There are few things in nature that have a lure as irresistible as a waterfall. People often trek countless miles, endure rain and insects, and sleep on the hard ground in order to catch a glimpse of the cascading water at the end of the journey. The excitement only builds as they inch closer and hear the H2O rushing through the trees. And while most offer a pleasant sight, there are certainly some that outshine others. Here, we rounded up a list of 10 of the most amazing waterfalls around the world.
Sure, you could stay in the U.S. to witness this beauty, but Niagara Falls (or Horseshoe Falls) on the Canadian side offer the superior view — and is well worth going through border inspection. And what it lacks in size (it measures about 167 feet high), it makes up for in culture. The falls conjure memories of 1950s honeymoon postcards, Nik Wallenda scaling a tightrope, and daredevils in barrels. For some Americans, it’s often even their first experience with waterfalls — and a magical one at that.
2. Angel Falls in Venezuela
Angel Falls is not only one of the world’s prettiest waterfalls, but it’s also the highest, piercing the clouds at a whopping 3,212 feet. It gets its name from U.S. aviator Jimmie Angel, who was the first to zoom over the falls in a plane — and what a sight that must have been. Nestled in Venezuela’s Canaima National Park, the stunner launches from Auyantepui, a sandstone mountain that dramatically rises out of the surrounding jungle.
These falls sit on the Quây Sơn River, which is nestled in the rocky Karst region between China and Vietnam. Rushing down 98 feet, the site is actually a double whammy — two sister waterfalls. Expect a kaleidoscope of bubbling water, weaving between rocks and trees to create a picture-perfect view. Note: The falls are known to swell during the rainy season.
The wide-open ruggedness of the American West comes into startling focus at the highest waterfall in North America. Located in California‘s Yosemite National Park, Yosemite Falls travels fastest during the spring snowmelt. It features a series of three different drops that culminate in a waterfall that rushes down a total of 2,425 feet to the towering pines in the valley below. Best of all, the nearby visitor’s center makes for a truly personal experience.
5. Kaieteur Falls in Guyana
One of the world’s most breathtaking and powerful waterfalls is also the most remote. Guyana’s Kaieteur Falls, which is hidden deep in the Amazon, hasn’t made many bucket lists. But that’s not surprising, considering it requires a three-day overland trek to reach (an easier method is via the local airstrip). If you do decide to take the plunge to this South American wonder, you’ll be richly rewarded when you reach the Potaro River and experience its foamy water that tumbles 741 feet down into the pool below.
The Croatian coast is a dreamy getaway as it is, but for an even more surreal experience, head inland to the cavernous Karst region, which is home to Plitvice Lakes National Park. The falls here are memorable for the sheer number of streams — it appears as if a hundred waterfalls are flowing together in a cacophonous harmony. Follow the system of lakes and rivers and you’ll see water colors that range from turquoise to azure. The falls also mark the confluence of the Plitvica and Korana rivers.
Thanks to Hollywood, travelers fly to New Zealand expecting to be transported back to a quasi-medieval fantasyland. While we can’t guarantee that the entire country will deliver, this straight shot of water tumbling down from a cobalt blue glacier is pretty cinematic in its own right. Located on Milford Sound on South Island, the 1,902-foot falls are the tallest in New Zealand and one of the tallest in the world.
Iceland is home to numerous falls, but Gullfoss remains the favorite for tourists hoping to see the rugged beauty that made this island nation a top vacation destination. In fact, it makes up one of the legs of the legendary Golden Circle tour. It’s not particularly high, but contains two different plunges — one at 36 feet and another at 68 feet. Here, you can’t help but experience the sublime view of the Hvítá river mysteriously disappearing into the crevice.
How should one measure the world’s biggest waterfall? By height, width, or just by how small they feel when looking at it? Any way you do the math, Victoria Falls, which is situated between Zimbabwe and Zambia, comes out on top. According to record books, it’s the largest waterfall based on a combination of its height (354 feet) and width (5,604 feet). It also goes by the evocative moniker Mosi-oa-Tunya (or the smoke that thunders), which makes sense given that you can hear it from miles away. Whether you choose to raft down the river or view it from a safer distance, the rumbling of these massive falls will be unforgettable.
When it comes to delineating borders, do it like they do in Brazil and Argentina and rely on something as stunning as the Iguazu Falls to mark the separation. Technically the world’s widest waterfall, the cascade stretches for nearly two miles along the Iguazu River. Walkways on both sides allow access to its crowning glory, the Garganta del Diablo (Devil’s Throat). Here, a horseshoe-shaped behemoth shoots down H2O that’s 2,297 feet wide.