On my last day, I went to see a water fall. Locals claim that this is the third highest water fall in the world, with a total height of 771. The real height was only determined in 1996, when a group of scientists came to measure the length of the fall.
The water fall itself can not be visited by car or bus, the nearest village is cocachimba (which literally means “on the other side of coca”, coca being the village on the other side of the river),where we met our guide. It is roughly 2h away from the water fall by foot through the cloud forest on a lovely well constructed path. Besides telling us much about the local fauna and flora, the guide also explained how tourism worked in the village as it is community based. Since everybody wants to profit from the (still slow) tourism to Catarata Gocta, people take turns in becoming guides, lending horses, repairing/cleaning the path or selling food on the way.
On a 8 day basis, every family will be working one day for the tourism branch and the remaining 7 days they’ll be attending to their fields. That way everybody profits from the tourism while nobody actually gives up their “real” job which can sustain them if tourism should die down. This system also regulates the offer of services and prevents price-dumping. I very much like this idea, and our guide seemed quite happy about it too. He, and his colleagues, had gotten special training with regards to the flora/fauna, not so much because they didn’t know what plants were growing, but because most of the plant names they knew were the quechua and not the spanish names.
The catarata (spanish for water fall) is impressive, with a length of over 500m for the second fall, this basically goes without saying. The water fall is also situated in the cloud forest, hence the surroundings are covered in a dense green forest, which contrasts beautifully with the wet & black rock behind the fall. It also features some very interesting stone formations at the bottom. This stone feature turned out to be doom… I wanted to take a picture with it, just in front of the water fall. As it turns out, even the slightest change of wind will have a serious impact on where the water fall actually hits the ground. I’ve been drier coming out of the shower.