In the Quechua language, the word millpuy translates to swallow. The pools of Millpu Peru derive their name from this indigenous word and are so named because of a local myth that says these waters are the throat of the devil himself.
That story kept locals from frequenting this site for hundreds of years, and they’ve only been opened to the public in the last decade or so. But with the fears of the past left in the past, the scariest feature you’ll find in the Millpu natural pools of Ayacucho, Peru is how chilly the glacial waters can get.
Surrounded by stunning Andean flora and fauna, flowing from dramatic rock formations, and filled with turquoise, mineral-rich waters, the Millpu pools are an afternoon experience you don’t want to miss. There’s not much out there about these little-known beauties, so let Kuoda tell you more about them in this brief guide.
– What to do in Millpu, Peru
Millpu is a collection of twenty natural pools located a few hours from the city of Ayacucho. The turquoise blue waters are rich in minerals and their stunning beauty is surpassed only by the surrounding landscape of the Peruvian highlands.
To get there, you’ll leave from Ayacucho and head to the smaller community of Circamarca. It’s on the traditional lands of this community that the pools are found.
You might spend some time walking around the community, which is populated by mostly Quechua-speaking people who still live very traditional and simple lifestyles. When it’s time for lunch, be sure to grab a plate of trucha frita (fried trout) which is typically sold at the entrance to the pools and is a traditional specialty of the region.
From Circamarca, you’ll take a 30-minute, well-marked trail to the remote pools. Along the way, you’ll encounter waterfalls, incredible views, and native Andean flora and fauna that will take your breath away. Spend some time taking it all in at one of the lookout points before heading down to the water.
Once you’re there, you’ll get a clear look at the turquoise pools in all their glory. Those of you who enjoy a cold dip will relish in the glacial waters, which are icy-cold and refreshing. For those of us not looking for a little cold-water therapy, you can spend quite a bit of time simply admiring and photographing these hidden gems.
A special note that, if you visit in September, you’re in for a treat. This is the time of year when the local community holds its traditional festivities. These festivities are centered around the collection of water from the ancient Aguas Turquesas, and you’ll witness donkeys decorated in floral displays and other ancestral traditions that not many tourists have a chance to experience.
– Where Are the Millpu Lagoons in Peru Located?
The closest city to the Millpu lagoons of Peru is Ayacucho. Haven’t heard of it? That’s because this city, steeped in history and culture, isn’t a typical stop on the tourist map – but it’s worth your visit in and of itself.
Ayacucho is known as “The City of Churches.” That’s because, within its small boundaries are thirty-three churches, as well as cathedrals, convents, and temples.
You can spend a day exploring the colonial structures, on your own or on a guided tour. If you head out solo, be sure that you don’t miss the Santo Domingo and Santa Teresa temples. Other sites of interest include the Boza y Solis mansion, the Arcos de la Independencia, and the charming Plaza de Armas.
– Things to Do Nearby Millpu & Ayacucho, Peru
Outside the city’s limits, you’ll find even more incredible sights and sounds. Below we share some of Kuoda’s top recommendations for what to do in and around Millpu and Ayacucho, Peru.
On the same day you head to Millpu, you can take a slight detour to see jaw-dropping waterfalls. Pumapaqcha, Batán and Qorimaqma are all located in the nearby town of Cangallo. These receive even fewer visitors than Millpu, and the serenity of the hidden water features is incomparable.
You might also consider heading to Qorihuillca Canyon. Over the course of two hours, you’ll make your way along 2 kilometers of cracked rock, formed by an ancient river that no longer runs through the gully. From here, head to the Crack of the Swallows, where you’ll be immersed in the sounds of parrots, swallows, and even bats.
If one of your reasons for heading to Peru is to learn more about the Inca Empire, you won’t want to miss the ruins at Vilcashuamán. Once an important administrative center for the Inca, the ruins of the Sun Temple and a pyramid are still visible. There are also ruins to be explored in Huari, the former home of the pre-Incan, Wari peoples.
More history can be had at the Pampas de Quinua. Here you’ll find an enormous historic monument that commemorates those who died in the Battle of Ayacucho, during the Peruvian War of Independence. The giant obelisk is one of the most popular tours to take while staying in Ayacucho.
Semana Santa is the week before Easter, and there’s not a single part of Peru you won’t find celebrating. However, nowhere in the country is this Holy Week more pronounced than it is in Ayacucho.
This city is recognized nationally as having the best Easter festivities in the entire country. The streets are filled with people, flower carpet exhibitions, bull chases, religious reenactments, and fireworks displays. Be sure to plan your trip early if you want to see it, as thousands of people flood the small city to take part.
– Best Time to Visit Millpu, Peru
The best time to go to Millpu, Peru – besides Semana Santa – is during Peru’s dry season. This season lasts from May until December. The reason for this is that traveling in the Andean highlands during wet season leads to some major, unavoidable logistical problems.
However, it’s not just rain and mudslides you want to avoid when visiting Millpu. The sun is what gives the unique color to the turquoise pools, and without it, you simply won’t have the same beautiful view.
– Prepare for Your Trip
There are a few items to consider when preparing for your visit to the Millpu natural pools in Ayacucho, Peru. Here, we’ll cover some of the basics.
Ayacucho sits in the highlands at nearly 8,900 feet above sea level. That altitude can take some getting used to. To ensure your hike up to the pools is enjoyable, arrive a few days early to adjust to the height and avoid any altitude sickness.
Keep in mind that, while you’re permitted to swim in the pools, you’ll need a swimsuit, and the water can be frigid cold, regardless of how warm it feels outside of them. That’s because the sun is bright and strong at this altitude, which means you’ll also want some sunscreen and a hat. For your hike, be sure to pack hiking boots, a camera, and a light jacket (because the weather can change quickly in the mountains).
– Plan Your Trip to Millpu With Kuoda
Although the natural pools in Millpu, Peru are an experience you can have in a day, there are plenty of other things to see and do in the surrounding area. Whether you’re looking for history, nature, or culture, you can check all the boxes in the not-so-touristy region of Ayacucho. Start planning your trip today.