The Victoria Falls are claimed to be many things – the largest , greatest, biggest waterfall in the world. In fact, you will find taller, wider and bigger waterfalls , but are they better? And how can we measure them? Here we take a completely unbiased look at waterfalls of the world and see how they compare.
Depending on what you measure and classify a waterfall , different falls will come out on top. There are lots of different lists of the world’s top waterfalls , predicated on varying classifications and measurements.
The simplest category to determine, the tallest waterfall in the world , is universally agreed to be Angel Falls (or Kerepakupai Merú) in Venezuela, which drop a fantastic 979 metres. Vic Falls , having its maximum drop of 105 metres , does not make the top 100. It’s not the tallest waterfall in Zimbabwe, which will be taken by Mutarazi Falls , which are 479m high.
When it comes to the rest of the categories, two other waterfalls contend with the Victoria Falls for the overall title – Niagara Falls , in Canada, and Iguazu Falls kalev kosk Argentina. Whilst neither of the score highly on height (Niagara deepest drop is 51 m, Iguazu’s 82 m), all three compete for the overall title of the largest waterfall in the world.
With a total width of 1,708 metres , Vic Falls tend to be claimed as the widest waterfall in the World. The Iguazu Falls claims a larger total width of 2,682m. Niagara , with a total width of 1,204 m, are out of the running here.
However these total widths don’t represent just one or unbroken line of water. Iguazu is broken up into hundreds of separate, smaller, cascades, of different levels and heights. Even the Victoria Falls is divided, by two islands (Cataract Island and Livingstone Island) towards its western end, although it still regarded just one, continuous, fall-line. As a result of this technicality the Victoria Falls tend to be claimed as the largest continuous curtain of falling water.
The ultimate, and most difficult, category for measuring the world’s waterfalls is by level of flow , here measured in cubic metres per second (cms). The Victoria Falls have a typical level of 1,088 cms , and are beaten both by Niagara (2,407 cms) and Iguazu (1,746 cms).
However, the Victoria Falls and Zambezi River fluctuate with a massive seasonal variation of flow , and an annual average flow figure hides these variations. At its highest point, in March/April, it is estimated that the monthly average of 3,000 to 6,000 cms of water flow over these Falls , and its highest recorded flow was over 12,000 cms. Iguazu holds the same record, although reduced standard annual range, whilst Niagara has a highest flow of only 6,800 cms.
What stands out, in comparison with all the major waterfalls of the world , is that the Victoria Falls are unique. No other Falls of such size are very perfectly formed, with a nearly constant vertical drop of 100m over a nearly straight fall-line of 1,700 metres in width.
All categories considered, the overall title of biggest, greatest or largest waterfall in the world is highly debatable. For us, Niagara is really a comfortable third, Iguazu second and Victoria Falls a straightforward first.