Posted by: Ed Darrell | August 18, 2008

Explorers trek to newly discovered Peruvian waterfall spectacular

Cross-posted with permission from Millard Fillmore’s Bathtub.

Gocta was unknown until a few years ago — to the outside world. Local Peruvians knew about it, but said little. Gocta turned out to be the third highest waterfall in the world

Lightning has struck Peru again: A week ago an expedition left paved-road civilization to document another very high waterfall, perhaps higher than Gocta, whose existence was only recently discovered, outside of local residents — who said nothing because they feared the reaction of the outside world, or they just didn’t think that anyone else would be particularly interested. The expedition includes “representatives of the sub-regional direction of Bagua Grande and Utcubamba, from Utcubamba’s National Institute of Culture, a topographer of the provincial municipality and a cameraman.”

Perus Gocta, the third-highest waterfall in the world - Alberto Pintado photo

Peru’s Gocta, the third-highest waterfall in the world – Alberto Pintado photo

A local explorer, Obed Cabanillas Silva, who seems to be coordinating local efforts to make the cataract known, said there are “stone structures” on the path to the waterfall. Could there be undiscovered, uncharted ruins of former How does the rest of the world miss a waterfall higher than a 250-story building? Here’s a Google Earth challenge — how many other giant waterfalls are there in Peru, “undiscovered” by the rest of the world? Remember the recent discovery of an impact crater in Australia?

The expedition of “discovery” set off a week ago — can you beat them to the thing, on Google Earth, or with any other LandSat image? (The few pieces of data on the specific location I have are at the bottom of this post.)

Gocta itself came to light in 2005 when a German engineer working on a water project close by, persuaded the Peruvian government to survey the uncharted, unnamed waterfall. When the surveyors came back with a report the thing was 2,532 feet hight, the German, Stefan Ziemandorff, checked his National Geographic Guide, figured it was third largest in the world, and had the good sense to call a press conference to let everyone else know. (Ziemandorff first heard of the cataract in 2002.)

World Waterfall Database is more picky. They rank Gocta at #16 right now — something about free fall, flow amounts, other measures.

The discovery of Gocta produced documentation of other spectacular water features nearby, Catarata Yumbilla (870 m) and Cataratas la Chinata (580 m). One might wonder about what methodical search of the area might find.

Be honest here: How many of the top ten tallest waterfalls on that list can you even name? Seen any of them? Think about your most recent trip to the Amazon jungle in Peru, or through the heart of Congo, or across the Himalayan Plateau, and perhaps you can better focus on just how it is such a dramatic feature of the planet can be unknown, but to a few lucky local people.

We watch for news, waiting for results of the survey.

Gocta Cataract, Peru - Inkanatura Travel photo

Gocta Cataract, Peru – Inkanatura Travel photo – good, clear images of the waterfall are rare at this time. Viewing the falls requires one to travel to very small Peruvian villages, and hike a considerable distance to the falls.

Can you find Gocta on a map, or on Google Earth? Here are details you might use to find it:

Continent: South America
Country: Peru
State/Province: Amazonas
Locality: San Pablo
Specific Location: Chachapoyas
Latitude/Longitude: -6.02066 /-77.88556
River or stream: Cocahuayco
Drops: 2 tiers
Total height: 2,531 ft/771 m

The new, unnamed waterfall:

Continent: South America
Country: Peru
State/Province: Uctubamba, Amazonas
Locality: San Pablo
Specific Location: Unknown (near San Antonio, a farm hamlet, near the town of San Martin)
Latitude/Longitude: Unknown
River or stream: Unspecified (through a ravine known as Honda)
Drops: Unknown
Total height: Undetermined

Resources:

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