Hiking Guide For The Gocta Falls, Peru

This incredible fall has only been on the world’s map for a short time, nonetheless, the Gocta Waterfalls are a powerful spectacle to see, a breath-taking hike through the Amazon Rainforest.

If you are planning a trip to the north of Peru, you should add Gocta to your itinerary, one of the world’s tallest waterfalls with an astounding landscape.

This area still feels remote from the tourists, but the place keeps improving and is gaining popularity, especially among Peruvian travelers.

This area is not usually a famous destination in the country but places some of the most unique locations. Altogether with the Kuelap fortress, pre-Inca ruins, this part of Peru offers a good amount of treks and impressive views.

The hike to check the falls goes along cloud forest trails, large green fields and a lot of humidity. Let me tell you everything you need to know before hiking the Gocta Waterfall and make your trip epic.

Gocta Waterfall Facts

For centuries, the waterfalls were hidden in the cloud forest and known only to the locals who didn’t dare to come close because of deadly legends.

However, in 2002 a German engineer saw the fall and decided to make preliminary measurements to put them on the map, being officially measured in 2006.

I won’t bother you with the discussion about people who consider the falls one of the highest in the world, and people who pointed out that is a two-tiered fall and should be measured differently. What I can confirm, with any qualification whatsoever; is that the falls are impressive to see.

For the skeptics, the World Waterfall Database considers them one waterfall and rates them among the top in the world with 2,531 ft (771m) in height.

But why the locals didn’t go near the falls? A mermaid is gardening the place and she will bewitch those who dare to bathe in her waters, she is also protecting a treasure and sending bad luck, so whatever you do make sure to respect the waterfall just in case.

Hiking to the bottom of Gocta Falls in Peru
Beautiful plant during the Gocta falls hike

Where Are The Gocta Falls?

Flowing into the Cocahuayco River, the waterfalls are in Cocachimba town located in Chachapoyas, the capital of the Amazon region of Peru. How to get there it’s their own adventure.

My favorite way, the easiest and the longest is taking a bus from Lima or other major cities in the north if you are visiting this area. There are four possible routes from Lima through the cities of Jaén, Tarapoto, Chiclayo, or Chachapoyas.

Check Redbus to look for the best bus to fit your needs.

Unfortunately, flights are infrequent to this region, but if you plan in advance it is possible. Twice a week there are direct flights from Lima to Chachapoyas. Another flight option is going to Jaen, which has daily flights, and from there is a 4-hour ride to Chachapoyas.

Where To Stay?

In the last years, several eco-lodges and hotels have been opening right in Cocachimba, just at the start of the Gocta trail. They are more pricy than other local accommodations, but they also offer more comfy vibes.

You can also find other budget-friendly hotels in town, frequently used by locals, just go inside and ask for the room price.

The other best option is staying in Chachapoyas where you will find more hostels and hotels options, and more things to do in general.

tours for hiking gocta falls

When Is The Best Time To Visit The Gocta Falls?

The fall flows year-round. However, the best time to go is just at the end of the rainy season, from April to June. When the dry season is starting the waterfall is still full and having rain during the hike is less frequent.

Even if you visit them from May to September, during the dry season, the fall will still be impressive but less full, the bright side is that the hike will be less messy and wet.

From October to April, the rainy season, you will check the most powerful waterfall but nine times out of ten will be raining. During this season, you will have the chance to see other small falls through the muddy hike.

Plan Your Hike To The Gocta Falls

The most used trail starts from Cocachimba town, either from there or Chachapoyas there are tours available to visit the Falls.

Day tours are affordable costing around 25 – 30$ and are definitely worthy just for the transportation especially if you are coming from Chachapoyas. Private tours are also an option, and at the entrance of the treks, you will also find guides for around 50 soles.

It is possible to hike by yourself and the paths are reasonably marked, just be aware that the Gocta entrance opens from 7 am to 17.30 every day. And public transport around the area is limited.

The hike to the bottom takes around 5 hours round-trip (depending on your pace), I will qualify it as easy-medium, there are some uphills and slippery areas. The top hike takes a good 4 hours round-trip and is also very doable with some friendly challenges.

Can you do both hikes on the same day? The two routes start from different towns and they are not connected. It is possible if you start early in the morning and have your own or private transportation. Otherwise, you have to choose one of the two or do it on different days.

My recommendation is to do one hike a day since you will have time to admire the landscape and go without any rush.

If you want to know more about the two routes to see the waterfalls keep reading.

