The Huacarpay Lake in Cusco is part of a protected natural area, made up of unique and beautiful wetlands, full of great biodiversity. This area is located 30 km southeast of Cusco and located at an altitude of 3,050 m.a.s.l. in the district of Lucre, one of the twelve districts of the Quispicanchi Province.
In the upper northern part of the lagoon is the Wari citadel of Pikillaqta. The protected natural area is surrounded by the Pikillaqta archaeological park that has numerous pre-Inca and Inca remains, as well as countless terraces that were used by ancient cultures to supply the population that inhabited the citadel.
What does it mean?
The name Huacarpay refers to the White Heron (Ardea alba), a bird whose name in Quechua is “Wakar”, one of the 108 species of birds found here. The wakar is present throughout the year, although its population in recent years has decreased.
What is the Huacarpay Lake in Cusco?
Considered one of the most important tourist sites in the Cusco region, for its very beautiful tourist attraction because not only the lagoon, which is already fantastic, you also get impressive views of the landscapes that surround this lake. Also, the flora and fauna that this Wetland has.
The Huacarpay Lake in Cusco is one of the few high Andean productive ecosystems; here the base of complex food webs is formed, capable of harboring great biodiversity. It is also an important stop for migratory birds thanks to the quality of its water and its vegetation.
It is composed of four permanent lagoons, a seasonal lagoon, two swamps and two rivers, it has an elongated shape and shallow waters that are fed by the Lucre River. It is mainly characterized by the biodiversity it houses and its scenic beauty.
History and Importance:
24 million years ago, the entire valley of Cusco was an immense lake that today we call Lake Morkill, at some point the lake drained and left a fertile valley, however there are still traces of the existence of that lake, this is the case of the Huacarpay lagoon.
Huacarpay in Perú is a wetland protected by SERNANP as a Natural heritage of the Cusco region for its scenic value and its importance in the ecosystem of the southern valley of Cusco for various species of birds.
The Huacarpay Lake is located 30 km southeast of the Cusco valley, at an altitude of 3,050 meters above sea level, in the district of Lucre, one of the twelve districts of the Quispicanchi Province – On the Cusco – Puno route.
The Huacarpay Lake in Cusco is located at an approximate height of 3,020 meters above sea level.
Flora of the Huacarpay wetland in Perú:
The vegetation that is in this place is of great variety starting with the one that surrounds it which is a typical shrubby thicket of the dry valley, the aquatic vegetation that it has has a very important characteristic which is, that it provides a habitat, food and refuge to a great part of species of wild and migratory fauna. This Wetland is of great importance because it ensures the continuity of hydrological and ecological processes.
The geographical conditions that this Wetland has provide unique characteristics for the increase and conservation of different species of birds, arthropods, reptiles, mammals and fish, this habitat provides shelter and food, especially to different kinds of birds, among them endemic birds of Peru.
In this area there are different kinds of birds, such as the Rufous-faced Canastero, Bearded Montañés, Striped-faced Espinera, a total of 108 species have been registered, among residents, migratory and occasional, highlighting the presence of endemic birds from Peru. which are threatened by the constant deterioration of their natural habitat, human presence and livestock and agricultural activities.
The Huacarpay Wetland is one of the most important in the circuit of the South Valley of Cusco and in the southeast of Perú, due to its cultural, scenic and ecological value and its socio-economic potential.
The landscapes around this Huacarpay Wetland in Perú are wonderful and worthy of being observed to be remembered with gratitude; touring the South Valley.
What to see in the Huacarpay Lake in Cusco?
- Laguna de Huacarpay is made up of 4 permanent lagoons, a seasonal lagoon, 3 swamps and the Lucre river, which is the main one that feeds this lagoon.
- In it you can see a great variety of birds (in total 108 species) among local, migratory and occasional birds, highlighting the presence of endemic birds of Peru, such as the Montañez Barbudo (Oreonympha nobilis), Canastero Frentirojo (Asthenes ottonis) and Monterita Chestnut Chest (Poospiza caesar).
- The lagoon is also a habitat for reptiles, mammals, wild fish such as the “Chiñi Challwa”
- It also functions as a habitat for wild flora, such as the high-Andean vegetation of lakes [carob trees and various species of cacti, predominantly the reed (Typha angustifolia) that occupies its shores forming islets]
- At the top of this lagoon is the pre-Inca city of Pikillaqta and the Rumiqolca quarry, both archaeological sites belonged to the Wari culture.
How to get to the Huacarpay Lake from Cusco?
On your own:
Take the buses that go to Urcos, but you must get off at the Huacarpay Lagoon before, it is a matter of informing the driver well, also you will not be the only one, keep in mind that there are many populations that live around this lagoon.
The terminal of these buses is in front of the Regional Hospital of Cusco, also there you will find taxi service.
On the way back, take the same buses to Cusco, there is no terminal in Huacarpay, but if you can go to the main road (paved road) and raise your hand to stop a bus in the direction of Urcos – Cusco, it’s that simple!
Through a Travel Agency:
There are no travel agencies that offer this attraction in a group service, they only offer private tours for bird watching, which will be to your liking, but it will cost you more money, if you want you can contact us and quote this private excursion to the lagoon of Huacarpay with a Bird Guide or Ornithologist.
There is a South Valley Tour, where you will visit Piquillaqta, Tipon and Andahuaylillas, if you want you can take this tour, it is very cheap, it does not exceed 50 Soles, it includes a Guide and Transportation – In this tour you can see the lagoon from Huacarpay, but it will be for a maximum of 5 to 10 minutes. If you are a wildlife lover and want to spend more time in the lagoon, this option is not your best choice, choose the first option.
How long does it take to get to Huacarpay Lake from Cusco?
By public or private transport, the time ranges from 30 minutes to 45 minutes.
Price to enter:
The entrance to this Wetland is Free unlike the Humanay lagoon or the 7 Lagunas del Cusco.
What to bring?
- Caps or Hats.
- Water bottle.
- A good camera and your Tripod.
- Bring Binoculars or Long-visas.
- Warm clothes and a waterproof jacket or jacket.
- Take a Poncho for rains, this is very important.
- Snacks such as cookies, dried fruits, you can buy them in the San Pedro del Cusco market.