The planet we inhabit is approximately two-thirds enveloped by water, with majestic waterfalls cascading over rocks and precipices being one of Mother Nature’s most awe-inspiring phenomena.
Out of the countless stunning waterfalls spread across the globe, determining the most extraordinary one can be a bit of a challenge as one can rank them either by width or by height. For this exercise, let’s shine a spotlight on the top 10 broadest and loftiest falls.
Many of these natural wonders may prove challenging to access, so let’s embark on a virtual journey to appreciate their breathtaking splendor.
20 Biggest And Widest Waterfalls
|Rank||Waterfall||Location||Height (feet)||Width (feet)|
|1||Khone Phapheng||Ban Hang Khone, Laos||69||35,376|
|3||Kongou||Ivindo National Park, Gabon||185||10,500|
|6||Vermilion||Vermilion, Alberta, Canada||15||6,000|
|7||Victoria||Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe||354||5,604|
|8||Wagenia||Orientale, Democratic Republic of the Congo||200||4,500|
|9||Niagara||Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada||167||3,950|
|10||Inga||Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo||315||2,999|
|11||Angel||Canaima National Park, Bolívar, Venezuela||3,212||500|
|12||Tugela||Royal Natal National Park, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa||3,110||50|
|13||Tres Hermanas||Otishi National Park, Junin Region, Peru||2,999||39|
|16||Vinnufossen||Sunndalsøra, Sunndal, More og Romsdal, Norway||2,822||125|
|17||Balaifossen||Ulvik, Vestland, Norway||2,789||25|
|19||James Bruce||Princess Louisa Marine Provincial Park, British Columbia, Canada||2,760||15|
|20||Browne||Fiordland National Park, New Zealand||2,031||40|
10th Widest: Inga Falls
- Situated In: Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo
- Plunges: 315 feet
- Expands: 2,999 feet
Insights About Inga Falls Visit
Typically, a waterfall conjures up images of a towering precipice gushing with torrential waters. The first one on our list may not fit this visualization, but it is indeed a roaring spectacle. With a breadth of 3,000 feet on the lower Congo River, Inga Falls claims the spot of the 10th-widest waterfall.
Water surges here at an astounding pace of about 1.5 million cubic feet per second — for perspective, the average for Niagara Falls is 84,760.
In 1972, this site was transformed into a hydroelectric dam, and it still provides electricity to the Katanga province today.
10th Tallest: Browne Falls
- Situated In: Fiordland National Park, New Zealand
- Plunges: 2,031 feet
- Expands: 40 feet
Insights About Browne Falls Visit
The list of the world’s tallest waterfalls begins with Browne Falls, a 2,743-foot marvel located in Doubtful Sound on New Zealand’s South Island.
Discovered in the 1940s by aerial photographer Victor Carlyle Brown, after whom the falls are named, they are the highest in New Zealand. However, the designation is disputed since some argue they are several disconnected cascades.
Doubtful Sound, cradled in a fjord carved by glaciers, is also known as the “Sound of Silence” due to its tranquil ambiance.
9th Widest: Niagara Falls
- Situated In: Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada
- Plunges: 167 feet
- Expands: 3,950 feet
Insights About Niagara Falls Visit
Niagara Falls, one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World, extends 3,950 feet in width. This famed waterfall straddles the border between the United States and Canada near Buffalo, New York, and Toronto. The falls generate enough power to serve 3.8 million households, creating 2.7 million Kilowatts on the U.S. side and 2.2 million on the Canadian side.
Given its easy accessibility from major cities, Niagara Falls has been a popular tourist attraction for decades, particularly as a honeymoon destination. It forms part of the Great Lakes waterways and has been featured on maps since as early as 1641.
9th Tallest: James Bruce Falls
- Situated In: Princess Louisa Marine Provincial Park, British Columbia, Canada
- Plunges: 2,760 feet
- Expands: 15 feet
Insights About James Bruce Falls Visit
While some believe that the title of the tallest waterfall in North America belongs to Yosemite, it actually rests with James Bruce Falls. Towering at a height of 2,756 feet, this British Columbian waterfall outshines the famous American national park’s waterfall, which stands at “merely” 2,425 feet.
