Sounds Of Yaku Urku (Quechua for ‘water in the high mountains’) Along The Hike To Yumbilla Falls
Birds and Waterfall Sounds On Trail To Yumbilla Falls
Rode a combi/van service from Jaen to Pedro Ruiz on Feb 10, 2015. Spent the night at Casa Blanca hostel in Pedro Ruiz. Following morning I got a mototaxi to take me to Cuispes. All uphill on a gravel road. Evidence of random rockslides (derumbles in Spanish) in several locations, normal for this time of year. Ride to Cuispes took about 25 minutes. Arriving at the small town plaza first stopped in front of La Posada Cuispes (a hostel) where the mototaxi driver beeped his horn several times. There was no response. He then proceeded to the opposite side of the square at the Hospedaje Rocio. A man came outside after the first beep of the horn and I paid the drive and checked in.
Not exactly a great first impression for first time visitors/tourists. Pedro Ruiz is not exactly a tourist haven, followed by the jarring, uphill mototaxi ride passing eight or ten distinct rock slides to arrive at a tiny village where the managers of the ‘best’ (advertised) hostel (only two exist in Cuispes) don’t bother to answer the door.
But… the best of many things is often hidden behind an unassuming exterior. Such is the case of Cuispes and the stunningly beautiful Natural world that exists a few hours hike further uphill from the town center.
Above: Some photos of the Yumbilla trail. The man carrying the pick/axe is my guide, Mario
It is a 5km hike from Cuispes center to the entry to the Yumbilla trail. There is a local ‘association’ made up of eight men in the village. The name of the association is Yaku Urcu (spelling?) which means ‘water in the high mountains’ in the Quechua language. These men are the ones who put immense effort in creating the improvements to the trail, including the entryway, and many, many very heavy rocks, all moved and placed into position by hand, with only steel bars and pick axes for tools. No ‘mechanized’ equipment of any kind.
The trail passes through private ‘chakras’ (small farms). The Yaku Urku association of men are the ones promoting the tourist/visitor trade to the area. They charge the miniscule amount of 10 Soles (about 3 bucks) to enter the trail. They also require that a person or a group hire a guide (a good and necessary thing for tourists). The quoted fee for the guide the day that I went was 30 soles (about 10 bucks).
These efforts are very new. Yumbilla falls was only recently ‘discovered’ (by non-locals) in the past 10 years or so. It has been measured by competent survey teams and it is, in reality, the fifth highest waterfall in the world. There are several other notable waterfalls in Cuispes.
The above two photos were taken from the same location. Scale is deceptive. The top shows the mid tiers. The lower shows the uppermost tiers. Yumbilla has four tiers. Total drop is 895 meters (2,936 ft.)
On the hike back to the entrance (about five hours round trip) I had an opportunity to help the men improve the trail. About halfway back down from Yumbilla the workers were… working. Francisco, the ‘tesoro’ (the leader) of Yaku Urcu asked if I could make it the rest of the way back to the entrance because they could use the extra set of hands of my guide, Mario. I knew it was well marked and I had a whistle and my Spot device so I agreed. I also pitched in by humping a few rocks into place and tossing others to shore up the trail. I was invited to share lunch. I agreed, objecting that it was not right for me to work only a little and eat the share of the men that were doing more work. They insisted. I declare myself an honorary member of Yaku Urku.
I have many photos and videos and sound files of my Yumbilla hike, too many to post here. Plants, mushrooms, bromeliads, orchids, butterflys, sounds of smaller streams and the thunder of the larger ones. This post gives only a glimpse of the Natural delights of this amazing place.
(Was going to include my hike to Chinata and Pabellon in this post but will do that another day. My back is aching from the mule ride up and down to the beginning of the foot trail to Chinata and my bronchial issues have returned (am now in Bagua). Did not sleep at all last night because I could not breathe. The small Salbutamol inhaler helped only a little. Got a few pills from a pharmacy after describing my woes. I am re-thinking my original plan of seeing Pongo de Maseriche in favor of going somewhere I didn’t have these bronchial issues. I had NONE of these issues in Cuispes… nor on the hikes there.
Where I was considering going until the asthma showed up here in Bagua: http://www.dendrobates.org/captivus_trip1.html
Here are a few final tastes of Yumbilla:
Below is the sound of majestic Yumbilla. Pointed the microphone downwards, 200ft below, towards where the water crashed into the rock/pool at the mid-tiers.
Next post: The Chinata hike which took place on Friday, 13 Feb 2015.