Nature is both powerful and beautiful, and nothing proves this more than a majestic, cascading waterfall. Here are some that fill the bill, which can be seen on a Goway vacation.
Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe and Zambia
My first sight of Victoria Falls on a Zambia vacation was from a hotel situated on the banks of the Zambezi River. All I could discern was foam rising above the river. However, I could feel the power of the falls even then. Victoria Falls is a huge waterfall dividing two countries, Zimbabwe and Zambia. And why is it thus called? Well, it was the explorer, David Livingstone who, when he first laid eyes on it in 1855, named the falls in honour of Queen Victoria. But the falls also has another name given to it by the indigenous local people – “The Smoke That Thunders,” a more apt description really. It is the not the highest or the widest falls in the world but it has the largest amount of falling water. Let’s size it up. It is 1708 metres/ 5604 feet wide and 108 metres/354 feet in height. It is twice the height of Niagara Falls.
Now, whether you stay on the Zambia side in Livingstone or the Zimbabwe side in the town of Victoria Falls, in my opinion, doesn’t matter. To get right up to it, you can join an organized guided tour or you can experience it on your own. One thing I will tell you is that the spray from the falls can rise to anywhere from 400 and 800 metres/1300 and 2600 feet. This means if you are not prepared, you are not going to just get wet but soaked, so wear something waterproof or rent a raincoat which is available there. To reach the edge of the falls, you enter through moist tunnels in the rainforest. There is a concrete walkway which, in parts, gives you a good view. In fact, there are 16 viewpoints along the edge of the falls. One highlight is to descend a set of stairs to a viewpoint called the “Chain Walk,” where you can look into what’s known as the “Devil’s Cataract.”
Two activities that will give you another perspective on the falls are to take the cruise on the Zambezi River (which gets fairly close but not too close to be dangerous) or to fly on a helicopter or microflight plane, which lasts anywhere from 15 to 30 minutes.
Iguassu Falls, South America
Again, here is a waterfall that is shared by different countries, in this case, Argentina, Brazil, and Paraguay. It is 2.7 kilometres/1.7 miles long and has 275 individual water cascades. Iguassu Falls (or as the Argentineans call it, Iguazu Falls) has the largest average annual flow of water, more than any other waterfall in the world. If you measure the surface water flowing over the entire falls, it is double that of Niagara Falls. Once, Eleanor Roosevelt, upon viewing Iguassu Falls, exclaimed, “Poor Niagara!” Right away, let me tell you that, on South American tours, you can stay on the Argentina or Brazil side and see both sides on any tour undertaken. Both Argentina’s Puerto Iguazu and Foz do Iguacu, on the Brazilian side, have a good selection of accommodation. I highly recommend spending at least a day on each side of Iguassu. About three-quarters of the total length of the falls is on the Argentinean side. The most impressive part of the falls is called the “Devil’s Throat,” which is shared between both sides. It is a U-shaped cataract and half the river’s flow falls into it. You will see a huge amount of mist which can be seen from afar and hear the roar of the water pouring down. You can take a train running along the Argentinean side to where the mist and the roar are the most spectacular. Also, you can walk to “Devil’s Throat” and take a boat ride underneath the falling waters. While the falls are farther away, you can get a better overview of them from the Brazilian side. From virtually every angle, the views are definitely more panoramic. If you want a totally different experience, consider the 10-minute helicopter ride from the Brazilian side. What you get is a bird’s eye view of not only the falls, but also the surrounding rainforest.
Dettifoss Waterfall, Iceland
The Dettifoss Waterfall is located in Vatnajokull National Park in northeast Iceland. It is the most powerful waterfall in Europe. The water comes initially from a nearby glacier which fills the local river. Dettifoss Waterfall is not on the scale of Victoria or Iguassu but it is still spectacular, 100 metres/330 feet wide and 45 metres/145 feet in height. It is the largest waterfall in Iceland. One drawback is that the road leading to the waterfall can be closed from early December to late April. The name loosely translates as the “Collapsing Waterfall.” Its mist can be seen from some considerable distance away and on a sunny day, you can sometimes experience rainbows rising in the mist from the base of the waterfall. Dettifoss has a little “sister” called Selfoss, which is about 4 kilometres/2.5 miles away. It is, like its big sister, a horseshoe-shaped waterfall on the same glacial river. While this fall is not very tall in comparison, it is attractive.
If you feel you don’t have a lot of time, when on an Iceland vacation, to simply visit one of the country’s major waterfalls, then consider a visit to Gullfoss and combine it with other natural phenomena, such as geysers spouting hot water into the air. The River Olfuss flows to about a kilometre/half a mile from the Gullfoss Waterfall and enters a wide curved “staircase.” It then plunges down into a crevice at Gullfoss and runs another 2.5 kilometres/1.5 miles. I approached Gullfoss from above and had to climb down a series of steps to be treated to a wonderful view of the cascading water. I decided not to get too close and get wet. There is a legend connected to this waterfall. A lady called Sigridur Tomasdottir who, in the late 19th century, used to take people as a guide to see Gullfoss. She was determined not to have its natural beauty exploited by a proposed dam to be built for a hydroelectric plant, and threatened to throw herself into the waters. However, Gullfoss was preserved and there is now a stone memorial located above the falls in remembrance of her.
Sutherland Falls, New Zealand
Sutherland Falls is located near Milford Sound in Fiordland National Park in New Zealand’s South Island. The water falls from Lake Quill in three cascades, with a vertical drop of 580 metres/1900 feet, and the falls are over 480 metres/1560 feet wide. It is among the tallest waterfalls in the world. It is not the biggest waterfall in New Zealand but it is the most impressive, as it appears, on first sight, to originate in the top of the mountains behind it. The local indigenous Maoris call it the “White Thread of Te Tautea.” Just like Victoria and Iguassu, the mist is formidable and the roar is very loud. One of the best approaches to this falls is on a hike along the Milford Track. However, this is not for everyone on a New Zealand vacation and an alternative is to take a helicopter ride over it. This can be done from Queenstown, where a 1.5 hour flight takes in not only the falls but also the whole of Milford Sound.
Plitvice Waterfalls, Croatia
Plitvice Waterfalls is very different from the others described above. The Plitvice Lakes National Park is one of the oldest national parks in southeast Europe and the largest national park in Croatia. Within this heavily forested park are 16 crystalline lakes which fall into each other via a series of waterfalls and cascades. A visit to this natural wonderland is very rewarding as it is quite unique. It is a UNESCO World Heritage site to be experienced on a Croatia vacation. The lakes are renowned for their distinctive colours which range from azure to green, grey, and blue. Clouds of butterflies drift above the wooden footbridges and pathways that wind around the edges and across the water. In the park, there are boardwalk trails, caves, and wildlife which includes deer, wolves, brown bears, wildcats, lynx, wild boar, voles, otters, and more than 160 different species of birds.
To discover some or all of these magnificent waterfalls on a Goway vacation, please visit us at www.goway.com.