Water is synonymous with life in most cultures, and with air, fire and earth, a corner stone of the crucial elements for life on our planet.

In Hinduism, it’s sacred and spiritually cleansing. In the Shinto tradition, waterfalls are sacred and standing under them is believed to cleanse and purify.

Waterfalls are often used as a symbol of change: continuous motion, evolution, elements that persist but are never the same. The flow of water is made of drops that are constantly renewed – release and rejuvenation.

Inside Waterton Lakes National Park in Alberta, Canada is Cameron Falls. Water cascades over rock that’s more than 1.5 billion years old, and the falls can be easily reached after a short hike. What makes this one of the most photographed areas of the park is the strange phenomenon that occurs during heavy rains, predominantly during the spring. The rains stir up a mineral sediment called argolite which turns the water a pinkish-red when light is reflected.

Victoria Falls in Zambia, southern Africa, is the largest curtain of falling water in the world, 1708 metres wide and with up to 500 million litres of water descending every minute. The waters of Niagara, which may be reached from both Ontario, Canada and New York, USA (it straddles the international border), cascade at around 170 million litres of water.

Although arguably the most famous waterfalls in the world, there are many others that it’s worth taking the time to visit.

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Cumberland Falls in southeastern Kentucky, is the only site in the western hemisphere that has a regularly-visible moonbow, a rainbow created by the light from the moon. Barely visible to the naked eye, the faint colours of the moonbow can be captured on film. Visitors are most likely to see a moonbow during or near a full moon on clear nights. The Kentucky Department of Parks publishes a schedule for visitors to maximise their chances of seeing this rare natural occurrence.

The best and most beautiful place to shower under the natural cascades of a waterfall is Lago Izabal Falls in Guatemala. This hot-springs waterfall has bath-warm water tumbling into a cool fresh-water lake, producing a steamy atmosphere not unlike a spa for nature’s own version of a sauna.

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Waterfalls exist the world over, wherever water flows over promontories to fall some distance below and continue its journey. Whether bathing in the water or admiring from afar, they are a spiritual reminder that life carries on no matter what obstacles we might face.

 
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