“Don’t go chasing waterfalls”, TLC once sang. As far as I’m concerned that is spectacularly bad advice.
Waterfalls are magical; and from the gargantuan to the tiny, they’re absolutely my favourite natural feature to spot while travelling.
Here are my top five:
Iguazu Falls, Brazil and Argentina
Iguazu Falls claims the number one spot on my Favourite Waterfalls I’ve Ever Seen list for a few reasons. Firstly, oh my GOD the rainbows. The wet but sunny conditions at Iguazu are ideal for the formation of rainbows, and the falls are peppered with perfect prisms.
There’s also the option to become one with the falls on a thrilling boat trip that takes you underneath tonnes of tumbling water for the most invigorating shower of your life.
Iguazu Falls sits on the border between Brazil and Argentina, and if you want to really make the most of your time there, you need to visit both sides. The Brazilian side is great for sweeping panoramic shots of the biggest falls, whilethe Argentine section gives you the opportunity to get much closer to these incredible waterfalls.
A visit to Iguazu Falls truly makes for a breathtaking and unforgettable day among some of the best scenery of your life.
2. Plitvice Lakes, Croatia
Croatia’s Plitvice Lakes National Park takes the second spot due to the massive number and variety of falls, and the gorgeous clear water of its lakes.
Plitvice is so large that you have to take a bus to get from one collection of falls to the next. In some places you have the option to take boats to get from one bank to the next; other than that just follow the rickety boardwalk to come close to the incredible scenery. If you visit Plitvice you’re guaranteed a fantastic hike.
While Plitvice doesn’t have the sheer power of Iguazu, it has a magical fairytale quality, with the rickety walkways taking you through turquoise lakes so clear you can see the ancient trees resting on the lakebed.
It doesn’t discriminate: you get to see the larger falls tumbling down from epic formations, as well as the tiny streams running over pebbles, and the greenery is lush. Put simply, it’s gorgeous – and there’s also the thrilling risk of running into bears and wolves in the surrounding woodlands.
3. Kuang Si, Laos
Luang Prabang in Laos is an absolutely gorgeous Unesco World Heritage site on the banks of the Mekong, and the last thing I wanted to do during my time there was to leave its colourful markets and upscale wine bars. That said, I’m so happy I took the time for a day trip to the nearby Kuang Si, which offers some of the most idyllic scenery I’ve ever come across.
The falls and the glassy pools that trickled down beneath them were an incredible creamy azure colour, and – if you were willing to brave the fish that lived within – you could truly immerse yourself in the falls by diving in and having a swim.
4. Elephant Falls, Vietnam
Vietnam boasts plenty of scenic waterfalls, and – in a bid to entice tourists – many of these are called ‘elephant waterfalls’. I visited several of these falls on various motorbike tours, and was never disappointed.
In the north, I went on a trek with my motorbike guide to a secluded part of the falls where I was able to enjoy swimming in a clear natural pool all of my own. Further south, I was taken to a cave where you could stand under the spray from the heavy falls above.
5 . Cat Cat Waterfall, Sapa, Vietnam
Cat Cat Waterfall in Sapa, Vietnam, makes for a lovely scene, but what really made these falls stand out for me was the breathtaking scenery in which they were hidden.
A trek in Sapa can be stressful for all sorts of reasons, but reaching the point of the waterfall, deep in Sapa Valley, made it so worth it.