Sunday 19 May 2024

A speedy hike to the fifth highest waterfall in the world: Yumbilla

Hello everyone! How are you all? We have now crossed to northern Peru, moving fast and Dan is having to do a lot of driving. We have to get to Huaraz to meet Ioanna's best friend (Maro) on the 19th May. Exciting times for us all, we'll get to talk to someone else apart from each other! 

Because we move so fast and drive through so many different places every day, it's hard to get some time to write on the blog. But I had to tell you about this bit because I am sure you will enjoy it. 

Since we started our trip, we must have seen over one hundred waterfalls by now. In every single country we've been, in every single region, there is a waterfall to be admired at or a waterfall to hike to. There is of course no doubt that Iguazu will always be the most impressive waterfall of them all, but I think the Yumbilla waterfall is definitely the second. However, this is for a different reason: not because of how big it is (like Iguazu), but because of its incredible height.

Yumbilla is the fifth highest waterfall in the whole world - and it's hardly known or visited, in the remote northern cloud forest of Peru. Although it is broken into three tiers, it still counts as one waterfall. 

Did you know that Peru has two of the ten largest waterfalls in the world:

  • Yumbilla, 896 meters tall, the fifth largest waterfall

  • Las Tres Hermanas, 914 meters tall, the third largest waterfall (but you can only see that by aeroplane!
What I really liked about the Yumbilla waterfall is all the stories and legends that come with it. For example, it is regarded by the indigenous people as a river spirit and they warn those they see to approach the falls with respect lest the guardian put a curse on them. 

Dan and I did the two-hour hike to Yumbilla while Ismene and Ioanna stayed behind. Our plan was to be as quick as we could so they wouldn't wait long but also because we had a lot of driving to do afterwards. Before we started the walk, a passing shower came down adding to the cascade of water falling from the waterfalls. On the way to Yumbilla there are two more waterfalls you get to pass and we had a lot of fun walking behind and beneath one.

The path twisted through the cloud forest, and we weaved through tree arches and climbed over rocks.

It was hard but also good fun, and I was glad to have another adventure with Dan.

When we got to Yumbilla, I was amazed by how high it was and it seemed like the gushing water gave it an almost angry and imposing look. We got to a viewpoint to see all three tiers which was great because we didn't really have time to get very close. It was very impressive!

I will be posting again soon, but I think next time it will be a very different post. Watch this space!


  1. Hello Orestis, Your pics are spectacular, the waterfalls amazing, What is the temperature of the water? I guess being so high up it wouldn't be possible to swim in such cold water even in the smaller waterfalls you passed first to reach Yumbilla? It is so special swimming in waterfalls and sliding over with the big drops but that was when I was much younger, very foolish and nothing frightened! So now I shall have to do some research to find out where the highest waterfall is and where does Victoria Falls feature in height and size? My dream is to go there one day.

    Have a wonderful time with Maro. How lovely. Much love to you all. Margaret xxxx

  2. Well Victoria Falls is small in comparison - so shocked to learn this! The highest is Angel Falls in Venezuela although disputed but another shock, the second highest is in my home province of Kwa-Zula Natal, the Tugela Falls. I didn't even know about the Tugela Falls which is weird as your Uncle Rob and I have been there on several occasions and not seen it! I shall put in some blurb about the access from Wikipeadia, we walked up the river and Robert did actually jump across to the chain ladder and climbed up the rock face. He couldn't get back and had to be helped back by some kind Europeans. The white South Africans were rather rude to him and weren't going to help. It was also the day that I got my kilometres and miles confused! I promised Robert a short walk so we didn't take anything with us - no drink, no food and no sunburn lotion. We started at 9.00am and expected to be back for lunch. It was past 4pm when we got back. I have never seen your great uncle down a cup of tea followed by a stiff gin and tonic so fast! The weird thing is we didn't realise my mistake until we got back to England and we were telling your English Grandfather about it and it was Geoff who realised my rather large error with my miles and kilometres conversion. I used pounds and ounces to kilometres, The mind boggles! But this is what Wikipaedia says:
    There are two trails to Tugela Falls. The most spectacular trail is to the top of Mont-Aux-Sources, which starts at "The Sentinel" car park (through Phuthaditjhaba on the R57, approximately two hours drive from Royal Natal National Park via the R74, 90 minutes from Harrismith via the R712, or 80 minutes from Golden Gate Highlands National Park). From here it is a relatively easy climb to the top of the Amphitheatre that takes about 4.5 to 8 hours round-trip depending on fitness level. Access to the summit is via two chain ladders. This is the only day hiking trail which leads to the top of the Drakensberg escarpment. Another trail to the foot of Tugela Falls starts at Royal Natal National Park. The easy 7 km (4.3 mi) gradient up the Tugela Gorge winds through indigenous forests. The last part of the hike to Tugela Falls is a boulder hop. A little chain ladder leads over the final stretch for a view of the falls rushing down the amphitheatre in a series of five cascades.[9]

    It must've been a drought as we didn't get to see much water!