The image of a frozen Niagara Falls during the recent Polar Vortex brought on the reminder that waterfalls can conjure up so many images – powerful, peaceful, thunderous, calmness and ever changing. Niagara, located between Canada and the United States sure shows all of that. It may not be the highest nor the widest but it does boast the largest volume of flow. I love water in most forms – oceans, lakes, rivers and waterfalls. Here are four more of my favorite waterfalls that I have encountered during my travels.
Located between Argentina and Brazil, it is made up of 275 drops that range between 60 to 82 meters (200 to 270 ft) with a total span of 2.7 kilometers (1.7 miles) forming the largest waterfall system in the world. My last visit was for over 4 days and I walked along the top of the falls, at mid level, at the bottom level and even ventured under one of the falls in a Zodiac boat. The park is well developed and organized with multiple walking trails and lookout points. It is definitely one of the the most captivating places I have travelled to.
Vicky Falls is also located between two countries, Zimbabwe and Zambia. At over 108 meters (355 ft) high and 1.7 km (1.06 miles) wide, it forms the world’s largest sheet of tumbling down water. There are a number of pools on the edge of the upper fall where daring people can hike out to and take a dip overlooking the drop with rushing water all around them. My highlight of the visit was a helicopter ride which not only afforded a majestic vista of the Fall but also the aerial view of trotting zebras and giraffes in the nearby plains.
Milford Sound is located in the south-west corner of the South Island of New Zealand. It is a narrow fjord of around 15 km (10 miles) with sheer rock faces on both sides of up to 4,000 ft at the entrance to the Sound. There are two permanent falls, Lady Bowen and Stirling in the sound. The particular day I was there, the skies were grey with a light drizzle. The ship captain told us we were lucky with the weather because the rain brings on the temporary falls. Sure enough, shortly after we entered the Sound, the sky cleared and we could see literally hundreds of falls running down the rock faces all around us. Milford Sound is located in one of the wettest regions of the world with an average annual rainfall of over 250 inches, making the chance of seeing these multiple falls pretty high.
Jiuzhaigou is also not a single fall but a nature reserve and national park located in southwest China. Literally translated as “Nine settlement Valley” it is on the edge of the Tibetan Plateau and stretches over 72,000 hectares (180,000 acres). It is known for its many multi-level waterfalls, colorful lakes, and snow-capped peaks. Its elevation ranges from 2,000 to 4,500 metres (6,600 to 14,800 ft). I visited the region in mid-Autumn. The 10,000 ft altitude, the cool temperature and the fresh dusting of snow sure helped to accentuate the tranquility and serenity of this beautiful valley.
There you have it! Five very different waterfalls in five continents. Each one unique and awe inspiring, helping to conjure up images of power, calm, thunder and peace.