Gocta waterfall – one of the world’s tallest
Although known to locals for centuries, it wasn’t until an expedition to Chachapoyas by a German explorer in 2005 prompted the measurement and documentation of the falls that Gocta was declared the third highest waterfall in the world. Its official height and rank has since been contentious, and depending on your source it varies from the world’s 3rd highest to 16th highest in the World Waterfall Database. Regardless of its status, it’s an incredibly impressive sight to take in from the different vantage points offered on this picturesque hike through the cloud forest – a highlight of any private Chachapoyas tour.
Enjoy the Gocta Waterfall Hike and surrounding area on Aracari’s 5-day Peru’s Best Kept Secret itinerary, taking in all the area’s highlights with a private vehicle, guide and driver.
As part of Aracari’s recent inspection trip to Chachapoyas, I set off to hike to Gocta waterfall directly from Gocta Natura Cabins, conveniently located near to their namesake, and offering incredible views of the falls from the decks of many of their cabins. Along with Aracari’s owner and CEO Marisol, and a few other colleagues, we looked forward to getting up close to the stunning falls we had admired from afar. Met by our private Aracari guide Julio, we walked through farmland where sugarcane and other crops are grown, before the vegetation changed to lush cloud forest with jungle-like flora.
Gocta Waterfall hike through Cloud Forest
The path to the waterfall is well maintained and provides a stable and scenic journey. If you’re in good physical condition and enjoy walking and hiking, it’s an easy hike, and at a good pace it took me two hours, one-way. Some sections have steep inclines, and horses can be hired for part of the journey to the falls or can be pre-arranged for the way back if you’ve had enough walking by then.
Engulfed by the sounds, sights and smells of the cloud forest, I enjoyed the beautiful flora and fauna along the Gocta Waterfall hike, with Julio pointing things out to me. The path crosses small streams and gorges spanned by short bridges.
Before you see Gocta, you’ll hear it, and as we advanced the volume increased as did the anticipation. With about a third of the way to go, the vegetation opens up, and finally I set my eyes on the falls. For the rest of the walk there were five opportunities to see the falls, getting closer and closer, until you finally arrive at the base of the falls, stretching your neck into the sun to see the top.
At a special vantage point with a view of the waterfalls you’ll take a break and enjoy snacks and a refreshing drink laid out by your guide. After taking in the views, and maybe splashing in the pool at the base of the falls (expect to get wet if you go close to the falls because of the spray!), return via the same path to your hotel in time for lunch.
The Gocta waterfall hike is one of several highlights in this beautiful remote part of Peru. If you enjoy hiking in the cloud forest, nearby Yumbilla waterfall offers another scenic trail. The area is also known for the incredible archaeological site Kuelap – the fortified city built by the Chachapoya civilisation – which can be visited as a day trip from Gocta Waterfall accommodation.