Welcome to our gallery post highlighting 11 of the world’s highest waterfalls
11 of the World’s Highest Waterfalls
Breathtaking. Majestic. These are some of the words that come close to describing the magnificence of the world’s highest waterfalls. Rising uninterrupted over thousands of feet, the roaring waters make their way down the sides of mountains and hills and over the edge of icebergs and ice shelves. The sights and sounds of the water rushing down and disappearing into the mystery below are simply unforgettable.
If you have been thrilled by some of the waterfalls you have visited elsewhere, you will be totally blown away by this list of the world’s highest waterfalls. Our planet has real, enormous and indestructible waterfalls with vertical drops so deep the water becomes a spray of fine droplets. Here is the authoritative list of the highest waterfalls in the world.
Angel Falls is a waterfall found in Venezuela. It holds the record of being the world’s highest uninterrupted waterfall, dropping nearly a kilometer (979 meters /3,212 ft) with a freefall of about 807 meters (2,648 ft). Located on the Orinoco River, the falls drop over the side of the Auyantepui mountain.
The starting point of Angels Falls is a nameless brook that zigzags through a number of fractured crevices and gorges found on top of a “Tepuy” (table-top mountain). The water then bristles into the void and drops to the river below.
You can kayak to the base of the falls to get an up-close view, though the immense vertical drop means that most of the water turns into mist before reaching the ground.
2. Tugela Falls – South Africa
Tugela Falls in the Drakensberg (Dragon’s Mountains) is the tallest waterfall in Africa and the world’s second highest. Located in Royal Natal National Park in South Africa, Tugela Falls is a complex interconnection of seasonal waterfalls that drops through 948 m (3,110 ft).
The source of the falls is Mont-Aux-Sources (place of sources), the highest point on a plateau of the national park. It is also the source of two other big rivers, the Elands and Caledon rivers. The best time to see the falls is during heavy rains which usually come in the summer rainfall season. When it’s very cold, the falls sometimes freeze into pillars of ice.
3. Tres Hermanas Falls – Peru
Coming in third in this list is Tres Hermanas Falls, located inside Otishi National Park in Peru. When translated from Spanish, the name means “Waterfalls of the Three Sisters” because of the three distinctive steps which interrupt the flow. The first two tires drain into a big, natural basin of water, with the third tier – sometimes very difficult to see – emerging from the basin to plunge into the Cutivireni River below.
The falls are enclosed by a lush, tropical South American rainforest where it is not uncommon for trees to grow to a height of 100 ft o more. While there are rough trails that lead to the falls, the best way to see them is from the air because the area’s dense vegetation can obstruct the view from the ground.
4. Olo’upena Falls – Hawaii
Olo’upena Falls earns a spot in this list with a height of about 900 meters. Located in the Hawaiian island of Moloka’i, the falls plunge over the edge of one of the world’s highest seaside cliffs – the Haloku Cliffs. These are the same cliffs from which the Pu’uka’oku Falls originate from.
Olo’upena Falls is surrounded by imposing mountains on either side, making it quite difficult to access them. In fact, the only way to reach the falls is by air or sea. The best time to view the falls is during the rainy season which runs from November to March, and there are many boat tours and aerial excursions that enable visitors to catch breathtaking views of the falls.
5. Yumbilla Falls – Peru
Yumbilla Falls is the world’s fifth tallest waterfall, located in the northern Peruvian region of Amazonas. It became internationally known in 2007 after a geographical survey that was done by the National Geographic Institute of Peru. However, local people already knew about these falls, often referring it as “Yumbillo”, a Quenchua word that means “heart in love”. One of the cascades of the falls has a shape that resembles a heart.
Yumbila is a tiered waterfall with a total height of 895.5 meters. The source is a stream which is said to come from a cave called “Caverna San Francisco”. The falls are located right in the midst of a thick rainforest that has rich plant and animal life.
6. Vinnufossen Falls – Norway
Hidden in the Sunndal mountain, Vinnufossen is often bypassed when discussing the highest waterfalls in the world, but it is actually the highest waterfall in Europe and the sixth highest, with a total drop of 865 meters. It falls in four cascades before hitting the bottom of the valley.
It is the highest waterfall in Norway, a country which is richly blessed to have nine of the world’s highest waterfalls. This is why almost all of Norway’s electricity is hydro-powered.
Vinnufossen’s outspring is the Vinnubreen glacier; Møre and Romsdals largest glacier. While it can be viewed from a laybay on highway 70, the best way to experience this majestic waterfall is by walking a few hundred meters up the valley.
7. Balåifossen – Norway
With a total drop of 850 meters (2,788 ft), Balåifossen is Norway’s and Europe’s second highest waterfall and the world’s seventh highest. It is situated approximately 6km south of Osa in the municipality of Ulvik.
The source of the falls is river Balai, which itself is fed by several small mountain lakes and melted water from glaciers. Since the falls are fed by seasonal snowfields, the best time to visit Balåifossen Falls is during the winter. There is an access road on the opposite of the fjord which leads to the town of Osa.
8. Pu’uka’oku Falls – Hawaii
Pu’uka’oku Falls is the 8th highest waterfall in the world. Just as the Olo’upena Falls, it is located on the Hawaiian Island of Moloka’i. The northern section of this beautiful island has some of the tallest sea cliffs on the planet, and any stream that drops over them will have a fall of thousands of feet on its way into the sea.
Pu’uka’oku Falls has an impressive height of 840 meters (2,756 ft). The best time to see the falls is during the rainy season because the water reduces drastically when it is dry. Because it is deeply etched in between very steep cliffs, the falls are not easily accessible, unless by boat or by flight only.
9. James Bruce Falls – Canada
At number 9 is James Bruce Falls, the highest waterfall in North America. Located in Canada, it meanders through 840 m (2,755 ft) of rocks and folded hills before emptying its water into Princess Louisa Inlet.
James Bruce Falls is a seasonal waterfall which starts from a small snowfield crested on the lofty mountains which rise from the head of the inlet. This snowfield produces tow streams from which the falls are named, though one usually dries up by July. The best time to view the falls therefore is during the rainy winter and when the snow starts to melt during spring.
10. Browne Falls – New Zealand
Browne Falls is located in the Doubtful Sound, New Zealand’s biggest fjord. Together with the Sutherland waterfall, Browne Falls is vying to be named as the nation’s highest waterfall.
Starting at a height 619 m (2,030 ft), the falls move through a series of gradual cascades before dropping into a deep, brushy ravine. The lower section of the falls courses through dense vegetation, which hides its path from onlookers.
The tiered nature of the falls has made Browne Falls a target of many discussions and speculation, with some arguing that Sutherland Falls is actually the higher of the two. But with a total height of 580 m (1,902 ft), Sutherland falls slightly short of its rival.
11. Strupenfossen – Norway
Choosing the highest waterfall in Norway is no easy task. There are so many other potential “tallest waterfall in Norway”, including some that are not named yet! Nevertheless, Strupenfossen makes it to the list. Its height is disputable, but when surveyed on the map, it rises to about 840 meters.
While it may not be very powerful, it has a very unique shape that is formed as the river Insteelve cascades into many tiny streams. Strupenfossen is fed by a lake/glacier called Myklebustbreen, at an altitude of 1739 m. As you walk into the valley, you will come across other nice waterfalls such as Spirefossen and Sanddalsfossen.