Peru's new hot destination
Rappeling down a waterfall in the Cloud Forest of Chachapoyas
When you hear 'Peru', the first things that come to mind are: Machu Picchu for historians, tropical fauna and flora for biologists, the longest wave in the world for surfers, and ceviche and Pisco Sour for foodies.
But what most people aren't aware of is that Peru is also home to an infinity of waterfalls, including the 15th highest worldwide (the Gocta, 771 m), and the 5th highest in the world (Yumbilla, 895 m), both located in the Chachapoyas region. Chachapoyas, capital of the Amazonas department, is labeled as a 'cold jungle': despite having an immense variety of tropical birds and flowers, it is still part of the Andes, being situated at 2,335 m above ground level. Hence, temperatures fluctuate between 10 and 23 degrees Celsius.
Although it is the shorter of the two waterfalls, the Gocta is the most famous one because it is the largest. The two-hour trek that takes you there zigzags through the jungle - if you are lucky, you may even spot the Gallito de las Rocas, Peru's national bird.
On the other hand, Yumbilla is at the head of a waterfall circuit that includes five shorter waterfalls. On the 6-hour trek that brings you to each one, you can spot a wide variety of tropical birds, orchids, and perhaps even spectacled bears. In two instances, you can choose to rappel down part of a waterfall under expert guidance.
Back in Cuispes, the village from which the treks start, you may opt to take a workshop on how to make your own coffee, from collecting the seed to serving a delicious cup of the freshest coffee you've ever had. Other options include mud-oven break-making and a workshop on apiculture, all led by local residents.
The Chachapoyas region not only offers breathtaking waterfalls and workshops for foodies: it is also home to the Kuélap fortress, the best-preserved ruins of the Chachapoyas era.
Historians relate that the Chachapoyas - also known as the 'Warriors of the Clouds'- were a sophisticated people that promptly attracted the attention of the Incas. Indeed, the Incas always sought to conquer advanced peoples in order to take possession of their infrastructure, knowledge and techniques. Despite the Chachapoyas' fierce resistance, the Incas overtook this people shortly before the Spanish Conquest.
Lastly, many wonder at the sarcophagi that the Chachapoyas encrusted in cliffs 100 metres above ground-level, and that withstood the pressures of time and nature.
A museum nearby holds an impressive collection of over 200 mummies left by the Chachapoyas.
Take part in the tour to the jungle of Chachapoyas to discover these wonders while they are still unknown to most.
The Gocta, 15th highest waterfall worldwide
Sarcophagi left by the Chachapoyas
On the trek to the Gocta
Kuélap, the Chachapoyas fortress
Cristal, part of the waterfall circuit
Gallito de las Rocas, Peru's national bird