When Annie Taylor took a wild ride over Niagara Falls in a barrel back in 1901, she was the first in a long line of daredevils to do so — not all of them as successful. (The only thing left of one barrel-rider at the bottom of the falls was a right arm.)
With a vertical drop of more than 188 feet and a volume of water reaching 225,000 cubic feet per second, Niagara Falls probably seemed like the most powerful waterfall in the world at the time, but it’s dwarfed in comparison to some of the world’s raging rapids.
While there’s plenty of debate on which is the most forceful falls out there, one thing’s for sure: Whether you want to take a tumble off (we don’t recommend it) or just take a picture of some of the world’s most powerful waterfalls, get these six spots on your list.
Jog Falls, India
Pass by India’s Jog Falls at the wrong time of year and you may not even notice the small trickle of water, but stop by during monsoon season and you’ll see why it’s a major tourist attraction.
Plunging from the River Sharavathi down 829 feet, it’s one of the most impressive falls in the world in terms of combined height and volume.
Detian Falls, China
Situated on the border of China and Vietnam, Detian Falls is by no means logistically easy to get to — but it’s well worth the hassle.
Rocky outcrops tower over vivid green water and misty rice paddies for a classic Far East landscape that legends are made of. Visit in the humid summer months for the best flow.
Iguazu Falls, Brazil
Voted in as one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World, this system of 275 waterfalls pours from the Iguazu River between Brazil and Argentina.
Spanning a mile and a half, the tallest fall reaches a height of 269 feet and comes in third in the world for average flow of water. Find Devil’s Throat, a U-shaped starting point, for the most impressive view of this natural overachiever.
Victoria Falls, Zambia
This waterfall’s indigenous name means “The Smoke that Thunders,” and standing too close will definitely make your body shake.
This falls is often mistakenly called the largest in the world, but it’s neither the highest nor the widest. What it does offer is 360 feet of cascading water stretching for a mile between Zimbabwe and Zambia, carving through a plateau — the same thing it’s been doing for some 2 million years.
Angel Falls, Venezuela
Remember the scene in Disney’s “Up” when the little house lands precariously on top of a rocky waterfall? We’re willing to bet it was modeled after Angel Falls, an otherworldly waterfall dropping straight out of the clouds from the summit of Auyan-tepuy in the highlands of Venezuela.
It’s the highest waterfall in the world — 15 times higher than Niagara — but it’s tucked away in a jungle region so isolated, the only way to get there is by air.
Kaieteur Falls, Guyana
Hiking through Guyana’s rainforest, you’ll likely hear this powerful waterfall before you see it: With a volume of 23,400 cubic feet per second and height of 741 feet, its combination of power and height makes it a serious contender for most powerful falls in the world.
The mist, rainbows and rocky gorge don’t harm its allure either.