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You've probably heard that Venezuela boasts the world's highest waterfall, 3,212-foot (979-m) Angel Falls, but it's not technically the tallest. If you want to visit the real tallest waterfall ... you can't. That's because it's located underwater.
Deep beneath the Denmark Strait, in an area between Iceland and Greenland, lies a series of cataracts that begin dropping around 2,000 feet (610 m) below the surface. The overall drop of the so-called "Denmark Strait cataract" is roughly 11,500 feet (3,505 m), or more than three times the height of any waterfall on land
As odd as it sounds, waterfalls do exist beneath the waves. In some areas, they occur when warm water meets cold water and the cooler water drops quickly. In the case of the Denmark Strait cataract, there is an ocean shelf directly below that meeting point, so the falling water rushes over it just like a terrestrial waterfall.
It took scientific instruments to locate this dramatic underwater waterfall, so who knows what even deeper and larger waterfalls still await discovery.
The wonders of waterfalls:
- There are 10 types of waterfalls, based on the shape of their descent. They range from multi-step falls to fan falls, which spread out as they drop.
- Victoria Falls, on the border of Zambia and Zimbabwe, drops with such force that it can reportedly be heard 25 miles (40 km) away.
- In 1901, 63-year-old schoolteacher Annie Edson Taylor became the first person to survive the trip over Niagara Falls in a barrel.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the world's tallest waterfall and where is it located?
The world's tallest waterfall is Angel Falls, located in the Canaima National Park, Venezuela. It boasts an uninterrupted drop of 807 meters (2,648 feet) and a total height of 979 meters (3,212 feet). Angel Falls is named after Jimmy Angel, a US aviator who was the first to fly over the falls in 1933. Its indigenous name is Kerepakupai Merú, meaning "waterfall of the deepest place."
Why is it difficult to visit Angel Falls?
Visiting Angel Falls is challenging due to its remote location in the dense jungle of the Guiana Highlands. The area is only accessible by river or air, with the nearest civilization being several hours away. The journey often requires a flight to Canaima camp followed by a river trip during the rainy season when the rivers are navigable. The trip is not only logistically complex but also subject to weather conditions.
What is the best time of year to visit Angel Falls?
The best time to visit Angel Falls is during the rainy season, from June to December, according to travel experts. During this period, the water levels are high enough for river boat tours to navigate towards the base of the falls. Visiting during the dry season can be disappointing as the falls may reduce to a trickle and boat trips may not operate due to low river levels.
Are there any tours available to Angel Falls?
Yes, there are tours available to Angel Falls, typically originating from Ciudad Bolívar or Canaima in Venezuela. These tours often include a flight to Canaima National Park, accommodation, and a guided river trip to the base of the falls. It's essential to book with a reputable tour operator to ensure safety and a quality experience, as the trip can be quite demanding.
What should visitors consider before planning a trip to Angel Falls?
Before planning a trip to Angel Falls, visitors should consider the physical demands of the journey, which may include hiking and traveling by canoe. It's also important to check the political and economic situation in Venezuela, as it can affect travel plans. Additionally, travelers should be prepared for the tropical environment, which includes insects, high humidity, and variable weather. Consulting travel advisories and ensuring you have the necessary vaccinations and travel insurance is also recommended.