Gocta – 3rd Highest Waterfall In The World

When we were in Venezuela back in July we took the opportunity to visit Angel Falls, the TALLEST WATERFALL IN THE WORLD.

Read our Angel Fall blog post here. It’s pretty funny. We had quite an epic… Click Here To Read 

Photo of Stevie at Angel Falls

One of our main objectives for driving all the way over to the Amazon side of Northern Peru was to visit Gocta Falls. With a total height measured at 771 metres (2,530 ft), Gocta is the third tallest free-leaping waterfall in the world after Angel Falls in Venezuela and Tugela Falls in South Africa.

Needless to say, this was a must for Sprinter Life as we intend to visit the top 10 highest waterfalls in the world before it’s all said and done. So off we went on the two hour approach…

The existence of Gocta was not made known to the world until after an expedition in 2005 by a German, Stefan Ziemendorff, with a group of Peruvian explorers. The fact that it is a new discovery, along with being located in the very remote mountains of northern Peru mean that this is way, way off the tourist path.

That’s exactly the type of adventure we look for. It was an arduous hike through thick mud with on and off rain. But we were able to hike right to the base of the falls. Absolutely beautiful. Two of the top three waterfalls down. Looks like we’ll need to head to Africa to see the 2nd highest waterfall soon!

Full Disclosure: I took the easy way down.

For those of you who don’t know, 4 years ago I had a really bad rock climbing accident. I took a 40 foot ground fall that put me in a wheel chair for 6 months. I survived, but my feet, ankles, and knees have never been the same.

I knew a 4 hour round trip hike on steep terrain was going to hurt me. So I did what any studly man would do. I hired a a horse from the local village. The plan was for me to do the hike up, and then ride a horse back down.

What guy wouldn’t be stoked with the image of himself riding through the Andes all Clint Eastwood style like a badass?

Two problems.

#1 – They don’t actually let you ride the horse. You sit on it while someone walks in front pulling it with a rope, or behind while smacking its ass with a stick.

#2 – I had no idea that they were going to send the 60 year old grandma to deliver my horse to the top of the mountain AND guide it back down on foot. 

I felt like a real chump. I was riding a horse that was being led by a tiny old woman. She was running up and down the muddy trail ahead of us. The hills were steep, but this woman was cruising. She was at home. It was clear that she had spent her entire life on these trails in the Andes Mountains.

At first I tried to tell her to slow down and rest at the top of each hill. But I realized she didn’t speak spanish. She only spoke her native language, which was still Quechua, I think. She must have thought I was saying to hurry up, cause every time I said something she’d whip the horse and move even faster. After a while I just shut up and sat there in embarrassment and awe.

My stupid accident continues to be a lesson in humility. I gave her a fat tip and a hug, and we moved on.

We’re heading for the border now to get our Visas renewed. After that, it’s back to Huanchaco.





  1. I love u little bro. Your humility and honesty remind us all.

  2. Saba Firoozi says:

    I loved the story about the horse! Made me LOL

  3. yaaaaa!

  4. Teri Hogan says:


  5. David Leher says:


  6. AWESOME! Can you send this pic to my e-mail? xxx

  7. Jene Fielder says:

    Stevie and Tree,,your living our dreams!!!Lv.U.

  8. Kris and Ken says:

    Let’s hear it for rockin’ 60 year old grandmas!! What a beautiful journey to the the amazing falls. Language differences are more fun than not…and smiles have the most power.

    • Hey guys!! The funny thing is that I had taken the van keys from Tree when I saw that his horse was going to be led down by the abuela. I thought for sure that I would get back to the Sprinter a good half an hour or more before, and I didn’t want to have to wait. But, this abuelita was so damn fast!! Every time I looked over my shoulder, there she was…gaining on me. I was in a full sweat, hauling ass up and down that trail. It normally takes a fast hiker 2 hours to make it back from the falls, and it took me–and the abuelita–only 1 hour and 40 minutes. She totally gave me a run for my money. It was awesome. My calves are still sore.

      Happy new year you two!!! I hope 2012 is glorious and filled with love, laughter, and joyous surprises. And hopefully our paths will cross sooner than later! xoxo.

  9. what an awesome adventure!!! It looks incredibly beautiful. If you ever go to south africa, please let me know!! My hubby is from there so we have lots of family and I’ve been there twice so would be happy to help in any way.

    Hey and lessons in being humble is a good thing. We can’t ever get too sure of ourselves. I’m sure this little old lady is as sure footed as any pony who has lived in those mountains. We can always learn a lot from our elders 😉

    • Hi Liv,
      We will be going to Africa for sure and when we do, we’d love to get some info from you. Thanks so much. Happy New Year!

  10. you are wise to take care of injured feet. They have to last you a long time hopefully, and you need to take care of what you have! especially since you two are explorers!

  11. Tree,
    I think we humble a bit as we age. I can relate to the physical limitations as well (3 cervical surgeries and 3 abdominal just touches the surface) . I know my roll has slowed significantly. I ride a freakin longboard!!
    Glad u decided to conserve your knee/ankle life in turn insuring a longer road trip. I think that those of us who live vicariously though and dig the whole blog thing breath a collective sigh or relief. As always you guys did another mondo job reporting and conveying. Carry on .

    Willy. .

  12. Ivan Prates says:

    Yeeeey don’t miss the Kuelap ruins in Chachapoyas!

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