Although TLC famously sang ‘don’t go chasing waterfalls’, we really think you should. Waterfalls are without a doubt one of mother nature’s most enigmatic and enchanting creations. Whether you want to sail through them, clamber up them or sit beneath them, exploring waterfalls is a sure-fire way to get up close and personal with the power of the Earth. From Niagara Falls, which is perched between two countries in a bustling tourist hub, to Kaieteur Falls, which is hidden away in Guyana’s lush interior, there are imposing walls of water across the globe just waiting to be explored. However, the competition for the title of ‘biggest waterfall in the world’ is a tricky one. Some are tall, some are wide, some are incredibly powerful. There is no way to decipher which comes out on top, so we’ve included an array of Earth’s largest outpourings on our list of the biggest waterfalls in the world…
- Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe and Zambia
- Kaieteur Falls, Guyana
- Tugela Falls, South Africa
- Niagara Falls, USA and Canada
- Iguazu Falls, Argentina and Brazil
- Gullfoss, Iceland
Zimbabwe and Zambia
Victoria Falls is undoubtedly one of the most impressive waterfalls in the world and is one of Africa’s original blockbusters. Known by locals as the ‘smoke that thunders’, its billowing mist and impressive bellow can be seen and heard from over 25 miles away. At 2,903ft tall, Victoria Falls is considered to be the world’s largest sheet of falling water and oh boy when you’re there, don’t you know it. The thundering roar provides the perfect soundtrack to the dramatic scenery that surrounds one of the world’s natural wonders. Soar overhead in an open-sided helicopter for the ultimate bird’s-eye-view or take a plunge in Devil’s Pool for a more up-close-and-personal experience. Perch on the lip of the crashing water and watch as the world-famous spray rises high above the falls, engulfing you in its misty magic.
Kaieteur Falls has a very special claim to fame. Although it may not be the biggest waterfall in the world, it is the world’s highest single drop falls - at 1,581ft - making it pretty spectacular. Make your way through the lush interior of Guyana with a guide until you find Kaieteur Falls, secreted away in the middle of the rainforest, its royal blue waters pouring over and crashing into the plunge pool below. Keep your eyes peeled for the forbidden sacred cave behind the white wall of water, or peek into any tank bromeliads you might pass, in search of the toxic golden frog. Just don’t stick your fingers inside…
Tugela Falls may look like a mere trickle through the thick fog, but this multi-stepped affair nestled in South Africa’s Drakensburg Mountains is considered to be one of the biggest waterfalls in the world at 3,110ft tall. A hike with an expert guide past hillsides swathed in emerald-green grass and up fog-filled cracks and crevices is the best way to see this wonderful waterfall. The view from the top is like no other. It feels like the set from The Lion King, perched on top of the world looking over your kingdom below. An amphitheatre of flat-topped mountains surrounds Tugela Falls, safely encasing its billowing mist and keeping it a secret for the next explorers to discover. Watch the skies for eagles, vultures and kestrels soaring overhead and keep your eyes peeled for cheeky rock hyraxes perched atop rocky mounds.
USA and Canada
Billowing mist fills the air, the thundering roar of water fills your ears and a shower of spray fills your eyes as one of the world’s most famous waterfalls appears in front of you. Although Niagara Falls is not one of the tallest, it is by far one of the biggest waterfalls in the world, spanning a whopping 81 square miles across Canada and the USA. If you are on the American shore, don a highly fashionable poncho and hop aboard the Maid of the Mist to explore (and get soaked by) the American Falls and the Canadian Horseshoe Falls. If exploring from the Canadian side, launch yourself onto a thrilling zipline into the mist where you can get the ultimate bird’s eye view of the falls.
Argentina and Brazil
Iguazu Falls (or Iguacu, depending on which country you’re in) begins where Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay collide. As the largest waterfall system in the world, made up of roughly 275 different vertical drops, Iguazu should definitely be a bucket list topper. When combined, the cascading cataracts and enormous falls are taller than Niagara Falls and twice as wide (1.8 miles wide). Grab your waterproofs and head to the lookout beneath the Garganta do Diabo (Devil’s Throat) to experience the immense power of this gigantic waterspout. Watch as chalk-white plumes of water flow through the verdant undergrowth, crashing in the river below creating a misty breeze.
Iceland is a geological wonderland brimming with unique otherworldly landscapes. Gullfoss Falls, known as the ‘golden falls’ by locals, rushes through a mighty gash carved into the land and is the largest waterfall by volume in Europe. In the summer, its waters shimmer seductively in the sun but come winter, its icy waters blend in with its white wonderland surroundings, transforming into a glittering icicle curtain. Spend a few days exploring the Golden Circle, witnessing great geyser eruptions at Geysir and rainbow shows at the majestic Skogafoss falls, before heading into Reykjavik to rest your weary legs with a refreshing Icelandic beer in hand.