This quick 5-day trip through Northern Peru uses the cloud forest-surrounded city of Chachapoyas as a base to explore regional highlights like the impressive pre-Inca ruins of Kuélap and a hike to one of the world's highest waterfalls, Gocta Falls.


  • Explore Peru's cosmopolitan capital city, Lima
  • Discover the 'Machu Picchu of the North' at spectacular Kuélap
  • Hike to the Gocta Falls, one of the highest waterfalls in the world

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrival in Lima; Free Day Lima
Day 2 Fly to Jaén, Transfer to Chachapoyas Chachapoyas
Day 3 Visit Kuélap, the 'Machu Picchu of the North' Chachapoyas
Day 4 Hike to Gocta Waterfall Chachapoyas
Day 5 Transfer to Jaén, Fly to Lima, Depart Peru  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrival in Lima; Free Day

Lima's Plaza Mayor
Lima's Plaza Mayor

Bienvenidos! Welcome to Peru! Upon your arrival at Lima Airport, you will be welcomed and taken to your hotel in the Miraflores/San Isidro area of the city. You will then have the remainder of the day free to relax and get acquainted with the city at your own pace.

Lima's breezy location on the Pacific Ocean and mild desert climate make it the perfect city for exploring on foot. The most traveler-friendly areas of Lima are Miraflores along with neighboring San Isidro and Barranco. The city center is also very interesting for its beautiful historical buildings. Explore any one of these districts on foot, but get transport between the city center and Miraflores/San Isidro/Barranco. 

Suggestions of things you can do to make the most of your day in Lima include:

  • Explore the city center, a UNESCO World Heritage Site packed with fascinating Spanish architecture. Start with a scenic tour of the colonial buildings, which emanate from the main square, Plaza Mayor. Stroll over to the grandiose 16th-century cathedral, which took 80 years to construct! And pay a visit to Casa de Aliaga, a colonial mansion full of period finery, granted by conquistador-in-chief Francisco Pizarro to Jerónimo de Aliaga, one of his captains, in 1535 - and miraculously still owned by the same Aliaga family today!
  • Discover Pueblo Libre's privately-owned Larco Museum of pre-Columbian art, housed in a beautifully restored viceregal mansion built over a 7th-century pre-Columbian pyramid. The museum boasts a vast pre-Colonial collection of gold and silver artifacts. 
  • Wander the malecón along the clifftops in Miraflores to the romantic Parque del Amor (Love Park), where you can admire a huge kissing statue and beautiful mosaic walls. The park is built on the edge of the cliffs of Chorrillos: the perfect place to watch sunset sink over the Pacific. 
  • Enjoy an evening meal or nightcap at an open-air cafe or restaurant in sophisticated Miraflores, and dream about the adventure awaiting you!

Day 2: Fly to Jaén, Transfer to Chachapoyas

Andean Valleys of the Amazonas Region

Today, at the appointed time, you will head to Lima airport for your flight to Jaén, located in the far north of Peru. Upon landing, you will head in a group transfer to Chachapoyas, located four hours' drive away. The drive there has some truly stunning sections, including a crossing of the Marañón River and a stretch through the Utcubamba canyon. You will arrive in Chachapoyas in afternoon, and will stay here tonight. The rest of the day is yours to spend as you wish. Be sure to take time to relax before the action-packed days ahead of you! 

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Day 3: Visit Kuélap, the 'Machu Picchu of the North'

The mystery-steeped ruins of Kuélap

This morning, you will depart Chachapoyas on a day trip to the archeological complex of Kuélap. After a 1-hour drive, you arrive at the embarkation point for the cable car on which you will now ascend for the majority of the way towards Kuélap. From the cable car tourist stop of La Malca you continue on an easy 1.25 mi (2 km) walk to the site itself.  

This ancient citadel, former stronghold of the Chachapoyas people, pre-dates the Inca empire by half a millennium. The entire complex is surrounded by 65 ft (19.8 m) walls, which served as protection against invasions. This site was inhabited until the conquest by the Inca in 1470 and later the Spanish in 1534. The ruins sit majestically above a mountain ridge at 9,500 ft (2,895 m), and its towering walls and round stone houses have earned it the moniker "Machu Picchu of the North". From here, there are stunning views of the nearby valley. The guided visit will last approximately 2-3 hours, after which you will head back down the mountain and, after lunch in a local restaurant, return to your hotel in Chachapoyas in the afternoon.

Day 4: Hike to the Gocta Waterfall 

Gocta Waterfall

Today, after breakfast, you will embark on a magical trip to one of the planet's highest waterfalls, Gocta Falls. Your journey begins with a 1-hour transfer to Cocachimba, the start point for your hike.

You now begin your trek - a demanding route of approximately six hours there and back. On the way, you can observe local agricultural activity, and pass through dense cloud forest, home to one of the world's rarest birds, the spatuletail hummingbird, as well as the bright orange cock-of-the-rock, Peru's national bird). Orchids add extra blazes of color along the way. It is possible to arrange a horseback ride for part of the route if you prefer this option, although the final section of the outward hike and first section of the return hike (45 minutes' hike each way) cannot be traversed on horseback.

Day 5: Transfer to Jaén, Fly to Lima, Depart Peru

Photo taken by Lynda P
Gocta Falls - photo by Lynda P.

Today is your last day in Peru. You will be met at your hotel in Chachapoyas for the 4-hour transfer to Jaén airport, where you will catch your flight back to Lima and then connect to your international flight back home−or to your next destination.

¡Buen viaje! Have a good trip!

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Map of Secrets of Northern Peru: Kuélap Ruins & Gocta Falls - 5 Days
Map of Secrets of Northern Peru: Kuélap Ruins & Gocta Falls - 5 Days