Posts Tagged With: waterfall

Hello Peru! Chachapoyas, Kuelap, and Gocta

Our trip from Ecuador to Peru was quite exhausting…

We had started our first of two days at 6 am in Vilcabamba, Ecuador. We coincidentally met up with a couple from Montreal Canada, Ariane and Jon, that we had met the day before. The four of us were all headed for the same border crossing into Peru. We opted for the less popular border crossing in La Balsa because it was closer to our first destination in Peru, Chachapoyas.

Our first mode of transportation was a 7 hour bus ride to Zumba Ecuador, then an open sided truck called Ranchero, for another 1.5 to La Balsa, Ecuador. We crossed very easily into Peru as we were the only ones. We took a Taxi from the border for another 1.5 to San Ignacio, Peru. After 12 hours of travel time, we had some beers and stayed the night in San Ignacio.

Dave and I in the Ranchero

Check out the massive security between Ecuador and Peru. It was crazy.

Our taxi ride from the border to San Ignacio with our new friends.

We thought we were getting some yummy dark beer finally. Turns out it’s really sweet. Oh well.

We woke up early the second day too and started with a tuk tuk ride to a colectivo, a 15 passenger van, to Jaen. Once we were in Jaen, we took another tuk tuk to a colectivo to Bagua Grande. Once there, we took our final colectivo to Chachapoyas. In total, the second day was 8-9 hours of travel.

Crammed into the back of the dusty colectivo. A nice peruvian couple did offer us some of their freshly cut pineapple. We couldn’t say no, it would have been rude. We survived, there were no bugs in the pineapple and it was tasty. Thanks again nice Peruvian couple!

Finally in Chachapoyas!

Chachapoyas was a hub for some of the local attractions. We decided to visit two of them. The first was a trip to the pre-Inca civilization of the Chachapoyas people called Kuelap. It was quicker to get there if you booked it through a tour, so we did.

One the way to Kuelap we stopped at another pre-Inca civilization site that was build on the side of a mountain face. There were estimated to be about 200 people living on this cliff. Not sure how they did it or how they got from house to house.

A little hard to see the actual rock walls, but they are there on the side of this mountain.

Close up of the rock walls they build on the side of the mountain for their houses.

Kuelap fortress was recently rediscovered in 2006 and is on top of a mountain at 9,842 ft high in the cloud forest.

Kuelap park  entrance

It was originally built by the Chachapoyas people and was estimated to house anywhere from 2400-4000 people as it has 400 round house structures. To put it into comparison, Machu Picchu is estimated to house 200-300, if I remember correctly.

Map showing the layout of the round house structures that were found inside the Kuelap Fortress.

Kuelap was eventually invaded and taken over by the  Inca and then several decades later, the Spanish and Chachapoyas people worked together to reclaim Kuelap Fortress.  It was determined to be pre-Inca as all the structures are round and Incas always build things in squares. Here are many great pictures from the site.

This wall surrounds the fortress and can get up to 19 meters (62 ft) high. The fortress is about 600 meters (1,968 ft) long and 110 meters (361 ft) wide.

Entrance #1 into the fortress. It might be a little hard to see, but they started out wide and then got narrower as it got closer to the entrance for safety reasons.

Top view on entrance #1.

View from above entrance #3, this shot does a good job showing how high up this city was.

The tight squeeze up to the second level where the most important people lived.

Human remains were found in the walls of some of the buildings.

Dave and I standing next to the reconstructed building to show what they looked.

The three sideways diamonds represent the earth, sea, and air.

A face carved into the highest structure.

Dave with the cloud abyss behind him.

One of the densely population sections of Kuelap.

The second attraction we decided to go see was the Gocta waterfall. The waterfall has two falls with a total height of 771 meters (2,530 ft). If you talk to the local tour guides, they’ll say it’s the third tallest in the world, but if you google it, it’s actually the 16th tallest. Still, pictures doesn’t do it justice, this is a tall waterfall.

The view from the road towards the waterfall.

Dave in front of the falls trying to get some perspective on size. Also, note Dave’s facial hair.

It was a 3 mile hike through the Andes Mountains and through some farms near the village. This trail and some of the roads to the village were not there prior to 2005. Before these were created it was a 4-day trek to go see the waterfall. I’m glad these were constructed when we were visiting.

Trail along the mountains towards the waterfall.

This section was a little scary because there was loose rock and a steep fall to the river below.

A small section was very jungle like.

Overall the waterfall was very beautiful and a lot prettier than we thought it was going to be.

Getting close enough that you can’t see the first of the two waterfalls.

Dave and I and Ariane and Jon at the bottom of the falls.

It’s hard to show just how tall it actually is.

