Cocachimba is the base from which travelers visit the spectacular Catarata de Gocta, one of the world's highest waterfalls. It has several quality lodging options. The nearest major town is Chachapoyas, 26 miles (43 km) south. However, this distance is notorious for its scant and erratic means of transportation, and Chachapoyas itself is no easy destination to reach from Lima.
Tavel options are all an adventure, and quite a protracted experience, although the payback is the memorable scenery, involving some of Peru's most impressive cloud forest, along the way. All of the below options require overnighting at least in Chachapoyas and, if approaching Chachapoyas by road the whole way from Lima (the last option), probably in Trujillo or Chiclayo too. Durations given do not include the necessary overnight stays.
Cocachimba can be visited as part of an extended tour in the area such as this 9-day itinerary around Chachapoyas.
By Plane to Tarapoto, Bus, and Private Transfer
Duration: 10-11 hours, plus an overnight
Flying is certainly the quickest way of reaching Chachapoyas from Lima, but it less straightforward than it is to many destinations because Chachapoyas does not have its own functioning airport. The closest airport with flights from Lima is in Cajamarca, but the airport in Tarapoto (230 miles or 370 km) is connected by a better and quicker road to Chachapoyas.
Flights to Tarapoto's Cadete FAP Guillermo del Castillo Paredes Airport from Lima take about 1.25 hours and are at least every two hours between 7 am and 8 pm. Still, because of the distance, the airport in Tarapoto is from Chachapoyas, and because of the remoteness of the road, it is recommended to get a bus from Tarapoto. The location buses depart from is in central Tarapoto 30 minutes' drive from the airport. Buses then take around seven hours via Hwy 5N to Chachapoyas.
Leaving early on this route, you can be Chachapoyas by evening. Most travelers then visit Cocachimba by tour (because of the poor public transport connections), often as part of a visit to the Cataratas de Gocta. Tours leave early in the morning and take just one hour to reach Cocachimba, meaning your arrival here is around 24 hours after your departure from Lima in a best-case scenario. Tours then continue on to include a full days' trip visiting the higher and lower waterfalls.
By Plane to Tarapoto, Bus, and On Foot
Duration: 10.5-12.5 hours, plus an overnight
This option is the same as the previous option for travel to Chachapoyas. Like the previous option, the final leg of the journey can only be taken on the morning following your arrival in Chachapoyas.
Starting early, you need to take a bus from Chachapoyas bound for Pedro Ruíz. In about one hour, buses reach the turn-off to San Pablo at a bridge called the Puente de Cocahuayco. Ask to be let out here. Colectivo taxis sometimes wait here to take passengers to Cocachimba, the village at the entrance to the Cataratas de Gocta. More often, they do not, or you will be waiting so long it is better to walk (three miles; 1.5 hours) to Cocachimba.
By Plane to Cajamarca, Bus, and Private Transfer
Duration: 11-12 hours, plus an overnight
The airport in Cajamarca, Mayor General FAP Armando Revoredo Iglesias Airport, is the closest airport to Chachapoyas (206 miles or 332km). Direct flights take about 1.25 hours and there are seven to nine direct flights daily. However, because of the condition of the road from Cajamarca to Chachapoyas, travel time is longer than it is from the airport in Tarapoto at around 8.5 hours.
Because of the distance the airport in Cajamarca is from Chachapoyas, and because of the remoteness of the road, it is recommended to get a bus from Cajamarca. The main bus terminal in Cajamarca is on Av Atahualpa, near the intersection with Sucre, 15 minutes' drive from the airport.
There are advantages to doing the journey from Cajamarca's airport to Chachapoyas by private transfer too: namely, the beauty of the route. The twisting road through the Andes then down into the cloud forest is special. Overnighting options along this 8.5 hour drive include Celendín.
Once in Chachapoyas, the options for private transfers to Cocachimba are as per option one.
This is the third-fastest way to get from Lima to Cocachimba, even if you opt for a private transfer all the way from Cajamarca's airport. It is at least as expensive as the above options traveling by bus from the airport, and the most expensive option traveling by private transfer.
By Bus to Chachapoyas, then Private Transfer or Bus/On Foot
Duration: 22-24.5 hours
The main point of going overland is to save money and see something of the places en route. You are, however, covering over a third of the country on a journey like this, so this is no easy trip! Note that while the previous options on this list all require one overnight in Chachapoyas, this option will likely require at least one additional overnight stop—all three days for this journey.
Buses run north from Lima on the Hwy Pan-Americana Norte, one of Peru's best roads. After eight to nine hours they reach Trujillo, where you may have to change for the three to four-hour journey further to Chiclayo. In Chiclayo, you will need to change for the ten-hour trip to Chachapoyas via Hwys 4B and 5N.
Recommended points to break the journey include Trujillo and Chiclayo, both vibrant destinations in their own right. The road via Chiclayo is not the most exciting route to Chachapoyas but the road quality is by far the best. You could technically take a plane to Trujillo to cut six hours off the first part of this journey, but if you are going to fly, there are closer airports to Chachapoyas and you would need to make a long overland journey regardless.
Once in Chachapoyas, you have the option of a private transfer to Cocachimba as per options one and three above, or a combination of bus and good old-fashioned walking, as per options two and four.