Don’t panic, the world isn’t actually ending down here in Putumayo! The End of the World refers to a waterfall known locally as El Fin del Mundo. But I should backtrack first and get to the point: where are we? Mocoa is a small city on the fringes of the jungle, which is often referred to as the gateway to the Amazon. It is the capital of Putumayo department, and is particularly famous for it’s spectacular forests and jungle waterfalls…of which ‘The End of the World’ is just one. Probably the best one. Back up to speed? Good…
I arrived in Mocoa fresh (or not) off the night bus from Bogota (which runs once a day at 8:30pm with Bolivariano via Neiva and Pitalito), and after a quick breakfast at the Casa del Rio hostel (beautiful grounds by the river, 19.000COP dorms, nice atmosphere…the only hostel in town!) was grabbed by a friendly pair of hippies and invited to hike to El Fin del Mundo with them; now, I’m on a short trip, so I can’t afford to waste time sleeping off night buses, so I was straight onto this invite, and within ten minutes we were thumbing down a colectivo and heading on the up the road to start the hike.
As hikes go, it’s not an especially challenging one, but it is an especially beautiful and rewarding one. The walk starts on the edge of the road, about 5km from the Casa del Rio, and begins with a quick bridge over the river, and a little uphill climb, which takes you to the ‘vistor’s centre’: a lovely little house in the forest, where you pay your 2.500COP entry fee, grab a cold bottle of water, and start the hike. The first stage is a steep, muddy 45 minute hike through jungle trails (make sure to bring decent boots; it’s doable in shoes or sandals, but you might be uncomfortable). This trail winds up and then down a hill, and eventually you arrive at the first of four stunning waterfalls; all of which are spread over a 15 minute hike along the river’s edge.
Now, anyone who knows me will know that I can be a bit jaded about waterfalls when travelling; there’s a tendency for any little 10 metre jump-off to become the focal point of tourism in every little town, and it can become a tad wearisome. I love waterfalls as much as the next man, but you can’t see something every few days and not grow a little tired of it. It pleases me to say then, that these 4 waterfalls are some of the most beautiful I have ever visited. Set deep in the jungle, they are quiet and peaceful, and surrounded by deep, green swimming holes warmed by the sun and dappled by hanging jungle leaves. You can swim in the first three, all of which have a similar appearance, until you arrive at the fourth…My two new friends Essie and Ana dived straight in (as naked as the day they were born!), and I wasn’t far after (only half-naked I’m afraid to say!); you could swim in these falls all day!
The final waterfall is the End of the World, and it really feels like it…A stunning drop-off of 70 metres into the jungle below, as you round the corner it feels exactly like you have reached the end of something. A vast jungle panorama s revealed as the river flings itself into oblivion. As you very carefully approach the edge, the world seems to narrow itself, and you can see the falls vanish deep into the rocky canyon below. Mocoa may be visible in the distance, but this truly feels like a world apart. It’s stunning.
Mocoa is a town that remains undervisited by travelers and tourists, and whilst this is part of it’s charm, I would highly recommend that a few more people make the extra little journey and visit this jungle outpost, if only for the End of the World…