Gocta Falls

Exploring North Central Peru – Gocta Falls (aka “Gojta”)

A house in Cocachimba

On our 2nd day in Chachapoyas we decided to go to Gocta Falls. These falls (a series of two) are the 3rdhighest in the world. The lower falls is about 500 meters in height, and the upper falls is about 200 meters high. In the travel blogs I had read prior to our trip, it was difficult to know how accessible the falls were. As it turned out, they were pretty easy to get to. As we had done the day before, we went to the main square in Chachapoyas and arranged with a different tour company (simply to spread our business) for transportation to the falls. We paid 30 NS per person for the car and driver and also paid a 5 NS entry fee ($1 USD = 2.8 nuevos soles).

The village of Cocachimba, start of the Gocta Falls trail

On the trail...

Getting closer to the falls...

The lower falls as we arrive...

We were the only ones going to the falls that day, and had a private car and driver. The drive took us north of Chachapoyas about 1 hour (of which only 11km is gravel) to the small village of Cocachimba, where the hike began. The well-maintained trail is 5.3km in length, and it took us about 2 hours to get to the falls. Along the way, there are various signs promoting ecotourism and pointing out some of the natural surroundings (local birds for example). The falls are visible from near the trailhead, and if one did not feel like hiking, just viewing them from the distance would be possible. The trail goes up and down a lot through many ravines, but is not difficult.

The huge falls dwarf our son, Sean...

Standing at the base of the falls, looking straight up 1500 feet is quite spectacular. We had the falls to ourselves. There was a small group of German tourists hiking down as we were going up, and we saw just a few other people along trail. This was a very quiet and an enjoyable experience in the natural beauty of Peru.

A sign for Facebook in the remote village of Cocachimba!

Gocta Falls is 1 hour north (by car) of Chachapoyas

Exploring North Central Peru—Chachapoyas

Chachapoyas is an 8-9 hour (285 miles) bus ride east from Chiclayo

The countryside of Chachapoyas (on the way to Kuelap)

Chachapoyas is a whitewashed town of about 25,000 located in a very interesting and beautiful part of Peru. It would be easy to spend 4-5 days touring the area—we spent two, exploring Kuelap ruins and Gocta Falls. A green, mountainous area, Chachapoyas is located between the very dry northwest part of Peru and the Amazon jungle region to the east.

Getting on the bus to start our overnight journey to Chachapoyas

To get to Chachapoyas, the logistics are as follows: a flight from Lima to Chiclayo, followed by an overnight (about 9 hour) bus ride from Chiclayo to Chachapoyas. Another option would be a flight from Lima to Cajamarca and then an 10 hour bus ride (mainly on a dirt road from what I understand) to Chachapoyas. There are no commercial flights to Chachapoyas, although there is a small airport where some small charter flights operate.

The comfortable semi-cama bus seats

The bus ride is not quite as bad as it might seem. The operator was Movil Tours. The bus is a double-decker, with more comfortable seats on the lower level and typical long-haul bus seats on the upper level. While the bus makes a few short stops, they are only to pick up and drop off passengers. Seats in the economy (upstairs) section cost 45 nuevos soles (NS) and 75 NS in the first class section. A small dinner (not too exciting) was served, with one movie shown (in Spanish of course). ($1 USD = 2.8 NS).

Hotel Vilaya in Chachapoyas

Our room at Hotel Vilaya--about $35/night (checking in at 6 am!)

The bus from Chiclayo arrives in Chachapoyas at about 6 am. Upon arrival, we asked for hotel recommendations, and took a taxi for 2 NS to the hotel, and got a triple room on the spot for 100 NS per night, with (very) early check-in being no problem. There are several decent, but certainly not fancy hotels in the town. After getting cleaned up, we then ventured down to the main square to arrange a tour to Kuelap which left at 8:30 am. The tourism industry here is just developing and at this time of year (October), it was no problem getting a hotel, or booking a tour. There are at least a half-dozen tour agencies on the main square, and from what we could tell, they all offer similar tours and at similar rates. The main tours in the area include: Kuelap, Gocta Falls, Revash, Karajia, Laguna de los Condores, and Quiocta Caves.

One of several tour operators on Plaza de Armas, Chachapoyas

Pedestrian street, Chachapoyas

Plaza de Armas, Chachapoyas