Waterfalls are spectacular. Their mighty power has entranced mankind for millennia, prompting us to daring and sometimes fatal feats, inspiring artistic endeavours and, in some countries, giving us a non-polluting source of energy.
Some of the world’s waterfalls are truly breathtaking in their heights. Here are what are considered to be the highest waterfalls in the world:
Angel Falls, or Salto Churún Merú, in Venezuela is the undisputed tallest waterfall in the world. Its total height measures 979 metres (3,212 feet). It is fed by the Rio Gauya, and drops over the enormous cliff with a clear drop of 807 metres (2,648 feet), becoming 150 metres (492 feet) wide at the bottom. The falls are named after American pilot and adventurer Jimmy Angel who stranded his plane on them in 1937. Ernesto de Santa Cruz was the first person to discover the falls in 1910.
Tugela Falls in South Africa’s Natal National Park have a drop of 947 metres (estimate, 3,110 feet). This waterfall has a number of cascades, and its tallest single drop is 411 metres (1350 feet). Tugela Falls is fed by the Tugela River from the Drakensberg plateau.
Tres Hermanas, or Three Sisters Falls, in Peru is 914 metres tall (3000 feet). Three Sisters was not discovered until relatively recently, when a nearby waterfall was being photographed. The falls are named Three Sisters because of the three drops the water takes as it cascades.
The Olo’upena Falls, Hawaii, comes close to Three Sisters at 900 metres (2,953 feet). The Olo’upena Falls are extremely hard to reach, being on the island of Molokai and surrounded by mountains. Most people who have seen the falls have only been able to do so by air. Olo’upena has a very small volume of water running through it compared to other major waterfalls.
Yumbilla is another great waterfall in Peru. At 896 metres (2,938 feet), Yumbilla has four distinct tiers and is another low-volume waterfall.
Depending on the time of year, Vinnufossen in Norway can prove an impressive waterfall to behold. Vinnufossen is 860 metres tall (2,822 feet) and fed by the river Vinnu, a tributary of the Driva River. Balaifossen is also in Norway and is 850 metres (2,788 feet).
The Pu’uka’oku Falls in Hawaii cascade for just over 840 metres (2,756 feet) in a thin but beautiful stream. Pu’uka’oku is also located in Molokai, on the coast where some of the tallest sea cliffs in the world exist.
James Bruce Falls in British Columbia, Canada, stem from the snowfields on top of the mountains that surround the Princess Louisa Inlet. The falls are fed by two creeks, one of which is seasonal, and drop 840 metres (2,755 feet). ‘James Bruce’ is the unofficial name for the falls, which are the highest measured falls on the North American continent.
Browne Falls have been measured at 836 metres tall (2,744 feet) and are located on the South Island of New Zealand. The falls are fed by Lake Browne, which overflows to create a magnificent waterfall amid the temperate rainforest. The falls are above Doubtful Sound.
Please note: Waterfall measurement is a contentious issue and there are many disagreements over what qualifies the height of a waterfall. The above list was taken from the World Waterfall Database.