The San Rafael waterfall, one of Ecuador’s most popular tourist attractions, almost disappeared after a mysterious sinkhole diverted the Coca River into three small streams.
As part of Cayambe Coca National Park, in the Ecuadorian Amazon rainforest, the San Rafael waterfall attracted (or should say attracted) tens of thousands of tourists every year. The impressive waterfall. 150 meters high, it almost stopped flowing on February 2, after a mysterious sinkhole was formed on the river that feeds it, diverting the water. All tourism on the site has been closed and the waterfall has also been removed from the official tourism website of Ecuador.
Although a thin stream of water still flows, the San Rafael waterfall has practically disappeared.
“Unfortunately, Cascada San Rafael is now part of history and will not return, ” said an Ecuadorian official.
The cause of the sinkhole remains uncertain and the government’s swift decision to “clear” the waterfall has fueled rumors that it was the fault of building a hydroelectric power plant on the Coca River.
” A waterfall that has been there for thousands of years does not collapse, coincidentally, a few years after the opening of a hydroelectric project,” he told the website Mongabay Emilio Cobo, program coordinator for South America at the International Union for the Conservation of Nature. “These processes are described in scientific articles and there is sufficient evidence that a dam can cause such effects on a river.”
However, other geologists point out that the waterfall was in an area of volcanic activity, so they believe that the disappearance was a completely natural phenomenon.