How the World’s Most Spectacular Waterfalls Get Their Names

The stories behind the names of the earth’s most stunning misty curtains.

1. Salto Angel

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Angel Falls, with a total height of 3,212 feet is the world’s highest waterfall as well as the highest single drop. The Penom tribe in Venezuela called it Parakupa-vena or Kerepakupai merú meaning “waterfall of the deepest place”. Ernesto de Santa Cruz discovered the falls in 1910 but it was named after Pilot James “Jimmy” Angel being the first westerner to view it and made it known to the world as a result of the discoverer’s October 1937 plane landing on Auyan-tepui in search for McCracken’s lost river of gold.

2. Catarata de Gocta

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This two drop waterfall has been known for centuries by the Chachapoyas in Peru but its existence was only made public after an expedition in 2005 by German Stefan Ziemendorff with a group of Peruvian explorers. The total height was measured at 2,531 feet making it one of the world’s tallest waterfalls.

Gocta Waterfalls was named after an ancient Chachapoyan village situated deep into one of the many blind valleys the locals inhabited between 800 and 1400 AD. Report has it that the stunningly beautiful waterfall remained unknown to outsiders because the natives feared the curse of a beautiful blond maiden who lived in its waters if the fall’s location is revealed.

3. Salto de Iguacu

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This magnificent display of waterfalls in the border between Argentina and Brazil stretches for 2.7 kilometers and plunges 269 feet through its 275 falls into the Iguacu River. Iguazu Fall’s name comes from the Guarani or Tupi word meaning “great water.” Legend has it that a god planned to marry a beautiful native girl, who fled with her mortal lover in a canoe. In rage, the god sliced the river creating the waterfalls, condemning the lovers to an eternal fall.

4. Kaieteur Falls

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Its unique combination of great height and volume earned it the distinction of having the “largest single drop” (not to be confused with Angel’s “tallest drop”) waterfall. It’s about five times the height of Niagara and about twice higher than Victoria Falls.

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34 Responses to “How the World’s Most Spectacular Waterfalls Get Their Names”
  1. denus Says...

    On February 18, 2009 at 1:54 am

    amazing article, niagra ive heard of but havnt heard of many others.


  2. Edward J Rodrigues Says...

    On February 18, 2009 at 2:35 am

    hi kristie
    u hav done a lot of research on it…
    http://www.authspot.com/Poetry/Tsunami.537167


  3. Yovita Siswati Says...

    On February 18, 2009 at 3:10 am

    I didn’t know any of this before. Very interesting read. I surely learn a lot from this article.


  4. Anne McNew Says...

    On February 18, 2009 at 3:22 am

    amazing, as always JK you’re really good at this. Hat’s off!!!


  5. Likha Says...

    On February 18, 2009 at 4:17 am

    Great pics. Amazing trivia. Well-researched. Thumbs up!


  6. Joe Dorish Says...

    On February 18, 2009 at 5:52 am


  7. Bren Parks Says...

    On February 18, 2009 at 8:54 am

    Cool!!! I loved the pics, too!


  8. Fegger Says...

    On February 18, 2009 at 9:18 am

    Pretty amazing pics and dialogue..great stuff.


  9. Kate Smedley Says...

    On February 18, 2009 at 9:18 am

    Really well researched and very interesting article – stunning photos.


  10. Joni Keith Says...

    On February 18, 2009 at 9:55 am

    Beautiful picture of the waterfalls. Nice article.


  11. hazvie Says...

    On February 18, 2009 at 11:02 am

    good pictures, love victoria falls more….good work


  12. OhSugar Says...

    On February 18, 2009 at 12:21 pm

    These are so very beautiful. The information on them was also very interesting to read. Please check out my piece on Tranquil Water, which shows some of these with different views. I love waterfalls.
    Great Job.


  13. Betty Carew Says...

    On February 18, 2009 at 1:07 pm

    Great article with spectacular pictires. I have been to Niagara Falls many times and never tire of it . It is alaways a breathless experience.


  14. jrhoan Says...

    On February 18, 2009 at 1:24 pm

    For information rgarding this topi …suggested reading at this link:
    http://thehive.modbee.com/?q=node/259

    Here is an intro to whats there…

    We Paiutes have seen this definition in other official governmental publications regarding the name of the Yosemite Indians. We have also seen this definition all over the net because different websites have republished this lie. Taking this definition right off the official Yosemite National Park webiste as the gospel. It is an insult to our people that a federal governmental agency would use this definition for the Yosemite Indians.


  15. Cardinalsfan Says...

    On February 18, 2009 at 3:41 pm

    Some of those pictures are absolutely stunning. Cool facts too. I’ve been to Niagara Falls and I didn’t even know some of those facts.


  16. nobert soloria bermosa Says...

    On February 18, 2009 at 4:14 pm

    very informative,thanks much


  17. valli Says...

    On February 18, 2009 at 6:53 pm

    Nice and informative with awesome pictures.


  18. K Kristie Says...

    On February 18, 2009 at 8:39 pm

    Thanks for that info jrhoan specially for the link.

    Thanks y’all for the wonderful comments.


  19. S A JOHNSON Says...

    On February 19, 2009 at 5:03 am

    Waterfalls are so amazing to me. Thanks for sharing the information.


  20. The Quail Says...

    On February 19, 2009 at 7:06 am

    Great Article.


  21. Majic Says...

    On February 19, 2009 at 7:39 pm

    Beautiful article with great images! I love waterfalls!


  22. Lisa Clayton Williams Says...

    On February 19, 2009 at 10:48 pm

    Lots of great information and spectacular pictures!!


  23. egypt33 Says...

    On February 20, 2009 at 12:53 pm

    Great article!


  24. Carolyn Ann Aish Says...

    On February 20, 2009 at 4:27 pm

    Very well put together in every way, well written, some of the falls I had not known about, so am now well informed, thanks.


  25. Damon Reichardt Says...

    On February 20, 2009 at 9:30 pm

    Very nice, makes me want to travel!


  26. Blue Buttefly Says...

    On February 22, 2009 at 3:06 am

    Spectacular falls, I wish I could visit all.


  27. trishia Says...

    On February 24, 2009 at 8:50 am

    While some argue over the name of thse spectacular waterfalls-Mother Nature just continues to spring forth-with no boasting. Thanks for sharing!


  28. Anita Says...

    On February 26, 2009 at 3:01 pm

    They are beautiful and amazing, wonders of nature.


  29. oreg47 Says...

    On February 27, 2009 at 12:34 am

    Nagyon szépek!Jó lenne egyszer mindegyiket megnézni!


  30. Auron Renius Says...

    On February 27, 2009 at 5:03 am

    Some breath-taking pictures


  31. Ruby Hawk Says...

    On February 27, 2009 at 2:47 pm

    They are amazing.


  32. stephencardiff Says...

    On February 28, 2009 at 6:02 pm

    great pictures and great information to match


  33. Mark H Says...

    On March 1, 2009 at 4:03 pm

    Good detail on the names of these great falls.


  34. david Says...

    On October 6, 2011 at 7:27 pm

    awesome pix


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