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Chachapoyas Peru

The Machu Picchu of the North, Gocta Falls and more

sunny 10 °C

Chachapoyas: first you should know it’s a 10 hour bus from Chiclayo and 14 from Trujillo on the complete other side of the country with not much in between. Also, unlike my other posts I didn’t explore too much of the food scene here as I was busy with exterior activities. The Sacofagos de Karajia, Cavernas de Quiocta, Gocta Falls, and Keulap are the activities I took part in at chachapoyas.

It’s a quaint colonial type town with 2 pretty squares. From here you can take a bus to 2 different rather large waterfalls once classified as the 5th largest in the world and has only been Re-discovered in the last 5 years. Gocta waterfalls and Yumbilla Falls. I only hiked Gocta; it was quite impressive and the hike was medium to strenuous and I took the easy route which I will explain here.

I took a tour the first day that took me both to the Sacafogas and the caverns that included lunch. I feel we may have seen one other minor thing on the way. The lunch was actually pretty good and I enjoyed the entire tour however it pails in comparison to the other activities I did in Chachapoyas. So decide for yourself once there just don’t miss the falls or Keulap.

Gocta Falls: A taxi to anywhere in town should be no more than 3 Soles. Take a bus from the terminal in Chachapoyas, I don’t remember the exact amount maybe 10-15 Soles. They will let you out on the side of the road where some Tuck-tucks are waiting that will either take you to Cocachimba or San Pablo. I remember thinking that the tuck-tuck was quite expensive and almost decided that I would hike it and skip the fee. That would have been a huge mistake and I would have missed seeing much of the falls. In retrospect it was worth whatever they were charging to get up to San Pablo. What you need to know is there are 3 levels to these falls in which you can hike and San Pablo is about on level with the 2nd level of the falls. I started out from Chachapoyas about 9am thinking it would be an easy day since I was going to start in San Pablo and hike ‘down’ to the base of the falls and out to Cocachimba not realizing at the time you could actually hike to the 3rd level.

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The tuck-tuck dropped me off in the small town square of San Pablo where I was directed into the main building to pay my entrance fee. It’s Peru, of course they are going to charge you to see any natural beauty there. I think 20 soles which I found a bit steep especially after the bus and the tuck-tuck fee. I was asked what route I would be taking and I said I’d be leaving the falls area from Cocachimba. She informed me it would be a 6 hour hike. I was a bit shocked since it seemed on the map short and all downhill. So, I paid and the lady walked me out to the road and gave some short instructions on how to find the trail.

It was probably close to 10:30am, so I decided to keep a brisk pace to make sure I had plenty of time at the falls and make it out before dark. The path that looked straight and flat on the map was considerably more uphill to the first level of the falls than anticipated. There were very few people on the trail; however we were at some altitude and it slowed me down more than I would have liked. It was a very pretty trail with some gorgeous spots to stop and take pictures. Reaching the 2nd level of the falls I was ecstatic; I had seen views of them on and off for the entire trail and they didn’t disappoint up close. The downdraft at the base of the 2nd level was quite strong and with the mist from the falls it made it cold and even a bit hard to keep my breath. I spent 20-35 minutes here as the stream flows along a flat area about 100 meters before making its final descent which was the biggest part of the falls. I managed to make it right to the top of the 2nd fall. I don’t take selfies often however I was by myself and I made an exception here as the beauty of the canyon in the backdrop of the water seemingly falling off the end of the earth was just too good to pass up.

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After being satisfied I saw what I could and being pressed for time by potential nightfall I pressed on. To get to the lower level you have to re-trace part of the trail I’d say at least 1km before the trail branched off to lead down to the base of the falls. The trail was steep. Really really steep. It made me extremely happy I wasn’t going the other way climbing this trail. I was a switchback trail that was just shy of having to climb in a crawling position. Had I started to run down the trail I’m afraid I wouldn’t be able to stop at the switch backs. I would estimate 25+ switch backs. I was exhausted when I reached the bottom and just kept thinking thank goodness I was walking down to Cocachimba from here.

Apparently there is some confusion about how to get to the lower falls base as I ran into several people trying to make their way up this trail looking for it. However, once you reach the bottom and cross the bridge the trail splits to the left is the lower falls and to the right is the trail that leads to Cocachimba. I even think the sign was pointed wrong however there was a guy resting at the juncture that told me which was to the base and he said it wasn’t far. I remember thinking I would hurry to see the base and get back to Cocachimba before the last bus left for town. It was quite a bit further to the base than anticipated and a decent amount of it was uphill. I was already pretty tired and I almost gave up, yet I kept thinking all I have to do is walk down hill to the town and I’m golden afterward.