The waterfall is unofficially named after a local man who was passionate about waterfalls.
Positioned in Princess Louisa Marine Provincial Park, the volume of the falling water depends on the winter snowfall.
8th Widest: Wagenia Falls
- Situated In: Orientale, Democratic Republic of the Congo
- Plunges: 200 feet
- Expands: 4,500 feet
Insights About Wagenia Falls Visit
Wagenia Falls, though classified as a waterfall with a width of 4,500 feet, resembles its counterpart in the Congo, Inga Falls. It’s more akin to rapids and is renowned for the Wagenia fishermen who inhabit and fish along its shores.
Known in French as Chutes Wagenia, it’s often referred to as Boyoma, Kisangani, or Stanley Falls. While both Boyoma and Kisangani are accepted names for the falls, Stanley, a legacy of British colonial rule, is less popular among locals.
8th Tallest: Pu’uka’oku Falls
- Situated In: Molokai, Hawaii
- Plunges: 2,756 feet
- Expands: Unknown
Insights About Pu’uka’oku Falls Visit
While Hawaii is celebrated for its exceptional waterfalls nestled in lush tropical forests, the island of Molokai boasts the world’s highest waterfall. (Note: This isn’t the last time you’ll encounter this island on this list.)
With water cascading down a cliff from a height of 2,756 feet, Pu’uka’oku Falls is a sight to behold, although it’s not easily visible. Nestled in the Haloku Cliffs on the northern side of Molokai, it can only be viewed from a helicopter or boat. That makes it one of the biggest breathtaking waterfalls you can see in the US.
7th Widest: Victoria Falls
- Place: Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe
- Height: 354 feet
- Span: 5,604 feet
Before You Visit Victoria Falls
The renowned African Victoria Falls is frequently assumed to be the largest in the world. Although it doesn’t stretch a mile as often claimed, it boasts an impressive width of 5,604 feet. Named after Queen Victoria by explorer David Livingstone, it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site that promises breathtaking views.
7th Tallest: Balaifossen
— DSLR.no Photography – Eirik Sørstrømmen 🇧🇻 (@dslrno) June 22, 2020
- Location: Ulvik, Vestland, Norway
- Height: 2,789 feet
- Span: 25 feet
Before You Visit Balaifossen
Despite being relatively thin, Balaifossen in Norway is one of the world’s tallest waterfalls. This waterfall drops a staggering 2,789 feet into a lake, located on the east side of the Osa Fjord.
6th Widest: Vermilion Falls
- Location: Vermilion, Alberta, Canada
- Height: 15 feet
- Span: 6,000 feet
Before You Visit Vermilion Falls
The Vermilion Falls in Alberta, Canada, with its 6,000-foot width, is more of a collection of chutes and rapids. Filled with chilly water runoff from the Rockies, it’s a hotspot for adventurous kayakers. Make sure not to confuse this with the Vermilion Falls in Minnesota, which is a small yet beautiful waterfall.
6th Tallest: Vinnufossen
- Location: Sunndalsøra, Sunndal, More og Romsdal, Norway
- Height: 2,822 feet
- Span: 125 feet
Before You Visit Vinnufossen
Vinnufossen in Norway, the highest waterfall in Europe, cascades down the Sunndal mountains. Even though the less tall Mardalsfossen is easier to reach, Vinnufossen surpasses it by more than 500 feet.
5th Widest: Mocona Falls
- Location: Misiones, Argentina
- Height: 66 feet
- Span: 6,775 feet
Before You Visit Mocona Falls
Mocona Falls, with a width of 6,775 feet, makes up for its lack of height by running parallel to the Uruguay River. Its visibility depends on the water level, adding to the unique experience.
5th Tallest: Yumbilla Falls
- Location: Cuispes, Peru
- Height: 2,938 feet
- Width: 25 feet
Before You Visit Yumbilla Falls
Located in the Forest of Gigantic Waterfalls of Cuispes, Yumbilla Falls is the fifth tallest waterfall worldwide. Its four tiers and a hike through the rainforest make it a must-see.
