Kaieteur Falls in Guyana - a flight to the worlds highest single drop waterfall!

Who doesn’t love a good waterfall? All travelers have at least one solid waterfall post in their Instagram and for many, the famous waterfalls of the world are on the Bucket List. Victoria Falls, Iguazu Falls, Niagara Falls, these are all on my list.  As luck would have it, the one waterfall that wasn’t on my list, or on my radar at all, was the one I experienced before the rest: Kaieteur Falls in Guyana! 

Kaieteur Falls Guyana worlds highest single drop waterfall
Kaieteur Falls in Guyana
Kaieteur Falls Guyana worlds highest single drop waterfall
A beautiful rainbow..

Maybe because Guyana is not a country that most people have on their flight plans, Kaieteur Falls is one of the world's largely overlooked natural wonders. Sitting in the middle of the Guyanese Amazon jungle, Kaieteur is said to be “The Worlds Highest Single Drop Waterfall”, plunging straight down from a height of 226 meters straight down and with a combination of height and water levels is one of the most powerful falls in the world. The Potaro River then runs north and flows into the Essequibo River, Guyana’s longest river.  One main takeaway is that nothing in Guyana is done halfway.

The major difference between Kaieteur and some of the other famous falls of the world is the fact that it is so remote and therefore extremely undeveloped in the tourism sense of the word.  Instead of the chaos of Niagara with vendors, luxury hotels, and constant tour groups, Kaieteur Falls is 50 miles from any human settlement and an hour flight inland over the jungle.  Getting to Kaieteur really is half of the experience.

When I arrived in Guyana for a work trip, I figured I should see about making the trip to the jungle to check out this major yet overlooked natural wonder.  With some help from a local colleague, I was on a flight Falls-bound the next morning.  The plane, a small 10-seater prop plane, flew low enough to take in the pristine jungle of Guyana, one of the worlds most unexplored and pure regions.  As if a green blanket had just been laid over the earth, gliding over the jungle for an hour was a lesson in what the earth looked like before we people came along.  And maybe a little bit like what the Earth looks like from Space!

Kaieteur Falls Guyana worlds highest single drop waterfall
The aircraft which took us to the falls
Kaieteur Falls Guyana worlds highest single drop waterfall
On the way to the falls...
After an hour, the plane climbed up and over the Potaro Plateau, an elevated body of ancient rock thought to be some of the oldest in the world.  We were then flying along the Potaro River Valley, nearing Kaieteur Falls and getting closer to the ground. Suddenly the Falls were in sight and the sheer scale of Kaieteur dwarfed the small plane and it’s passengers; if you ever want perspective, just fly over a massive waterfall in the middle of nowhere.

The pilot Michael, flew over the Falls to allow us all to take in the sight from the air before landing on the Kaieteur airstrip, which must be one of the more lonely airstrips in the world. Beside the airstrip was the Kaieteur National Park Visitors centre where we met our guide who was going to take the group to 3 different look-outs for ideal waterfall spying.

The first view was the furthest out and gave the widest perspective of the entire area.  The Potaro River flows through a valley that looks like it had been just cut right out of the earth and split wide open. On a clear day you can spot the Pakaraima Mountains, far off to the south where the river actually starts.  The mist coming off of the waterfall creates rainbows in the air and the heat emanating from the jungle is intense.  The drop from the edge of the lookout is… significant.

Kaieteur Falls Guyana worlds highest single drop waterfall
Approach to the falls...

Kaieteur Falls Guyana worlds highest single drop waterfall
Nothing can be more majestic than the sheer drop here!
The second and third lookouts are consecutively closer to the falls, both offering views of Kaieteur Falls and north up the Potaro River valley. Connecting the three lookouts (which have neither guardrails or safety measures of any kind except for a sign implying it’s a long way down so please try not to fall), are steamy trails through the jungle. Walking between lookouts, the jungle quickly swallows you with it’s humidity, dense flora, and mysterious calls from the local (and many endemic) birds of the area.  I asked the guide if there were snakes.  He pretended not to hear me.  He did mention that most of the jaguars are found further away from the Falls than we were at that moment. Good to know.

After two hours on the ground in the middle of the Guyanese jungle I may have been sweaty and getting sunburned, but I was so relieved and grateful that I had made it onto this flight to see the Falls.  With normally only one or two groups flying out to Kaieteur every day, the jungle gods were definitely on my side.  After years of travelling and seeing a fair amount of World Wonders, my trip to Kaieteur was unforgettable not necessarily because of the phenomenally beautiful sight (which it was) but because of the true feeling of isolation and raw environment.  Being so far away from the rest of the human world yet in the presence of such a powerful force of nature in such a pristine and unyielding wilderness would humble even the most seasoned of explorer.

Kaieteur Falls Guyana worlds highest single drop waterfall
Another majestic view of the falls


This is a guest post by Emily Kydd, a Canadian solo female nomad and editor of the blog See Her Travel. Exploring this world to diverse countries such as Kyrgyzstan, St. Lucia, Nepal, Myanmar and Fiji, Emily loves discovering new cultures, meeting wonderful people and having a laugh while on the latest crazy adventure.  Emily is currently based in Jamaica.

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