NATURAL WONDERS

10 Most Beautiful Waterfalls

From the thundering roar of Niagara Falls in the U.S. to the elegant veil of Angel Falls in Venezuela, we found the world's most photogenic waterfalls—and share the best ways to see the action in person.

Closest major city: The park is 80 miles south of Zagreb and an easy two-hour drive by car.

Best time to go: The weather is reliably warm and sunny from May through September.

 

Iguazú Falls

Argentina

A network of 275 falls that spans nearly two miles across, Iguazú is so striking in its immensity that when Eleanor Roosevelt first saw the falls, she remarked, "poor Niagara." The water plummets with such intense force that the spray almost looks as if it's shooting up from the pools below. One of the most popular sections is Devil's Throat, a horseshoe-shaped waterfall that's 269 feet wide and 2,300 feet long. You could visit Iguazú on your own, but you'll see more with an experienced guide. The full-day excursion with Viator takes you by bus to Devil's Throat and the falls' Upper and Lower Circuits and also grants you access to the Train of the Forest, a railway system that travels through the park and to the footbridges overlooking the falls ($35 per person).

Closest major city: Iguazú is 670 miles (and a 90-minute flight) north of Buenos Aires.

Best time to go: For the best prices and warm temperatures (75 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit), go in October. Avoid January, February, and Easter vacation, when Argentines and Brazilians flock to the falls. And stay away during May and July, the two rainiest months.

 

 

Yosemite Falls

California

A poster child for the American West, this three-tiered fall stretches 2,425 feet from top to bottom. The waterfall itself is gorgeous, but it is the surroundings-granite cliffs and Giant Sequoia trees-that make it one of the most striking sights in the country. The falls are visible from many places around Yosemite Valley, particularly near Yosemite Lodge. From the lodge's parking lot, you can get even closer by taking one of the National Park Service's free, 20-minute shuttle bus rides to stop no. 6, where a one-mile loop trail leads to the base of Lower Yosemite Fall.

Closest major city: Yosemite National Park is 195 miles (and a four-hour drive) east of San Francisco.

Best time to go: The falls are at their most spectacular when the winter ice and snow are melting, from March to June. Peak flow is in May.

 

Victoria Falls

Zimbabwe and Zambia

More than twice as high as Niagara Falls and about a mile across, the absolute mass of this gusher is mind-boggling. The force of the water falling into the pool below is so great, in fact, that on clear days you can see the spray from as far as 30 miles away. The local populace is equally impressive: Baboons, elephants, and hippos are often spotted along the shores of Victoria. Safari Par Excellence can set you up with everything, whether you're looking for a simple rafting trip on the Zambezi River leading up to Victoria (from $135 per person for a half-day) or a helicopter ride to view the white rhinos in nearby Mosi-oa Tunya National Park (from $120 per person).

Closest major city: Livingstone, Zambia, is about eight miles from Victoria Falls. Most visitors fly into Livingstone International Airport and then take a shuttle to their hotel, where tour operators pick up guests and transport them to the falls.

Best time to go: The perfect window is from February to May, when the rainy season has just ended but the falls are still gushing.

 

 

Sutherland Falls

New Zealand

Set on the southwestern tip of the South Island, Fiordland National Park is perfectly calibrated to create cascades: The rugged landscape gets a steady supply of rain 300 days a year and has hundreds of falls to show for it. The true masterpiece of hte bunch is Sutherland. Its water drops 1,904 feet and shifts to the right at one point and then back to the left at another, forming three distinct sections. The best way to see the trio is by hiking a three-mile portion of the Milford Track, one of New Zealand's most popular trails. You can access the Milford near the town of Quintin, at the Quintin Hut, then follow the trail south for approximately 45 minutes to the base of the falls.

TAKE THE PLUNGE!

Angel Falls

See photos of the world's 10 most gorgeous waterfalls.

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Note:This story was accurate when it was published. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.
 

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