We had just finished a 29-day raft trip on the Rio Marañon, followed by a day and a half of gear clean-up. Having anticipated that we would be ready for a change after the conclusion of our raft trip, we had made reservations for three nights at the Gocta Andes Lodge (#6 on map below), which came heavily recommended. The Lonely Planet guide has this to say about the lodge: “The newish Gocta Andes Lodge … is one of the special spots in the Northern Highlands, sitting on a severely idyllic setting with unimpeded views to the falls …”
On the afternoon of Oct. 29, 2015, we (CJ Robison, Britt Runyon, Kathy Hammerlee Miller and myself, Steve Miller), left the city of Bagua Chica (#4 on map below), elevation 1400′, by taxi. The road up into the Northern Highlands followed the Rio Utcubamba to the east, first to the town of Pedro Ruiz (see map), elevation 4347′. The initial part of the drive was a gentle ascent through a valley of farms and rice fields, while the final 20 miles was a steep climb along and above the gorge of the Rio Utcubamba, with riveting views of Class 5 and 6 waterfalls set amongst enormous boulders. The Rio Utcubamba descended about 3000′ in that 20 miles, for an average gradient of 150’/mile – enough extreme whitewater to keep an ambitious kayaker busy for years. From Pedro Ruiz, we continued upstream along the Rio Utcubamba to the turn-off to the village of Cocachimba. Two or so miles up a steep dirt road took us to the village and lodge, at an elevation of 5954′. This ultra-scenic village is set into a roughly 270° amphitheater of tall limestone cliffs, which are the downhill edge of a tilted high-altitude plateau. We arrived well in time for dinner, which was muy delicioso, and which included not a few shots of pisco and pisco sours. The lodge was affordable deluxe, and nicer than we could have imagined. And, at this altitude, it was cool, deliciously cool!
I didn’t waste any time, the next day, in staking out the hummingbird feeders and close by perches.
Peru has 1800 species of birds, and 118 species of hummingbirds!!!
When it rained, additional waterfalls appeared, and the main falls swelled.
The plateau tilted up and away from the cliffs, and thus drained towards the cliffs, resulting in the waterfalls.
And this gorgeous hummingbird, the Sparkling VioletEar
On our second day at the lodge we took a tour to the ruins at Kuelap, with a short visit to the city of Chachapoyas. This will be presented in the following post: