Waterfalls are surely one of nature’s most magnificent sites. Cascading off vertical cliff faces or down mountainsides, these powerful, moving bodies of water can sometimes flow at a rate of more than 1.5 million liters of water per second. For centuries, waterfalls have played a role in many cultures and religions as well as becoming the subjects of art and music (because who doesn't want to go chasing waterfalls?!)
Today many of the world’s biggest waterfalls are massive tourist attractions that bring in a lot of money for the local economy. People have found ways to maximize profits by offering things like bungee jumping experiences, white water rafting, or even boat and helicopter tours. For landscape photographers especially, certain waterfalls are bucket list locations but which waterfalls are the most popular?
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New research by Travelbag uses the number of times an Instagram hashtag is posted to analyze which waterfalls are the most popular (although they use the term picturesque, the two don't exactly have direct correlation). While some of the answers are no surprise, there are a few waterfalls on the list that you might not have even heard of. The top 5 most popular include some of the world’s tallest, widest and most jaw-dropping spectacles of nature.
1. Niagara Falls, Canada/USA
It's no surprise the most famous waterfall in the world is also listed as the most picturesque. Admittedly the number of Instagram hashtags doesn't directly correspond to how picturesque something is but more like how popular it is but there is no denying Niagara Falls is a stunning site. Situated at the southern end of the Niagara Gorge spanning the border between Ontario and New York, the group of three waterfalls has more than 8 million visitors a year and on average flows at a rate of 2,400m³ per second.
2. Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe/Zambia
Victoria Falls is located on the Zambezi River which separates Zimbabwe and Zambia. Arguably, Victoria Falls is a far more jaw-dropping site than Niagara Falls but due to its geography it doesn't get as many visitors. With a width of 1,708m it's one of the world's largest waterfalls and due to its impressive size has earned a place as one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World and has been on my bucket list ever since I watched the BBC documentary, Rivers.
3. Iguazu Falls, Argentina/Brazil
I'd never even heard of the Iguazu Falls in South America before this survey but they definitely deserve to be more well-known. With 80% of it situated in Argentina and the remaining 20% in Brazil, this enormous horseshoe shape waterfall is worth a look from countries to get a different perspective. Nicknamed The Devils Throat, or Garganta del Diablo in Spanish, more than 64,000m³ of water pours over the edge every second into what seems like a bottomless abyss.
4. Multnomah Falls, USA
Found in Oregon, this stunning waterfall has been made hugely popular thanks to the convenient bridge that has been built between the gorge making a perfect viewing platform. This is a great waterfall for people who don't like walking far as it's very accessible and the views are spectacular. According to USDA Forest Service, it's the most visited natural recreation site in the Pacific Northwest with more than 2 million visitors a year.
5. Yosemite Falls, USA
Yosemite Falls is the highest waterfall in Yosemite National Park, Sierra Nevada, California. Sitting at 2,425ft it has three drops in total including one 1,430ft drop. It's best to visit in Spring when the waterfalls flow is at its peak - especially if you're there to take some seriously dramatic photos. There are lots of different vantage points to look at the waterfall and hikers can enjoy several different routes depending on experience.
In the Travelbag survey, 10 waterfalls were ranked in total including Kawasan Falls in the Philippines and Seljalandsfodd, Iceland. To see the complete list head to the Travelbag website.