Yumbilla Waterfall Hike: A walk in the cloud forest

Sign to Yumbilla waterfall

Only an hour’s drive away from Gocta Waterfall – the main attraction in this beautiful part of Chachapoyas, in Northern Peru, Yumbilla waterfall offers a great second hike if you’d like an extra day exploring the mystical cloud forest.  I visited Yumbilla on a recent inspection trip with my colleague Claudia, one of Aracari’s travel planners. A quieter trail, very few people venture to Yumbilla or have even heard of it, and because of that you’ll be rewarded with a serene and tranquil walk through the forest – we only passed one small group the whole day (and it was a weekend!). As a result, we had the spectacle of Yumbilla all to ourselves.


To hike to Yumbilla waterfall as part of a private trip to Peru, have a look at Aracari’s sample itinerary, Peru’s Best Kept Secret, which can be tailormade to suit your interests and timeframe.


As a city dweller, there’s nothing more relaxing that being immersed in nature, far away from roads, traffic and human settlements, where instead of car horns and the sounds of construction, the soundtrack is the natural melody of birds, tree frogs and running water. The hike to Yumbilla waterfall offers just that!

Yumbilla waterfall – one of the tallest in the world

According to the World Waterfall Database, Yumbilla waterfall is the fifth highest in the world! Most other sources rank it a bit lower, but the point is it’s pretty tall, absolutely mesmerising, and the hike to get there is equally rewarding with two other waterfalls along the way.

Yumbilla and the two other cascades offer beautiful focal points for this scenic excursion through the cloud forest of Chachapoyas. Along the trail there are various look out points, giving you several perspectives on the beautiful waterfalls and panoramic views of the surrounding mountains and valleys.

Claudia and I were collected from the beautiful Gocta Natura Cabins (the best place to stay in the area!) by our private guide and driver for the hour-long journey to the village of Cuispes, where we stopped briefly to register to begin the trail. Joined by a local community guide we continued a further 20 minutes’ drive into the hills to the trail head.

Almost immediately after setting off the forest canopy engulfs you as you walk along the narrow dirt / mud track (bring hiking shoes or Wellington boots!), shielded from the sun by the trees. The forest is full of little streams, beautiful trees, lush ferns, leaves in a range of hues and the occasional hidden orchids.

Highlights on the way to Yumbilla waterfall

After about an hour hiking the birdsong was drowned out by the sound of falling water, and its source was quickly revealed when we arrived at Cerro Medio, the first waterfall. The trail continues behind the waterfall, so you get an impressive view of the forest through a translucent wall of water.

Continuing uphill for another 15 minutes we soon arrived at the second fall – Cristal, again absolutely beautiful. The waterfall flows into a small stream which you have to cross on a makeshift bridge made of tree trunks, with a wire overhead to help you balance – so a little bit of adventure added to our trek!

After the final 15-minute stretch we arrived at the main attraction – Yumbilla waterfall, in a large clearing to admire the view from. As far up as you can look upwards, there’s water flowing from above. With the sun behind the falls, each drop of water in the air seemed to catch the sunlight, creating a glistening spray of light slowly descending on to us, and a welcome cooling spray after a hot hike! A beautiful moment, on a beautiful hike, which I certainly recommend.

If you’d like to explore Peru’s Chachapoyas region, including hiking to Yumbilla waterfall, have a look at Aracari’s Peru’s Best Kept Secret itinerary, which takes in all the highlights including Kuelap and Gocta waterfalls. Our expert travel planners are ready to plan your trip with you, so contact us or email travel@aracari.com

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