8 Secret Peru Lakes Even Locals Don’t Know About

The Andean mountain range has gifted Peru with incredible landscapes and myths that connect civilization with nature and ancient cosmogony. But at the foot of some of the highest snowcapped mountains, there are usually turquoise or crystal clear lagoons that complement the magical scenery. Although reaching these secret Peru lakes, or lagoons, often involves trekking through rough roads in dangerously high elevation for hours or even days, you don’t need to travel far from Lima, or the Andes to see some of the most beautiful Peru lakes. Up for the challenge? Here’s our pick of the best ones.

Laguna Churup

In Ancash you can enjoy the Laguna de Churup, the magical lagoon of 7 colors located at more than 4000 m.s.

Its waters are clean, freezing and crystalline. When the sky is clear during the day, the sun’s rays create a natural spectacle. The range of green and turquoise tones give you the seven colors by which it is known.

Perfect for a day-long trip, Laguna Churup has got to have the most spectacular landscape out all of the lagoons. Be prepared to swim in its turquoise blue and crystal-clear water and waterfall. The road to the Churup Lagoon is full of dream landscapes. In the tour you can see the mountains of Shaqsha and Cashan. These present beautiful waterfalls adorned by giant rock walls.

Although a tour guide is always recommended for every visit, you can also have a bus drop you off at the beginning of the trek, two hours from the lagoon.

Lagunas Llanganuco

You’ll daydream thinking of Lagunas Llanganuco until you’re actually there. Located in the Ancash region, right above Lima, the water of Lagunas Llanganuco is so aquamire it’s enchanting. It’s made up of two Peru lakes: Chinancocha (female lagoon) and Orconcocha (male lagoon), both inside the Huascarán National Park, home to Peru’s highest mountain of the same name.

The visit begins at the checkpoint of the entrance to the National Park, where you must register and make the payment for the right of entry. Then you will start a tour where you can appreciate forests, waterfalls and natural beauties, until you reach the Chinancocha lagoon, and then continue with the Orconcocha lagoon.

The cost of income for conventional tourism is S /. 10.00 nuevos soles adults and S /. 3.00 children. However, in the case of non-conventional tourism of 3 days, the general cost is S /. 20.00, while with a 21-day visit it is S /. 65.00.

It is important to emphasize that the visits to the Llanganuco lagoons should be done during the morning, because the sunlight falls on them, showing a scenario of incredible colors that you can not miss.

Laguna Humantay

Get out of the routine and get excited to live new emotions in Laguna Humantay, located in the district of Mollepata (Anta), which is characterized by its crystal clear water because it does not have much marine flora in its waters it has a turquoise indescribable color In words, but understandable to the eyes, forming a unique landscape.

As part of the route to the Salkantay mountain, you can access walking or mountain biking, as well as lending itself to some other camping activities.

With a mystical air, the lagoon is visited by shamans and tourists from all over the world to leave offerings to the Pachamama, deity that represents Mother Earth in the Inca culture.

Laguna Querococha

Ancash region is, perhaps, where you’ll find the most breathtaking lagoons. Laguna Querococha is one of the 400 lagoons or lakes in the Huaylas inter-Andean valley. Besides being appreciated for the beauty of its crystalline waters and the environment, it is valued as a place for the exercise of sport fishing.

Legend says that a warrior named Querococha, stole a golden rattle from a lake nearby, and during his escape, he dropped it on the prairie. The golden rattle sank creating a hole so deep, water started filling it, creating this stunning lake.

Laguna Jahuacocha

The lagoon Jahuacocha is located in the area of the Huayhuash mountain range in Huaraz, this lagoon has a perimeter of 3.5 kilometers formed by the water of 3 snow-covered peaks. Its turquoise water is due to the depth of the lagoon, in which in addition to hiking, you can practice fishing.

If your goal is to at least do a five-day trekking tour of the Cordillera Blanca in the Ancash region, make sure Laguna Jahuacocha is one of the places you’ll camp in. Two impressive peaks can be seen from Laguna Jahuacocha: Jirishanca and Yerupajá mountains. Once you’re done setting a tent near the water, take your camera out and get ready for long exposure shots for before the sunrise.

Cocha Salvador

By now you might’ve read the quechua word for lagoon, “cocha”, quite a few times in this list. Cocha Salvador is located in the Manu National Park and it’s so rich in flora and fauna that you might end up running into a jaguar sleeping on a fallen tree near its water, or a playful pack of river otters following your boat. It has an island in the middle that remains more or less untouched by man, making it a perfect spot to view rare species.

Around the cocha there is a system of trails, tourist camps and the Matsiguenka House, managed by the comuneros of this ethnic group. In the cocha Salvador, the use of a catamaran is authorized to appreciate the fauna and to cross the water mirror.

Laguna Huacachina

Four hours south of Lima, you’ll find an oasis. Inside that oasis, you’ll find Laguna Huacachina, home to many myths involving mermaids. Truth is, this oasis wouldn’t look too much like one if it wasn’t for the dark green hole with water that gives the place character. It’s a perfect day- or two-day trip for those who want to get away from Lima for a bit.

Its geography invites the traveler to practice adventure sports such as traveling in a Buggy, a large vehicle in the form of a car that will take you through the impressive dunes at full speed, living a moment full of adrenaline. Sandboarding allows you to slide through the desert sand on a board (sandboard), using movements similar to surfing or skateboarding, it can be done standing, sitting or even lying face down for beginners, everything depends on the level of difficulty.

Laguna Quimacocha

Located at 15,584 feet above sea level, Laguna Quimacocha sits below the La Venturosa mountain range in the Andean part of the Lima region. Laguna Quimacocha is surrounded by grayish mountains (little to no vegetation grows at that elevation) and you can see trout swimming its crystal-clear waters. The trek takes about seven hours and can be a challenging adventure even for those who are physically prepared. You can find tours costing around 40 soles (which at around USD$12 is highly recommended), and the bus ride from Lima to the nearest town — where it’s recommended you spend a night in — costs about 12 soles (just under USD$4).