Gocta Falls from a distance, in between green mountains, with an overcast sky
South America,  Waterfalls

The Most Beautiful Waterfalls in South America

After chasing waterfalls in Europe and North America, we’re now pointing our arrows at South America. And there are again some beautiful waterfalls to be found. I’ve asked my fellow travel bloggers to help and here are 8 of the most beautiful waterfalls in South America.

Are you still missing some waterfalls? Feel free to comment below and they can be added to the list.

Waterfalls in South America

Iguazu Falls, Argentina/Brazil

Iguazu Falls, part of the many waterfalls thundering down on both sides
Iguazu Falls by Disha Discovers

Contributed by Disha from Disha Discovers.

There are so many incredible waterfalls in South America and Iguazu Falls is one of them. Iguazu Falls is actually comprised of 275 individual waterfalls and they make up the largest waterfall system in the world. They span an area of 2.7 kilometers. The tallest of the waterfalls is Devil’s Throat and it’s more than 80 meters tall. Iguazu Falls actually makes Niagara Falls look like a stream. The falls are a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the unique thing about them is that you can see them from either Brazil or Argentina. Both sides have tons of walkways so you can get close to the falls. You can even take a boat tour around the falls. You could spend the whole day exploring the falls on each side – that’s how truly magnificent they are!

The best time to visit the falls is from November to March which is the rainy season as they are fuller. There can be as much as 450,000 cubic feet per second flowing over the falls. Tickets on the Argentina side are 700 Argentine Peso and tickets on the Brazilian side are 70 Brazilian Real. Ticket prices in Argentina can fluctuate due to inflation. 

Marinka Falls, Colombia

Marinka Falls, part of it flowing down the rocks with greens around it
Marinka Falls by Layer Culture

Contributed by Daniel from in Layer Culture.

When looking for the best waterfalls in South America you can not miss out on Marinka Falls. This is one of the popular natural waterfalls you can easily access from Colombia’s Caribbean coast via Santa Marta. This magical waterfall originates from the high snow-peaked mountains of Sierra Nevada and is located within the most luscious jungle-like setting. All you need to do is head to Minca from Santa Marta via bus and get a local moto-taxi from the village.

One of the highlights of this waterfall is the dedicated pool which you can freely bathe or swim in. The site also has a giant hammock overlooking the attraction. It even has an onsite restaurant where you can order food and drinks. With an entrance fee of less than $2USD, you will have no problem passing a full day or afternoon here enjoying the spectacular views and swimming in the water-pool on site.

Tequendama Falls, Colombia

Tequendama Falls on the right side, below is flowing down. With fog above. To the left a building/house with gazebo with a view on the falls. Motorbikes parked next to the gazebo.
Tequendama Falls by Cuppa to Copa Travels

Contributed by Lozzy from Cuppa to Copa Travels.

We’ve all heard of haunted houses, but what about a haunted waterfall? Tequendama, a small town just outside Bogotá, Colombia, offers both. The Salto del Tequendama (or Tequendama Falls) alone is a breath-taking sight, dropping 132m over a sharp cliff-face into a misty gorge. Teetering on the edge of this gorge is the lonely Hotel del Salto. Which has been closed to guests for decades, but still draws in tourists fascinated by the many ghost sightings through its cob-webbed windows.

The waterfall itself is said to be haunted because the indigenous people of this area threw themselves off of it to escape slavery under colonial rule, and their spirits remain. As Salto del Tequendama sits by the side of a main mountain road, there is no fee to see it. But you may want to bring a handful of small change to buy some of the delicious street foods on sale next to the hotel. 

Pailon del Diablo, Ecuador

Pailon del Diablo towering down between the rocks
Pailon del Diablo by The Visa Project

Contributed by Deb from The Visa Project.

If you are visiting Ecuador, your trip will be incomplete without a visit to Pailon del Diablo (that translates to Devil’s cauldron). Located in the leisurely touristy town of Baños, famous for adventure sports, it is a spectacular waterfall that is 80 meters high. During my time as a digital nomad in Ecuador, I visited Baños quite often and never missed this waterfall.

What makes this waterfall so unique is that you can see it from a really close vantage point from down below to feel the water falling with all its force, as well as the whole fall from a suspension bridge.

Getting to the vantage point involves an easy hike down a small cave-like trail following the cliffs with slippery stairs, but it’s totally worth getting soaked in the water to get a close view.

The entry to the waterfall costs $2 that you can pay at the ticket counter. There is a small restaurant if you want to refuel. But if not, you can leave and enjoy all that Baños has to offer. Starting from the thermal hot springs to the swing at the end of the world.

Cascada de Peguche, Ecuador

Cascade de Peguche
Cascada de Peguche by Home to Havana

Contributed by Carley from Home to Havana.

