Home to the Andes, the world's second-largest mountain range, Peru has always been an obvious travel destination for hikers and trekkers.
However, tantalized by the allure of the Inca trail or the prospect of snow-capped Andean peaks, travelers often overlook less obvious but equally spectacular hiking destinations within the county, particularly those in the selva alta, or high jungle, regions.
Situated at the crossroads of the Andes and the Amazon in the San Martin Province, Tarapoto is the largest city in Peru's high jungle region. Nicknamed "The City of Palms", and is surrounded by beautiful lagoons and lush mountains and serves as an excellent base-point for hiking in the surrounding regions.
A tropical, mountainous region with numerous rivers, this city is famous for it's impressive waterfalls. In fact, frequently dubbed "the land of the waterfalls," many of the region's most impressive hiking trails end underneath breathtaking falls.
Huacamaillo is potentially one of the region's most impressive waterfalls, at a height of thirty feet. To reach the falls, first you will need to get to San Antonio de Cumbaza, a small town about 10 miles from Tarapoto and easily accessible via mototaxi. You will then need to hike roughly two-hours along the Cumbaza River and through the surrounding jungle.
If you are searching for waterfalls, the Tunumba Waterfall is equally as impressive. Tunumba, meaning from "fall to fall" in Quechua, is actually comprised of three distinct pools, each giving way to an individual fall. To get here you will need to first make your way to Chazula, about twenty-five miles from Tarapoto (again, mototaxi is the best transport option). From the trail base, it is about a two-hour hike along the Huallaga River to reach the falls.
Luckily, for the hiking aficionado this city is quite easy to access. From Lima, it is about an hour via plane and multiple airlines run flights daily. Typically, tickets run around $100 USD. Alternatively, if you are looking for cheaper transport you can always take a bus. A ticket will probably run you around $20 USD from Lima, though the ride does take anywhere from 24 to 28 hours.
And remember, once you have arrived there, do your research before heading out on a hike. Many of the destinations are remote and trails are not often well marked. Always make sure that you have a detailed map and be sure to bring a sufficient amount of water. When in doubt, never hesitate to hire a guide. Not only are they quite knowledgeable but they are also very affordable.
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