I’ve been lucky enough to have seen the world’s most incredible waterfalls in person and just like it’s impossible for me to pick a favorite country it’s just as unreasonable to expect me to choose a preferred waterfall. I’ve always been a sucker for water; whether it’s an ocean, lake, river, or massive waterfall… if I can get to it, I will. I first saw Niagara Falls as a child and remember being completely mesmerized by the sheer volume and power of the water. Now, decades later I’ve seen two of the world’s other power houses up close.
Iguazu Falls in South America, which separates Brazil and Argentina and Victoria Falls in Africa, which borders Zimbabwe and Zambia. The most impressive waterfalls in the world serve as a natural border between countries, that’s why it’s so important to visit both sides. If you find yourself in South America and don’t make Iguazu Falls a priority, we can’t be friends anymore because clearly you make poor life choices and I just can’t be around that.
Iguazu is a perfect example of why visiting just one side is not enough. From the Argentinian side you get to really experience the falls. There are walking paths that weave in and out of the falls with gorgeous inlets over the smaller falls and an elevated platform where you can get up close to the biggest one. While the Argentinian side is remarkable, you would be remiss not checking things out from the Brazilian side. You can’t get as close to the falls from Brazil because most of the action happens on the other side but that’s why the vantage point from Brazil is so spectacular.
You get a clear panoramic view of the falls that you can’t possibly see when you’re on top of them. Brazil only has one area where you can walk out and actually feel the mist. If you go this route, definitely buy a parka and bring a Ziploc bag for your phone and camera. You’ll look like an idiot walking down the very dry path to the falls but you’ll have the last laugh when you’re still dry after venturing down the waterfall runway.
Victoria Falls is almost as massive as Iguazu depending on the rain fall and time of year. I’ve been to Africa many times and I’m so glad I finally made Vic Falls a priority. Unlike the other contenders, the actual waterfalls only exist on one side – in Zambia. Making the view from Zimbabwe that much more amazing. There are a few activities you can do from the Zambia side, like swimming in “Devil’s pool,” a standing pond of sorts that is mere feet from the rushing falls and a huge drop off a cliff. A cool travel tale to tell, but for that “Instagramable moment,” you really need to be in Zimbabwe looking across the canyon.
It turns out I’m not the only sucker for waterfalls, according to various reports: when first lady Eleanor Roosevelt first visited Iguazu falls she stood on a then undeveloped platform overlooking the falls and muttered just two words, “Poor Niagara.” (sick burn)
I don’t know if the former first lady ever made it to Victoria Falls, but I’m confident she may have uttered similar words.
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