Top 10 waterfalls of the world

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Top 10 waterfalls of the world
Top 10 waterfalls of the world / Wondermondo / public domain
Here are listed 10 most impressive waterfalls of the world:

1. Iguazu Falls

Iguazu Falls from air. Brazil to the right, Argentina - to the left
Iguazu Falls from air. Brazil to the right, Argentina – to the left / Gorkaazk, Wikimedia Commons / CC BY 3.0
Where it is? Argentina, Misiones and Brazil, Paraná
Height: 60 – 82 m
Width: 2,682 m
Average annual flow: 1,746 m3/s
Why is it great? Most magnificent waterfall in the world. This is the widest true waterfall in the world, except for some which look rather like rapids. Average annual volume of water in Iguazu Falls also is one of the highest in the world after Niagara (again – if tall, genuine waterfalls are taken into the account). And: this waterfall looks just great from many, many locations!

2. Victoria Falls (Mosi-oa-Tunya)

Victoria Falls, Zambia and Zimbabwe
Victoria Falls, Zambia and Zimbabwe / , Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0
Where it is? Zimbabwe, Matabeleland North and Zambia, Southern State
Height: 108 m
Width: 1,708 m
Average annual flow: 1,088 m3/s
Why is it great? This waterfall forms the largest uninterrupted screen of falling water in the world. It is taller than Iguazu Falls and, although it is not as wide, this waterfall forms a single, more or less straight front. During the rainy season this is the most powerful major waterfall in the world and then it is heard from the distance of many kilometres.

3. Niagara Falls

Niagara Falls in Canada / United States
Niagara Falls in Canada / United States / Photo by IDuke, Wikimedia Commons, CC-BY-SA-2.5
Where it is? Canada, Ontario and the United States, New York
Height: 51 m (vertical plunge) or 57 m (it the talus is included)
Width: 1 203 m
Average annual flow: 2 400 m3/s (5 720 m3/s if hydropowerplants would not exist)
Why is it great? Wondermondo has an impression that after many decades of admiration this giant waterfall somehow has fallen out of favour. “This is taller than Niagara and that is better than Niagara…” Undeservedly – this is a true and gorgeous giant. Niagara has the highest average annual flow of all the major waterfalls of the world and there are many great viewpoints on it. If there is a landmark which is overwhelmed by tourist industry – Niagara is one. But at the same time this is a place where history is happening: here have happened many unusual events and developed many new technologies.

4. Angel Falls

Angel Falls, Venezuela
Angel Falls / , Flickr / CC BY 2.0
Where it is? Venezuela, Bolivar
Height: 979 m (?)
Width: approximately 20 m
Why is it great? This is the tallest waterfall in the world – although there are cast some doubts about it. It has the tallest known plunge: water here falls through air for 807 meters!

5. Kaieteur Falls

Kaieteur Falls, Guyana
Kaieteur Falls, Guyana / , Flickr / CC BY 2.0
Where it is? Guyana, Potaro-Siparuni
Height: 251 m in total, 226 m – highest plunge
Width: 113 m
Volume: 663 m3/s
Why is it great? Amount of water in this waterfall is considerably smaller if compared to the first three in this list. But don’t be deceived – this is one of most impressive waterfalls in the world! It is very tall and at the same time it is wide and has a lot of water throughout the year. Kaieteur Falls have a vertical plunge, and, above all – waterfall has a gorgeous setting in pristine rainforest!

6. Gocta Falls

Gocta Falls, Peru
Gocta Falls / Elemaki, / CC BY 3.0
Where it is? Peru, Amazonas
Height: 771 m
Width: ˜ 30 m
Why is it great? Extremely tall waterfall, the tallest drop is 540 m tall!

7. Ventisquero Colgante Falls

Ventisquero Colgante Falls, Chile
Ventisquero Colgante Falls / betoscopio, / CC BY-SA 2.0
Where it is? Chile, XI Aisén
Height: > 550 m
Width: 30 – 45 m
Volume: 14 m3/s
Why is it great? Most likely this giant waterfall opened when glacier retreated due to the global warming. It is extremely tall and is a part of very impressive landscape with blue ice of glacier towering above it.

8. Virginia Falls (Na’ili Cho)

Virginia Falls, Canada
Virginia Falls / Paul Gierszewski, / public domain
Where it is? Canada, Northwest Territories
Height: 90 m
Width: up to 259 m
Volume: approximately 1000 m³/s
Why is it great? One of the most powerful waterfalls in the world, combined with the respectable height of 90 meters. Waterfall is located in pristine area and only a handful of tourists experience this grand view. Falls are powerful throughout the year unlike several others in this list.

9. Jog Falls (Gersoppa Falls)

Jog Falls, India
Jog Falls, India / Jughead i, Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 3.0
Where it is? India, Kerala
Height: 253 m
Width: 470 – 580 m
Average flow during monsoon: 153 m3/s
Why is it great? Jog Falls have both impressive height, width and huge flow of water. Unfortunately for most part of the year falls are much weaker and divide into smaller streams.

