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3rd Highest Waterfall in the World
February 16, 2011 4:45 PM   Subscribe

Gocta Falls, Peru In 2005 Stefan Ziemendorff came across a waterfall in Northern Peru that didn't appear on any map, despite a village of 200 people being at its base. He returned the following year to measure its height. At 2,350 feet tall, Gocta Falls are now known to be the 3rd highest in the world.

Part 4 of a Hidden Secrets of South America series; parts 1, 2, 3.
posted by jontyjago (17 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite

 
I went there in 2006 and it was pretty great. I'd post pictures but my camera was stolen in Chachapoyas. As far as hidden secrets of South America go, I'd suggest everyone who travels to Peru should visit Kuelap. I walked up and it took me most of an afternoon. It's literally a fortress at the top of a huge mountain. It's amazing. Once I got up there I realized I was the only backpacker and just started climbing around. A real shame because it's a place that needs to be preserved. Anyway, the waterfall was cool, too, but, you know. It's a waterfall.
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 4:54 PM on February 16, 2011


Caption on photo 5: "Locals long feared trekking to the base of Gocta because of tales that it was haunted by a mermaid."

Caption on photo 6: "Steering clear of falling rocks at the bottom of the falls."

Maybe that mermaid story was useful.
posted by Nelson at 5:11 PM on February 16, 2011 [2 favorites]


Or maybe the mermaid likes to throw rocks?
posted by milestogo at 5:19 PM on February 16, 2011 [2 favorites]


Ziemendorff held a press conference to declare that he had returned to the site with measuring equipment and discovered the third-tallest waterfall in the world.

Where would Peru be without Germany?
posted by fairmettle at 5:31 PM on February 16, 2011


"Three years ago, Santillán was making about $20 a week processing sugarcane by hand. Today, he might make that in a single day leading hikes."
Good grief.
posted by unliteral at 5:37 PM on February 16, 2011


I must say that my first reaction was that I wished the Gringo & his press conferences left these people alone, but watching the video, the people in the village seem to see their lives in a more positive light now that tourism has arrived, so I felt a bit better. I still kinda wish he'd left them alone though.
posted by jontyjago at 5:40 PM on February 16, 2011


"Steering clear of falling rocks at the bottom of the falls."

That Falling Rocks guy is a real jerk.
posted by maryr at 6:31 PM on February 16, 2011


See it on Google Maps.
posted by vidur at 7:06 PM on February 16, 2011


I must say that my first reaction was that I wished the Gringo & his press conferences left these people alone

I guess he goes out and he makes his money the best way he knows how, but Tionne Watkins is understandably disappointed.
posted by doublehappy at 9:41 PM on February 16, 2011


These are great. The Everlasting Lightning Storm in part 3 is particularly awesome.
posted by IvoShandor at 10:12 PM on February 16, 2011


I still kinda wish he'd left them alone though.

I dunno. It's not like the village is some lost tribe collection of huts in the jungle or anything.
posted by IvoShandor at 10:17 PM on February 16, 2011


I still kinda wish he'd left them alone though.

Why? The villagers were already travelling to other villages, they just never thought the falls were interesting enough to tell anyone about or even visit themselves. It's like when the cameras all come to interview the farmer that just won the lottery and they ask him, "What are you going to do with your money?" expecting trips around the world or something, and they just respond, "Well, I was thinking about fixin' up the tractor… maybe patch the hole up in the roof…"

Just because they're poor and indigenous doesn't mean they share our worldliness or respect for Mother Earth and all that crap. Note in the interview with the older woman, she expresses her appreciation to the tourist that heralded the "discovery" to the rest of the world because (paraphrasing) "now it is ours." Now instead of fearing it and respecting it, they can control and exploit it. Not that I personally have a problem with that. More tourists means more tourist dollars, means more roads and electricity and clean water and who would begrudge them those things? They have every right to them as we do. But let's please put away these naive notions of the noble savage.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 5:02 AM on February 17, 2011


I'm kinda with you on the More tourists means more tourist dollars
but:
"Three years ago, Santillán was making about $20 a week processing sugarcane by hand. Today, he might make that in a single day leading hikes."
This is to my mind, exploitation. This guide could charge so much more and they wouldn't be ripping off the tourist.
posted by unliteral at 8:27 AM on February 17, 2011


When I went, I forced him to do a tribal dance and worship me as a White God before I gave him any money at all. His mother made soup for me and the other hikers in the family's house. It was a traditional Andean quinoa soup, but with the flavorful addition of a pig's intestine. I threw it on the floor and made barfing sounds, and the other travelers laughed. We got up without paying and pissed in the corner on our way out. The helicopters we rented were close by, and as the town's rickety sheet-metal shacks swayed in the wind and then toppled, I took pictures of the villagers' bewildered faces. When I got to Cusco I had the photographs printed and then sold them to an art dealer for thousands of dollars.
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 10:59 AM on February 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


This is to my mind, exploitation. This guide could charge so much more and they wouldn't be ripping off the tourist.

Why is it exploitation when there are so many other guides willing to do it for the same price?
posted by esprit de l'escalier at 11:13 AM on February 17, 2011


Very cool! I'm definitely going to ask my friend from Lima about it. More tourists = fewer undisturbed places in the world.
posted by lhc67 at 3:40 PM on February 17, 2011


Why is it exploitation when there are so many other guides willing to do it for the same price?
What price your labour? More than $20 a week? Maybe you are paid what you're worth for some historical reason.
posted by unliteral at 5:53 PM on February 17, 2011


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