Peru, the Catarata de Gocta (Gocta waterfall), 10/29-11/1/2015


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 …”

Northern Peru Area Map

Northern Peru Area Map (click on map to enlarge)

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!

View from our verandah

View from the veranda of our second floor room. The Catarata de Gocta is the 5th highest waterfall in the world, measured at 2530′ tall.

BougainvilleaViewOct302015_8366

At the lodge, bougainvillea and a view of the western side of the Gocta amphitheater, including the waterfall

Kathy and CJ, beside the infinity pool

CJ (left) and Kathy, on the deck of the Infinity pool. Note the hummingbird feeder in the tree behind. This and other feeders attracted a number of different hummingbirds.

The infinity pool and the waterfall

The Infinity pool and the waterfall

Kathy, in the infinity pool

Kathy, in the Infinity pool

I didn’t waste any time, the next day, in staking out the hummingbird feeders and close by perches.

White-bellied hummingbird

White-bellied hummingbird

White-bellied hummingbird

White-bellied hummingbird

Peru has 1800 species of birds, and 118 species of hummingbirds!!!

White-belliedWoodstarFemaleHummerOct282015_8517

White-bellied woodstar hummingbird female

When it rained, additional waterfalls appeared, and the main falls swelled.

Another waterfall, to the right of the main falls

Another waterfall, to the right of the main falls

And yet more falls

And yet more falls

The plateau tilted up and away from the cliffs, and thus drained towards the cliffs, resulting in the waterfalls.

The main Gocta waterfall, swelled by rain

The main Gocta waterfall, swollen by rain

The waterfall was still going good, as the weather cleared

The waterfalls were still going strong, as the weather cleared. Seen here are eucalyptus trees, which have established themselves in many of the areas we visited.

Alpaca baby

Alpaca baby

Orchid (?) and beetle

Orchid (?) and beetle

Pale-edged flycatcher

Pale-edged flycatcher

Heliconia, at a hostal/craft shop in the village

Heliconia, at a hostal/craft shop in the village. I know, they don’t look real!

same as above

same as above

FlowerOct292015_8406

Flowers, in the village

This Dusky-green oropendola was doing a courtship display in this eucalyptus tree, but it was too shielded by foliage for me to get a decent shot.

Russet-backed oropendola male. He was doing a courtship display in this eucalyptus tree, but he was too shielded by foliage for me to get a decent shot.

This rear view shows off the collar of the Rufous-collared sparrow

This rear view shows off the collar of the Rufous-collared sparrow

And this gorgeous hummingbird, the Sparkling VioletEar

Sparkling VioletEar hummingbird

Sparkling VioletEar hummingbird

Sparkling VioletEar

Sparkling VioletEar

Sparkling VioletEar

Sparkling VioletEar

Sparkling VioletEar

Sparkling VioletEar, puffed-up and eyes closed

The lower falls

The swollen lower falls

The upper falls, at regular volume

The upper falls, at regular volume

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:

https://believesteve.org/2016/01/06/peru-the-ruins-of-kuelap-1112015/

About believesteve

I am a photographer and have published a book of photography and accompanying text on running the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon. The first (print) edition is out of print, but a second edition is available as an iBook (eBook) through the iTunes bookstore. All Grand Canyon, river and nature lovers will enjoy my book: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/the-grand/id672492447?ls=1
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