A collection of bright blue natural pools known as Millpu has became a sensation for adventure travelers in Peru. Here’s all you need to know.
Located in south-central Peru, in a remote section near Ayacucho, the natural pools known as Millpu change colors as the seasons change. While their beauty is undeniable, the turquoise lagoons remained largely hidden from the eyes of tourists until just a few years ago and they have managed to remain in near pristine condition.
Just hours from the city of Ayacucho, have yourself an adventure by traveling to the collection of natural pools known as Millpu.
Considered sacred territory by the locals, Millpu takes its name from the Quechua word Millpuy, meaning “swallow.” Throughout the area of the pools, there are steps for tourists to climb that lead to the top of the hill where you will see what appears (with a stretch of imagination) like a mouthful of water: the blue-green wells cradled in the banks of a canyon.
The entire area is surrounded by lush vegetation and stock animals that feed off of the local flora and water. The natural scene will make you think you’ve transitioned to (peaceful) biblical times.
As you begin your way back from the top you will have to snake your way down a path to the river of pools. Surrounded by huge natural walls, there is plenty of shade to be found in the early morning hours.
These mineral pools change colors with the season: turquoise during the dry seasons and turn green during the wet season. The change of color is due to the seaweed that grows during the rainy season, lending a green hue.
If you want to see the pools at the peak of their turquoise phase, it’s recommended to visit Millpu winter, or the dry season, which runs from April-October.
During the rest of the year (the rainy season), the pools turn green. Because of the rain the road leading to the pools might be muddy and it will be difficult to reach the area. Keep in mind that tours are not offered January-March due to extreme rainfall.
The pools are located in the Circamarca community, next to the city of Ayacucho. Flight time from Lima to Ayacucho is less than an hour. There are no direct flights from Cusco to Ayacucho currently offered, though overnight bus rides (via Abancay) are just 8 hours long. In order to get to Ayacucho from Ica, a night bus is also available (a 7-hour drive).
Once in Ayacucho, the drive to the city to Millpu will take about 3.5 hours. The ride is not an easy one since the road is super curvy throughout. Be sure to eat light (or nothing at all) before the commute.
You can either take a group tour and get there with a van or hire a private driver. You can book a group tour with any agency in the main square.
You can try getting a driver through your hotel. This option has its advantages since you can make a stop whenever you want, get to the site before all the groups do and get back whenever you want.
In the case that you choose a group tour, the cost will be S/50-60. The group sizes are about 10-15 people and the ride is done in a large van. You will leave Ayacucho around 8am in order that you arrive in time to see the Millpu pools light up in the sun.
If you go with a private driver, you will pay about S/200-250 and will be chauffeured in a comfy jeep. You can leave at the hour of your choice and arrive before most groups do, meaning you will have the pools all to yourself. If you leave around 6-7am you’ll have enough time to make stops along the way and still enjoy the pools.
The entrance to the pools costs S/5.
You’re most likely to arrive at Ayacucho a day before your tour. Here are some things you can do in the city on this day.
Enjoy the restaurants around the main square (Plaza de Armas) or visit the local market. Within walking distance you will find the Casa Museo Joaquin Lopez, of the renowned retablo artist.
If you’re in for some more adventurous activities consider taking the Columpio Extremo. This extreme swing is located at the edge of the lookout point, La Picota, and provides a prestigious viewpoint of Ayacucho. The swing will cost S/10.
As well, other activities such as ziplining, a short hike to a light tower and more can be found.
Largely due to social media, the picturesque natural pools have all but gone viral. Having grown in popularity with tourists, locals came to understand the need for more supervision and have since prohibited swimming in the main pools (you can only enter up to your knees).
As a good example of environmental tourism, this rule is the locals’ attempt to minimize the destructive effect of tourism and maintain their natural treasure. We urge you to respect the decision of the locals and this sacred part of Peru.