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These Breathtaking Waterfalls Are Worth Chasing In 2019


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Chasing waterfalls is an Instagram sensation we can definitely get behind. There’s something mythical and epic about a great cascade of water, plunging into a roiling swimming hole. The movement, the danger, and the power create photo-friendly visuals that scores of travelers are eager to explore. Waterfalls also tend to be out-of-the-way spots that require effort to get to — demanding long hikes through the jungle or treks up a mountain — thus adding to their allure.

Instagram currently has 13.8 million tags for waterfalls. That’s generally defined as a shit ton, but it’s also no huge surprise. There are waterfalls all over the world. Some of them are super-well known, like Victoria Falls; some are integral parts of the Instagram or Banana Pancake Trails in Southeast Asia; and some are found right here in the US.

We decided to put together a list of our absolute favorite falls around the world. These are the falls worth traveling to right now. Find a cheap flight and do the thing. Is this list complete? Not even close. Will we leave off one of your favs? Almost certainly. But these are 30 falls we dig and we jumped at the chance to shout them out. Some are super accessible and well-known. Some of them are over the hills and far away. All of them are worth finding.

AFRICA

Blue Nile Falls, Ethiopia

You’ll find this fall about 50 miles downstream from Lake Tana just north of Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa. The falls are regulated by a hydroelectric dam these days, so pick your time to visit wisely. During the dry season (October to January), the falls will be a mere trickle. During the west season (June to September), they’ll be a spectacular rush of muddy water.

Epupa Falls, Namibia and Angola

The Equpa Falls run along a mile-long stretch down the Kunene River separating Namibia from Angola. Access to the falls (and the main lodging) is all on the Namibia side of the river. You’ll need to come prepared. The falls are in extremely remote location populated by bands of nomadic tribes, making this is a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Lisbon Falls, South Africa (Graskop)

There are a lot of great reasons to visit South Africa: The wine, the mountains, the beaches, the cities. There’s also a long list of great waterfalls. One of our favorites is Lisbon Falls deep in a canyon in the northeast of the country. If you’re heading to Kruger National Park, Lisbon Falls is a must-stop.

Ouzoud Falls, Morocco

Ouzoud Falls is deep in the Atlas Mountains, northeast of Marrakesh. The falls still have ancient grain mills grinding thanks to water power. This place feels like a step back in time with long lanes of olive groves leading to the falls. There are also scores of monkeys hanging out around the falls, stealing olives and food from tourists.

Victoria Falls, Zambia and Zimbabwe

The Zambezi River is the home to the massive Victoria Falls. The falls are not the tallest but they are the biggest. The falls are just over a mile wide and 350-feet tall, meaning this is the biggest falling sheet of water in the world. That’s worth a top ten spot on anyone’s bucket list.

EUROPE

Mardalsfossen, Norway

The Mardalsfossen is the highest waterfall in Norway with a 2,175-foot drop. This is idyllic Norwegian countryside with gorgeous mountains covered in verdant evergreen forests. Though be warned, the falls are used for a hydroelectric plant –so they’re only flowing at full capacity during the summer tourist season between June 20th and August 20th.

Staubbach Falls, Switzerland

Deep in the Germanic Alps of Switzerland, you’ll find a spectacular 1,000-foot drop of cascading water. The sheer edges of the Alps make for scores of great waterfalls, and Staubbach is one of the most dramatic. The falls are so high, that the water is pretty much a cloud of vapor by the time it hits the ground, giving this one an extra layer of mystic vibes.

Krimml Waterfalls, Austria

Over in the Austrian Alps, the Krimml Ache valley holds one of the most dramatic waterfalls in Europe. There are three major falls along the river that end up dropping about 1,200-feet total. It’s a massive falls that bursts forth with a huge rage of water every summer as the snow melts high on the Alpine peaks.

Skógafoss, Iceland

Iceland is home to a lot of iconic waterfalls. For our money, Skógafoss is one of the best. The 200-foot high falls are very accessible off Highway 1, heading southeast from Reykjavik. Legend has it that Viking pirates buried treasure behind the falls. The possibility of finding magical Viking pirate treasure will always be a winning factor when picking waterfalls to hit up.

Torc Waterfall, Ireland (Kerry)

Deep in Killarney National Park in Ireland, you’ll find the Torc Waterfall. The falls are on the smaller side, but absolutely worth the trek. The water drops about 66 feet from the Devil’s Punchbowl for around 100 yards along the Owengarriff River. We’re 100-percent there for any waterfall that starts in a place called the Devil’s Punchbowl.

SOUTH AMERICA

Salto Angel, Venezuela

Venezuela’s Angel Falls is the world’s tallest (uninterrupted) waterfall at 3,212 feet. This trip isn’t for the faint of heart. The falls are deep in the jungle and require Indigenous Pemon guides to take you upriver between December and June when the rivers are passable. It’s a long haul through very wild country.

Salto del Tequendama, Colombia

This 433-foot high waterfall has two things going for it. One, it’s only 20 miles from Bogota, making it super easy to hit on a day trip from the city. Two, there’s an abandoned and very haunted hotel perched above the falls. This one is a can’t-miss if you’re heading to Bogota this year.

Catarata del Gocta, Peru

The massive falls at Gocta deep in the Peruvian Amazon are some of the tallest in the world. The falls are thought to be the third or fourth tallest in the world. The remote falls require a long hike along the Gocta River but are worth every step through the humid rainforest.

Kaieteur Falls, Guyana

Deep on the other side of the Amazon, you’ll find Kaieteur Falls. The falls are the world’s largest single drop waterfall. While only being about 800-feet high, the width of the fall and, therefore, the volume of water cascading makes this one massively impressive. Amazingly, you can walk to the falls from the local airport (for the national park) in about 15 minutes.

