Hidden Waterfalls of the Amazon: 5 Best Kept Secrets


One of the best ways to tour the amazing Amazon rainforest is through its secret waterfalls. The hidden waterfalls of the Amazon offer a unique perspective into this incredible region.

Accessing any of these spots calls for hikes and treks through the rainforest, boating tours or aerial adventures. This in turn offers an opportunity to explore the hidden gems of this fascinating ecosystem.

There are a number of famous waterfalls in this jungle. The largest single drop falls in the world, Kaieteur, tops the list. Equally popular is Iguazu Falls, the largest waterfall system on the planet. But there are plenty of unexplored spots as well, ideal for the intrepid traveler.

Take a look at the region’s best kept secrets, some of the best falls hiding in the jungle:

Sapo Falls and Sapito Falls, Canaima National Park, Venezuela

Canaima National Park in Venezuela has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1994. This three-million-hectares park is a world of natural wonders and the sixth largest national park worldwide. The park is famous for being home to the world’s tallest, uninterrupted waterfall, Angel Falls. The falls is an astounding 979 meters (3,212 feet) tall. Not only is it a UNESCO World Heritage Site but it is also among South America’s seven natural wonders.

Tucked away from the limelight are two enchanting waterfalls that you must also visit while you are here. Sapo Falls is the larger one of the two, a beautiful horseshoe-shaped wonder that will take your breath away. The most intriguing part is that the water does not make any contact with the sheer face of the cliff. For an immersive experience, walk across behind the cascading water curtain and feel its sheer power. There is also a large plunge pool at its base where you can enjoy a swim. Sapito Falls is equally enchanting, set in a recessed spot close to the larger falls.

Both are fairly close to Angel Falls and are a must-see while you are in Canaima. Keep an eye out for cougars and jaguars while you are in the park.

Gocta Waterfalls (Chorrera), Peru


At the point where the Amazon rainforest and the Andes Mountains meet, one of the most hidden waterfalls of the Amazon comes into view. The 771-meter (2,530-foot) fall has two drops and is one of the tallest on the planet. Interestingly, it remained completely off the radar until fairly recently. An outsider stumbled upon it in 2002 and official measurement took place in 2006. Since then, it has earned a spot among the world’s great falls but still remains off the beaten path.

Aside from its height, Gocta also has an impressive amphitheater. The semi-circular rock formation provides a perfect frame for the fall’s double drop. It sits in a lush area with towering cliffs and dense vegetation providing a stunning backdrop. For the ultimate adventure, enjoy a three-hour hike through dense forest to get here from Cocachimba. Alternatively, you can access it via a two-hour trek from San Pablo or get a horse to add some spice to the trip.

There are 22 additional waterfalls in the surrounding region. While you are here, look out for the cock of the rock, a beautiful bird native to the Andes. You can also enjoy archaeological tours to see the Sarcophagi of Karajia and the Kuelap, an ancient fortress.

Santa Barbara Falls, Chapada dos Guimaraes Brazil

Another one of our lesser-known Amazonian waterfalls is Santa Barbara in Chapada dos Veadeiros National Park. It is one of the most stunning falls in the entire country with a crystal-clear turquoise plunge pool at its base. Though it is not really in the rainforest, it sits in the transition zone between the Brazilian savannah and the Amazon.

To place the falls in context, the Chapada Dos Veadeiros is located on an ancient plateau. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site with one of the oldest tropical ecosystems in the world. This plateau has an intricate web of converging waterways that carve through its canyons and valleys. There is so much to see here in terms of nature’s wonders that you cannot pack it all into a single tour.

For the waterfall chasers, getting to Santa Barbara Falls is in itself an adventure but is worth every effort. The water plunges 30 meters (100 feet), not very high compared to most others on our selection. However, the setting looks like a page out a fairy tale. The water cascades across the face of rugged cliffs into a beautiful pool at the base. Trees form a natural frame around it, with streaks of sunshine filtering through the leaves. You have to see it and swim in it at least once in your lifetime.

Arcoiris Falls, Bolivia

In Spanish, this magnificent attraction goes by the name Arcoiris Catarata, meaning Rainbow Falls. Under the right weather conditions, it displays a lovely rainbow when sunlight hits the mist. It has an 88-meter (288-foot) drop that begins on the rim of the Caparu plateau. The surroundings consist of jagged cliffs and jungle-covered terrain, providing a beautiful backdrop.

While most falls lose their glory during the dry season due to low water volume, this hidden gem has a little secret. When the volume of water decreases, you get to see the cascade washing over small quartzite steps. As water makes its way over the metamorphic rock, it gradually carves out these steps along its path. Seeing the intricate details on the rock and how it shimmers as it reflects the sunlight surface is enchanting.

Located in the Noel Kempff Mercardo National Park, Arcoiris sits in amazing surroundings. The park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site featuring a variety of habitats. Besides the Amazon rainforest landscape, it also has sandstone plateaus (tepuis) and grasslands. Here you might get to see tapirs, pumas, jaguars and a wide array of birds.

El Dorado Waterfalls (Cachoeira do El Dorado/Araca), Brazil

One of Brazil’s highest falls, El Dorado is also the hardest to reach among the hidden waterfalls of the Amazon. Located in the Amazonas state close to the Venezuela border, it has a spectacular drop of 353 meters (1,158 feet). It is only accessible via an almost two-week-long expedition or by air. The closest city is Barcelos, from where you take two-day long boating trip. From there you take a four-day hike through mountainous terrain to get there. The icing on the adventure cake is that you can only use this route during the rainy season. This is because that’s the only time the Rio Negro is navigable.

The destination is shrouded in mystery seeing as only a handful of explorers have made it that far. If you are among the fortunate few, the reward will be well worth your while. First, your journey there will take you through Amazonian wonderlands in the Anavilhanas and Mariua archipelagos. You might also get to see the world’s largest river archipelago, the Mariua. (It has over 1,400 islands).

Once you get there, you will doubtless agree that El Dorado is a thing of beauty. The water takes a thunderous leap off the rim of the Araca sandstone plateau (tepui).  Due to the great distance of its cascade, the spray from this natural wonder creates a permanent mist around it. The rugged cliff face surrounding the fall turns the area into a natural amphitheater. The roar of the mighty waterfall is audible miles away.

While you are here, be on the lookout for rare animal species and plants of the Amazon. If you love cave adventures, consider visiting the deepest cave in the world, Abismo Guy Collet.

Over-the-Top Adventures in the Amazon Rainforest’s Waterfalls

If you love your space, note that all of the above destinations are relatively off the radar due to their remote locations. Their beauty is still raw, untamed and unspoiled. They are the best spots in the jungle to quench your thirst for over-the-top adventures and see the wonders of nature in their purest form.

Aside from the hidden waterfalls of the Amazon, you could also experience this destination through a wildlife, cultural or nature trip. Along the way, look out for the weird creatures of the Amazon jungle, species that you cannot find anywhere else. No matter your preferences, this incredibly diverse ecosystem has plenty to uncover. Give it a spot on your bucket list and plan an unforgettable once-in-a-lifetime trip.

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