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I reached the base of the falls and found that it was totally worth it. A lot more people were here than at the top and after the decent I understand why. I spent about 20 minutes here resting and taking some photos then decided to head back as I didn’t know how far it was. Let me tell you the journey ‘down’ to Cocachimba was anything but. It was up up and more up. My phone said I climbed close to 300 flights of stairs on the way out. Like I said, I was already pretty tired and it was steep and long. Upon finally making it to the end of the trail the road leads down finally where I stopped at this perfect house/shop that was selling Jugo de Naturals where I promptly ordered 3 sat down and marveled at the view this lady had of the falls in her own backyard. Truly an incredible sight as I looked back and reflected about the long day I had had. I had made the entire journey with time at the falls at about 5 hours 30 mins. I remember thinking it could easily take some people 8 or more.

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Shortly after this perfect spot down the road there sits more tuck tucks that I initially passed by thinking I’d catch a collectivo back to Chachapoyas. I promptly found one that agreed to take me. As I waited in the grass of the square I looked around to see a small beautiful town that seemed to be just really developing the tourism industry. New rooms and resort like places to stay were either just built or being built. Had a perfect view of the falls and it was quite gorgeous. I grabbed a glass of wine at one of the restaurants and removed my shoes as I waited. As 35 minutes rolled by and only 1 other person he signed up for this collectivo I realized the passing tuck-tucks were taking people down to catch the passing collectivos to town. I mustered up enough strength to walk back up the road a bit to grab one for myself. I paid a little extra because I was alone however at that point I was so tired I didn’t even care. He brought me down to the highway where I promptly got picked up by a passing collectivo and I was off back to chachapoyas.

All in all a fantastic journey and this is one strenuous hike I’d gladly do again. The views and the falls were worth it all.

Kuelap: obviously you can take a tour and it’s all auto-pilot however I found two Peruvian girls from Lima that we decided to make a little bit cheaper and do it ourselves.

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I can’t state enough what a fantastic day this was and how special and beautiful the place is. We took a collectivo from the bus terminal toward the town of Nuevo Tingo. The collectivo dropped us off at the entrance to the Teleferico to Keulap. However on the way back you’ll need a tuck-tuck or taxi to bring you down to Nuevo Tingo to catch the collectivo back. We ended up meeting a group of locals and we stayed in town for lunch and they drove us back to Chachapoyas. So, not sure exactly where to catch the bus back. It’s a really small town and I think it will be easy to find. It’s about 1:30 minute ride if memory serves.

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Once at the teleferico you’ll need to buy a ticket which was 21 Soles. From there you board a bus that takes you to the teleferico. The ride up had spectacular views as you traversed a large canyon and up onto the mountain. Once on top the mountain there’s of course another entry fee of 40-50 soles. Don’t remember the exact amount. I was thinking it was kind of steep; however you’re there now and it’s the ‘Machu Picchu’ of the North. Then it’s a short hike up to the sight. There were maybe 20 other people at the site that day and it all turned out to be worth it in the end. A couple of guys we met that had just come from Machu Picchu said the entire experience was better than MP. And now having gone myself I would agree with them. I’m sure I’m a few years as keulap gets popular it may wind up being the same as MP; for now it is a tranquil and peaceful experience I won’t soon forget. Definitely one of the top 3 things I did in Peru and chachapoyas contained 2 of them and Huaraz (Laguna 69 trek) being the 3rd

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Posted by Veritas2377 19:12 Archived in Peru Tagged landscapes waterfalls skylines trees hiking ruins mountain tourist Comments (0)

Santiago/Viña Del Mar/ Valparaíso

Mainly Eats

sunny 11 °C

So, I was only in Chile 5 days yet still managed to fit in quite a few must try’s in the food arena.

First up Santiago. Just for reference everyone should know that when arriving in a new town I like to walk around the first day and get a feel for the city. I just stop at any place that looks interesting and usually places I can get in and out of quickly. So, I’m walking down the street and see an unusual amount of people crowded in this small shop called Tip Top. I managed to get a photo with a few people standing in front as I could so you could see in a bit. Naturally I stop to look in to see what the commotion is all about. I see 5 ladies behind a small counter trying to get everyone served. It’s so busy you needed to take a number. It’s just simple cookies about 20 varieties of cookies. I step up, take a number and waited my turn. I sampled about 7 different types for under 2,000 pesos. As I walked away chomping down on some delicious butter cookies I immediately knew I should have ordered more; however I resisted the temptation to turn around since it was the first meal of the day.

