The single word that can conjure up many images – hot, dry and arid, political turmoil, adventurous safaris, primal landscapes, unique cultures, poverty and humanitarian strife.
What it does not conjure up are images related to water – such as mighty rivers and majestic waterfalls.
Some of the worlds largest, most scenic, widest, powerful and tallest waterfalls are housed in what's commonly called the Dark Continent. Many in remarkably undeveloped areas offering a wild environment to visit these hugely under-appreciated geological wonders.
Outside of Victoria Falls and perhaps Tugela not too many people could name many more waterfalls, but Africa has a surprising number of waterfalls that are powerful, majestic, serenely scenic and awe-inspiring.
And that is what this list is about.
Zambia's Prize Victoria Falls
Quite likely the most well-known African waterfall and is modern days greatest falling sheet of water. The placid Zambezi River transforms into a powerhouse of a waterfall as it falls into a gorge a 100 meters below. The mists are seen and felt miles away.Credit: africatourists
It's an awe-inspiring site during its full glory with as much as 546 million cubic metres of water plummeting over the nearly 2km edge every minute. During dry season there are a number of spots where water barely trickles over the edge.Credit: africatourists
Before Livingstone changed the name to Victoria is was accurately knows as Mosi-oa-tunya, which means the smoke that thunders.
South Africa's Augrabies Falls
In the arid, dry Northern Cape province in South Africa the Orange river cuts through and it is inside the 55,383 hectare national park, Augrabies Falls National Park, when the Orange River abruptly ends and falls 56 metres into a pool.Credit: Chris(Flikr)
Though it is not so simple as water falling over the edge, the power of Augrabies Falls comes from the fact that it is created from a series of channelled cataracts, up to 19 of them during full flood, that tumble into the ravine below for no less than 18 kilometres long.
The name Augrabies means 'place of big noise' and it is an appropriate name for this falls. The noise is deafening, the ground trembles under your feet, the immense size of the falls and the volume of water rushing over is unforgettable.Credit: Chris(flikr)
Ghana's Gem Wli Falls
A section of hills and ridges known as the Akwapim-Togo Ranges serves as a border between Ghana and Togo and it is in this stretch of mountain that is home to the Wli Falls. A splendid waterfalls falling from a height of up to eighty metres.Credit: panoramio
It is picturesque, relatively peaceful and serene compared to the powerful rushing of water of many on this list. It has a lower and an upper fall. The upper falls offers a fantastic view if you are willing to hike up to it through the lush green forest around it. The lower falls is the main part of the falls and a popular tourist spot.
Zambia's Lumangwe Waterfalls
Zambia is one of the more water rich countries despite being land locked. Lumangwe is one of five major waterfalls found in Zambia and it is very much like a smaller version of Victoria Falls, so much so that photographs are often mistakenly labelled as such.
With a width of 160m and a height of up to 40 metres Lumangwe is the largest within Zambia. During rainy season the rushing water roars into the gorge below trembling the ground near it and carrying spray a 100 metres into the air.
Gabon's Eden Kongou FallsCredit: myafricansojourn
The Ivindo River cuts a swath through Gabon's seemingly endless equatorial rainforest. Up to eighty-five percent of Gabon is rainforest, an overwhelmingly beautiful and impressive sight on its own. But within the waters of Ivindo there are at least four major waterfalls – Mingouli, Tsengue Leledi, Kuete-Mango and Kongou.
Kongou Falls is not only one of the world's more powerful waterfalls with just over 31,800 cubic feet of water roaring down every second, it is also one of the widest at 10,500 feet wide.Credit: myafricansojourn
Kongou falls gives the appearance of a flooded rainforest roaring over a cliff into more rainforest. Its configuration is multi-layer with countless steps, cascades and streams. There are islands of rainforest that break up the falls ... giving an overall appearance of the falls being nestled into the rainforest.Credit: lovelyananta
Namibia's Epupa Falls
The blue-green waters of 1,050 kilometre long Kunene River serve as not only a natural border between Angola and Namibia but also offer a stark contract to the arid somewhat barren landscape it is cutting a path through.Credit: wikicommons
Spread out over a kilometre the Epupa Falls are where the Kunene River is temporarily interrupted as it falls into a gorge with the highest drop being about 40 metres. Due to the narrow size of the gorge, the falling water tends to spray up in white plumes of spray.Credit: Wikicommons
The rock formations around and under the falls being an estimated age of 2100 million and 1750 million years old and the area around the falls houses massive baobabs, fauna such as birds and aquatic species.