To finally plan your hike bring cash for the entrance ticket, 10 soles for adults for each route. So, if you are planning to do both levels of the waterfall will be 20 soles. You will find a ticket stand at the beginning of both routes. It can seem a little bit pricy, however, the entrance fees are supposed to be for the trail maintenance and the signs.

Advice: If you are going with a tour make sure you ask if the entrance fee is included. Most of the companies include the fee on the overall price, but confirm so you are not surprised once you arrive.

hiking to the bottom of gocta falls peru

How Many Routes Are To The Gocta Falls?

There are two start routes to see the waterfalls, one that leads you to the bottom of the falls and another one to check them from the top.

Flora and fauna are plentiful on both hikes. If you are a bird lover you will love this area, from hummingbirds to the Chachapoyas antpitta, endemic to Peru. Monkeys are also residents here although they don’t show themselves often, if you are patient and attentive you can see some chilling around.

Hiking To The Bottom From Cocachimba

The trek starts from Cochachimba town, located around 3.4miles (5.5 km) from the Gocta Falls. The bottom hike is the most common and easy hike and the one that most tour companies do.

Hiking to the bottom takes around 5 hours round trip, you will walk through the rainforest and green fields. Humidity is a reality here, leaving some slippery downhills and muddy uphills.

It is possible to rent a horse to ride part of the way. However, the last part of the trek has to be done on foot. Horses owners only take cash.

This hike brings you right to the bottom of the waterfall where you will get super wet just standing there.

Is it possible to swim? There are some limitations but the answer is yes, you can take a bath in the Gocta Fall waters.

Bottom of the Gocta Hike Falls
gocta falls

Hiking To The Top From San Pablo

From San Pablo, another town near Chachapoyas, there are two main treks, one to the very top of the Fall and a second one to the middle tier that connects to the bottom trail.

The trek to the top takes around 4 hours round trip, around two hours to reach the top. Since this one is the least used path are not a lot of tours around and you will find yourself alone for most of the route.

The landscape is stunning from here and there is an impressive view of the fall, including several viewpoints during the hike with a good photo of the valleys.

Since this path hasn’t had a connection to the bottom, you will have to come back to San Pablo to start the hike that takes you to the middle fall and connects to the bottom trek from Cocachimba.

Hiking gocta falls in peru
Trekking Gocta Falls in Peru Amazon

Getting There By Public Transport?

If you are going by public transport from Chachapoyas the bus takes around 1 hour to start either of the routes.

You can find a bus (colectivo) going to Pedro Ruiz in the main bus station for around 5 soles.

Tell the driver to drop you off for visiting the Gocta Fall, they will stop on the side of the road at an intersection. Your trek will start there on road, from here you can also take a moto-taxi to give you a ride to Cocachimba or San Pablo depending on which hike you are doing.

Since it is commonplace to stop, moto-taxis are usually waiting at this junction for passengers, and they should charge you around 10 soles for the ride.

What To Pack For the Gocta Falls Hike?

  • Common sense, bring some hiking shoes or decent sneakers for the trek. The path is usually slippery with mud and your shoes will end up dirty.
  • Pack a rain jacket, no matter the season rain is always a common visitor; also just being close to the falls will get you wet.
  • It is also a good idea to pack an extra t-shirt if you are uncomfortable being wet, just the humidity will leave you sweaty and damp.
  • Bring water and snacks, it’s nothing on the way and with all the humidity you will need to hydrate.
  • Bring some eco-friendly insect repellent if you are a feast for the mosquitos, this is the jungle and you are a delicious meal.
  • Sunscreen and a hat are always a good idea for any hike.
  • During the bottom hike you will have access to some sticks to help you during the hike, but if you have hiking poles pack them.
  • Bring cash, everything around the trek including the entrance fee has to be paid in cash.
  • Pack some swims and extra clothes if you are planning to swim at the base of the fall.
  • Things will get wet, it is a good idea to have a dry bag or water-resistant backpack to put some of your valuables.

If you are planning a trip to Peru, don’t miss this epic waterfall hide in the Amazon rainforest.

If hiking is your jam, both treks to admire the Gocta Falls are well worthy, from the top the views of the fall are spectacular. From the bottom, you feel the full force of the waterfall together with the legend of the place.

The north of Peru is worth every itinerary you are planning, don’t neglect this region if you want to breathe jungle and adventure.

Have you done one of the hikes to the Gocta Falls? Do you need more information to plan your trek? Let me know in the comment


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Ultimate Guide to Hike the Gocta Falls in Peru
Hiking Guide for the Gocta Falls in Peru

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