The world’s second largest continent, Africa boasts an impressive array of waterfalls, including the largest on the planet. What’s more, these African waterfalls are widespread, from the verdant forests of central Africa to the arid landscapes of the Sahara.
Some of the most famous waterfalls in Africa include Victoria Falls, Sutherland Falls, and Tugela Falls, but there are many other breathtaking cascades waiting to be discovered.
Most of Africa’s best waterfalls are believed to have been formed over millions of years, through a combination of geological forces, including erosion, volcanic activity, and tectonic movements. Keep reading as we dive into the depths of these watery wonders.
Victoria Falls | Zambia-Zimbabwe Border
It may not be the highest waterfall in Africa, but it is recognised as the largest. A sheet of water over a mile wide and 350 feet high, Victoria Falls is a mass of thundering, roiling hydraulic power. This vast waterfall along the Zambezi River is located on the border of Zambia and Zimbabwe and is believed to be the largest waterfall in the world in terms of total area. Victoria Falls is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and draws hundreds of thousands of visitors each year.
Tugela Falls | South Africa
With a total drop of approximately 3,110 feet, Tugela Falls is the highest waterfall in Africa, and among the tallest in the world. Located in the Royal Natal National Park in South Africa, Tugela Falls cascades in five successive steps down the face of the Drakensberg Mountains. The falls are at their most impressive during the summer months, when the snow melt from the mountains increases the flow rate.
Kalambo Falls | Tanzania-Zambia Border
As the Kalambo River travels towards Lake Tanganyika, it plunges over a sheer cliff and into a 3,000-foot high gorge, forming the Kalambo Falls. The waterfall doesn’t make it to the bottom of this vast abyss, but drops around 772 feet, and it’s known as the second highest waterfall in Africa with an uninterrupted drop. Contained on UNESCO’s tentative list for World Heritage status, one of the most remarkable aspects of Kalambo Falls is its contribution to archaeological discovery. Tools recovered from its gorge show human habitation there stretching back to the Stone Age. The same gorge is also a breeding area of the giant marabou stork.
Blue Nile Falls | Ethiopia
The Blue Nile Falls, also known as Tis Abay, is located on the Blue Nile River in Ethiopia. The falls are approximately 131 feet high and 400 feet wide during the wet season. Having been harnessed as a source of hydroelectric power for the region, their flow has been reduced and is considerably lower in the dry season. Nevertheless it remains impressive, especially in August and September.
Kalandula Falls | Angola
In the northwestern Angolan province of Malanje, the Lucala River plummets in a set of segmented falls often cited as the second largest of the waterfalls of Africa. Approximately the same height as Victoria Falls, the myriad spurts of Kalandula Falls are spread in a horseshoe of between 1,350 to 1,900 feet wide, depending on the season. Part of what makes Kalandula Falls such a magnificent sight to behold is their spectacular display of foam and spray amidst the lush greenery of Angola’s rainforest. The Falls are also a popular spot for bird watching, as many different species of birds can be seen in the area.
Sipi Falls | Uganda
This trio of African waterfalls occur where the River Sipi drops 328, 246, and 213 feet respectively on the slopes of Mount Elgon. Elgon is one of Africa’s highest mountains and is located within a national park on the Ugandan-Kenyan border. The waterfalls are on the Ugandan side.
Murchison Falls | Uganda
In 1864, the explorer Samuel Baker described Murchison Falls as “the greatest waterfall of the Nile” and named them after the then-President of the Royal Geographical Society. Now part of Murchison Falls National Park, the area around one of Africa’s best known waterfalls is home to some 70 species of mammal and 450 bird species.
Ouzoud Falls | Morocco
Another excellent example of the waterfalls of Africa, the Ouzoud Falls drop in shimmering ribbons off the edge of the Atlas Mountains of Morocco. The area surrounding the falls is home to a variety of wildlife.
More Waterfalls in Africa
Some of Africa’s best waterfalls are more difficult to confirm, but are nonetheless worth a mention. For example, Mutarazi Falls in Zimbabwe is said to be at least 1,500 feet-high and is possibly the second highest waterfall in Africa. There is also Chutes Lofoi in the Democratic Republic of Congo, which rises to a height of approximately 540 feet. Finally, Epupa Falls in Namibia, with its mass of cascades.
The Best-Known Waterfalls in Africa
These are just a few examples of the many stunning waterfalls in Africa, each with its own unique character and beauty.