Patagonia and other adventure travel destinations

5 of the best waterfall hikes in South America

Waterfalls are some of the most incredible natural wonders. The beauty and power of water gushing over sheer cliffs is awe-inspiring, which makes standing at the foot of a waterfall a breathtaking encounter. Some of the world’s most spectacular waterfalls are in South America. From Angel Falls in Venezuela to the mighty Iguazú Falls on the Argentinian-Brazilian border, South America is full of beautiful waterfalls. Below, we run through five of the continent’s most stunning waterfall hikes to factor into your next adventure.

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South America’s most beautiful waterfall hikes

1. Angel Falls, Venezuela

waterfall hikes

Angel Falls, Venezuela, is one of the most spectacular waterfalls in South America – and the tallest waterfall on the planet. Gushing from a large plateau covered in dense rainforest, Angel Falls tumbles 3212 feet into the jungle below. Angel Falls is undoubtedly a once-in-a-lifetime view, partly because it is so challenging to access. There is no road access to the area, so many visitors will camp overnight at the base of the waterfall – which makes Angel Falls one of South America’s most magical waterfall hikes.

2. Baños Waterfalls, Ecuador

The Ecuadorian city of Baňos is approximately three hours drive from the capital, Quito. Baňos is surrounded by over 60 waterfalls that stream off the volcano, some of which can be seen from the city center. However, if you want to get up close to the falls, there is the 10-mile Ruta de las Cascada. Boasting views of almost a dozen waterfalls, the hike is truly spectacular. Plus, for adrenaline junkies, there are zip-line and cable car excursions that allow you to get even closer to the cascades.

3. Iguazú Falls, Brazil and Argentina

Iguazú Falls is one of the most powerful waterfalls in the world. Stretching over nearly two miles, Iguazú – or Iguaçu in Portuguese – is actually a network of 275 separate waterfalls. These falls dump an astonishing 1000 cubic meters of water over the sheer cliffs every second. The sound of the water is deafening – which makes the falls one of South America’s most awe-inspiring natural wonders. Iguazú lies on the Argentine-Brazilian border and can be viewed from both countries. However, for those looking to integrate a hike into their visit, the viewing point on the Argentinian side includes a rainforest trek.

4. Salto Grande Waterfall, Chile

waterfall hikes

Although not particularly tall or wide, the Salto Grande Waterfall is one of the most beautiful waterfall hikes in South America because of its location. Nestled in the Torres del Paine National Park in Patagonia, the Salto Grande is fed by crystal clear glacial waters. Framed by the granite peaks of the Paine Massif, the Salto Grande Waterfall is one of the highlights of the park. Moreover, to reach the falls, visitors can enjoy an exceptionally scenic two-and-a-half mile hike to the viewpoint.

5. Gocta Falls, Peru

Gocta Falls, Peru, is the third tallest waterfall in the world, standing at 2,530 feet tall. These falls are shrouded in mystery and legend; for instance, a local myth tells the story of the Gocta mermaid who drowns men she seduces. It takes approximately two hours to reach the falls from the small town of Cocachimba. However, looking up at the imposing dual cascade makes the hike totally worth it.

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