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Next I found a similar shop called Paradiso and I thought I had remembered reading that they had the best ice cream. However, upon entry I decided to try their shredded beef and cheese sandwich since I was feeling peckish and all I had was cookies. The kind lady warmed the sandwich on a panini press for me while I picked out an irresistible dessert called the Berlin Frito Manjar. It was a lightly powered donut stuffed with ultra sweet Canela. It was a bit sweet for my liking, I finished it nonetheless and moved on to the warm sandwhich. It had shredded beef, melted cheese and some fresh sour kraut. It was definitely above average for I think 1700.

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After leaving Paradiso, I started looking for something healthy like cut up fruit. I came upon a fresh juice vendor which had Kiwi juice of all things for 1,000. A 12-16oz glass. It was amazing and my first experience with kiwi juice. Clearly it was fresh squeezed and little to no water added. What a deal.

That ended my snacking for the day. I walked around to some museums and the big parks and then returned to the Hostel to research dinner. I was surprised to find that Yelp works in Chile. Hasn’t worked in any of central or S America to date. Made the research easy as I find TripAdvisor the worst website ever to be used so widely. SMH. The choice Barrica 94. It was just a few blocks away from Puriwani Hostel (very nice place with very accommodating staff right in the middle of the food and bar scene in Santiago). It turned out to be an excellent choice as it had plenty of my favorite wine. Chilean! I sat outside despite it being quite chilly. They had warmers set by every table and we were in a courtyard surrounded by similar restaurants and their outdoor seating. It almost was like dining at a fancy meeting of food trucks. Very cool and comfortable atmosphere. I ended up ordering the Chilean Vinos tasting (comes with 4 half glasses of different Chilean wines) for 10 mil. Then I started with the empanadas and beef tartar. Both super tasty especially with the good wine. Service was exquisite and all staff spoke good English. Apparently most of the Chileans know enough English to get by if not fluent. I finished with the sweet/savory short ribs and the poor man’s fries served with 2 fried eggs and caramelized onions. The meat was fall off the bone and the sauce was just enough sweet balanced with the savory. I think some jalapeños would have been a good addition to the sauce, it was delicious nonetheless.

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The next day I went to Valparaíso on the coast. A very hip town with lots of hills and a graffiti problem. Well, when I say problem I mean the entire town is covered in graffiti some sanctioned some not. It’s a quite gorgeous town. I took a bus from Santiago terminal South to Viña Del Mar then took a taxi to Valparaíso. (Don’t take a taxi here, use Uber of find the bus. Or use the rail system. I found this out the hard way. And you can take the bus duress this to Valparaíso; although Viña Del Mar has a lot to offer as well)

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First stop the Empanada shop on Urriola st. It’s famous, it’s small and boasts 80 kinds of empanadas. Fresh made to order and fried needless to say they were delicious. I had cheese, olives and sweet peppers. Delish. I doubt there’s anything bad on the menu though.

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Next I toured around the beautiful city and checked out the churches and parks. Landed at Restaurant Fauna. They probably have the best balcony in the city. I sat and drank several of their wines from 3pm to sunset. Didn’t try any food hear, the outside balcony with view of the bay was really nice as was the service.

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I skipped dinner in lieu of snacks and sangria at the hostel. Boy, I felt that the next day ended up not doing much that would be worth writing here. However, the following day I went to lunch at El Internado. I arrived 5 minutes before they opened 12:55 on a Saturday. They showed me to a nice waiting room where I waited just under 5 minutes to be seated. They have a nice deck and an all glass dining room upstairs located right at the top of the Queen Victoria Elevator. Of course I ordered a glass of wine which came with a nice side of olives. I ordered their house burger which came dressed and they piled on the tiny onion rings and some fried thick cut potatoes on the side all for 7 mil. It was the best burger I’ve had in a while, may be the best in town as I had been asking about burgers to no real answer from the hostel workers. The burger plus the view left me overly pleased with my choice, so I ordered dessert. Apple crumb cake with a scoop of ice cream. The crumb cake should have been served warm yet was still pretty good. Overall the burger was much better than the dessert, really can’t complain about either though.

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I hear Chinchero and Pasta and Vino are also good food choices in this town.

That afternoon I hopped an Uber and checked in Garden Street Hostel in Viña Del Mar. A small rich town that has some wonderful landscaping and a nice beach. Looks like there are a lot of great food choices here Gaucha Parrillas is supposed to be the best steak house and Burger Home for burgers. Since I had a burger for lunch and Argentinian steak is coming up tomorrow I elected to try shawarma from Shawarma Kings on 4th Poniente very close to 5 Norte. For 3700 I got a very large mixed chicken and gyro meat burrito which was well seasoned and tasty. That’s about all I’ve got for Chile, stay tuned for Buenes Aires, I hear amazing things about this town and I’m looking forward to tasting it all.

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Posted by Veritas2377 17:33 Archived in Chile Tagged landscapes skylines food restaurant tourist eats tips foodie Comments (0)

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