Beginner’s Guide to Waterfalls

The Basics

It’s funny how something as simple as water flowing over a rock can be one of nature’s most remarkable and inspiring sights. Waterfalls exist all over the world in almost any climate, running over frigid glaciers as well as near-barren valleys.

To the average observer, waterfalls may all seem pretty much all the same (water… that falls?), but there are several types and classifications. Some types include:

Block: wide

Cascade: descends through rocks

Punch Bowl: the flow of the waterfall starts narrow and widens into a pool

Waterfalls are classified into 10 classes determined by volume of water, with 1 being the smallest and 10 the largest.

Venezuela's Angel Falls is the tallest waterfall in the world at 979 metres. The widest is the Chutes de Khone on the Mekong River at 10738 metres. The Inga Falls on the Congo has the greatest volume at 1500000 cfs.

If you are visiting a waterfall in an area that's difficult to access, you may have to be somewhat in good shape if you are climbing or hiking. Many waterfalls are in remote locations that are hard to reach.

Holiday Options

If you're wanting to see a waterfall on holiday, you could go almost anywhere. You could either take a guided tour out to see one or venture out yourself. Most waterfalls are in warm, tropical areas.


People of all ages can watch waterfalls, but make sure the child is fit enough if getting to the waterfall involves lots of activity. Children might enjoy the pool of water that awaits them at the bottom of the waterfall. Most waterfall pools are safe for swimming, but make sure the child can swim first and be careful for strong currents.


Since waterfalls exist in all sorts of climates, it's best to check the weather before you go. Some require a windbreaker if there's a lot of mist, or a bathing suit if you plan on jumping in the water. Also, make sure to wear comfortable footwear if you have a far walk to get there. If you are going with a guide, it's best to ask them before what to wear and bring. A camera is also an important acessory to have with you in order to capture a beautiful picture of your waterfall adventure.


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