What are the highest waterfalls on the planet?
Among the many natural wonders admired by man we find the waterfalls, gigantic jumps made by watercourses, due to strong differences in height in the ground.
Here is the ranking of the 10 highest waterfalls in the world:
10. Browne Falls – New Zealand – 836 metres
This waterfall is located in New Zealand’s Fiordland National Park, above Doubtful Sound.
The water gushes out of a high mountain lake, Lake Browne (836 m above sea level), which when full overflows along the side of the mountain wall and flows into the fjord below near Hall Arm.
They are named after the aerial photographer Victor Carlyle Brown who discovered them in 1940.
The creek makes 836 m of elevation gain over 1,130 m of horizontal elevation gain, so the average gradient of the creek is 42 degrees. This relatively low angle makes the falls less impressive.
9. James Bruce Falls – Canada – 840 metres
James Bruce Falls is a waterfall in British Columbia, Canada.
Located in Princess Louisa Marine Provincial Park, it rises from a small snow field and cascades 840 metres down to Princess Louisa Inlet.
Two parallel streams, from which the falls are named, come from this snowfield, they do not have a constant flow throughout the year and during hot summers they usually dry up.
The stream flows into Loquilts Creek, which empties into the inlet through the more famous Chatterbox Falls.
As well as being the ninth highest waterfall in the world, the James Bruce fall is also the largest in North America.
8. Pu’uka’oku Falls – USA – 840 metres
Pu’uka’oku Falls are the 8 highest waterfalls in the world and are located along the northern coast of Molokai Island in Hawaii. This section of Molokai has some of the highest cliffs in the world.
Every stream that falls on these cliffs will fall thousands of feet into the sea. The waterfall reaches a height of 840 meters in the valley of lush vegetation.
Pu’uka’oku is a thin, deeply incised, inaccessible cliff. The lack of accessibility means that this fall is rarely photographed.
The only real way to see these falls is by helicopter, usually from Maui.
The Moloka’i coast is a fearsome environment that sometimes produces a phenomenal spectacle. The powerful winds blowing on the cliff wall cause the falls to disperse into the air, causing a fan-like mist to form. The water literally takes flight over the howling wind, giving the most avid spectators a taste of a truly rare natural phenomenon.
7. Baläifossen – Norway – 850 metres
Balåifossen is one of Norway’s highest waterfalls and is located six kilometres south of Osa, on the east side of Osafjorden, in the municipality of Ulvik.
The water of the Balåi River flows down for over 800 metres and ends in Osafjorden. The Balåi River is fed by the melt water of the Kyrelvfjellet with a small glacier called Onen (at an altitude of 1600 meters) and a large lake called Langvatnet.
The glaciers in the mountains help to swell its waters, but the climax comes after the snow season, when they melt.
As you approach Balåifossen you will notice that there is more water in the Balåi River than expected.
6. Vinnufossen – Norway – 860 metres
Vinnufossen, also known as Vinnufallet or Vinnu, is a waterfall in Norway with a total drop of 865 m. It is the highest in Scandinavia and Europe and the sixth highest in the world.
The waterfall is formed by the Vinnu River jump that flows from the Vinnufjellet mountain, which in turn is fed by the Vinnufonna glacier. After the jump the waters flow into the Driva River near the village of Hoelsand, it is much admired by tourists because of its nature (in fact, smaller and smaller “branches” become detached from the initial jump).
The waterfall is located near the village of Sunndalsøra in the municipality of Sunndal in the county of Møre og Romsdal.
The site is easily accessible via the national road Rv70, 6 km east of Sunndalsøra.
5. Catarata Yumbilla – Peru – 896 metres
The Yumbilla waterfall is a waterfall located in the Cuispes district and belongs to the circuit called Route or Valley of Falls which is located in the province of Bongará, in the south-east sector of the Amazonas department in the middle basin of the Utcumbamba river.
The waterfall rises 2723 metres above sea level in the San Francisco cave and descends into its four waterfalls for a length of 895.4 metres.
According to the World Waterfall Database website, Yumbilla is the fifth highest waterfall in the world and the second highest waterfall in Peru only behind Cataratas las Tres Hermanas (Junin, 914 m).