Categories: Nature, South America, Traveling | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Sightseeing in Otavalo and Banos

During our stay in Quito we traveled to some other nearby towns that were recommended by both the guidebook and our couchsurfing host Sebas. Our first town was in Otavalo. Otavalo is north of Quito and on our way there we passed over the equator. The bus didn’t stop and there were no exact signs that we could see from the bus, but we officially had been on the equator at some point during the ride. Sadly no cool pictures to show this.

Otavalo is a town that is known for it’s market. They have a variety of hand-made crafts, clothing, toys and such. You can see the colorful display of local handicrafts with a great view of a volcano in the back. Also, another interesting fact, a lot of the volcanoes are so tall that they are covered by clouds all day and the peaks are hard to catch on camera.


It seems that we always are traveling during or around lunch time, so by the time we arrive we are famished for food. We searched what seemed like a long time for some yummy, cheap, and somewhat healthy food and then decided on the deep-fried street food that cost $1.65 total. Below you’ll see a picture of Dave enjoying that food. This particular one consisted of an egg, covered in a rice, potato, beef mixture, then battered and fried. Very delicious.


After our brief, greasy lunch and quick tour of the goods in the market, we decided to check out the waterfall that was in the next town over. The walk took us about 30-35 minutes. It was only estimated to by about 20, but we did check out the views along the way and I tested out my head carrying skills with the 2 liter jug of water. Which shouldn’t have slowed us down, but it did.  I’d like to say that I mastered it, but then again, I only did it for a little while. Also, we have been buying water since our Steripen broke. It hasn’t been working since week two. We’ve emailed Steripen complaining about the poor reliability and hoping they will offer us some sort of solution. Which they have offered to ship us a replacement. The only problem now is where to ship it to…


Back to the waterfall. It was called cascada de peguche and was located in a little protected area with some trails and nice views of the stream. Below are some pictures of the waterfall and the park it was located in.


Otavalo was a short day trip with a majority of our time spent on a bus watching “Face Off” in spanish, twice. All in all it was a quaint little town with a nice waterfall located not that far away. It would have been better if we were heading back to the states shortly after visiting and could bring back some souvenirs. But since we’ll be traveling for another 11 months and don’t have room in our bags, we decided pictures will do.

The following day we headed to Baños from Quito. Baños is south of Quito and about a 3.5 hour bus ride. It took us about 4.5 hours total because the south bus station from Sebas’s place is an hour away on public transport. Baños is farther east heading down towards the jungle part of Ecuador. It’s lower in elevation than Quito, but still not out of the mountains.

Banos Panoramic_01

The name Baños comes from the agua caliente (or hot water springs) that they have there. The water from these springs are pumped into different pools where you pay to enter. Dave and I went after it was dark and a bit cooler. There were a couple of different pools with the water ranging from either very hot or very, very hot. The first pool we decided to try apparently was the hotter of the two and it took me a good 10 minutes to get into the pool, no exaggeration. It felt like my skin was burning off. Eventually we decided to head up to the cooler of the two pools so we could hang out longer in the water.

You can see in the picture that the water is a cloudy brownish color due to the minerals in the water. Supposedly, the minerals here have healing powers. People come here to help with arthritis and other such ailments. It defiantly felt good on the skin.


Next to the pools was a pretty tall waterfall. We could also see this waterfall from our hostel.


We decided to stay over night because it was a bit farther away and there was more to do than there was in Otavalo. So on the second day, we went for a short hike up to this Angel. The hike was hard, it is supposed to be a short simple hike, but it was still really hard to breath at such high elevations. The view from the top was an awesome one of the town and is where the panoramic shot came from.


Because Baños is a touristy town for both foreigners and people from Ecuador there are a handful of fun things you can do. There is a big bridge that spans the river where you can jump off. Sebas highly recommended it. We decided to pass, but did get the chance to see someone do it. It wasn’t like bungee jumping, it was just two regular climbing ropes and what appeared to be a climbing harness. Not the right amount of risk versus reward for me.


We had bought some sugar cane to chomp on while we were here as well. Very good in small amounts as it is very sweet. They also made taffy here by hand. They did the pulling and stretching on door frames all over the town. We tried some taffy on one of the bus rides and it had a very strong sugar cane taste so we didn’t end up buying any. That and we want to protect our fillings from any taffy damage.


We enjoyed our short time in Baños, it was very relaxing and soothing with all of the minerals from the water. It’s too bad we didn’t have more time or money. They offered white water rafting, which looked like it would have been a lot of fun. The next time we’re there we’ll do it.

Some cascading waterfalls off the mountains into the raging river below.

A walking bridge over the very fast moving river below. I thought the bridge was rather creepy and didn’t stand on it for very long.

There was a weird cable car system over the valley from one mountain to the next.

The mountains and valleys were being farmed on every open surface on the way to Banos.

On the way back from Banos a lady sat next to Dave who was wearing typical Ecuadorian clothing. You can ignore Dave and check out the lady behind him.

Categories: Nature, South America, Traveling | Tags: , , , , | 4 Comments

Create a free website or blog at