One of the best off-the-beaten-path activities you can do in the Cusco region is the hike around Kinsa Cocha. About 45 minutes outside of Pisac in the Sacred Valley are the stunning three lakes of Kinsa Cocha, which in Quechua literally means “three lakes”. A winding taxi ride up into the mountains will take you to landscapes that you wouldn’t believe are so close to Cusco. The scenery felt like what you would stumble upon in Iceland or Norway. This definitely couldn’t be in Peru, right?
But it is, and it is worth the visit. I went into the adventure with an open-mind, feeling that I had exhausted pretty much everything to do in the Cusco region. I just needed to stretch my legs and would be okay with however whelming the scenery was. Thankfully, the beauty of Peru never ceases to amaze me. The visit to Kinsa Cocha is absolutely worth it if you are in the area. Here’s everything you need to know about this hidden gem of Peru.
How To Get To Laguna Kinsa Cocha
You won’t find Laguna Kinsa Cocha on many tour agency offerings. It is a lake that most travelers only know about through word of mouth. The owner of our hostel mentioned it and I managed to wrangle together a group to split the taxi ride. The best place to leave from is Pisac, since it is the closest major tourist hub to the lakes.
Laguna Kinsa Cocha being a hidden gem comes as a double-edged sword. You will have the place to yourself but there is no easy way to get there without shelling out a bit of money. We had a group of six and ended up paying 190 soles, or about $10 each between the six of us. We definitely could have haggled it down, since I’ve heard people paying closer to 150 soles for the trip. However, we had a big group and our driver was cool so we weren’t too bothered. Most drivers will drive you there and back, and wait for you for 3-4 hours while you explore the area, so he definitely earned his payday.
What To Bring To Laguna Kinsa Cocha
Laguna Kinsa Cocha was significantly colder than I imagined. While the village Pisac sits slightly above 3,000 meters above sea level, Kinsa Cocha sits about 1,000 meters higher in the mountains. It is cold, hard to breathe, and you will be subject to whatever elements Pachamama decides to throw your way. Dress warm and bring enough snacks and water for three hours. I recommend at least a liter of water, especially if you are not acclimatized to the altitude and need to drink a bit more to stay hydrated. There are plenty of rivers and waterfalls to fill up at if you happen to have a filter for your water.
Other than warm clothes, water, and snacks, you don’t really need much for this adventure. Bring a camera because you will want to capture the beauty of this place. You also need to pay a 3 soles entrance fees to the locals at the entrance, who will be selling gloves, hats, and other tourist knickknacks. I can’t imagine they make a whole lot of money since maybe a dozen people visit this place daily.
How Difficult Is The Hike Around Laguna Kinsa Cocha?
The hardest thing about Laguna Kinsa Cocha will be the altitude. A couple of us struggled lightly with the altitude, but not the hike itself. The hike does have several uphill inclines, but for the most part, it is a relatively flat hike. It alternates between uphill and downhill quite frequently. The terrain can get muddy and swampy, especially so in the rainy season when we went. The only real obstacles you face are the piles of alpaca poop.
If you go at a quick pace, you can finish the loop around the laguna in less than two hours. However, there’s no need to rush. There is so much to explore and you will never get tired of the landscapes. You’ll run into plenty of beautiful viewpoints that you’ll want to park your booty at for at least a few minutes. And if you thought that after months and months in Peru that I wouldn’t still stop to gawk at every cute alpaca I see, then you thought wrong.
If you are well-adjusted to the altitude, then this hike can easily be done. Even if you struggle slightly with the altitude, this hike is nowhere near as difficult as something like Rainbow Mountain. If you need a way to stretch your legs after relaxing too hard in Pisac, then Laguna Kinsa Cocha is an excellent choice.
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