Waterfalls are breathtaking! They are formed when a river or another water body falls over a mountainous ledge and keeps flowing after plunging. Geologists have found it difficult to accurately define, classify or list the highest waterfalls in the world. It’s difficult to determine where a waterfall begins or ends, whether it should be composed of one drop or multiple, and the volume of the flow. According to the World Waterfalls Database, there is no set global standard for designating what counts as a waterfall.
Top 10 highest waterfalls in the world
It’s possible that some of the world’s highest waterfalls haven’t been discovered yet due to their remote locations. Here we take a look at the top 10 highest waterfalls known to man so far. Some of them consist of a single drop while others have a cascading run of rapids, and then there are many waterfalls with a combination of both.
10- Browne Falls, New Zealand
Located on the southern tip of New Zealand, Browne Falls pours itself into the Doubtful Sound in the Fjordland National Park. The Doubtful Sound is an ocean inlet far from any road or city, making it extremely difficult to reach there for tourists. The Browne Falls has a height of 836 meters. Some geologists argue that the Sutherland Falls is higher than Browne. But according to the NZMapped GPS Topographic Map, the Browne Falls is much taller than Sutherland.
9- James Bruce Falls, Canada
With a height of 840 meters, the James Bruce Falls near Princess Louisa Inlet in British Columbia is one of the highest waterfalls on the planet. It gets its water from the nearby glacier, which means its volume of flow is not as high as many other waterfalls. Tourists can take a hike into the hills for a beautiful view of the James Bruce Falls. There are many other waterfalls in its vicinity that are far easier to access.
8- Pu’uka’oku Falls, Hawaii, United States
Pu’uka’oku also happens to have a height of 840 meters. It is located along the coast of Moloka’i in Hawaii. It consists of multiple jumps. It’s a bit difficult to get a full view of Pu’uka’oku, so tourists should take an experienced guide and go there via boats or helicopters. The powerful winds turn the water dropping from Pu’uka’oku into a misty spray. It’s a breathtaking natural phenomenon.
7- Balaifossen, Norway
Balaifossen is an 850 meters high waterfall in Hordaland county of Norway. Its primary water source is the melting mountain ice. As a result, its flow volume and appearance varies dramatically depending on the season. It turns almost dry during summer. If global temperatures continue to rise, the ice packs that feed this waterfall could shrink drastically and turn it into a mere dry rock channel.
6- Vinnufossen, Norway
Vinnufossen is the highest waterfall in entire Europe at the height of 860 meters. Its initial plunge takes a 179 meters flight, making it one of the longest waterfall drops on the planet. That steep plunge is followed by an equally awe-inspiring path that stretches up to 152 meters in width towards the bottom. Vinnufossen is located in the Sunndalsøra village of the Møre og Romsdal county in Norway. It is part of the Vinnu river and its primary water source is the Vinnufonna glacier.
5- Yumbilla Falls, Peru
South American countries are home to some of the world’s highest waterfalls. Discovered in 2007 during a geographical survey by the Geographical Institute of Peru, Yumbilla Falls has a height of 896 meters. You might be wondering how such a huge waterfall remained unknown for so long. That’s partly because of its remote location. Geologists have described it as a tiered waterfall with four or five large drops. The water stream comes from a cave named ‘Caverna San Francisco.’ There are many other prominent waterfalls located nearby.
4- Olo’upena Falls, Hawaii, United States
This is the highest waterfall in the United States with a height of 900 meters. Just like Pu’uka’oku Falls, it is located on the Hawaiian island of Moloka’i. It plunges over the side of the same Haloku Cliffs that Pu’uka’oku originates from. Tourists can observe it only from the ocean or air, which means you have to take a boat or helicopter ride with an expert guide. The rainy season is the best time to visit this place.
3- Tres Hermanas Falls, Peru
The Tres Hermanas Falls aka Three Sisters Falls is located in the Otishi National Park in the remote Ayacucho region of Peru. It is a tiered waterfall with a staggering height of 914 meters. It has three tiers – the first two plunge into a natural catch basin of water while the third one pours itself into the Cutivireni river. The third tier is almost impossible to see. It is surrounded by giant trees in the tropical rainforest. It is said to be visible only from the air.
2- Tugela Falls, South Africa
This five-tiered waterfall with a height of 948 meters is located in the Royal Natal National Park in the KwaZulu-Natal region of South Africa. Its water flow is strong only during the rainy season. The flow is pretty thin during the rest of the year. It’s popular among tourists because it’s much easier to access than most waterfalls in this list. For a stunning view, you can hike to the top of the mountain or take a walk through the Royal Natal National Park.
1- Angel Falls, Venezuela
Angel Falls in the Canaima National Park of the Bolivar province of Venezuela holds the crown of the world’s tallest waterfall. It has a height of 979 meters. It is named after the US explorer Jimmie Angel, who accidentally discovered it in 1933. Its top is often covered with clouds and mists, making it difficult for impatient tourists to get a good view. It’s fed by the Churun River. Its longest uninterrupted drop of 807 meters is roughly 15 times the height of the Niagara Falls.
The Angel Falls is the highest waterfall on land. But the biggest known waterfall, the Denmark Straight cataract, is located underwater. It’s located between Iceland and Greenland. The Denmark Straight cataract has a height of 3,505 meters, making it more than three times taller than the Angel Falls. It is formed by the temperature difference between the water on either side of the Denmark Straight. When the denser and colder water from the east side meets the lighter and warmer water the west side, it flows down the warm water.