10. Yosemite Falls

Yosemite Falls, Upper Fall
Yosemite Falls, Upper Fall / Melissa Wiese, Flickr / CC BY 2.0
Where it is? United States, California
Height: 739 m
Width: 25 – 30 m
Volume: 7 m3/s
Why is it great? This waterfall has very tall drop – 436 m. There are few falls in the world with such tall, unhindered fall through the air. Waterfall is very picturesque, a kind of icon for such tall, uninterrupted waterfalls.

Map, top 10 waterfalls of the world

loading map - please wait...

Kaieteur Falls: 5.176452, -59.480753
Ventisquero Colgante Falls: -44.437080, -72.506117
Iguazu Falls: -25.693741, -54.437418
Yosemite Falls: 37.756547, -119.596904
Angel Falls: 5.970097, -62.536368
Victoria Falls (Mosi-oa-Tunya): -17.923853, 25.853519
Gocta Falls: -6.022059, -77.887129
Virginia Falls (Na\'ili Cho): 61.607513, -125.735762
Niagara Falls: 43.081589, -79.071576
Jog Falls (Gersoppa Falls): 14.229300, 74.812600

What is needed for a truly great waterfall?

Lists like this are subjective – the magnificence and attractiveness of waterfalls cannot be measured and each can have his own criteria. Wondermondo has selected the top 10 waterfalls of the world based on the following criteria:

  • Significant height. The waterfall of top-class needs to have a pronounced fall – at least some 50 meters. Of course, the taller – the better!
  • Plunge – free fall of water through the air. There are countless waterfalls in the world which slide down along steep cliffsides. COUNTLESS. After the rain in every mountainous region of the world, thousands of such waterfalls are forming. Many researchers try to count them all (hopeless, IMHO) and, indeed, often these waterfalls are very impressive! But classical waterfall forms a plunge – at least Wondermondo considers that this is a feature of a truly great waterfall;
  • Amount of water – at least for some time throughout the year. Well, a waterfall is great if there is falling lots of water!
  • Width – obviously! A wide screen of falling water is a lot more impressive than numerous smaller, divided streams;
  • Scenery and visibility – truly great waterfall will have great scenery around it and most do. After all, for a waterfall are needed mountains or at least an escarpment. More problematic could be visibility – there are waterfalls which are hidden in the forest or in deep ravines and their full height is very hard to see. Such waterfall is, for example, Trou de Fer in Réunion: it is 725 m tall but it is hard to see the whole waterfall even from drone.
View from above. The tallest - 300 m step of Bras de Caverne in the upper middle part, 270 m tall fall of Bras Mazerin in lower left corner
Trou de Fer / jennifer_greatoutdoors, / CC BY-SA 2.0

Are these the 10 very best falls on Earth?

Wondermondo is convinced that the first five are the best ones on Earth. But the next five? Well… most likely they are the next best ones, but there is heavy competition. Some more great waterfalls are:

Kalandula Falls, Angola
Kalandula Falls / Paulo César Santos, Wikimedia Commons / CC0 1.0
  • Aponguao Falls (Salto Aponguao) – Venezuela, Bolivar. Very impressive, powerful waterfall, 106 meters high and approximately 200 meters wide.
  • Detian Falls and Bản Giốc Falls – China, Guangxi and Vietnam, Cao Bang province. One of the most picturesque waterfalls, it is around 60 meters high and 200 meters wide.
  • Jinbar Falls (Jinbar Falls) – Ethiopia, Amhara. Jin Bahir stream falls into a giant, 800 m deep abyss in Simien Mountains. Falls are starting from deep canyon – thus their height is less than the depth of abyss but nevertheless – more than 500 m.
  • Kalandula Falls – Angola, Malanje. Falls of unusual beauty, up to 105 m tall and 410 m wide, some of the most powerful falls in Africa.
  • Kukenaam Falls (Cuquenan Falls) – Venezuela, Bolivar. With 674 meters in height and 61 meters in width plunging from the rim of a tepui, this fall is similar in many respects to the highest falls in world – Angel Falls.
  • Pará Falls (Salto Pará) – Venezuela, Bolivar. The widest waterfall in South America, it is 5.6 kilometers wide and 64 metres high.
  • Vrtiglavica waterfall – Slovenia, Slovenian Littoral. Approximately 400 – 440 m tall waterfall inside 643 m deep cave. Possibly the tallest underground waterfall in the world.
Kukenaam Falls in Venezuela
Kukenaam Falls in Venezuela / J.Falcon, Wikimedia Commons, public domain

In the recent past existed Guaíra Falls or Sete Quedas on the border of Brazil and Paraguay. This was the most powerful waterfall with a flow of 13 000 m3/s. It was 114 m high in total, with the tallest leaps 40 m high. Flooded by Itaipu Dam in 1982. If it would exist, this waterfall would be No.1. in this list.

There exist giant icefalls as well, especially on the largest icy shield of the world: Antarctica. An incredible landmark is Airdevronsix icefalls – some 400 m tall and 5 kilometers wide (!) fall of Airdevronsix Glacier. One needs to be many kilometers away from this icefall to see it as a whole!

The fantastic Airdevronsix icefall from 17.5 km distance, Antarctica
The fantastic Airdevronsix icefall from 17.5 km distance! Warren icefall is seen in the left side / P.Wright, US Geological Survey, public domain

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