With their jagged edges, rushing water, dramatic descents and ethereal aesthetics, waterfalls are an arresting sight. Usually formed by erosion, they carve their own path through land, displaying the awesome power of nature in full force.
From plunge to horsetail, block to cascade, there are many different types of waterfalls. And yet each one is unique, created according to the landform they are located in and the way the water flows over it.
To discover more about these contrarian watercourse disrupters, we’ve listed some of the highest waterfalls in the world. So, let’s plunge right in, starting with the highest waterfall on earth.
The Highest Waterfalls in the World
There’s a bit of controversy about the identity of the tallest waterfalls in the world. Most records have it as Venezuela’s Angel Falls, but some believe that Tugela Falls in South Africa deserves the crown. This is partly due to disagreements on how the height should be measured, including whether by total or uninterrupted height, as well as the method of measuring. With this in mind, some of the world’s tallest waterfalls include:
- Angel Falls, Venezuela – 3,211 feet
- Tugela Falls, South Africa – 3,110 feet
- Oloʻupena Falls, Hawaii, USA – 2,953 feet
- Vinnufossen, Norway – 2,838 feet
- Yosemite Falls, Yosemite National Park, USA – 2,425 feet
Angel Falls, Venezuela
According to Guinness World Records, Angel Falls has the dual honour of being the world’s tallest waterfall and having the tallest single waterfall drop. Located in the Canaima National Park in Venezuela, these incredible falls measure 3,212 feet (979 metres), with a sheer vertical plummet of 2,648 feet (807 metres). Known locally as Salto Angel, they are named after the American aviator who first flew over them in 1933, Jimmie Angel. Prior to that, this magnificent waterfall was unknown to all but a few.
Tugela Falls, South Africa
Tugela Falls is a series of waterfalls located in the Drakensberg mountain range in South Africa. Located within Royal Natal National Park in Kwazulu-Natal, the falls are fed by the Tugela River, which is the second-longest river in the country. The falls themselves are made up of five tiers of cascading waterfalls, with the longest drop measuring at 948 feet (289 metres). The falls are a popular tourist destination, and many people come each year to see the natural beauty of the area.
Oloupena Falls, Hawaii, USA
Located within Oloku‘I Natural Area Reserve on the northern coast of Molokai island, Oloupena Falls are approximately 2,953 feet high and a spectacular sight, particularly for those not familiar with this outstanding wonder.
At 2,837 feet tall, Vinnufossen is the tallest waterfall in Europe, and one of the tallest in the world. Classified as a tiered horsetail waterfall, this Norwegian wonder is said to resemble a bridal veil. Also known as Vinnufjellfossen, it forms part of the Vinnufjøra river system.
The World's Largest Waterfall
Of course, height isn’t the only possible parameter by which to measure waterfalls. For some, the world’s largest waterfall is defined by width.
For proponents of this approach, Khône Falls is the most likely answer. Whilst it is only 70 foot in terms of height, it is the widest waterfall in the world, stretching 35,376 feet across. It is located in southern Laos and fed by the Mekong River.
Listing the World’s Highest Waterfalls
Waterfalls are awe inspiring and complex geological features. With such debate regarding measurement, identifying the highest waterfalls in the world is not as simple as it may at first seem. Things get even more complicated when faced with the assessment of the world’s largest waterfall. But whatever your view of the answers set out above, there’s no argument over the fact that they’re a wondrous sight to see.