4th Widest: Iguazú Falls
- Location: Parana, Argentina
- Height: 269 feet
- Width: 8976 feet
Before You Visit Iguazú Falls
The multi-tiered Iguazú Falls, larger than Niagara Falls and straddling Argentina and Brazil, offer a remarkable sight with 275 individual drops.
4th Tallest: Olo’upena Falls
- Location: Molokai, Hawaii
- Height: 2,953 feet
- Width: 40 feet
Before You Visit Olo’upena Falls
Olo’upena Falls, situated on Molokai island, is the tallest waterfall in the US. It cascades down 2,953 feet between two mountains and over a cliff into the ocean. This makes a perfect summer camping destination as you can immerse in the wilderness and beauty of nature.
3rd Widest: Kongou Falls
- Location: Ivindo National Park, Ogooue-Ivindo Province, Gabon
- Height: 185 feet
- Width: 10,500 feet
Before You Visit Kongou Falls
Kongou Falls, found in the lush and remote Ivindo National Park in Gabon, is one of the most impressive and powerful waterfalls in Africa. Known for its breathtaking width, it covers an area of 10,500 feet, boasting multiple tiers and cascades that spread out into the Ivindo River.
The area around Kongou Falls is teeming with tropical biodiversity, including many species of birds and mammals. The falls remain pristine and relatively undisturbed thanks to the efforts to prevent the construction of a dam that would have significantly impacted the ecosystem.
3rd Tallest: Tres Hermanas Falls
- Location: Otishi National Park, Junin Region, Peru
- Height: 2,999 feet
- Width: 39 feet
Before You Visit Tres Hermanas Falls
Tres Hermanas Falls, translating to “Three Sisters,” is named for its three distinct tiers. Located in the Otishi National Park in Peru, the waterfall plunges down a staggering 2,999 feet.
The hike to the falls takes you through pristine cloud forests, where you may spot a variety of bird species, including the Andean Cock-of-the-rock, Peru’s national bird. The trail to the waterfall is relatively remote and untouched, ensuring a serene and undisturbed natural experience.
2nd Widest: Pará Falls
- Location: Bolivar, Venezuela
- Height: 210 feet
- Width: 18,399 feet
Before You Visit Pará Falls
Pará Falls, situated in Venezuela’s Bolivar state, is a cascading spectacle that spans an incredible 18,399 feet in width. This grand waterfall system is located where the Caura and Orinoco rivers meet, resulting in a water flow that’s powerful and mesmerizing.
It’s a sight to behold and is surrounded by an equally stunning rainforest ecosystem. Exploring the falls will require an adventurous spirit as the site is in a relatively remote location, making it a less-visited but highly rewarding natural destination.
2nd Tallest: Tugela Falls
- Location: Royal Natal National Park, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa
- Height: 3,110 feet
- Width: 50 feet
Before You Visit Tugela Falls
Tugela Falls, located in Royal Natal National Park, South Africa, stands as the second tallest waterfall globally, with an impressive total drop of 3,110 feet. A trip to Tugela is an adventure as the falls are best viewed from a trail that can be challenging but extremely rewarding.
The falls cascade down the side of the Drakensberg mountain range, an area of incredible natural beauty and biodiversity. Apart from the waterfall, the park offers other outdoor activities like hiking, horse riding, and bird watching.
1st Widest: Khone Phapheng Falls
- Location: Ban Hang Khone, Laos
- Height: 69 feet
- Width: 35,376 feet
Before You Visit Khone Phapheng Falls
Khone Phapheng Falls in Laos holds the title of the world’s widest waterfall. Its immense width spans 35,376 feet, and while it’s not incredibly tall, the volume of water it carries is extraordinary – twice that of Niagara Falls!
The falls are part of the Mekong River, and they play a significant role in local fishing economies. While visiting, you can enjoy a boat ride on the Mekong River for a closer look at the falls and maybe even catch a glimpse of the rare Irrawaddy dolphins that inhabit these waters.
