As the largest country in South America and the fifth largest on Earth, Brazil is renowned for its extraordinary biodiversity. Home to both the Amazon River and rainforest, this captivating land boasts the most extensive range of species on the planet. Among its countless natural wonders, Brazilian waterfalls stand out as some of the world’s most awe-inspiring.
In this article, we’ll take you on a journey to explore Brazil’s best waterfalls, or “cachoeiras,” including the tallest waterfall in Brazil and the thunderous cascades that captivate both enthusiasts and casual observers alike.
Cachoeira do El Dorado: The Tallest Waterfall in Brazil
Set far north in the state of Amazonas, for much of the country’s history this remote waterfall was virtually unknown. In fact, it was sometime in the late 20th century that Cachoeira do El Dorado was plucked from obscurity to be declared the tallest waterfall in Brazil. This majestic giant plunges down around 1,158 feet in a roaring cataclysm, a shimmering ribbon in front of sandstone cliffs.
When it comes to the waterfalls of Brazil, or indeed the world, they don’t come much more iconic than Iguazu Falls. Also spelled Iguaçu and Iguassú, they derive their name from the Guaraní word meaning “great water.”
These colossal falls span nearly two miles across the Brazil-Argentine border and are made up of 275 individual waterfalls separated by various islands. The heights of the falls range from approximately 200 to 269 feet, with the most significant feature being the Devil’s Throat, or “Garganta do Diabo,” a formidable gorge that sends a curtain of mist rising some 500 feet into the air.
The water flows over Iguazu Falls at an average rate of 62,000 cubic feet per second, but it can surge up to 450,000 cubic feet per second. The Brazilian side encompasses a breathtaking panorama of falls, including Benjamin Constant, Deodoro, and Floriano.
Hidden in the heart of Brazil’s savannah within Tocantins state lies the vast, rugged landscape of Jalapao State Park. Known for its natural karst spring pools, or fervedouros, Jalapao also features rivers, rock formations, and diverse wildlife, including jaguars, maned wolves, and macaws. Amidst this incredible backdrop, some of the most picturesque waterfalls of Brazil sparkle like jewels, with the most spectacular being Cachoeira da Velha and the enchanting Cachoeira do Formiga.
Cachoeira Casca D´Anta
The mighty Casca D’Anta waterfall, nestled within Serra do Canastra National Park in Minas Gerais, is fed by the Rio São Francisco, one of South America’s most important rivers. This thunderous cascade plummets approximately 803 feet in two stages, with the tallest reaching around 610 feet.
Cachoeira da Fumaça
Although sources vary, Cachoeira da Fumaça stands at an estimated height of 1,150 feet. What’s more, until Cachoeira do El Dorado was measured, this was thought to be the tallest waterfall in Brazil. Enveloped within Bahia’s dense Atlantic forest in what is now Chapada Diamantina National Park, it was hidden from all but the locals until pilot George Glass flew over it in 1960. This is why it’s sometimes called Glass Falls. As for its more oft-used name, this translates as “Smoke Falls”. It’s a reference to the phenomenon that occurs in dryer months, whereby the weaker flow of the water doesn’t reach the bottom. Instead, it is swept up by the wind, creating a mist or “smoke”.
Cachoeira da Farofa
Situated in Serra do Cipó National Park in Minas Gerais, Cachoeira da Farofa, or Farofa Waterfall, is a dramatic plunge waterfall. With an approximate drop of 230 feet, it’s one of the most captivating waterfalls in Brazil.
Terra de Cachoeiras
With over 140 cascades and counting, Terra de Cachoeiras in the municipality of Presidente Figueiredo has earned its title as the “Land of Waterfalls.” Most if not all of these are created by the Urubui River meandering through the dense jungle terrain in the state of Amazonas. While Sanctuary and Iracema Waterfalls are two of the most popular, the picturesque landscape with its rich variety of flora and fauna provides a bucolic backdrop for each of these waterfalls of Brazil. The region is also known for its numerous caves, such as the Maroaga Cave, home to bats, lizards, and various insects.
Brazil's Best Waterfalls
In conclusion, Brazilian waterfalls are some of the most incredible cataracts in the world. From the colossal Iguazu Falls at the border with Argentina to the remote and towering El Dorado Waterfall deep in the Amazon, the waterfalls of Brazil are a remarkable testament to the power and beauty of nature. These cascades are not only breathtaking sights but serve to highlight the beauty of Brazil’s diverse and expansive landscape.