Ancient Waterfall Forests Near Chachapoyas


Yumbilla waterfall is the third highest waterfall on the planet, yet is still off of the radar for most people who visit Chachapoyas. It is one of many gems that you’ll find in an area that locals refer to as a waterfall forest.

Chachapoyas is now a tourist hot-spot, but there are still plenty of places to discover off of the beaten track

Photo: Scott Montgomery

From archaeological ruins to natural beauty, the area of Chachapoyas is one of the most underrated areas in the country. Though tourism has exploded in recent years with the construction of a cable car to the Kuelap ruins, there are still plenty of ways to get off of the beaten track. 

Though most tourists who come to the area will probably make the obligatory trip to the Gotcha waterfall, I recommend that you instead go to Yumbilla. While Gotca is the fourth highest waterfall in the world, the nearby Yumbilla is the third highest. It is only a short distance farther away than Gotca, and receives a fraction of the tourists. If you go early in the morning, or late in the afternoon, chances are that you’ll have this impressive waterfall all to yourself.

Not just one waterfall. A waterfall forest awaits you

Photo: Scott Montgomery

From the nearby town of Cuispes, there are a handful of waterfalls that you can hike to. All of them are less than an hour-long hike away, and offer breathtaking views while you wind your way through luscious rainforests. If you go during the right time of year (September-January) you’ll even find many kinds of wild orchids growing. There is also a possibility that you’ll see a monkey.

Yumbilla waterfall

Photo: Scott Montgomery

Along the way to the waterfall, you’ll encounter a handful of smaller waterfalls. At the waterfall itself, there are several different platforms located over the forest floor where you can gaze on the waterfalls from a distance. If you take the path leading to the valley floor, you’ll find yourself at the base of the waterfalls, where spray of the tumbling water drizzles through the air. For those of you who are more adventurous, there is even an area with ropes where you can descend into the valley below the falls.

The nearby town of Cuispes

Photo: Scott Montgomery

In order to get to the falls, you’ve got to pass through the lovely village of Cuispes to register to visit the falls. The locals of this small town are very kind, and most live as farmers in the surrounding countryside. From the tourism office you can also book tours to learn about activities such as traditional bread making, and bee keeping. 

Take your time and stay the night

Photo: Scott Montgomery

There is so much to see and do in this beautiful area that I recommend you take your time and stay the night. There are two hostels located in the plaza, both if which are great options. The Posada de Cuispes is a great option, as the prices are affordable and the place itself is luxurious. 

How to get there

Photo: Scott Montgomery

From Chachapoyas, take a shared van to the town of Pedro Ruiz, which should take you about an hour. From here, flag town a motortaxi, and ask the driver to take you to Cuispes. This trip takes about 20 minutes, and should cost you between 15 and 20 soles.

After registering to visit the waterfalls at the tourism office located in the town’s plaza, you can either hire a guide to take you to the falls or hike there yourself. The trailhead for the waterfalls is located about 5 km from the town and can be reached with a motortaxi. The trail itself is fairly easy to follow and is about 3 km long.








Scott Montgomery is a multi-medium storyteller and holistic creative, a travel guide and transformational coach, whose core mission is to help others to live authentically with purpose and intention in order to make an impact in the world. After earning his masters degree in creative writing at Arizona State University in 2013, he made the move to Peru in order to write about indigenous communities of the jungles and the Andes, and to explore what this might have to do with his own life path. These years of traveling and living across the country have helped him to embrace a more purposeful lifestyle that's guided by the values of collaboration, creativity, and transformation. To find out more about what Scott's up to and how you can get involved, visit his personal website www.voyagewithscott.com