NEW YORK – The adventure experts at Lonely Planet recently released the list of their top 25 “secret” destinations worldwide, and Guyana flew the flag for the Caribbean with the highest single drop waterfall on the planet,
Located on the Potaro River in the Kaieteur National Park in Essequibo, the falls are 226 metres (741 ft) high when measured from the top to the first break. They then flow over a series of steep cascades that, when included in the measurements, bring the total height to 251 metres (822 ft).
Although many falls have greater height, few have the combination of height and water volume, and Kaieteur is among the most powerful waterfalls in the world with an average flow rate of 663 cubic metres per second (23,400 cubic feet per second).
The waterfall is about four times higher than Niagara Falls on the border between Canada and the United States, and about twice the height of Victoria Falls, on the border of Zambia and Zimbabwe.
The falls are a major tourist attraction and are the centrepiece of Kaieteur National Park in Guyana’s rainforest. There are frequent flights between the Kaieteur Falls airstrip and Ogle Airport and Cheddi Jagan International Airport in Guyana.
The falls have been featured in numerous documentary, science fiction, and other major film productions.
According to a Patamona Indian legend, Kaieteur Falls was named for Kai, a chief who saved his people by paddling over the falls in an act of self-sacrifice to the great spirit Makonaima.
A less romantic legend tells the tale of an unpleasant old man who was placed in a boat and shoved into the waterfall by his family. The fall was subsequently named “Kaieteur,” which means “old-man-fall,” according to a Wikipedia account.
Lonely Planet Magazine, which is designed primarily with North American readers in mind, has a readership of 1.35 million.
Malta took the honours as the magazine’s top “secret” destination, followed by Seoul in South Korea and Vojvodina in Serbia.
Other destinations to make it into the top ten on Lonely Planet’s list of “secret places” were Stock Island in Key West,Florida, the Southern Islands in Cambodia, Ilhabela in Brazil, Lombok in Indonesia, Lost Sierra in California, and Weerribben-Wieden National Park in The Netherlands.
Kaieteur Falls was edged into 11th place on Lonely Planet’s list by Silent Green in Berlin, Germany, and was followed by Kjerringøy in Norway, which took the 12th spot.