The Amazon is one giant rain forest, so it is not surprising that there are dramatic waterfalls throughout the region, particularly during the wet season. The contrast of cascading water, rocky outcrops and tropical greenery make Amazonian waterfalls a visual treat. Seeing tropical birds and animals in their natural surroundings is an added bonus.
Salto Angel Waterfall, Venezuela
Considered the world’s tallest waterfall, Salto Angel is located in the Guayana highlands of Venezuela. It is 2,937 feet tall, which is 15 times higher than Niagara Falls bordering the United States and Canada.
The falls are named after Jimmy Angel, a Missouri-born bush pilot who discovered them in 1933. Salto Angel Waterfall is part of Canaima National Park, full of flat top mountains known as tepuys, rivers, lagoons and savannas. The best view of the falls is from the Canaima Lagoon which is fronted by a white sand beach and is safe for swimming.
Iguazu Falls, Brazil
Iguazu Falls is found just above the point where the Iguazu River joins with the Parana River to create a liquid boundary between Brazil and Argentina. The falls consist of roughly 275 individual waterfalls spread out over a 2-1/2-mile long curved cliff. Some of these waterfalls, separated from each other by small islands of greenery, plunge all the way to the bottom of the gorge, 269 feet below. Others are deflected by rocky outcrops that create large amounts of spray and mist, often colored with rainbows.
The water flow is at its peak during the rainy season, typically November to March. During the dry season the falls have been known to slow to a trickle, even drying up completely as they did for 28 days during May and June of 1978. This is a rarity.
San Rafael Waterfall, Ecuador
One hundred miles northeast of Quito, Ecuador, the San Rafael Waterfall plunges 525 feet from the place where the Quijos and the Coca rivers join. The falls lie at the base of Ecuador’s Reventador Volcano, which is considered active, in the Amazon on the eastern edge of the Andes.
A pathway leads to the bottom of the falls, but caution is advised. A cross has been placed at the falls as a memorial to one visitor who fell while taking photographs.
Driving to San Refael Waterfall from Quito takes you through Papallacta with its lake and hot springs, and the town of Baeza in the Napo Province.