Some world records aren’t pretty. Watching someone pull a truck via meat hooks in the back, for example, probably isn’t anyone’s idea of a beautiful aesthetic.
But then there are some records that simply take your breath away, for all the right reasons.
One of those is the highest waterfall, held by Venezuela’s Angel Falls.
With a height of 979 m (3,212 ft), Angel Falls defines majesty. Its greatest single drop measures 807 m (2,648 ft), with other rapids and cascades combining to form the remaining height.
Angel Falls is named after the American aviator Jimmie Angel. On November 18, 1933, he became the first person to fly over them, thus sharing their existence with the public and forever linking himself to one of Earth’s true natural wonders.
Located in the Guiana Highlands in the state of Bolívar, the falls sit deep in the Venezuelan jungle and to this day remain very difficult to reach. The falls sit on the Churú River, which flows into the Caroní. They flow approximately 260 km (160 miles) southeast of Ciudad Bolívar, the 11th-largest city in Venezuela.
To put the majesty of Angel Falls into perspective, consider its height in relation to some of the world’s other famous waterfalls. Niagara Falls, on the Canadian-American border, measures a height of 50 m (165 ft), nearly 20 times shorter. And southern Africa’s Victoria Falls drops “just” 108 m (355 ft) itself.
The region’s geography helped shape Angel Falls and the many other waterfalls around it. Mountain-like structures known as tepuis jut out from the Venezuelan ground and help establish a unique environment for wonders like the falls to exist.
Over the years, Angel Falls has gone by many other names. In Spanish, it’s known as Salto Ángel. It has also incorrectly been called Salto Churú Merú. And an indigenous name for the falls is Kerepakupai Merú.
Regardless of what it’s called – just as a rose by any other name would smell as sweet – Angel Falls by any name, sight, or measure would inspire its observers no less.