Machu Picchu has been and will continue to be the most popular tourist destination in Peru (not to mention the world), but that doesn’t mean it’s the only place worth seeing. This country has plenty to offer as getaways, from sandy beaches to incredible caves, but these beautiful waterfalls (cataratas) in Peru make for a breathtaking adventure.
Here are six beautiful waterfalls in Peru worth visiting:
This waterfall has become one of the must-see points in the department of San Martin. Located just 20 minutes from the city center of Tarapoto, tucked in the rainforest, you can hire a taxi or colectivo to take you to the entrance point. From there it is an easy 10-minute walk to the falls. Butterflies, lizards and other local fauna can be seen—as can plenty of tourists, so it’s best to visit on a weekday.
In the central Amazon rainforest, near the district of La Merced (Chanchamayo, Junín) lies the Borgoña waterfall. For an adrenaline rush, hire a guide in La Merced and ask them to lead you on the so-called Indiana Jones trek (for the intrepid hiker only). This waterfall may not be one of the highest, but the journey of arriving is one of the most memorable.
View this post on Instagram
Les hice un video cortito del bosque de las cataratas en el Amazonas, el recorrido hacia la quinta catarata más alta del mundo, que no fue dada a conocer sino hasta hace unos años. Todavía el norte de Perú se mantiene poco explorado y para mí fue donde tuve las mejores experiencias. Esto es para las personas que les guste explorar solos y que hablen español, ya que no hay un turismo establecido. . Recuerden que en el 2015 yo no tenía mentalidad de hacer videos, así que estoy tratando de hacer producciones visuales con las pocas tomas que tengo, espero que lo disfruten! .???
A post shared by Alejandra Gil (@alejateconale) on
Surrounded by smaller waterfalls, this unforgettable cascade is located 52 km north of the city of Chachapoyas. Though overshadowed by it’s more popular neighbor Gocta (just eight miles south in the same Amazonian cloud forest), the Yumbilla waterfall (2,940 feet or 896 meters) is the second highest waterfall in Peru and fifth in the world. Located in the Bosque de Cataratas Gigantes de Cuispes (Forest of Gigantic Waterfalls of Cuispes), visitors need to hire a guide to navigate the trails.
This spectacular waterfall is located in the heart of the Sierra del Divisor National Park, between the regions of Ucayali and Loreto. The flora and fauna surrounding this area (said to be one of the oldest sections of the rainforest) make for a magical setting. From Pucallpa, travelers can head to the small town of Contamana by plane (30 minutes) or by boat (18 hours) down the Ucayali River; once you’ve arrived, look for a local tour guide to lead you through the protected park.
With a 45-meter drop, Catarata Anana is one of the main attractions of Huancabamba, the oldest district of the province of Oxapampa. Though deep pools form at the base, the water is extremely cold—so best to visit when the temperatures are high! From the center of Huancabamba, the waterfall can be reached in an hour by foot. Many visitors choose to camp on the grassy lands surrounding the waterfall.
Two drops form this 771-meter high waterfall, the third highest in Peru (depending on the source, as there is no clear way to measure such cascading bodies of water). Regardless, the scenic hike through the Amazonian cloud forest has made Gocta one of the most recommended waterfalls by travelers. Luckily, in 2019, this waterfall was inducted into the conservation area of San Pablo.
Cover image: Paulo Tomaz/Flickr
This article has been updated and edited from its original version, published in November 2018.
We help you find yourself in Peru. Since 2003, we have led the way as an authoritative and reliable English-language resource for those interested in traveling, living, working, and investing in Peru. We are a team of dedicated individuals who are passionate about delivering reliable and unbiased content and providing amazing experiences for people visiting Peru.