Nature has many joys. One of the many joys that nature has to offer is waterfalls.
The story of waterfalls is both happy and sad. The ones on this list have been largely left untouched to become major tourist attractions, but others have been destroyed in the name of human interest.
With that said, here are ten of the biggest, largest, and most beautiful waterfalls in the world still in existence:
1. Angel Falls
If you are to measured only based on height, Angel Falls is the biggest waterfall in the world. Angel Falls stands at an astonishing 979 meters. This plunge waterfall’s longest drop (out of 47) is 807 meters. Although the fall is located in Venezuela, it is named after US Aviator Jimmie Angel because he was the first pilot to (accidentally) fly over the falls in 1933. Before then, the fall was relatively unknown outside of Venezuela.
As you can imagine, this fall is now the country’s top tourist attraction. But if you want to visit the fall, you should be forewarned; getting there can be a little tricky. Because it is located in an isolated jungle that has gone largely undeveloped, you will need to fly from either Puerto Ordaz or Ciudad Bolivar to reach the entry point to the river, where you will have to raft to the fall.
2. Tugela Falls
This South African plunge waterfall measures at 948 meters high, making it the second highest waterfall in the world (after Angel Falls of course). The longest drop is just over 400 meters. Although seeing the fall shouldn’t too hard, getting to the fall is another story. Depending on your fitness level, it can take anywhere from 4 to 8 hours roundtrip (of hiking) to get to the fall.
However, the good news is that you will be hiking through the Amphitheatre cliff face, one of the most impressive geographical features on the face of the Earth. But in order to start your hike, you will have to drive at least an hour to get to the trailhead. All-in-all, getting to the waterfall is a full day’s adventure.
3. Kukenan/Cuquenan Falls
This is the second tallest waterfall in Venezuala (next to Angel Falls) and is ranked as one of the highest waterfalls in the world. This plunge waterfall has a single drop of 674 meters and trickles down towards Kukenan Tepui mesa. Although it is one of the highest falls in the world, it is not visited nearly as much as Angel Falls.
This fall in Norway is listed as the third-highest waterfall in the world by several prominent publications. However, this is not official as several other databases have it ranked outside the top ten. Regardless of whether it is the third-highest waterfall or not, Ramnefjellsfossen definitely deserves a mention on this list. This tiered waterfall has three drops (the largest being 600 meters) and is fed by the Jostedalsbreen glacier and falls into lake Lovatnet.
To see this fall up close, you will have to pay a nominal fee to get to the viewing station. The small fee helps pay for the paved roads to get to the fall and is a inconsequential once you see the fall up close and personal.
Lnagfossen is another waterfall in (western) Norway. Measuring just over 600 meters, it is not nearly as high as Ramnefjellsfossen. However, many would argue that its beauty surpasses Ramnefjellsfossen by far. In fact, CNN voted Langfossen as one of the most beautiful waterfalls in the world. Seeing this waterfall isn’t too hard as it is right on the side of European route E134; you can just drive by and park your car on the side of the road to look at this wonder. Just by virtue of its beauty, it is deserves to be on this list.
6. Waihilau Falls
This is a popular tourist destination for those visiting Hawaii. This fall measures at an estimated drop of 792 meters. This whole valley was abandoned in the 1940s and has gone largely unchanged since. Thus the valley has become one of the few unspoiled natural locations on the island. If you ever go to Hawaii, this is one destination you have to visit, especially if you are a hiker that appreciates beautiful scenery.
7. Kaieteur Falls
This plunge waterfall is located in a little known South American sovereign-state of Guyana. This fall produces an extremely high volume of waterfall, averaging 663 cubic meters per second. It ranks 123rd in height at an elevation of 226 meters. According to the World Waterfall Database, it is the 26th most scenic waterfall in the world.
8. Yosemite Falls
This crown jewel of Yosemite National Park is the tallest waterfall in North America, measuring at 739 meters. This tiered waterfall has three prominent sections: the upper falls, the middle cascades, and the lower falls. The upper falls has an impressive drop of 440 meters. The middle cascade has a respectable drop of 206 meters. The lower falls has a drop of 98 meters.
If you ever visit this fall, try to go to the middle cascades. This section features several prominent vantage points to view this natural wonder.
This plunge waterfall is not very high, measuring at only 45 meters. But don’t let that fool you. This Icelandic waterfall is famed for being Europe’s most powerful waterfall with a flow rate of 193 cubic meters per second. This waterfall was extremely hard to get to before 2011. However, with the addition of a new road added, getting there is just a drive away.
10. Niagara Falls
What list of waterfalls would be complete without Niagara Falls? Many of the waterfalls above are impressive for their height. That is not the case with Niagara Falls. At a height of just 167 meters, it won’t even come close to breaking the top 100 on a list of highest waterfalls. Niagara Fall is actually famous for another reason; it is the world’s largest waterfall by volume.
Niagara Falls is actually a combination of three waterfalls that form the end of the Niagara Gorge. More than 2,407 cubic meters of water falls over the crest line every second; making it number one in terms of flow rates among all the unsubmerged waterfalls.
To get a little perspective, Dettifoss ranks 9th in terms of waterfall flow rate – at a mean rate of 193 cubic meters per second. That means Niagara Fall’s flow rate is almost 13 times the flow rate of Dettifoss. All the other waterfalls on this list rank well below Dettifoss in terms of flow rate. And it should come as no surprise to you that Niagara Falls, the largest waterfall in the world, is also the most visited.