Those people who said it never rains in Lima forgot that we have “garua”, a sort of grey nearly rain that hides the sun and makes the floors really slippery.
The only remedy to endless days of grays is to get out of the city for a bit, and chase the sun. I decided to venture a bit into the highlands, where the Andes meets the jungle, and get a bit off the beaten track.
My plane landed in Jaén, a little airport an hour’s flight north of the capital. By little I mean there are 1 runway, 2 flights a day and an open air airport. I kid you not!
Although the hotel wasn’t far away in terms of km (about 120km) it takes about 4 hours to get there, because the road winds along mountain passes and along the river. This child of Africa was dumbfounded by the sheer amount of water in the relatively unknown river. Ok, it has a name, Utkubamba river, but at home it would be part of my geography class and here it barely makes the guidebook.
Along with all the beautiful nature scenes, the area is rich with history of civilizations old and older. At some point the buss stopped along the side of the road, just to look at some rock carvings. There wasn’t even a proper path up to the carvings, just a dirt track.
The 5km hike to the Gocta waterfall was more intense than I anticipated. Afterwards I realised that the altitude (above 1800m) may have something to do with it, but the track was also super steep up with a lot of up and down and I am not exactly an experienced hiker. For the people that didn’t feel up to the full walk it was possible to rent a horse, but I was not entirely sure if the horses are well cared for and they looked really sweaty, so I did not feel right about turning lazy and make my problem a poor horse’s. I decided that I undertook this hike and I will finish it, unless I have a medical reason not to.
Aside from the horses, there were some other fauna to enjoy, notably the amiable dogs as in most places in peru, and some llamas. And of course the breathtaking views, as always.
The walk was completely worth it for the views alone. The waterfall falls a total of 771m in two drops and is simply magnificent! The valley at the bottom is a marvel in itself, and the cold air and water spray is refreshing after the long walk.
After the hike I had a well deserved rest to get ready for the next days adventure: Keulap citadel ruins. Built on a mountaintop in the northern part of the Peruvian Andes, this civilization existed some time before the Inkas and had some fascinating skills. The round houses was built in a yellow stone that got discoloured though the years. The stone work is amazing, with intricate patterns built in.
The overgrown jungle vegetation of the aream the stone buildings, and the valleys below makes for a truly a magnificent sight to behold!