The vast and diverse Russian landscape, with its steppes, taigas, and numerous rivers and lakes, is home to some of the most breathtaking waterfalls in the world. Russia’s best waterfalls can be found in various corners of the country, showcasing the nation’s natural beauty and geological gems.
So, where are these watery wonders? Join us on a journey to explore some of the most fascinating Russian waterfalls.
With a drop of approximately 230 feet, Polikarya Waterfall is believed to be the tallest waterfall in Russia’s Sochi National Park. Sochi is located within the World Heritage site of the Western Caucasus, hailed by UNESCO for its “extensive tracts of undisturbed mountain forests”. Within this unspoilt landscape, situated in the Adlersky District not far from Krasnaya Polyana, this powerful segmented waterfall cascades into dense forest. Commencing initially as two distinct plunging streams, it breaks into smaller ones as it traverses the verdant slopes. Fed by one of the glaciers of the Aibga Ridge, Polikarya is a sight to behold, with its slopes still covered in snow even in the summer.
Sochi is home to several immense Russian waterfalls, with Orekhovsky being another excellent example. This waterfall is formed by the Bezumenka stream at its confluence with the Sochi River and is approximately 90 feet tall. It’s the second-highest waterfall in Sochi and features two streams that join into one, following a curved, meandering route as they flow downward. The waterfall takes its name from Orekhovka, a settlement in the Khosta District of Sochi, and is surrounded by a grove of walnuts and rhododendrons.
Talnikovy Waterfall is arguably the most enigmatic of the waterfalls of Russia. Some even argue it no longer exists. And this is significant because, if it does still flow, this is not only the tallest waterfall in Russia, but one of the tallest in the world, its estimated drop being an astounding 1,581 feet. Said to be found in the Putorana Nature Reserve near Lake Dyupkun in the Putorana Mountains of northern Siberia, it is both remote and seasonal, making it difficult to locate. What’s more, it’s frozen for 10 or 11 months each year and its annual reappearance is irregular, sometimes not being observed at all.
Yet another of Russia’s best waterfalls located in Sochi National Park, Ivanovsky may not be one of the biggest Russian waterfalls, but is one of the prettiest. This 30-foot horsetail is part of the Psakho River and emerges through a craggy crescent-shaped gorge before falling into a small emerald lake. And all within unspoiled forest.
At around 35 feet tall, Kivach Falls is one of the smaller members of this list, and yet it’s one of the most famous waterfalls in Russia. A bifurcated beauty set amidst mossy rocks, this bucolic cascade is certainly worthy of such attention, but perhaps a major reason for its renown can be traced back to the 1700s. At this time, the “unruly stream” of Kivach Falls inspired poet Gavrila Derzhavin to write “Waterfall,” one of the most important Russian poems of the 18th century. Kavich is no longer the same as the “diamond” waterfall Derzhavin wrote about. Since 1936, its flow has been significantly reduced due to the diversion of the river to feed a local hydroelectric power station. Yet it remains picturesque and still flows in Kivach Natural Reserve in Karelia.
Located in the Eastern Sayan Mountains in the sparsely populated Tofalaria region of Siberia, Kinzelyuk is probably the highest waterfall in Russia after the elusive Talnikovy. With an approximate drop of 1,076 feet, it flows out of Lake Kinzelyuk, situated on the summit of Kinzelyuk Mountain. It pours into the small Lower Kinzelyuk Lake, which in turn feeds the Kinzelyuk River, a tributary of the Kizir.
The Big Chulchinsky
It was only in the 1970s that one of the most dramatic waterfalls in Russia was discovered in the Altai Mountains. Known as the Big Chulchinsky or “Bolshoi Chulchinsky” and as the Uchar Waterfall, it sees the River Chulcha rush down 525 feet through a course of massive boulders, thought to have been the result of an earthquake some 200 years ago. The contrast of the black rocks and white water, the powerful deluge cutting through the trees and the sheer scale of the whole spectacle makes this one of Russia’s best waterfalls.
Found on the eastern slope of the Irenyk ridge in the Republic of Bashkortostan, Gadelsha Falls has been protected as a natural monument since 1965. Fed by the Khudolas River, this cascade tumbles almost 50 feet down a trio of tiers navigating the rocky terrain as it goes.
The Waterfalls of Russia
From the soaring heights of Polikarya and the enigmatic Talnikovy to the tranquil Ivanovsky and the historically significant Kivach Falls, the remarkable waterfalls in Russia showcase the country’s diverse and awe-inspiring natural beauty.