Kaieteur Falls – Guyana - Atlas Obscura

Kaieteur Falls

The world's widest single drop waterfall, and the two men who legend says went over its edge in a boat. 


Ever wonder what it might feel like to be the last humans on earth, witnessing a river plummet off the edge of the world? It might look something like Kaieteur Falls. 

Deep within Guyana’s region of the Amazon Forest lies Kaieteur National Park, home to a gargantuan cataract sharing the park’s name. Rivaled by few in the world when taken into account its combined height and the sheer volume of water from the Potaru River flowing over its precipice at any given moment, Kaieteur Falls further distances itself from the crowd of most spectacular waterfalls in the world for its remoteness. Surrounded by pristine rainforest, simply reaching this wonder requires hiring a tour company that will charter a plane in order to even reach a trekking point that accesses the falls. 

A pair of similar legends further contribute to the Falls’ mystique. According to local Patoma Indian lore, chief Kai saved his people by paddling over the precipice in an act of self-sacrifice to the spirit Makonaima. The second version is slightly less altruistic, as relayed by geologist Charles Barrington Brown in his account from when he “discovered” the waterfall on an expedition in 1870; Brown was told by Amerindians that a despised old man was put in a boat by relatives eager to be rid of him, and unceremoniously pushed into the current, which lent the falls their current name translating to “old-man-fall.”

So, should you find yourself in close enough proximity to Kaieteur Falls to become mesmerized by its waters, remember the two men who are said to have actually gone over them. 

Know Before You Go

You must hire a private tour company to charter a flight to fly into the small Kaieteur airstrip in the middle of the jungle. Several tour companies run flights to Kaieteur Falls several times per week. Depending on the weather and the season, only one or two operators may fly a day. Book ahead to ensure your spot on a flight, as most planes will hold a maximum of 8-10 passengers. The flight from Ogle Airport in Georgetown is approximately 90 minutes one way.

Wear sturdy shoes to visit Kaieteur Falls, as there are uneven pathways to navigate between the three different lookouts. You will spend around 2 hours on the ground before flying back to Georgetown or onwards to another destination depending on your day tour package.

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