Exploring the turquoise Humantay Lake by yourself from Cusco
Are you looking at a day trip to Laguna Humantay without a tour? Here is your ultimate guide on how to get there, the prices, and what to expect.
Table of Contents
Time: 4-6 hrs
Distance: ~7km return
Trail: There and back
Difficulty: hard (due to elevation)
What to bring: water, snacks, an extra layer (windy/cool up top), and hiking poles.
Elevation: Starting at 3827m to 4263m (~450m elevation gain)
Other information: No internet, can rent mules to go up/down
How to Get Laguna Humantay There and Back
Getting to Laguana Humantay is quite easy and straightforward from Cusco
Cusco-Mollepata: take a van from the corner of Av. Ayahuasca and Av. Apurimac, before 5:30 am (road conditions and weather can make the trip longer than expected), takes ~2 hrs and costs S/. 20 ($5.14 USD) per person. The van leaves when full (11 people).
Mollepata-Soraypampa: pay the entrance fee of S/. 20 ($5.14 USD) per person and wait for a taxi or ask a tour van to catch a ride. A taxi will cost S/. 80 ($20.56 USD) but can be split between 4 people (wait and see if there are others that will join) and takes ~1 hr. NOTE: If you take a taxi, arrange for it to either pick you up again or wait.
Van from Cusco to Mollepata; tour vans at the start of the trail
You will get dropped off at Refugio Nacho along with all the tour buses. Most tour groups arrive between 8-8:30 am, therefore if you'd like to avoid the crowds, the best time to start hiking is around 10 am. If you arrive earlier than 10 am, you can start hiking up or you can relax inside Refugio Nacho. They were nice enough to make us a cheese and tomato sandwich for breakfast and lunch for S/. 8 ($2.06 USD) each.
Tomato and cheese breakfast sandwich with hot coffee
When you finish the hike, head back to Refugio Nacho for your taxi to go back to Mollepata. If you didn't arrange one, Nacho might be able to get you one or ask one of the tour vans. Once at Mollepata, get a van back to Cusco. If you end up getting stuck overnight in Soraypampa, Refugio Nacho has 12 rooms (single, twin, and private bathrooms) starting from S/. 60 ($15.45 USD). Be up early (between 7-8 am) to catch any of the taxis coming to drop people off.
YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE:
**Due to the high elevation (over 4200m), it is recommended to stay in Cusco for a few days to acclimatize. Before leaving Cusco, chew some coca leaves or drink tea to help with the altitude.
If you've forgotten or need more water, snacks, or a hat, Refugio Nacho does have a store to buy all of those before you start the trail. There is also a little shop at the top of Laguna Humantay that sells water, pop (S/. 6), beer (S/. 10), and snacks.
Refugio Nacho's shop at the start of the trail; shop at the top of Laguna Humantay
You need to walk ~1km on the road before getting to the actual trailhead. It will be a gradual incline until ~2.5 km where it will get a bit steeper. It flattens out the last little section to the lake where you can walk around or climb a little higher to get a whole view of Laguna Humantay.
The hike up will take anywhere from 1.5-2 hours but go slowly, take breaks as needed, and hydrate. If you find the altitude too much, there are mules you can hire to go up and down. The majority of the tour groups will be heading down between 11 am-12 pm, making the trails a little crowded.
Heading up to Laguna Humantay
The ideal time to visit Laguna Humantay is between 12-3 pm when the morning tour groups have departed and the afternoon ones haven't arrived yet. Start your hike between 10-10:30 am. You can go earlier but you will be sharing the laguna with all the tour groups.
Enjoying Laguna Humantay with a few people
YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE:
Tips for hiking Laguna Humantay
There is no internet
Bring an extra layer as it is cooler, and windier at the top
Bring lunch to enjoy the views
If you find the hike too hard, you can rent a mule
Bring hiking poles to help with the incline/decline
Always wear sunscreen (bring a hat/sunglasses) and bring bug spray
Always carry at least 1L of water
Wear proper shoes, it is a rocky trail
Lunch views at the top; scenery on the way up to Laguna Humantay
Cusco to Mollepata bus: S/. 20 ($5.14 USD)
Mollepata entrance: S/. 20 ($5.14 USD)
Mollepata to Refugio Nacho taxi**: S/. 20-80 ($5.14-$20.56 USD)
Refugio Nacho to Mollepata taxi**: S/. 20-80 ($5.14-$20.56 USD)
Mollepata to Cusco bus: S/. 20 ($5.14 USD)
Total: S/. 100-220 ($26-57 USD)
(A quick search for tours ranges from $29-50 USD and may or may not include the Mollepata entrance fee)
* Prices are based on the time of writing (Sept 2022) and are subject to change.
**Prices are split either between 1-4 people
Reasons To Do It Yourself
If you've gotten this far along in the post and wonder why you wouldn't just pay a little bit extra for the tour, one word: time. Doing this hike without a tour allowed us to just chill for a few hours at the top and walk around at our own pace and at times, there were only a few others around.
Laguna Humantay makes for a great day trip from Cusco for those looking at doing it themselves. Enjoy the turquoise lake and the views that surround it at your own leisure. This trail can also be added to the Salkantay Trek (4 or 5 days to Aguas Calientes). If you're looking for more hiking information about Peru, check out my Peru Hiking page.