Everything you need to know about Perolniyoc Waterfall

By ShortEdit
April 11, 2024

Perolniyoc waterfall is one of the Sacred Valleys’ many hidden gems. At 100 meters tall and with some pre-Inca ruins directly above it, it’s a fantastic half day trip from Ollantaytambo (with a few additions to make it a day trip) or a day trip from Cusco. More on that later!

What is the Perolniyoc Waterfall?

Perolniyoc Waterfall (also known as Catarata Perolniyoc to the locals) is a waterfall in the Sacred Valley. It’s an off the beaten track destination, but incredibly beautiful and definitely worth a visit for all those who love waterfalls, have an afternoon free in Ollantaytambo, or want to avoid the crowds and visit somewhere that’s a little more for locals.

The falls themselves have a 100m drop, and come out from the rock itself. This offers a very unique and interesting water drop- forming more of a veil than a traditional waterfall does. Definitely something that you want to see!

It’s a pretty easy hike, an hour to the falls and an hour back with a roundtrip distance of 4.5 miles. Add on the ruins above and make it a 5 mile hike taking an extra 30 minutes each way. You can find out more about the Perolniyoc ruins below, just sit tight!

Can I swim in Perolniyoc Waterfall?

You can certainly go in the water. It’s not very deep so swimming itself might be off the cards (depending on the season) and it is very cold, so if you plan on going in the natural pool make sure that you bring a spare change of clothes or else you risk getting very cold and ruining the rest of your day.

What about the ruins?

Perolniyoc ruins, also known as Raqaypata Archeological site, is a set of pre-Inca ruins that sit atop the waterfall (quite literally right on top). If we look at the origin of the word “Raqaypata”, we can split it into two Quechua words: Raqay, which means shed, and Pata, which means high place.

Now, the name might give you a bit of a clue about what to expect while visiting. Certainly, the Raqaypata ruins are not the most expansive and beautiful ruins in the area. But they are still worth a visit- especially if you are already visiting Perolniyoc falls.

Even if you are not particularly interested in the ruins themselves, the higher elevation does invite a spectacular view of the valley. So whether it be for the ruins or for the view, we do recommend heading up top.

The History of Raqaypata Ruins

As mentioned, the Raqaypata ruins are pre-Inca. Historians best guess is that they were built by Cugmas. It was then taken over by the Incas who expanded the site, building extra features that are iconic to the Incas.

Features like ceremonial areas, and water channels as well as more housing, administrative centers and warehouses. It is thought that with the addition of these areas, Raqaypata was used as an administrative outpost for those looking to enter or leave the Sacred Valley.

During the Spanish colonization efforts, it was demanded that locals give up the way they lived previously in favor of gathering in towns (making them easier to keep track of). It was around then that the site was abandoned.

In 2013 the Ministry of Culture regrouped on efforts to restore various ruins- including Raqaypata. This is why you are able to visit them and various other places around the Sacred Valley.

When Should I Visit?

Both the waterfall and the ruins are open all year round. However, the path is steep to both and can get muddy. Because of this, if you plan to travel during the rainy season make sure that you pack a waterproof jacket, good hiking boots, and a walking stick probably wouldn’t go amiss.

That being said! The rainy season is when the waterfall will be at its strongest. Afterall, plenty of rain means the waterfall will be flowing.

How to get to Perolniyoc from Ollantaytambo

If you are already in Ollantaytambo and looking to visit Perolniyoc then you can take a private taxi from the Ollantaytambo center to Socma Village, where the trailhead can be found. This should take around 20-25 minutes.

If you are committed to taking a taxi there and back (the shortest, fastest, and easiest way) you have the choice to ask your driver to wait or to come back at a pre-arranged time. This will also affect the price you are offered. Try to haggle a little with the driver to ensure you get the best rate- but push it too far and he may refuse your service entirely.

If you are interested in traveling as budget as possible, you can take a combi (a shared taxi) to Pachar and hike from there. When you’re getting on just let the driver know you want to get off in Pachar and he should let you know when you reach the stop.

This route does add an extra 2.5 hours of walking on either side of the trek, making it more of a full day experience. If you want to do the hike on a budget but not spend all day there, I would recommend taking a taxi there and then hiking to Pachar on your way back. There is an added bonus on this route that you can stop for a celebratory burger and beer at the cerveceria del valle before flagging down a bus.

