Leonardo da Vinci once said “water is the driving force of all nature..."
And I couldn’t agree more. There’s no better way to explore the beautiful nature that the Earth has to offer than through the stunning cascades of water.
If you’re stuck trying to decide where to travel to on your gap year or what to prioritise, these waterfalls will take you across continents, through drops towering up to 108m and water flows of over 140m3/s – that’s the height of a skyscraper!
1. Gulfoss Waterfall, Iceland
Iceland has recently boomed as an exciting and interesting travel destination. Gulfoss waterfall is the highlight of the famous Golden Circle tour and sits in the middle of true Game of Thrones country. It is the home to many folklore stories, including one that sees a boy from one side traverse across its 20 metre width to be reunited with his “one true love”.
If you’re lucky enough to catch it on a sunny day, the shimmering rainbow that appears is truly spectacular as you scramble across rocks and hear the flow of water crashing by at 140m3 per second.
2. Victoria Falls, Zambia
Boasting to be the largest waterfall in the world, Victoria Falls stands at 180 meters tall and spans over a kilometre in width. On the journey towards it, you will be able to hear this giant monster around 40km before you arrive there; that’s one long awaited sight!
If you wish to see her in all her glory, the water levels are at their highest in April. However, for a more adventurous trip travel in December and swim in a naturally-formed pool that sits right on the edge of the waterfall. This would make a stunning end to a 10-week volunteer programme in Tanzania, an accessible bus or train journey away.
3. Yosemite Falls, U.S.A.
These falls, located in a stunning national park, have three tiers. This makes them ideal for all types of traveller. Whether you enjoy a leisurely stroll along a flat path through redwood trees to Lower Yosemite Falls or are keen for a hike up an extremely slippery path that will see you having to hold on to rails and often tumble into complete strangers to reach the heights of Upper Yosemite Falls, this waterfall has you covered.
It stands at a total height of 739 metres and even has built-in “selfie spots”. It is also home to a beautiful lake that has its own natural waterslide. Although be sure to book ahead for accommodation; there is a range available from camping spots to luxury lodges but it sells out fast!
4. Niagara Falls, U.S.A
Staying on the same continent, if you head up to the border of the U.S. and Canada, there lies Niagara Falls. It is the birth place of commercial hydro-electric power due to the combination of three waterfalls producing the highest flow rate of any waterfall on Earth.
There have been a few attempts by adrenaline junkies to travel down the falls in a barrel at a cost of $10,000 and none have come out in great shape. However, the Maid of the Mist boat company do offer trips to the base of the falls and into the basin of the Canadian Horseshoe Falls, providing an unforgettable experience.
5. Angel Falls, Venezuela
This romantically named waterfall, lies in the heart of an isolated jungle requiring a flight from nearby Puerto Ordaz to Canamia Camp where the boat tours to the base depart. The isolated nature provides an idyllic setting that has inspired locations in the Disney movies Up and Dinosaur.
It is surrounded by stunning flat-top rock mountains, believed sacred by the local Pemon Indians. If the scenery and isolated nature of these falls haven’t gripped you, how about a skydive on a sunny Saturday afternoon over this national park taking in the waterfall from the dizzying heights of a plane.
It is best visited during the months of June to December, a perfect weekend stop-off during a 10-week volunteer programme to Venezuela.
6. Ban Gioc-Detian Falls, Vietnam
Heading over to Asia, Vietnam offers up Ban Gioc-Detian Falls. Experiencing this waterfall, changes throughout the year; in spring the flame-red blossoms are in full bloom but head to this spot in the autumn and it will ooze a golden-yellow haze.
It’s described by National Geographic as one of the most peaceful and fascinating places on Earth. A stay in Cao Bang allows you a simple two-hour drive to this magnificent location.
7. Cascata delle Marmore, Italy
Europe may not spring to mind as the continent of beautiful waterfalls. However, this Cascade in the Province of Terni in Italy offers a gorgeous three-tier, man-made waterfall.
Unlike the natural wonders that we have explored above, this waterfall amazingly is turned off and on to satisfy both the tourists and the power company. As a tourist, it is spectacular to arrive at the waterfalls as the gates open and admire the rush of water that forces its way down the rocky façade.
If you’re looking for a spot to stay over, Terni is located just 7.7km away from the falls and is described as the “City of Lovers”.
8. Milla Milla Falls, Australia
Milla Milla Falls sits in the Atherton Tableland region in the North of Queensland. This waterfall offers a lush pool at the base where you can take a dip to refresh yourself from a hot summer, or winter, day.
For those of you that search for the famous sites, this waterfall is truly iconic. Made famous through Peter Andre’s 1996 hit Mysterious Girl, it is under this torrent of water that you can recreate the scenes from the music video and even belt out the lyrics – it’s amazing how much of the lyrics come back to you – with the other tourists.
Falling Over Yourself to Get Started?
So there we have it, some of the most beautiful waterfall spots in the world to put on your travel list. Have you visited a beautiful waterfall? Or maybe you’ve recreated an herbal essence moment? Share your memories and photos with us in the comments below.
Do these spots sound right up your street but unsure how to organise your year? Then download our comprehensive gap year advice guide, The Gap Adventure Blueprint, which contains several chapters that will help you get your head around all the options and offer advice on how to raise funds, plus much more.
on 01 / 12 / 2015