Attractions in and near Gocta
Kuelap. Photos: Ana Cecilia Gonzales Vigil.
Kuelap: A fortress in the clouds
This majestic Chachapoya citadel located at an elevation of 3000 meters on the left bank of the Utcubamba river is a must-visit destination. Completed around the 11th century and abandoned in the 16th century, it now extends over an area of 6 hectares. With an impressive location on the top of a mountain surrounded by a limestone wall up to 20 meters high, the complex contains over 500 stone structures, mostly circular.
Take your time for this visit. Come with a knowledgeable guide to make the most out of it. It is totally worth it.
Plan your day: Leaving Gocta Natura after an early breakfast, you will reach the cable car station after a pleasant 1.5-hour drive following the course of the Utcubamba river. The ride in the cable car takes about 20 minutes. Spend at least 2 hours visiting the citadel.
After your visit to Kuelap we recommend you visit the Milpuj Reserve, a private conservation area run by the Heredia family, were you can have lunch, and learn about this preservation project and its findings. You can also eat lunch at any of the restaurants in Tingo or take our lunch boxes.
We expect to have you back at 5pm, and will be ready to provide the right atmosphere to unwind and enjoy a glass of wine and a memorable dinner.
Milpuj is a private conservation area in the Utcubamba Valley near Tingo and the Kuelap citadel. «The serenity and biological diversity found in Milpuj is what most appeals to visitors» says conservationist Perico Heredia, whose family created this sanctuary to protect the area’s amazing forests and biodiversity. You can learn about their experiences, their life lessons and achievements, and stop either for lunch or for an overnight stay. Both totally worth it.
Plan ahead: Milpuj is located only 20 minutes from Tingo (next to the cable car station). The entrance fee includes guidance through the Reserve (PEN 15-20 per person), where you can also have lunch (PEN 38 per person). Reservations need to be made in advance.
Gocta and the cloud forest
Ranked third tallest free-leaping waterfall in the world at 771 meters, Gocta can be approached from two angles. You can either reach its second fall after a 5.5 kilometeres medium-to-high intensity hike that starts in the town of Cocachimba—where Gocta Natura is located—or reach its first fall leaving from the nearby town of Valera, after a 7.5 kilometers low-to-medium intensity hike.
In the first case—leaving from our doorway—get ready for a windy road with hills to climb and steep downhills to slide. The effort is totally worth it as it includes great scenery and biodiversity, making it the most attractive route for photographers, birdwatchers, hikers and everyone who enjoys nature and the outdoors. The road takes you through farmed lands and into the forest surrounding Gocta. Be aware that the way back might be harsh if you are not in shape. The long uphill way will make you consider riding a horse, available for rental.
The Valera alternative provides a wider and higher view of the mountains and, beneath, the Gocta valley where the towns of Cocachimba and Coca are located. You have view- and rest-stops along the way until you enter a long trek within a secondary forest. There is a breathtaking view spot 1 kilometer before reaching Gocta, where you can take the most amazing photos.
Biodiversity along the road includes orchids, Andean cock-of-the-rock, emerald green toucan, yellow-tailed monkey, night monkey, northern pudu, among many other plants and animals endemic in this region.
Plan ahead: In either case, best views are enjoyed just after and before the heavy rainy season (Feb/Mar).
Karajía, Luya, Amazonas. Photos: Ana Cecilia Gonzales Vigil.
The Chachapoya had two different ways of burying their people, according to their social status and importance. A mausoleum served as a collective burial place, whereas sarcophagi were used for just one individual. In both cases the burials took place in caves they excavated in the cliffs located on the left margin of the Utcubamba river. Karajia Sarcophagi are over 2 meters in height, and were built with clay, straw, pieces of wood, and decorated with geometric designs.
Plan ahead:To reach the site, you must first drive to Luya, and after a 40-minute walk you will come close to the burial area. Entrance is free. For lunch, take one of our nutritious Lunch Boxes or eat lunch at a local restaurant we can recommend. And don’t forget to enjoy the amazing views.
Women of Cuemal.
Women of Cuemal
We recommend combining your itinerary with visits that add value to your experience, and meeting the women of Cuemal is certainly one of them. They are the living memory of the Chachapoya culture. They farm, grow their own food, use ancient irrigation channels, and live following the stars and the moon cycles, a traditional approach inherited from their ancestors. Sit with Hilaria—or any of the women— at her tidy kitchen while she finishes her preparations. Have breakfast or lunch with them: A genuine farm-to-table experience.
Plan ahead: Go to Luya, a 40-minute drive from Gocta. Cost: A rate worthy of the experience.
This archaeological museum provides well-preserved evidence of pre-Incan Chachapoya history as well as the impact of the Inca political and cultural domain, which started in the second half of the 15th century. The museum was built in 2000 and houses over 200 mummies and their funeral offerings, recovered from the Lagoon of the Condors in 1999. You can visit the museum on the same day of your visit to Kuelap if you have an early start.
Plan ahead: The drive from Tingo to Leymebamba takes about one hour. On the way back to Gocta you can stop and visit the Revash mausoleum. The museum opens from 10am to 4:30pm (adults, PEN 15; students and seniors, PEN 8)