Maybe you’ve already heard about Yumbilla, the other very high waterfall in the Amazonas region, apart from Gocta. Yumbilla is situated on the community land of Cuispes, a little village, just 15 minutes outside of Pedro Ruiz.
Yumbilla is 895 meters high and the hike to get there is spectacular. It is actually one of my favorites. You hike through well-preserved primary forest and, before arriving, you will pass two other stunning waterfalls: Medio Cerro and Cristal.
But today I don’t want to focus on Yumbilla, but about another, new activity that will really start just this year: Canyoning!
Just to situate Yumbilla and canyoning, let me explain:
How to get to Cuispes
As mentioned, Cuispes is 8 km outside of Pedro Ruiz. So how do we get to Pedro Ruiz? From Chachapoyas you can catch a “combi,” one of the local public transportation, for a one hour ride to Pedro Ruiz. There you take a moto-taxi to bring you to Cuispes, which takes another 20 minutes.
Canyoning in Cuispes
It’s necessary to book in advance for canyoning. Contact Juan Luis or Jarvik of Canyoning Explorer through their Facebook. They will need to know if you are beginner or advanced level in order to prepare your canyoning experience.
(Photo: Philippe Capel)
If you are a beginner, no worries. This is why Cuispes is such a good spot for everybody. From the village plaza you will take the moto-taxi to the park entrance. Those at the beginner level of canyoning will take a right at the entrance (a left will lead you to Yumbilla). It is just a half hour walk until you arrive at the “training” rock.
Here you will get equipped with your harness, helmet and receive the instructions. One instructor will be above you, standing on the rock, the other below in order to secure your abseil. Four meters might not sound very high, but it is just perfect in order to get used to the movements, and the position with your butt down. For a detailed personal account about canyoning, have a look here.
Once you feel comfortable with this experience, you will continue walking in the forest, following the river, for about 5 minutes until you come across your next challenge: an 18 meter wall.
This time you will not be climbing up a wall, but rather you will climb down following the waterfall, so be prepared to get wet! Believe me, the experience of climbing down 18 meters in the stream is completely different than the 4 meters on dry rock!
Once down the 18 meters, you’ll continue your way in the river, passing through rock tunnels and swimming in natural pools.
(Photo: Philippe Capel)
If you are already an advanced canyoning apasionado, you will still have to pass 4 meter abseiling training at Pabellon waterfall so that Juan Luis can verify your knowledge and ease. Ultimately he will decide if you can pass on to the next level.
The next level will actually be Medio Cerro waterfall! This time four walls are waiting for you. You will descend two 15 meter walls, then a little one of 6 meters, and finish off with a wall of 25-30 meters tall. Half of the final wall will be a free descent in the air, meaning no contact with the rock wall.
For very experienced climber, there is the supreme option of descending Yumbilla. Well, not the complete waterfall of Yumbilla, but the second fall, which starts with a little 10 meter wall and finishes off with 75 meters of free climbing! You’d better have the strength to finish this!
Yumbilla (Photo: Philippe Capel)
| Recommendations: Bring a change of clothes in order to have dry clothes after your canyoning experience.
Contact: Canyoning Explorer (Juan Luis or Jarvik)
Hiking to Yumbilla
If canyoning doesn’t suit your interests, you can enjoy a hike to Yumbilla, one of the highest waterfalls in the world. First you will need to visit the village plaza and register with the local tourism association Yacu Urco. The entrance fee to the park to get to Yumbilla is S/ 10 per person.
I highly recommend taking a guide (S/ 30) in order that they show you the way and give valuable insight in local fauna and flora. From the village center up to the park entrance, it is just about 5 km. Up to you if you want to hike there or ask your moto-taxi to bring you there. The return hike to Yumbilla will take you about 5 hours.
As usual, your day-backpack should contain water, rain gear, sun block, a hat and mosquito repellent. As well, it’s important that you wear good walking shoes.
This article was written by Martina Capel, co-founder of PHIMA Voyages, a tour operator based in the Chachapoyas, Amazonas region, in Northern Peru that specializes exactly in these regions – “off the beaten path”. Small group tours and catered packages are offered covering a wide variety: archaeology, nature, experiences and encounters.