Located in a protected eucalyptus forest, Cascada de Peguche is a 60-foot tall waterfall nestled in Ecuador’s impressive northern highlands. This picturesque waterfall is easily accessible by paved walkways through the forest. Despite the ease of access and visitor resources like nearby campsites, entry is free of charge. A bridge crossing over the river in front of the waterfall makes for an impressive vantage point and photo spot, but prepare to get misted as you cross!

Peguche also forms an important part of the local indigenous culture. The natural pools at the base of the waterfall are ceremonial purification sites prior to the Inti Raymi celebration of the sun and harvest on the solstice in June.   

With Peguche just a 15-minute drive outside of the center of Otavalo. It is a popular addition for travelers visiting the Otavalo Market. South America’s largest indigenous market that takes place every Saturday in the center of town. Finish off a trip to Otavalo with a visit to the nearby Laguna de Cuicocha, an impressive crater lake inside an extinct volcano just 20 minutes away.

Salto Grande, Chile

Salto Grande falling down in the middle of the river running through the photo, rocks and mosses on both sides
Salto Grande by Travel Collecting

Contributed by James from Travel Collecting.

Salto Grande (Big Waterfall) is the main waterfall in Torres del Paine National Park in Chilean Patagonia. At 65 m (213 feet), it isn’t the tallest waterfall you will ever see, but it is nonetheless impressive.  The falls are technically part of the Paine River, but it is formed by a narrow channel between Nordenskjöld Lake and the lower Pehoe Lake. The narrow channel creates an incredibly powerful gush of water – approx. 100 cubic meters per second. It is also colored a bright aqua blue by glacial sediment, as is Lago Pehoe. 

The other thing to note is that the waterfall is located in one of the windiest places in earth. Patagonia is famous for its strong winds, but the specific location of Salto Grande is one of the windiest parts of Patagonia. The wind was so fierce when I visited that I had to cling to a sign (warning of strong winds) so that I didn’t blow over!

The surrounding scenery is breathtaking and there are a couple of hikes you can do from the waterfall. Including a short hike to an amazing view of the Cuernos del Paine (if it isn’t too windy). There are several places to stay in Torres del Paine nearby that make great places to explore the park. Including a hotel on a tiny island in the middle of Lake Pehoe, a short drive from the waterfall. 

Gocta waterfall, Peru

Base of the Gocta Falls, 2 streams one thinner flowing down over the rocks, abive in the distance you see the start
Base of the Gocta Falls by Packing up the Pieces

Contributed by Megan from Packing up the Pieces.

Catarata Gocta, or Gocta Falls, is a stunning two-tiered waterfall located in the north of Peru. With a staggering height of 771 meters (2,530 ft). This waterfall ranks third on the list for the world’s tallest free-leaping waterfall.

Gocta Falls makes an epic day trip from Chachapoyas. This capital city of the Amazonas region is a highlight on any north Peru itinerary. Besides the towering Gocta waterfall. Chachapoyas is the gateway to the impressive Pre-Inca ruins of Keulap and the lovely Huancas Canyon.

There are a few different hiking options to reach the different tiers of the falls. The most popular route begins from the tiny village of Cocachimba. Here, pay a 10 soles entrance fee and begin the scenic 2-3 hour hike.

First, wind through the lovely cloud forest on a twisting dirt path. Along the way, enjoy views of the towering waterfalls surrounded by the lush rainforest. Finally after 2 hours, arrive at the bottom of the falls. The destination itself is beautiful, but this hike is all about the journey and the beauty along the way.

Las Cuevas, Bolivia

Las Cuevas surrounded by lush greens, several streams flowing down
Las Cuevas by Cuppa to Copa Travels

Contributed by Lozzy from Cuppa to Copa Travels.

Deep in the lush valleys of Centro Ecologico Cuevas, just outside the quaint town of Samaipata, is a trio of waterfalls that offer a refreshing break from the heavy heat of Bolivia’s tropical Santa Cruz department. What’s special about Las Cuevas is not that the waterfalls themselves are particularly outstanding (well, they’re still pretty impressive!), but that they’re fed by the vibrant orange waters of the Río Bermejo. You can swim under the waterfalls, chill on some of the sandy riverbanks or hike up to the viewpoint to catch a vista of the incredible landscape from above.

The entrance fee to the Cuevas Ecological Park is 20 Bolivianos, which is less than $3 USD. If you take a taxi from the town of Samaipata, they will offer to wait for you for two hours outside the park to take you back. This will cost in the region of 100 Bolivianos for the round trip. Try to avoid weekends as the park gets extremely busy.

These are the famous waterfalls in South America

That definitely deserve your time when in South America. There are some big waterfalls in South America, like Iquazu, to admire. When chasing waterfalls on road trips, take a break here and there and visit one of the forts in the world. Next we’re going to chase waterfalls in Africa.

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