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If you have extra time in Peru, visiting Kinsa Cocha and Pisac’s three lakes is a perfect day trip because they are so easy to get to.
Like hiking to Huchuy Qosqo and or visiting Llaullipata park, the Kinsa Cocha lakes are also totally off the tourist radar, which means that even though we visited on a weekend in high season, Daniel and I were the ONLY ones on the trail.
The best part about visiting the Kinsa Cocha lakes is that you can get dropped off right at the first one, which means you can hike as much or as little as you want. They also lie in a valley, so the trek is flat and easy for all ages.
Interested? Learn exactly how to hike to Kinsa Cocha and see Pisac’s three lakes!
How To Get to the Kinsa Cocha Lakes
Pisac is a tourist town in the Sacred Valley, so getting to the starting point of Pisac’s three lakes hike is easy.
First, take a collectivo from Cusco to Pisac. Collectivos are shared vans, and cost only 4 soles / $1.25 per person. They leave often and you can catch them anytime at the top of Puputi street. From there, it is a 45 minute drive to the town of Pisac.
Once you arrive in Pisac, walk down the main street and, I promise, taxi drivers on the side of the road will stop you and ask where you need to go. Tell them you’re heading to the Kinsa Cocha Laguna and negotiate a price. It’s important to negotiate a round trip price and have your driver wait for you at the lakes because they are far off the beaten path and you won’t be able to catch a ride back home.
We paid 115 soles / $35 usd for the entire trip, which was about five hours from start to finish. When you negotiate your price, make sure it’s to visit the Kinsa Cocha lake AND the Blue Lake (Laguna Azul). The third lake is about 3 km down the road from the first.
Hiking at Lakes One and Two
Once you grab a taxi and make the drive to the starting point, your driver will drop you at the first of Pisac’s thee lakes. The first thing you need to do when you arrive is agree to a time with your driver for how long you want to hike (we chose three hours).
From here, there are trails going around both sides of the lake and you can choose your route.
We decided to cross the bridge and begin our hike on the left side of the Kinsa Cocha lake. We walked along the lake for about 30 minutes, and then came to the area where the first lake connects with the second. Afterwards, we came out into a field with a large herd of alpacas! So cute! It was an awesome experience to just sit and watch them graze for a bit before continuing.
After passing the first two lakes, Daniel and I walked further into the valley, where I felt tiny and awed walking with the mountains rising up on both sides of me. It was such a beautiful hike.
We walked to the end of the valley and came to a mountain wall. We decided to turn around, so we climbed up on the left side to walk back on the trails high above the green valley, overlooking the lakes in the distance as we returned toward them.
After we ate a picnic back near the alpaca field, we crossed to the other side of the valley.
Now, we were climbing up the other side of the mountains because the trail also returns on the opposite side of the lakes than we had started out on. This time, though, we were walking above the lake with a gorgeous view of the mountains, valley, and fields spread out below us. It was breathtaking.
Our walk to the end of the valley and back, with time for a picnic, took three hours in total.
Visiting Lake Three
Once we returned to our taxi, he drove us 10 minutes more down the road to the third lake. It is possible to hike to this lake instead of walk, but it requires a steep and long walk up the mountainside.
If you choose to walk, then when you arrive at the first lake, take the trail on the right side of the lake. Walk past the first two lakes, and eventually on your right you’ll see a dip between two peaks high above you. The trail goes up on switchbacks here. Climb up the side of the mountain and get a view of the third lake once you reach the top. From here, you can walk down to the third lake and return to your taxi on the road, or you can circle around the peak and back to the first lake to return.
However, I’m lazy and prefer to avoid strenuous uphill hikes when I can!
That’s why we chose to take our taxi instead. Our driver dropped us off at Laguna Azul, the third lake, and we climbed up on the hillside to snap a few pics.
The first two lakes and the first valley were more beautiful in my opinion, and you don’t need a lot of time at the third lake. After about 15 minutes, we headed back to the taxi to return to Pisac. The return was again 45 minutes down dirt roads, but the views were beautiful.
End Your Day By Exploring Pisac
We got back to Pisac in the late afternoon.
It’s a cute little town so definitely make time to explore it, check out the large market, and grab a bite to eat in the local shops and cafes.
Once you’re done chilling after the hike, just grab a collectivo back to Cusco where you got dropped off originally. 45 minutes later you’ll be back in the city, ready to relax after a beautiful day in nature.
What to Pack for Your Hike to the Kinsa Cocha Lakes
The hike to the Kinsa Cocha lakes isn’t too strenuous and doesn’t require much packing. That being said, it’s always a good idea to head out into nature prepared. I recommend bringing…
- A small bag or backpack (I use the day pack that attaches to my Osprey Farpoint bag)
- One or two water bottles (I personally love the Vibrant thermos)
- Sunscreen! Cusco is at high altitude and you can and will get burned even in the winter
- This hike isn’t very long but it’s still a good idea to bring layers and throw a jacket in your bag just in case
- Snacks like peanuts or granola bars
- Comfortable hiking boots (I truly can’t recommend my Timberland boots enough)
- Cash for all the collectivos and taxi
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A day trip to Kinsa Cocha is stunning. They’re pretty cheap and easy to get to, and you’ll be able to enjoy them in peace and quiet away from Cusco’s crowded streets.
If you have an extra day or two in the city, I highly recommend a hike and a picnic at Pisac’s three lakes!