Iguazu Falls, Argentina and Brazil

Iguazu Falls are probably the most iconic in South America, if not the world (thanks, in part, to Up). The massive cataract falls have a staircase quality with huge falls and wide breadths. The falls are accessible either via Argentina or Brazil with airports and access on either side of the river/falls.

ASIA

Huangguoshu Waterfall, China (Guizhou)

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Embrace the beauty of nature🤗

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In south-central China, you’ll find one of the country’s biggest waterfalls near Anshun. The 225-foot high and 330-foot wide falls are gorgeous and very accessible. You can grab a bus from Anshun straight to Huangguoshu Waterfall National Park. It’ll only take 45-minutes to reach the falls, making this one an easy day-trip from the city.

Athirappilly Falls, India (Kerala)

About 30 miles east of Kochi, you’ll find the massive Athirappilly Falls. The falls have an 80-foot drop over the course of about 330 feet along rock cliffs. The area around the falls is part of a forest reserve, allowing you to hike around the falls and the Chalakudy River very easily.

Barskoon Falls, Kyrgyzstan

The mountains of Kyrgyzstan are the very definition of over the hills and far away. This too-often skipped corner of Asia is home to some of the most beautiful, untouched alpine mountains in the world. The Barskoon Valley is home to falls of the same name. The remote set of falls are accessible via local tour operators out of Barskon village.

Ban Gioc–Detian Falls, Vietnam and China

The Ban Gioc–Detian Falls are mystical falls straight out of a fairytale. Pointed hills, smoothed rock walls, and lush rainforest gives this spot a feel like nowhere else on earth. Be warned, during the dry season the falls can be as small as a trickle of water. You really want to hit this one during the wet season between May and October.

Tumpak Sewu, Indonesia (Java)

This spot in Java doesn’t even seem real. Look at that photo and try and convince us it’s not storyboard art from the next Avatar movie. The looming Semeru volcano is like the icing on this massive waterfall cake. The 400-foot drop creates seemingly thousands of string-like streams into a box canyon of lush jungle. This is pure magic.

NORTH AMERICA

Havasu Falls, Havasupai Indian Reservation

Havasu Falls are some of the most sought after falls in the U.S. The mile-long stretch of falls deep in the Havasupai Indian Reservation is not easily accessed. First, you have to get very lucky and snag a pass into the area from the Havasupai on February 1st every year. This year is already sold out. Call daily for cancellations if you’re trying to score a 2019 spot.

Wapta Falls, Canada (BC)

On the British Columbia side of Banff National Park, you’ll find a massive and very remote forest waterfall. Wapta Falls cut through the dense forests and fall 98-feet along a nearly 500-foot wide precipice. The falls are actually easily accessible from the Trans-Canadian Highway just as you enter the park on the western side. This is a 15-minute detour worth taking.

Tamul Waterfall, Mexico (San Luis Potosí)

The canyons of Central Mexico are woefully under-touristed (compared to the coasts). San Luis Potosi’s Tamul Waterfall is one of the most beautiful falls in the Americas. The 344-foot drop is just breathtaking and worth the two-hour boat ride from Tanchachín. Make sure to plan your visit between May and October when the river is passable.

Catarata Fortuna, Costa Rica

Cascading off the massive Arenal Volcano, you’ll find La Fortuna Waterfall. The 250-foot high fall is a lush destination not too far off the beaten path in Costa Rica. The dense rainforest, crystal clear waters, and easy-access roads make this one an easy visit.

Niagra Falls, U.S.A. and Canada (New York and Ontario)

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back in ‘04

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This is maybe the most must-visit falls in North America. The massive falls that connect the U.S. and Canada along the Niagra River are probably the most touristed falls on this list but still worth the trip. These falls are easily accessible from either Toronto, ON or Buffalo, NY and worth seeing any time of year.

We highly recommend staying on the Canadain side to minimize the plastic-tourism-kitsch of the place.

OCEANIA

Sutherland Falls, South Island New Zealand

As you head south along New Zealand’s South Island, you’ll find Fiordland National Park and the massive Sutherland Falls. This is a tall one. The falls drop 1,904 feet from Lake Quill, creating the Arthur River. There are no roads here, so you’re going to have to spend a fair amount of time hiking in along the river valley bottom.

Rouna Falls, Papua New Guinea

Much of Papua New Guinea has remained a mystery to tourists. The tropical island is home to some of the densest and least-known rainforest in the world — that is, the perfect spot for amazing, untouched waterfalls. Ruona Falls in Varirata National Park is a sight to behold that few actually have. You can spot the falls on the road from Port Moresby to Sogeri, but we recommend taking the time to walk the stairs to the pool.

Faarumai Waterfall, French Polynesia (Tahiti)

Tahiti is postcard-level paradise. This place is lush and just plain gorgeous. The Faarumai Waterfall is that perfect mix of South Pacific jungle, warm water bath, and picture-perfect experience. If you find yourself in Tahiti, make time to drive out to this spectacular fall.

Manoa Falls, USA (Hawai’i)

Is this the most beautiful falls in Hawai’i? We don’t know. What we do love about this fall (besides the obvious beauty) is the mile-and-a-half trek along the Manoa Trail. The walk along the Wahai Stream is straight out of Jurassic Park (literally). That seals the deal for us on this one.

Wallaman Falls, Australia (Queensland)

Just a hop-skip-and-a-jump from the Great Barrier Reef in Queensland, you’ll find Australia’s tallest waterfall. Wallaman Falls rises 879 feet above a massive blue pool. The falls are very easily reached along a trail from the local campground, and there’s even a road to a lookout point. This is a great spot to spend the night in a tent and wake up early for that magic dawn light hitting the water and the cliffs.

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