6. Jog Falls, India
The segmented waterfalls of Jog Falls can be found in Sagara Taluk, in the Shivamogga district of Karnataka state, India. The falls' water levels depend on rainfall and the season, and when water levels are at their highest, these falls become powerful plunge waterfalls.
Fuelled by the Sharavathi River and with a height of 253 metres, Jog Falls is the second-highest waterfall in India after Nohkalikai Falls. The falls are also known by alternative names in local languages, including Gerusoppe Falls, Gersoppa Falls and Jogada Gundi.
When and how to visit Jog Falls
The best time to visit Jog Falls is between August and December, and the best route is from Bangalore to Sagara, from where there are buses to the waterfalls. Neighbouring villages include Siddapura and Sirsi.
Jog Falls View Point offers a gorgeous vista from the bottom of the falls, though the 1,400 steps along the cliffside make for a strenuous hike. Another great viewpoint is near the Kodakani village of Siddapura, Uttara Kannada.
7. Khone Phapheng Falls, Laos
Khone Phapheng Falls, the largest in Southeast Asia, are located in the Champasak Province in southern Laos. Fed by the Mekong River, the falls are populated with thousands of little islands, giving the area the name Si Phan Don (Four Thousand Islands).
Also known as Chutes de Khone, or simply Khone Falls, the torrents here make up the widest waterfall in the world, measuring an incredible 10,782 metres across (nearly double the width of the closest competitor, Pará Falls in Venezuela).
Wildlife around Khone Phapheng Falls
The Khone Phapheng Falls are located south of Don Khon island, the area which is home to a small group of rare Irrawaddy dolphins.
The falls are also home to the plabuck, an endangered species of catfish thought to be the largest freshwater fish in the world, growing up to three metres long and weighing up to 300 kilograms.
8. Nohkalikai Falls, India
Nohkalikai Falls is the tallest waterfall in India, with a plunge of 340 metres. The falls are located near Cherrapunji, famous for being one of the wettest places in the world, and fed by that generous rainfall, decreasing in power during the December to February dry season.
The fourth tallest waterfall in the world, Nohkalikai is also noted for the colourful lagoon at the base of the falls, as well as the beauty of the surrounding evergreen forest.
The legend of Nohkalikai
According to local legend, a woman named Likai lived in a village upstream of the falls and had to remarry after her husband’s death, in order to provide for her infant daughter.
However, Likai’s second husband was jealous of the attention Likai would bestow on her daughter and killed the child, cooking her flesh and throwing away the severed head and bones.
Returning home from work, Likai saw that the house was empty, but after such a long and tiring day, she ate the meal that had been prepared for her by her husband. Reaching for a betel leaf after the meal, Likai discovered a severed finger and realised what had happened.
Overcome with anger, grief and disgust at cannibalising her dead daughter, Likai ran off the edge of the plateau, jumping to her death. The place where she jumped was named Nohkalikai Falls as a grim reminder of the tragic story.
9. Thi Lo Su Waterfall, Thailand
Tucked away in the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Umphang Wildlife Sanctuary in northern Thailand lies one of Southeast Asia’s few remaining virgin forests and the tumbling torrents of Thi Lo Su Waterfall.
The falls are named in a local dialect, with "Thi Lo" meaning waterfalls and "Su" meaning loud, referring to the thundering roar and intense flow of the water. However, the Karen hill tribe call the falls "Black Waterfall," so the origin is unclear.
The sixth biggest waterfall in the world, the currents originate from Huai Klotho and journey along limestone cliffs, cascading down tiers of rock. Behind the waterfalls, there is also a cave you can explore and pool levels you can swim in.
How to get to Thi Lo Su Waterfall
The drive from the city of Tak to Umphang is around five hours. Then, it’s a hike of around 1.8 kilometres along a self-guided forest trail.
You can camp at the Wildlife Sanctuary Headquarters near the falls, which is best to do between October and December when the falls are at their most beautiful. However, be mindful of visiting in the rainy season (May to August), when heavy rain can cause a temporary closure of the wildlife sanctuary.
Waterfalls in Europe
10. Gullfoss Falls, Iceland
The Gullfoss "Golden" Falls can be found in the canyon of the Hvítá river, in southwest Iceland. The curved three-step "staircase" plunges the rushing waters into deep crevices perpendicular to the river, with flows of up to 140 cubic metres per second (in the summer).
One unique feature of Gullfoss is that you can view the falls from above, as the falls are actually cascading underground. There are multiple angles and viewpoints, which provide stunning perspectives and rainbow-spray photo opportunities.
If you’re visiting Iceland in winter, it’s still possible to visit Gullfoss Falls (and the snow-covered surroundings are dream-like), but be careful of driving and walking around the falls in snowy and icy conditions.
The Golden Circle
Gullfoss Falls is only an hour and a half away from Reykjavik and often combined with other attractions as part of the Golden Circle, which you can do on a tour or self-drive exploration.
The 300-kilometre Golden Circle tourist route loops from Reykjavik into the southern uplands, with the three primary sights being Gullfoss Falls, Thingvellir National Park and the geothermal area in Haukadalur, which contains the Geysir and Strokkur geysers.
11. Plitvice Falls, Croatia
A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Plitvice Lakes National Park is one of the oldest and largest national parks in Croatia. This mountainous karst area of central Croatia is located near the border to Bosnia and Herzegovina, and contains a multitude of different waterfalls.
The Plitvice Falls are not a singular attraction, but rather a network of 16 karstic lakes and a series of mineral-rich waterfalls, which range in size and shape, and carve through the rock to create pools and formations in the landscape.
You can explore the lakes on foot, by car or by using the park’s free boats and buses, which depart every 30 minutes between April and October.
Waterfalls in Plitvice Lakes National Park
The highest waterfall in the national park is the aptly-named Large Waterfall, fed by the Plitvica river and located at the end of the Lower Lakes. Another gorgeous option is the Galovac Waterfall, which features a 25-metre plunge, compared to Large’s 78 metres.
Waterfalls in North America
12. Niagara Falls, Canada & the United States
No list of the biggest and most beautiful waterfalls in the world is complete without mention of Niagara Falls, one of the most superlative and famous falls on the planet.
Niagara Falls is the collective name for three waterfalls, which straddle the border between Ontario in Canada and New York in the United States. From largest to smallest, these are Horseshoe Falls, American Falls and Bridal Veil Falls.
The falls are fuelled by the Niagara River, which drains Lake Erie into Lake Ontario. Combined, these falls have the highest flow rate of any North American waterfall, with a vertical drop of 50 metres and an incredible 168,000 cubic metres of water pouring over the crest every second.
However, Niagara Falls are not the tallest waterfalls in the world, as is commonly thought. Rather, the combination of the falls’ height and the immense volume of water is what makes Niagara so unique and well-known.
The three waterfalls of Niagara Falls
- Horseshoe Falls – 50 metres high and 820 metres wide.
- American Falls – 34 metres high and 290 metres wide.
- Bridal Veil Falls – 24 metres high and 17 metres wide.
Waterfalls in Oceania
13. Sutherland Falls, New Zealand
The tallest waterfall in New Zealand, Sutherland Falls is located near Milford Sound, within Fiordland National Park, on South Island. Fed by the snow and water of Lake Quill along the Arthur River, the falls pour down three cascades, falling a total height of 580 metres.
Sutherland Falls can be accessed via a 90-minute walk from Quintin Public Shelter on the Milford Track, however this requires either four days trekking down the Milford Track or taking a scenic flight to a location close to the falls (available from Milford Sound, Te Anau and Queenstown).