The Gocta Waterfall in Peru, commonly known as Gocta Falls, is one of the world’s tallest waterfalls, anywhere from the third to the sixteenth tallest depending on how you classify it. Named “Gocta” after the sound made by the howler monkeys that can be found in the region, the falls have been known to local for centuries but largely avoided for superstitious reasons. As such, the falls only came to the world’s attention back in 2006 when a German Economist who was working on a nearby wastewater project stumbled across them on a hike in search of pre-Incan ruins.
The Gocta Falls sits just outside the ancient town of Chachapoyas in the north of Peru. The falls plunge a staggering 2,530ft over the side of a jagged cliff, through lush vegetation, into the depths of the Cocahuayco River. That’s at least twice the height of two Eiffel Towers stacked on top of each other! It is an immensely impressive sight to behold and its sublime natural surroundings of verdant cloud forest make it all the more magical.
The first thing you need to do, if you’re planning on visiting the Gocta Falls, is get yourself to Chachapoyas. There are buses that run from all over the country to Chachapoyas, but these can take up serious chunks of time – depending on your starting point. The quickest and easiest way to reach the town is to hop on a direct flight from Lima to Jaen airport, some 3 hours drive away from Chachapoyas.
Once you arrive in Chachapoyas, your tour guide will bring you to the town of Gocta by private car. From here, you will need to hike the 5km trail that leads from the town to the waterfalls. Your tour guide will arrange transport and lunch for you, which takes a loads off your mind. If you’re more of an independent traveler, the hike is easy to do solo. Be sure to stock up on water and snacks in Gocta before you head off.
Once you arrive at the falls you’ll probably need a few minutes to catch your breath after the sight of the powerful cascades has taken it away. Snap some photos and admire your natural surroundings – this is a place of world class beauty. Those who want to cool down after the hike can jump into the icy cold water for a swim. If you’re not keen on swimming, you’ll still be able to feel the cool spray of water on your skin if you get within 30 metres or so of the falls. This alone is enough to cool you off.
Visiting the Gocta Falls is bound to be one of the highlights of your trip, and possibly your whole life, so it is important to time your trip right. The best time to see the Gocta Falls is during the rainy season as that is when the falls are at their fullest and most spectacular. The rainy season runs from November through to April. Take note that while it only rains intermittently during the rainy season, when it does rain it comes down very heavily. Pack plenty of waterproofs and you should be just fine.
Gocta Waterfall can be done in a day trip, but that doesn’t mean you should pack up and leave as soon as you’re back. Be sure to make time in your itinerary for the other attractions in the area, including the Kuelap ruins and the sarcophagi of Karajia.
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