The waterfall was discovered and studied by Peru’s National Geographic Institute (IGN) in 2007, which determined its height at 895.4 metres. The inhabitants of the surrounding area already knew of its existence, but due to myths and legends the waterfall was not much visited.
4. Olo’upena Falls – USA – 900 metres
Oloʻupena Falls, or Oloupena Falls, is a waterfall located in the northeastern part of the Hawaiian island of Molokai, and is unofficially mentioned as the fourth highest waterfall in the world and the highest in the United States.
The waterfalls occur when a short seasonal stream spills over the edge of one of the highest cliffs in the world, located between the Pelekunu and Wailau valleys.
900 metres high, the waterfall is made up of several levels that descend from one of the highest cliffs in the world, the “Cliffs Haloku”.
The waterfall is inaccessible even on foot, due to its conformation that sees it surrounded on both sides by huge mountains. The only way to see it is by flying or renting a boat.
3. Cataratas las Tres Hermanas – Peru – 914 metres
In the National Park of Otishi, in the province of Satipo (Junín), there is the third largest waterfall in the world with 914 metres of fall, known as Las Tres Hermanas Falls. This waterfall includes three large staggered waterfalls, from a plateau to the Cutivireni River.
The last of the three falls towards the river, it does not join this because it is lost in deep underground swallows unexplored to this day.
The waterfalls are surrounded by a forest with a great biological diversity and a beautiful landscape.
Tourists can thus observe the waterfalls from afar, as getting close is a danger and visiting the virgin forests is quite difficult for an ordinary traveller.
2. Tugela Falls – South Africa – 948 metres
With a total height of 948 metres, the Tungela waterfall is the second highest in the world.
They are located in the Dragon Mountains, within the Royal Natal National Park, in the province of KwaZulu-Natal.
It is made up of five levels (the highest is 411 metres) and falls from a mountain called Mont Aux Sources, in the Republic of South Africa.
Being a well-known tourist destination, reaching it is quite easy.
To be able to observe it the most curious people have two possibilities: follow a very long path (about 6,5 Km) that leads to the top of the mountain, or follow another slightly shorter path to walk through the Royal Natal Nation Park from where it is possible to see the lower part of the waterfall.
According to some surveys the waterfalls are the highest in the world, going over the Salto Angel (979 meters). For example, according to a measurement made in 2016 by Czech surveyors, the Tugela Falls would be 983 meters high, which is 4 more than the Venezuelan waterfall.
1. Salto Angel – Venezuela – 979 meters
In the heart of the Amazon Rainforest there is a fabulous natural spectacle: the Salto Angel, the highest waterfall in the world.
The waterfall is located in the Parque Nacional de Canaima in southern Venezuela. The water follows the course of the Carrao torrent and falls from the Ayuantepui plateau for 979 metres of free fall. The jet continues uninterruptedly for 807 metres to the Kerepakupay river.
The merit of its discovery is due to the American aviator and explorer Jimmy Angel, from whom it takes its modern name, who in 1933, while searching for a deposit of precious minerals, flew over the top of the Auyantepui in the remote region of Gran Sabana in Venezuela. Here he saw the highest waterfall in the world.
Four years later he returned to the area with his wife and a friend in order to reach the top of the mountain. After landing, however, the vehicle got bogged down on the mountain and the three of them, unharmed, could barely make it down from the plateau. However, thanks to the feat the pilot gained a certain notoriety, to the point that the waterfall was renamed “Angel Falls” or “Salto Angel” in his honour. When he died in 1956, his family and friends scattered his ashes from a plane towards the waterfall.
The natives call it “Kerepakupai-merú”, or “waterfall of the deepest place”.
The waterfall is three times the height of the Eiffel Tower and stands out in all its magnificence in the national park. The nature reserve has 3 million hectares, making it the second largest protected area in Venezuela and the sixth largest in the world. The tepui, the typical flat-top mountains, dominate the horizon and give a halo of mystery to the landscape. It is no coincidence that for the natives the word tepui means “house of the gods”. This dreamlike place inspired Pixar’s creatives to make the animated feature film “Up”: the film’s Paradise Falls are the cartoon-like equivalent of the Salto Angel. And that’s not all, this wild area corresponds in literature to the Lost World by writer Arthur Conan Doyle.
Because of its enchanting beauty, the place was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1994.