Waterfalls - More Than a Pretty Picture

Written by  Jordan-Ashley Baker

I went to Niagara Falls when I was 10 years old, and like every other tourist, I was enthralled by stories about the daring thrill-seekers (or perhaps you might call them crazed lunatics) who decided to put their lives inside a barrel and take the plunge over the falls.

Annie Taylor was the first person to master the feat in 1902, and believe it or not, there have been many more since then. The infamous tales of the dare devils are intermingled with success, failure, tragedy and miracles, but if I learned anything from my trip to Niagara Falls it’s never to underestimate the power of a waterfall.

It’s nearly impossible to utter the word ‘waterfall’ without a hint of a smile easing across your face. The word is moist, cool and cleansing. But this idyllic idea of waterfalls is deceptively incomplete. A waterfall is a physical manifestation of both the beautiful and the powerful – it encompasses everything that is lovely in the world and everything that is dangerous. But you’d never guess this from the heavenly postcard images that are sprinkled throughout gift shops everywhere.

Yes, your loved ones at home will see the delicate rainbow arching across the rippling blue water, the fuzzy blanket of mist rising from the water below and the fluffy pillow clouds thrown against a blue sky. But your postcard only tells one side of the waterfall’s story. When the water roars menacingly in your ears and you’re momentarily blinded by the spray of water splashing up from the jagged rocks, then you realise that there is something more to this than a pretty postcard. The loveliness is breath-taking but the power is undeniable, almost frightening. I remember standing at the bottom of Niagara Falls, only feet away from water strong enough to crush a human, and only thinking, “Wow.”

It’s power like that which makes a waterfall appealing. I love the Iguazu Falls in Argentina – they are taller than Niagara Falls and four times as wide. The snaking falls of Mardolsfossen in Norway, harnessed for hydroelectric power, boasts a single drop lasting 300 meters. And you can’t forget the crescent-shaped Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe – possibly the most recognized waterfall in the world. It’s name means “smoke that thunders” in the local tongue.

And I bet that at some point during a visit to heart-pounding, water-rushing, can’t-hear-what-you’re-saying waterfall, a chill will jolt through your body and your skin will break out in chill bumps.

More Breathtaking Waterfalls

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