Waterfalls aren't just cascading tons of water over the edge of a cliff, they are an example of the power of nature, an earthly wonder and a reminder that something as seemingly dainty as water has the ability to erode something as tough as rock.
Even when it comes to the remote falls of Venezuela or the Faroe Islands, these magnificent waterfalls are worth the trip.
Described by visitors as “magnificent and serene,” Nohkalikai Falls is 1,115 feet tall, making it the tallest plunge waterfall in India. Though visitors today enjoy the calm pouring of water over the cliff, the falls are named for a morose legend. According to the tale, a woman named Likai was driven mad and ran off the edge of the cliff when she discovered her second husband had murdered and cooked her infant, then fed her the child’s remains.
At 2,425 feet tall, Yosemite Falls is the highest waterfall in North America and either the sixth or seventh tallest in the world. Set in the infamous Yosemite National Park, visitors can enjoy views of the falls from many spots around the park or they can hike one of several trails to get a better vantage point. The hike to the top of the falls is tough and will take all day, but another hike will bring you to the base of the falls, which is shorter and easier.
Straddling the U.S.-Canada border, Niagara Falls is home to some of the best known waterfalls on Earth. Formed by receding glaciers at the end of the last ice age, this natural wonder is composed of three separate falls: Horseshoe Falls (which is the largest and most powerful of the three), the American Falls and Bridal Veil Falls. Horseshoe Falls is the most powerful waterfall on the continent.
One of the most remote waterfalls out there, Bøssdalsfossur Falls cascades off an archipelago that is set about halfway between Norway and Iceland. The Faroe Islands are an independent country, among the least populated in the world with less than 50,000 total residents to date—the town near the falls was home to only 16 people in 2002. The Islands are best known for fresh fish, wildlife and stunning natural beauty and though the waterfall is one of many beautiful features on the island, it’s one that people love to visit and photograph.
Gullfoss, Icelandic for “Golden Falls,” is a top tourist destination in Iceland. The falls that seem to drop directly into the earth have become so iconic that they have appeared on the cover of an album, in a novella and in a music video.
A subject of a longtime border dispute between China and Vietnam, Ban Gioc-Detian Falls is currently marked on China’s side. The falls are teeming with history—from serving as a crossing point in the Sino-Vietnamese War to hosting outlaws and their treasure in nearby tunnels and legend has it some of the treasure is still lying undiscovered in one of the gorges.
A UNESCO World Heritage site and the highest waterfall on Earth, Angel Falls stands at a breathtaking 3,212 feet tall. The falls are one of Venezuela’s biggest tourist attractions, but getting there is no easy feat. Angel Falls is located in a jungle and is only accessible by river from June to December, when the river is deep enough for boat travel.
Located in the stunning Plitvice Lakes National Park, a network of waterfalls winds down rock faces, into lakes and out onto rocks again. The intricate water features are a big draw for tourists, but those who have visited recommend seeing the upper lake in the morning for the best view of the falls. In the afternoon the sun dips behind the falls, which some say takes away from the amazing view.
The Igazu River splits Brazil and Argentina, just as the falls split the upper and lower portions of the mighty river. Iguazu Falls, which translates to “big water,” is among the widest in the world and, like many other falls, associated with a legend. The story states that a deity was to marry a beautiful woman when she left him for a mortal. During their getaway in a canoe, the angry deity cut the river causing the waterfall that killed the lovers.
It may not be the highest or the widest waterfall in the world but Victoria Falls is classified as the world’s largest sheet of falling water. The South African falls are classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and it’s said that during the wet season, spray from the falling water can be seen miles away.
Sutherland Falls has been called the mightiest waterfall in New Zealand, standing at 1,904 feet tall and fed by plenty of rain water. The falls are an incredible sight according to visitors, though the trip is far from easy—you either need to book a scenic flight to see it from the air or sign on for a four day trek.
The powerful Kaieteur Falls is a major draw for tourists in Guyana, despite its undeveloped nature. Set in the center of the rainforest, the 822-foot-tall waterfall has been called both pristine and underrated and the experience of seeing it in person is said to be well worth the trip.
A whopping 17 feet taller than Niagara’s drop, Palouse Falls begins cascading water 198 feet above the river below. The height of the falls attracted Tyler Bradt, a kayaker who paddled off the edge hoping to set a world record. Bradt made the drop and appeared in Sports Illustrated for his effort but was not able to officially claim the world record because of measurement discrepancies during the time of his decent—some say the water level resulted in a shorter drop, closer to 175 or 180 feet.