7 Stunning Waterfalls in South America
South America is known for its natural wonders – from immense glaciers in Patagonia to wildlife-rich jungles in the Amazon – but there is something really magical about South America’s waterfalls. Often the subject of folk tales, a waterfall can show nature’s beauty and unrelenting power all in one go, and in South America you will find some of the world’s most spectacular falls. Read on as we look at some of our favourites.
Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay
Running along the borders of Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay, the Iguazu Falls are probably the most well-known waterfalls in South America. Attracting visitors on all sides, Iguazu is actually made up of nearly 300 separate cascades, and is quite simply incredible to witness. Enjoy a thrilling boat trip, getting as close as possible to the main drop known as the Devil’s Throat, or take a hike through the surrounding Iguazu National Park. There are plenty of lookout points along the way from which to admire some of Mother Nature’s best work.
Catarata del Gocta
Despite tumbling from the great height of 771 metres, the Gocta Waterfall has only been on the international radar for a couple of decades after German explorer Stefan Ziemendorff came across it during a hike. Local villages, of course, had known about it for generations but talk of the falls had never left the surrounding area. Located just outside the ancient city of Chachapoyas in northern Peru, these falls can be reached by hiking through rainforest and in total it should not take more than five or six hours to get there and back. Our tip – visit them now before the area booms in popularity!
Torres del Paine National Park, Chile
Torres del Paine National Park in Chile is packed full of amazing sights but the sheer volume of water that rumbles through this waterfall is mind-blowing. It may not be the tallest on our list, but what it lacks in height it certainly makes up for in drama. This is not a pretty cascade weaving down a cliff, this waterfall is a loud and all-encompassing experience, to the point where you can almost feel the water rattle your bones as you approach it. You will hear it thundering in the distance long before you see it. Expect to get sprayed if you get too close!
Travel just a few miles outside Bogotá, the capital of Colombia, and you will soon come across Tequndama Falls. Framed by lush green vegetation, tumbling over a rugged rock face, this waterfall is about as picturesque as they come. Most people choose to view the falls from the well-appointed mansion that overlooks them. Built in the 1920s it was once known as the Hotel El Refugio del Salto, becoming derelict as the years passed. The building is now a museum of biodiversity and culture so is sure to give you a whole new level of appreciation of the area, along with Instagram-worthy shots of Tequendama from the balcony.
La Macarena National Park, Colombia
While Caño Cristales (also in Colombia) may not comprise huge, dramatic drops, there is something very special about these falls. Nicknamed the ‘River of Five Colours’, Caño Cristales is like a liquid rainbow weaving its way through La Macarena National Park in southern Colombia, with small cascades spilling gently over rocky shelfs between emerald forests. The reason why this river is so kaleidoscopic is because a particular species of algae lives on the riverbed, emanating a mix of bright colours – red, orange, yellow, green and purple – making for a stunning South American waterfall to behold.
Manto de la Novia
The Manto de la Novia is a beautiful pair of waterfalls a short drive from the Ecuadorian city of Baños, making it a great destination for a day trip. In fact, this area of the country is actually home to the Ruta de las Cascadas where you will find no less than seven waterfalls of which Manto de la Novia is one of our favourites! Nestled within Llanganates National Park, on your way to the falls you will be treated to a wonderful display of local flora and fauna including sweet Hummingbirds and inquisitive Monkeys. Better still, there are two cable cars, one at the top of the falls and one at the bottom meaning you can gain enviable access to these magnificent cascades.
Las Siete Cascadas
Finally, while the above-mentioned waterfalls are amazing and will knock your socks off, how about visiting some on a smaller scale? Just 8km from the bustling city of Sucre in Bolivia, Las Siete Cascadas is a collection of seven very small waterfalls scattered amongst a rocky gorge. Some are easier to get to than others and they vary in warmth and cleanliness, which means not all of them are suitable for swimming but it’s a good day out. Enjoy the hike, made more interesting with a spot of climbing, take a picnic and if the water is not too icy cold, why not have a paddle?
Feeling inspired? Why not build your luxury holiday to South America with Discover Your South America, personalising your itinerary by handpicking the hotels, activities and length of stay according to your preferences. You can also call Surtrek on 1 866 978 7398 (Canada and USA) or 080 8189 0438 (UK) to talk to a travel expert; our team is always ready to help!