At 771 meters, the Gocta waterfall is the third highest waterfall in the world and that provides spectacular views. The special thing about this waterfall is that it was only discovered in 2005 by a group of adventurers. The Gocta is surrounded by rugged nature and is approximately an hour’s drive from the village of Chachapoyas. But first you have to do something to see the waterfall up close: a  hike of about four hours. But that is precisely what makes the experience unforgettable.

Gocta waterfall without tour
From Chachapoyas there are various organized day trips to ‘Catarata de Gocta’, but you can also easily go there on your own. Collectivos leave from the bus station in Chachapoyas and bring you for about 10 soles to the village of Cocachimba. In the middle of the square is a small building where you can buy your entrance ticket (15 soles) and then start the hike. As for the way back; we were lucky that afterwards we could take a tour back to Chachapoyas (10 soles per person). If this isn’t possible, you can also take a motor taxi to the bridge. Here is the main road where several collectivos / taxis pass, which means you don’t have to wait as long.

The benefits of the Gocta without a tour
We love to walk without a group and fully enjoy the peace and nature. Moreover, it’s nice that afterwards you don’t have to wait for other people who are not yet done with the hike. In terms of costs it does not make much difference; we talked to a couple who had gone on an organized tour and they had paid 55 soles for their day trip. This amount includes transportation, entrance and lunch. The tours can be booked at one of the many tour agencies in Chachapoyas.

Several hikes to the Gocta waterfall
There are three different routes to get to the waterfall and these start / end in the villages of Cocachimba or higher up San Pablo. We have opted for option 1; we started and ended in Cocachimba.
1. Start and finish in Cocachimba 10.4 km
This is the “low” route but oh, how we underestimated this hike. You walk 2 to 2.5 hours to the foot of the waterfall and the road consists mainly of steep paths. Pay attention during the hike to the many birds that you can spot here. We saw the well-known ‘cock of the rock’ at the start. After about 1.5 hours you will find toilets and just after that you will find a small restaurant. This is the only point where you can buy something along the way, so bring plenty of water and bread / snacks. A little further is a sign where you can turn left (see photo); DON’T DO THIS! To get to the foot of the waterfall, you just have to go straight on. After admiring the waterfall from below, walk back the same path. Although the entire route consists of steep paths, you have to climb a little more on the way back. If you have difficulty walking (or you’re just tired), you can go back with a horse.
2. Start and finish in San Pablo 12 km
This is the ‘high’ route; you start in the higher village of San Pablo and walk to the viewpoint halfway through the waterfall. From the bridge on the main road, you can take a motor taxi to the village of San Pablo. There you can, just like in Cocachimba, buy an entrance ticket and start the hike.

3. Start in San Pablo and finish in Cocachimba 15 km
For fanatic hikers there is also option three: a combination of route one and route two. You start in the higher village of San Pablo and walk (route 2) to the waterfall. Then you walk back a bit to take a steep side path down there. This path leads to route one. After crossing the river, walk up a little and then turn left at the sign to get to the base of the waterfall. From there you walk (according to route one) back to Cocachimba.

 

Preparations Gocta hike
Especially if you go on your own, you may encounter few people and have the beautiful nature to yourself. The tours leave around 9:00 am so we advise you to leave a little earlier to avoid the “crowds”. During our way back we encountered several groups of tourists. Put on good shoes and comfortable clothing. It can be quite hot on the way, but once at the waterfall the water (condensation) provides cooling. A cardigan or poncho cannot be a superfluous luxury. Also bring plenty of food, drinks, toilet paper, sunscreen (high UV radiation in this area) and mosquito repellent.
In Cocachimba you can find several restaurants, bars and tiendas. So you can enjoy a delicious Peruvian lunch after the morning hike.

 

 

 

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