Angola's Kalandula Waterfalls
Kalandula Falls are not widely known or much studied, but they're my favourite falls on this list.Credit: AngolaTourismOffice
They're beautiful, isolated, majestic and rather unique. A number of sources believe it may be one of the world's more powerful waterfalls.Credit: AngolaTourismOffice
Found on the Lucala River in Angola the horseshoe-shaped falls are 1300 feet across and up to 2000 feet during floods and drop just under 350 feet. The falls unique beauty comes from the countless smaller trickles and streams bourn by the boulders and crevices found at the rim.Credit: AngolaTourismOffucce
South Africa's Lisbon Falls
Mpumalanga, South Africa is a waterfalls rich area with a number of them in the area. Lisbon is one of the more dramatic ones. Though Berlin and Mac Mac are also impressive in their own right. Nearly all the falls in the area are named after 'pioneers' of a disappointing gold rush in the late 1800s.Credit: MikeRVTravelr
The river that creates Lisbon Falls breaks into three streams before plunging at least 90 metres to the rocks sending spray upwards in large plumes.
Morocco's Highlight Ozoud Falls
Nestled within a Berber village is a picturesque falls that is a popular destination with tourists.Credit: BrettHanson(Flikr)
Within the Ozoud canyon is a wide desolate plateau that suddenly opens up to a three-tiered waterfalls with a series of plunges dropping water 110 metres into a pool. It is Morocco's gem yet despite it's popularity it is not over commercialized.
Democratic Republic of the Congo's Boyoma FallsCredit: DRC
For more than a hundred kilometres along a bend in the Lualaba River in the Democratic Republic of the Congo are seven cataracts with a total drop of 200 feet creating the falls known today as Boyoma.
Though for many French speakers they refer to the falls as Wagenia Falls, in respect to the local natives who use a unique tripod and basket system to catch the fish found in the rapids.Credit: DRC
Zambia's Kalambo Waterfalls
The Kalambo River literally drops in a single drop waterfall, no less than 220 meters before making its way to the Lake Tanganyika.Credit: virttour
The second tallest in Africa and standing as twelfth tallest in the world. It is also home to Marabou stork (rare), who nest in the gorges below. It has also produced a human history going back further than two hundred and fifty thousand years.
Uganda's Infamous Murchison Falls
Perhaps Uganda's most famous waterfall housed in a wildlife rich natural park of the same name.Credit: myafricansojourn
The water from Lake Victoria sends 11,000 cubic feet per second of water through a 7 metre gap on the East African Rift, where it then falls 43 metres (141 feet) into a gorge less that 10 metres wide (30 feet).Credit: sarahemcc
The water bursts out of the gap and drops in a cascade over multiple rocks, at one point the falls splits before rejoining. The base of the falls is a turbulent, churning pool known as Devil's Cauldron.
South Africa's Towering Tugela Falls
A seasonal waterfall that is more complex than it seems. Located in the Dragon's Mountains, in South Africa's Royal Natal National Park the Tugela River peacefully drops over an escarpment in a series of five cascades. It is at its most impressive after rainy season, dry season offers a flow of water but it is nowhere near as impressive.Credit: pbr2010
Generally accepted as the second-tallest in the world but there is a growing voice and evidence to suggest that it should be the world's tallest.Credit: wikicommons
Two trails lead tourists to the top and the bottom as those offer the best views. It is three thousand feet high (give or take a few) and will be a full day trip, the climb round-trip taking roughly eight hours.
Zambia's Stunning Kundalila Falls
Of all the African countries, it is land locked Zambia that is rich in waterfalls. Kundalila is arguably Zambia's most beautiful waterfalls.Credit: ZambiaTourist
The clear waters of the Kaombe River fall 80 metres in a number of rivulets along its rocky face before rejoining mid-stream fall. Surrounded by meadows and forest the top of the falls offer one of the best views of Luangwa valley.