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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)

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