Discover an ancient Amazonian mermaid in Peru

A view of the falls from afar

Planning a trip to Peru? Don’t miss Gocta Falls, the third highest waterfall in the world. This spectacle is off the beaten path, and offers unique insight into local Peruvian culture. The walk to the falls winds through languid cloud forest and across gushing rivers. Thousands of species of flora and fauna thrive in this unique ecosystem. Oh, and did I mention there’s a mermaid too?

The mermaid in the pool below

Gocta Falls went undiscovered by the Peruvian government and tourists alike until 2005, when German explorer and waterfall enthusiast Stefan Ziemendorff revealed them to the world. Upon exposure, the Peruvian government wasted little time in advertising the falls to the international community. However Gocta’s late arrival on the scene begs for explanation; how could a so marvelous a phenomenon go unnoticed for so long?

The answers to Gocta’s secretive past lie in local myth and folklore. If provoked, locals will tell you of a blonde-haired mermaid who guards a lost treasure in the misty pool at the base of the falls. Many even report to have seen the mermaid’s long blonde hair flowing down the falls. According to local lore, the mermaid placed a curse upon the native people for revealing her waterfall to the outside world.

By Peter Sacco, travel writer for