Waterfalls are one of the most spectacular and awe-inspiring creations of nature on Earth, so, to astound and inspire you, here are the top 5 tallest waterfalls in the world. Note that these are the top 5 tallest waterfalls, and not top 5 biggest. Because of the ambiguous nature of the word 'biggest' and the multiple ways in which a waterfall can be big (height, width, volume of water flow etc) a list of the top 5 biggest waterfalls would not be accurate. For example, Niagara Falls is counted as one of Earth's biggest waterfalls, and one of my 5 must see natural phenomenons, but is nowhere to be seen on this list. Now we have that cleared up, let's get on with the list of Earth's tallest waterfalls!
5. Yumbilla Falls - Peru
Coming in at number 5 on this list of top 5 tallest waterfalls in the world is Yumbilla Falls, located in the Amazonas Region of Peru. The height of Peru's Yumbilla Falls was only extensively measured in late 2007, using laser measuring equipment Peru's National Geographic Institute conducted the survey and discovered Yumbilla Falls to be a staggering 895.5 metres (2,938 feet) tall, causing it to become known as Earth's 5th tallest waterfall, knocking Vinnufossen falls in Norway down to 6th position. The falls are tiered into four distinct drops, meaning the total height is spread between these tiers. In addition to the spectacular Yumbilla Falls, there are also a multitude of other similar falls in the same valley, alongside a wide array of beautiful orchids and some rare species of Andean birds including parrots and hummingbirds.
4. Olo'upena Falls - Hawaii
Located on the beautiful island of Molokai, Hawaii, Olo'upena Fallsis unofficially the 4th tallest waterfall in the world. With water running over the edge of the top of one of the highest sea cliffs in the world before dropping 900 metres (2,953 feet) into the Pacific Ocean below Olo'upena Falls makes for quite the site when coupled with incredibly high cliffs. Unfortunately, it is a site that we can only behold from an ocean view or an aerial view, and also only during the wet season when the stream is in full flow. Due to its inaccessibility there are not many good quality photographs of Olo'upena Falls
3. Three Sisters Falls - Peru
At 3rd in our list of Earth's tallest waterfalls is the Three Sisters Falls in the Ayacucho Region of Peru (our second visit to Peru in this list). Named because of the three tiers that break up the water flow, the total height of Three Sister Falls is 914 metres (3,000 feet). Similarly to Olo'upena Falls at number 4 in the list, Three Sisters Falls are incredibly difficult to view. They are located in dense rainforest, where trees are exceptionally tall and undergrowth is extremely thick. Due to this, Three Sisters Falls are only viewable from an aerial perspective. Also located in the area where the Three Sisters Falls are situated is the largest natural bridge in the world, Pavirontsi Bridge.
2. Tugela Falls - South Africa
Tugela Falls, located in the Drakensburg in the KwaZulu-Natal Province of South Africa is regarded as the worlds second tallest waterfall. With an officially recognised height of 948 metres (3,110 feet), Tugela Falls is a 5-tiered waterfall, with the biggest drop in one tier being 411 metres (1,350 feet). Unlike the previous two entries in our list of the world's tallest waterfalls, Tugela Falls is easily accessed and easily photographed. This obviously makes it a very popular tourist attraction in the KwaZulu-Natal Province, with two main trails leading to the waterfall: One 4 mile climb to the top of the mountain for a view of the top of Tugela Falls and another hike of similar distance to view the bottom of the falls.
Although stated as the 2nd tallest waterfall on Earth, there are a substantial amount of experts that claim Tugela Falls actually surpasses the world's tallest waterfall, Angel Falls. This is a highly contested debate which is centred around likely measurement inaccuracies on both Angel Falls and Tugela Falls. Angel Falls is measured from the top of the cliff in which it originates to a level stretch of river around 1 mile from the base of the cliff, where there are numerous smaller falls. Much of this stretch of river could not be considered a waterfall, and if the same measurement method of taking cascades further downstream into the overall falls height measurement was used on Tugela Falls a more realistic estimated height would be between 992 metres and 1012 metres. Alas, these measurements have not been proven and as such Tugela Falls remains number 2 on the list of tallest waterfalls.
1. Angel Falls - Venezuela
Despite the expected inaccuracy, Angel Falls still comes in at number 1 on the list of top 5 tallest waterfalls in the world. Angel Falls is situated in the Canaima National Park in South Eastern Venezuela and has a recorded height of 979 metres (3,212 feet) as water plunges over the edge of the Auyantepui Mountain and drops for almost a kilometre. Despite the controversy surrounding the overall height of Angel Falls in comparison with Tugela Falls, the record for world's highest uninterrupted waterfall is still firmly in Angel Falls' grasp, with an astonishing uninterrupted drop of 807 metres (2,648 feet). Angel Falls are located in a thick isolated jungle area of Venezuela, making accessibility a major issue for tourists. But despite this issue of accessibility, Angel Falls is one of Venezuela's top tourist attractions, with many people desperate to cast eyes on the tallest waterfall on the planet. The trip to the waterfall is only available during the wet season (June through to December), as they are accessed by boat and the water needs to be deep enough. In addition to this, tourists must first take a flight to the starting point of the river trips, Canaima camp from bigger settlements such as Ciudad Bolivar or Puerto Ordaz. Despite the complicated journey, I'm sure the end result is worth it.