Our experience starts in Cusco where we had spotted dozens of agencies offering day-trips to this turquoise water lake surrounded by snowy mountains. The pictures looked great and, for the good ‘mountainous lakes enthusiasts’ that we are, it seemed obvious to try our best making it to this place. So, we consulted various agencies organizing tour to Laguna Humantay but were not this convinced of the tours’ conditions: big groups, early departure, very touristic stops which include their commission. In brief, nothing this unspoilt for such a natural attraction. We were about to book the tour with one of these above mentioned agencies right when we started our volunteering at Wild Watch Peru tour agencies.
When their main domain of activities is based in the Manu National Park, Wild Watch Peru is currently trying to expand its offers while respecting the following values: giving travellers an authentic experience, providing the traveller with knowledge on local culture and wildlife and aiming at more personal interactions by restricting the groups’ size. During our volunteering we have had the occasion to hop on tours for the Manu National Park, the Rainbow Mountain is when Luis, the guide and company founder offered us to hit the road for the Laguna Humantay, we instantaneously said YES with big smiles on our faces.
TIC TOC TIC TOC, ringtone alarm, let’s start the adventure!
It is 6am and we woke up quite quickly already excited about exploring this asset of Peru that we had several times heard about. We packed some snacks, sunscreen, waterproof jackets and sweaters, wore our hiking shoes, grabbed a good breakfast and got in the car. Our group was made of 8 people: Hebert our guide and his wife, his little 4 years old one, a 13 years old relative of them, two friends and us, a French couple. The road is nice and passes through animated districts of Cusco, colourful villages and stupendous landscapes of snowy mountains, rivers, valleys and Andean pastures.
On the way, Hebert who is knowledgeable about wildlife spotted some rare species of birds. The few stops we made were always to discover one animal or to admire the beauty of the surrounding landscapes. After a few hours in the car, we arrived at the charming town of Mollepata which contains a few restaurants, hotels and necessary-provisions for hikers. At the entrance of the city, there is a small wooden kiosk where you can purchase your entrance ticket for the Laguna. Mollepata’s main square displays a nice architecture and a small park. It is a sort of microcosm of the little-sized Peruvian village where the folk wear traditional clothes. We stopped in Mollepata and had a delightful lunch menu and heading toward the Laguna. We left the macadam road to take a nice rocky trail which goes up the mountain. The road’s conditions are good, and the traffic is relatively low as most. After a 1-hour ride, we reached the parking where the hike for the Laguna starts. All the big tourist’s buses had already left so we encounter a nice trail only frequented by a few visitors.
So, we started the hike.
The trail starts off next to the parking and first passes by some rural accommodations, horses’ pastures and then continues onto a river. For half the hike, we walked along the river which was pleasant. The trek is not hard, and we did not feel any ‘altitude related pain’ although the path is higher than 4000 meters high. After an hour and after achieving a nice ascension of almost 400 meters, we reached the Laguna. Not only the turquoise colour of the water is impressing but also the glacier in the background as well the mountain Humantay and its pastures. We decided to extend our hike of 10 minutes and climbed the little hill one can see when getting at the Laguna. From this hill, the view over the lake is stunning and the colours seem even brighter.
We nearly spent an hour staring at the landscape and we felt grateful to the company for allowing us such a unique tour. There were not more than 10 other people in addition with the members of our groups.
After an hour of taking pictures and standing in front of a majestic natural setting we decided to head back. In less than an hour, we were back to the car and we returned happy and with lots of memories in mind to the city of Cusco.
These are the points we have really enjoyed of our Laguna Humantay tour:
-A correct waking hour
-Good company and lots of information about the wildlife and the culture
-Restricted groups, better interactions with the guide
-Good transportation (4X4 car will all comfort) and good road conditions
-Few people at the Laguna Humantay as we avoided the crowded hours
-More flexibilities while on the tour. Hebert accepted to do stops whenever we wanted to stretch, to take pictures or to grab some snacks
-Friendly atmosphere while on the hike and in the car
-Excellent organisation and good food