Lake Humantay – a day excursion for the intrepid

This year we decided to do something different at Inti Raymi (the Inca sun festival on 24th June). Instead of joining the crowds in Cusco we went to the Andean Spirit Lodge with some friends. After a good night’s rest and enjoying the delicious cuisine of Artemio, our cook, we drove up the winding road, first to Mollepata, a quaint Andean town buzzing with the Sunday market activity (we stocked up on some coca sweets), then on to Soraypampa (3,850m/12,600 feet) where the dirt road ended at the foot of the glacier of Mount Humantay. Here we were rewarded with great views of the alternate trekking route to Machupicchu and the majestic snowy peak of Mount Salkantay (6,272m/20,577feet).

In spite of the unexpectedly high number of the trekkers camping for the night and day visitors hiking up the steep slope leading to Lake Humantay, we were awe-struck at the beauty and serenity of this landscape. We settled in for our picnic lunch in Soraypampa trying to catch our breath and get ready for the hike. It was a very steep climb of around 1 ½ hours, slippery in parts, and certainly not for the faint-hearted – to describe the route as a challenging trek would be fairer.

Fortunately, we were rewarded with absolutely breathtaking views of the clear two-colored water at the top (4,200 m/13,779 feet) as we reached the shore. In spite of the physical exertion, we felt absolutely exhilarated! We offered our k’intus (devotional coca leaf arrangements) and the beer we had carried up for the mighty Apu (mountain spirit) and the Mamaqocha (Lake Mother).

Meanwhile, a young tourist went into the icy cold water (cold enough to give you a heart attack I would have thought) exhibiting her lean perfect body in a fashionable bikini and wearing a chullu (woolen hat with earflaps). She shrieked as she was splashing herself, encouraged by a group of male onlookers applauding from the shore. We secretly hoped that she would not come down with pneumonia as we stared at her, ourselves wrapped up from head to toe to resist the icy wind coming from the glacier.
The descent was as heavy on the knees as I had imagined and the walking sticks had been a good investment. People were still coming towards us puffing and panting in the afternoon, a teenage boy somewhat unwillingly following his guide. As we reached our vehicle we took another cup of coca tea before we drove all the way down to the Lodge where a delicious dinner with a glass of wine and a log fire were expecting us. We were ready to celebrate our day’s achievement!

One thought on “Lake Humantay – a day excursion for the intrepid”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *