The road inland from Lambayeque is a fast good road but it still took us all day to reach Bagua Grande which is a lowland town set amongst rice paddies. We had a very uncomfortable night here where it was hot, wet and there were squadrons of mosquitos. In the morning we got on our way and the drive quickly became spectacular as we followed the Rio Utcubamba through its deep gorge into the mountains.
Shortly before reaching Chachapoyas there is a dirt road off the main road which rises out of the gorge and 1000m higher up to the small town of San Pedro. This is the nearest town to Gocta Falls.
We picked up a backpacker, Nacho from Argentina, who was walking up the road – although our lack of a spare seat meant that he had to sit outside on the wheel rim and hold tight! This led to a few hairy moments for him on the corners especially as he had 1 hand heavily bandaged due to a machete accident the week before.
Gocta Falls were only “discovered” in 2005, although of course the locals knew all about them, and were officially measured at this time. The total height of 771m makes Gocta Falls the 3rd tallest in the world (after Angel Fall’s in Venezuela and Tugela Falls in South Africa). There is however some dispute about this ranking !
The town of San Pedro is a tiny but very friendly town. We parked on the town square next to the school – and spent the night here, which was very quiet. There is also a restaurant, small tienda and a tourist information booth.
The walk to the waterfall is between 2 and 3 hours, there is a detour to a viewpoint which is the only point you can see the full upper and lower falls and you can continue down here to the bottom of the lower falls. The path ends at the bottom of the upper falls. The walk itself is very pretty as you are walking along a beautiful mountain valley with some amazing views across the tops of the mountains.