the hike to Rainbow Mountain, but it’s shorter. From the trailhead (by the restrooms) it took me about 45 minutes to get to the lake. I didn’t go very fast, but I didn’t stop for any breaks either. I just took it slow and steady. It’s uphill the entire way, like walking up stairs for 45 minutes straight. The trail is steep and a bit slippery in places.

The hike starts at 12,700 feet and the lake is at 13,900 feet.

The above picture is the view from the top, almost to the lake. See the tiny blue dots down at the bottom of the hill? That’s where the trail starts.

Humantay Lake - An Incredible Day Trip from Cusco Peru

This is about where your taxi driver will drop you off. This is as far as cars can go. Here is the approximate {GPS Location} for the Humantay Lake parking lot.

Humantay Lake - An Incredible Day Trip from Cusco Peru

From here you’ll need to walk 5-10 minutes to the trailhead. You’ll follow the dirt path, then cross a wooden bridge over the creek above.

Humantay Lake - An Incredible Day Trip from Cusco Peru

On your left you’ll see the glacier and the trail up the mountain.

Humantay Lake - An Incredible Day Trip from Cusco Peru

You’ll see some buildings on your left with some restrooms and a small counter to buy snacks. Walk between the buildings (bathrooms on your right) towards the glacier. You’ll have to go through a gate — it kind of looks like someone’s private property. On the other side is the start of the trail.

Here is the {GPS location} for the Humantay Lake trailhead. From here it took me about 45 minutes to the top.

Humantay Lake - An Incredible Day Trip from Cusco Peru

What to Bring

Bring you own food, snacks, and plenty of water. The good thing about the tours is they do include breakfast and lunch. If you go on your own, you’ll have to bring your own food. If you leave later, you can have breakfast at your hotel. But definitely bring something with you to eat right before you start the hike. It’s a 3 hour drive, and the hike is strenuous. You don’t want to get hungry on the hike and get a headache.

Bring a picnic lunch to eat at the lake. I honestly cannot imagine a more perfect background for a picnic. Just don’t forget to take everything back with you!

Don’t forget water. Drinking lots of water will help with the altitude. I recommend bringing at least 1 liter per person on the hike with you, and have a extra bottle to leave in the car for when you get back.

Wear sunscreen and pack layers. You sunburn much quicker at higher altitude.

Bring cash. You’ll need to pay 10 soles for the entry fee for the hike. Plus a few coins in case you need to use a bathroom. The only bathrooms are at the beginning of the hike.

Be sure to bring toilet paper!!

Watch the video above to see a panoramic view of the lake. This is what it’s like to have the lake all to yourself!