Kaieteur Falls is the world’s largest single drop waterfall by the volume of water flowing over it. Located on the Potaro River in the Kaieteur National Park, it sits in a section of the Amazon rainforest.
Number of drops: 1
Longest drop: 741′
Average width: 371 feet/113 metres
Watercourse: Potaro River
A high volume waterfall. It is considered one of the most powerful waterfalls in the world (averaging 663 cubic meters per second (23,400 cubic feet per second)). When compared to other waterfalls, it is not considered tall even though is five times taller than Niagara Falls. What makes this place unique is the combination of heigth and power. Without a doubt, the falls are considered the gem of Guyana. This place is not widely now for multiple reasons. First, it is located in a country where tourism is not that popular. Second, the falls are located in a nearly pristine rainforest atop an ancient plateau known as the Guyana Shield. Therefore, it is not easy to reach this wild area from the country’s capital (Georgetown).
The falls support a unique micro-environment with tank bromeliads, the largest in the world, in which the tiny golden frog, which is endemic to the region, spends its entire life. There are good opportunities to see the rarely observed Guianan cock-of-the-rock, which nests close by. If lucky, you may see the Kaieteur swifts, or so-called Makonaima birds, which nest under the vast shelf of rock that has been carved out by centuries of erosion, hidden behind the curtain of falling water.
After falling sheer for 226 metres i.e. around five times the height of Niagara Falls and twice that of Victoria Falls, it flows over a series of steep cascades that, if included, bring the total drop to 251 metres. No other falls in the world have such a long sheer drop and while others may have a longer total drop, few combine such height with such volume of water, making Kaieteur one of the most powerful waterfalls in the world with an average flow rate of 663 cubic metres per second.
Upstream, the Potaro Plateau stretches as far as the distant escarpment of the Pakaraima Mountains, while downstream the Potaro empties into the Essequibo, one of South America’s biggest rivers.
Kaieteur falls over a 6 – 10 m thick layer of conglomerate which overlies softer layer of sandstone. Rebounding water is eroding the softer sandstone thus creating an overhang. Over the time overhang falls down – thus the front of the waterfall is slowly retreating. Major part of the enormous escarpment has been created by this process – it is possible that waterfall has retreated in such a way for several kilometres.
After the fall Potaro River flows through a deep, 32 km long canyon until it leaves the escarpment.
When To Go
The best time to visit Kaieteur Falls is from March to May when the rainy season is wrapping up and there’s more water spilling over the falls.
The average temperature year round is 86°F (30°C). The rainforest is hot and humid, however you should wear long sleeves and pants while hiking through the jungle.
Kaieteur Falls Tourism
Kaieteur might be the most recognizable landmark of Guyana. Happily since the time of discovery the surroundings of this waterfall have not changed. Kaeiteur is located in the middle of true wilderness, without roads, luxury hotels. The high cliff has no guarding rails. Waterfall can be reached by feet or by airplane. The walk from Mahdia town lasts three days – and those who did it, often consider this to be their lifetime adventure. When the tourists reach the bottom of falls, they make strenuous ascent and are awarded by incredible sight. There is possibility to stay in guest house near the falls. There is tiny airstrip near the top of the falls as well – and most tourists come here by air. Tour operators often offer two beautiful falls per day with airplane – Kaieteur and Orinduik Falls.
Kaieteur Falls Flora and Fauna
Massive waterfalls are known for amazing flora and fauna. If all you want is water you might not care but if unusual, interesting and bizarre are on your list of favorites try Kaieteur Falls. Kaieteur Falls has Kaieteur Swifts (a type of bird) that are known for being the fastest living creatures quite capable of capturing flying insects. These little birds nest in the rocks behind the apparently impenetrable curtain of falling water. Many endangered species feel at home in the Kaieteur National Park and it’s fun and easy to observe them. Areas around Kaieteur Falls are especially designed to offer some great viewing of animals, birds and exotic plants.
Facts about Kaieteur Falls
- Kaieteur Falls is a waterfall located in the Essequibo area in Guyana, located in northern South America, and it is part of the Kaieteur National Park.
- Kaieteur Falls has a drop of 226 metres (741 feet) in height, and a width up to 113 metres (370 feet).
- In early 1870, geologist and explorer Charles Brown of Britain, was the first European to see Kaieteur Falls, and he discovered the feature while surveying the area.
- Kaieteur Falls is not easily accessible, as it is located in a remote part of the Guyana rainforest, and as such, visitors are required to travel in a plane to the nearby airstrip and walk into the area.
- The name ‘Kaieteur Falls’ comes from term ‘Kaieteur ‘ meaning ‘old-man’ in the local tribal language, which is said to have originated from the legend of an old man venturing over the falls in a purposeful or forced manner.
- The cliff of Kaieteur Falls is said to be made of conglomerate rock and sandstone, and it is part of the Guiana Highlands, which is part of the Guiana Shield.
- Kaieteur Falls is fed by Potaro River, which eventually runs into the Essequibo River, that flows into the Atlantic Ocean.
- The water of Kaieteur Falls is a muddy or coffee brown colour, and the water flows into the large gorge situated below.
- Due to the inaccessible nature of Kaieteur Falls, it has remained an unspoilt environment, and while efforts have been made to have the site listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site, as of 2015, it had been unsuccessful.
- Roughly 651 cubic metres (23,000 cubic feet) of water rush over the edge of Kaieteur Falls each second, and the sheer volume of water, combined with the waterfall’s height and width, makes it one of the largest falls on earth.
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