1st Tallest: Angel Falls
- Location: Canaima National Park, Bolívar, Venezuela
- Height: 3,212 feet
- Width: 500 feet
Before You Visit Angel Falls
Angel Falls, located in Canaima National Park, Venezuela, holds the record as the tallest natural waterfall in the world, with a free-falling drop of 3,212 feet. This awe-inspiring waterfall is named after Jimmy Angel, a US aviator, who crash-landed on Auyán-Tepuí (the tabletop mountain from which Angel Falls drops) in search of gold.
The falls are located in a remote region and are typically reached by a river trip and a trek through the rainforest. Their remote location and the park’s immense biodiversity make a visit to Angel Falls a true wilderness adventure.
What is the world’s widest waterfall?
The world’s widest waterfall is Khone Phapheng Falls in Ban Hang Khone, Laos. It spans an impressive width of 35,376 feet.
Which waterfall holds the title for the tallest in the world?
The title for the tallest waterfall in the world goes to Angel Falls in Canaima National Park, Venezuela. It has a free-falling drop of 3,212 feet.
What is the volume of water flowing through Khone Phapheng Falls compared to Niagara Falls?
Khone Phapheng Falls carries twice the volume of water compared to Niagara Falls. It is a testament to the immense water flow and power of this waterfall.
Are there any challenges in accessing these waterfalls?
Yes, many of these waterfalls are located in remote areas or national parks, making access challenging. Some may require river trips, treks through rainforests, or helicopter or boat rides to get a closer view.
Can visitors witness any unique natural phenomena around these waterfalls?
Each waterfall offers a unique experience. For example, Khone Phapheng Falls in Laos is part of the Mekong River and allows visitors to enjoy a boat ride and spot rare Irrawaddy dolphins. Angel Falls in Venezuela is surrounded by lush rainforests, offering a wilderness adventure experience.
Which waterfall provides electricity to a region?
Inga Falls in the Democratic Republic of the Congo was transformed into a hydroelectric dam in 1972 and continues to provide electricity to the Katanga province.
Can you provide information about the scenic locations surrounding these waterfalls?
Many of these waterfalls are located in beautiful natural settings. For example, Tugela Falls in South Africa is situated in Royal Natal National Park, which offers stunning views of the Drakensberg mountain range. Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe is a UNESCO World Heritage Site with breathtaking views and a diverse ecosystem.
Are there any wildlife or bird-watching opportunities near these waterfalls?
Yes, several waterfalls offer opportunities for wildlife or bird-watching. Tres Hermanas Falls in Peru is known for its cloud forest surroundings, where visitors may spot the Andean Cock-of-the-rock and other bird species. Kongou Falls in Gabon is located in Ivindo National Park, teeming with tropical biodiversity, including various birds and mammals.
Can visitors engage in outdoor activities near these waterfalls?
Many of these waterfall locations offer opportunities for outdoor activities. Niagara Falls, for example, is surrounded by a park where visitors can take boat tours or explore hiking trails. Royal Natal National Park in South Africa, near Tugela Falls, offers activities like hiking, horse riding, and bird watching.
Are there any disputed facts or names associated with these waterfalls?
The designation of Browne Falls in New Zealand as the highest waterfall is disputed, as some argue it consists of several disconnected cascades. Additionally, Wagenia Falls in the Democratic Republic of the Congo is also known as Boyoma or Kisangani Falls, with Stanley Falls being a less popular name.
In conclusion, the world is home to a remarkable array of waterfalls, both in terms of their width and height. From the awe-inspiring Khone Phapheng Falls in Laos, spanning an incredible 35,376 feet in width, to the majestic Angel Falls in Venezuela, with its breathtaking 3,212-foot free-falling drop, these natural wonders never fail to captivate.
Whether it’s the remote and pristine Kongou Falls in Gabon or the iconic Niagara Falls on the border of the United States and Canada, each waterfall offers a unique experience and showcases the power and beauty of Mother Nature. Exploring these waterfalls may require adventurous spirits and journeys through rainforests or along rivers, but the rewards are immense. Witnessing the sheer volume of water, feeling the mist on your face, and being immersed in the stunning landscapes surrounding these waterfalls is a truly unforgettable experience.