It also means you can stop off in the ever so mysteriously fascinating Ñaupa Iglesia- an old church, said to be a portal to another world. You can find the portal on the route between Pachar and Socma. It’s definitely worth a visit but not quite worth a trip by itself. (If you have a private taxi you can probably convince him to stop off here for a few minutes as well).

How to get to Perolniyoc from Cusco

From Cusco to Perolniyoc you can either get a private taxi, and if you are returning to Cusco ask him to wait for you in Socma or return at a certain time. Although if you are coming from Cusco it is more likely that he will prefer to wait for you. This should take about an hour and a half.

Alternatively, the budget option is to take a combi to Ollantaytambo and then get a taxi from Ollantaytambo to Socma, the village where the trailhead is found. It is much more likely that taxi drivers in Ollantaytambo will know exactly where to go than a driver in Cusco- but it’s nothing that a little google maps can’t fix.

Much like the Ollantaytambo to Perolniyoc route, the super budget option will let you get off on the route from Cusco to Ollantaytambo in Pachar, where you will need to walk to the trailhead along the (in use) railway line. There aren’t many trains so you should be fine, just don’t put your headphones in or sit down for a picnic.

Taking Day Trip to Perolniyoc Waterfall from Ollantaytambo

If you want to do a whole day’s hike, or if you can’t be bothered to haggle with taxi drivers, or want to keep to a budget of $0, then you can set off from Ollantaytambo. Don’t worry, adding this section on to the hike does not mean that you will be walking along the road.

Head to the Puente de Inca and cross over it. Turn left and then continue along the path. The Urubamba river should be on your left. Continue on this path until you get to Pachar. It’s an easy, flat walk and should add about an hour and a half (6.5km) onto your journey to Pachar.

This does make the Perolniyoc waterfall hike a long one- but also a free one. If you decide to go for this option then make sure that you set off early to give yourself plenty of time to do everything.

Likewise, you can get a taxi there and then walk back. Don’t count on being able to find a taxi on the way back, although it is possible.

What to Pack for a Trip to Perolniyoc Waterfall

Since a visit to the falls is a day long activity, your packing list can stay quite short. These are our suggestions for what to bring with you on your day hike to Perolniyoc waterfall:

  • Walking boots
  • Walking sticks if it’s the rainy season, or if you struggle with ups and downs
  • 1.5L of water or a water filter
  • Snacks
  • A picnic if you plan to spend the day hiking
  • Money for taxis / buses / lunch in Cerveceria del Valle
  • Swimsuit & towel if you plan on entering the water
  • A plastic bag for any rubbish and or wet clothes
  • Layers to take on and off as the weather demands it (Peru, eh?)
  • Sun block & Insect repellant
  • A camera

How to Make Perolniyoc a Multi-Day Hike

Now, this part of the Sacred Valley is somehow simultaneously a hub for hikes and one of the most underutilized hiking spots in the area. Yes, it’s where the Inca Trail sets off from, and it’s where KM104 sets off from as well. However, there are loads of great hikes that you can do around the area. Below are some of our favorites:

Inti Punku Hike

2 days

The Inti Punku hike is Ollantaytambo’s best kept secret. It is possible to do it in one day but if you want to hike through Perolniyoc you will have to do it in two.

Inca Quarry Hike – 3 days

3 days

The Inca Quarry Hike can take you to Machu Picchu (if you would like to do this, then it will be a 4 day trek). However, you don’t need to. This is a great little adventure that takes you through the old stone quarries of the Incas. More information about the Inca Quarry Trail trek package here!

Rayan – Choquetacarpo

2-3 days

This is an off the beaten track trail that requires hikers to be comfortable with advanced trekking, but will share some incredible views with those brave enough to take it on. The trek starts in Socma, so you can pop into the Perolniyoc falls as you begin. What a nice way to start!


Perolniyoc waterfall is a great excursion from Ollantaytambo or from Cusco. It is a flexible enough adventure so it can suit almost all kinds of travelers- be it those who are in for a lazy afternoon or those who are interested in something more intense. It’s one of the many fantastic things to do in Ollantaytambo.

If you would like to visit Perolniyoc waterfall and don’t want to do it yourself, or if you want to know more about the ruins and ensure that every single detail of the trip ruins smoothly, get in contact with us today. We can help you arrange your trip, not just to Perolniyoc but to the Sacred Valley as a whole.

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