World Waterfall Database

Kerepakupai Merú

Venezuela

Status: Confirmed
This waterfall has been confirmed to exist by the World Waterfall Database, but specific details and information are not yet established.

Detailed Info

Kerepakupai Merú or Parekupa Vena are the names for this waterfall in the indigenous Pemon Indian language, but virtually everywhere else on earth it is known as Salto Angel, or Angel Falls. Located along the Río Gauja as it flows from the sandstone plateau-mountain Auyan Tepui, the largest of many Tepuis in Canaima National Park in the southeastern part of Venezuela, the falls funnel into a sinkhole at the edge of the mountain and burst forth from the side of the cliff about 100 feet from its top, plunging a sheer 2,648 feet into the massive canyon below and forming the tallest uninterrupted waterfall on earth. The drop is so far that despite the large volume of water which can be present, by the time the river reaches the floor of the canyon it has vaporized into a huge column of fine mist. From the base of the cliff, all this mist percolates through rocks and the river quickly re-forms and cascades further down the valley.

About half of a kilometer downstream from the base of the main fall is a second drop of perhaps 100 vertical feet where the river cascades down a stair-stepped formation into a large pool. The combination of these two drops seems to be the basis of Angel Falls qualifying as the tallest waterfall on the planet, with a total drop of 3,212 feet. The primary basis of this measurement seems to stem from a 1949 expedition to the falls funded by National Geographic and led by American journalist Ruth Robertson. Information about this survey seems to be elusive, but some of what has been uncovered suggests that the survey team measured the falls from the banks of the Rio Churún, as much as a mile away from the bottom of the falls, which would immediately suggest that the reported measurement is likely inaccurate. It is not known whether the falls have been surveyed again since this initial effort.

History and Naming

Kerepakupai Merú is the Official name of this waterfall.

Has also been known as:

  • Parakupa Vena
  • Salto Angel
  • Angel Falls

Kerepakupai Merú, or Parekupa-vena are the proper names given to Angel Falls by the indigenous Pemon Indians. The name Angel Falls, as the world knows it, was bestowed upon the falls after James Angel, a bush pilot who crash-landed his plane on the mountain above the falls in November of 1933 while conducting aerial prospecting surveys in the area. The falls were, however, first seen by a non-native in 1912 when Venezuelan explorer Ernesto Sanchez la Cruz stumbled upon the fall. His name is not often attached with the waterfalls because he did not seek to publicize his find.

This waterfall has also been frequently cited with the incorrect title of Churún Merú. This was at one point thought to be the Pemon name for Angel Falls, when in reality it applies to an entirely different waterfall about 6 kilometers further to the south.

Our Thoughts

While Kerepakupai Merú is most certainly one of the greatest waterfalls on the planet, we grow more and more skeptical that it is either the tallest on earth or as tall as is claimed. The survey team which measured the waterfall in 1949 took their measurements from the shores of the Rio Churún, almost a mile away from the base of the waterfall. The elevation difference from the top of the Tepui to the Rio Churún is, conveniently, just over 3,300 feet and there is more than 500 feet of loss in elevation from the base of the waterfall to the point where the Rio Gauja flows into the Rio Churún. Secondly, we are of the opinion that Kerepakupai Merú should only be considered the 2,648 foot plunge, as the river below the falls - aside from a 100 foot fall 1/4 mile downstream from the base of the main drop - is more or less flat. This would make South Africa's Tugela Falls the tallest on earth, but this would in no way take anything away from how much of a monster this waterfall is - without question one of the top 5 on the planet.

Location & Directions

Coordinates:   5.96856, -62.53775
Elevation:   4878 feet

Directions are not available at this time.

View this location in Google Earth
Kerepakupai Merú is marked with the large icon in the center of the map. Up to ten additional waterfalls (if any) may be marked as well, with links below.

Other Nearby Waterfalls

Additional Waterfalls which occur within 5 miles of Kerepakupai Merú
No additional waterfalls were found within 5 miles.

By The Numbers

The information presented in this table is meant to help identify and clarify the physical aspects of the waterfall for comparative purposes. While we try to ensure this information is as accurate as possible, sometimes it will prove necessary to either estimate or flat out guess at certain characteristics where either enough information isn't readily available, is not known, or we were not able to confirm a given trait upon surveying. This information may be changed at any given time to ensure accuracy.

Total Height

The Total Height listed for the waterfall represents the difference in elevation from the top of the uppermost drop, to the bottom of the lowermost drop of the waterfall, including all stretches of interstitial stream in between. Stream between two tiers of a waterfall is counted in its overall height regardless of whether or not that section of the stream would be legitimately considered a waterfall on its own right, were it to be isolated. Waterfalls with only one drop will of have the height of only the single drop listed here.

Tallest Drop

The Tallest Drop figure represents the height of the largest single drop within a multi-stepped waterfall. Waterfalls with only one drop will have the total height of the waterfall repeated here.

Num of Drops

The Number of Drops in a waterfall is a tally of the total number of distinct drops which make up the waterfall. Stretches of interstitial stream in between two or more distinct drops of a single waterfall are NOT considered to be distinct drops of the waterfall unless the section of stream in question would otherwise qualify as a waterfall were it to be isolated.

Avg Width

The Average Width of the waterfall represents the breadth of the waterfall from bank to bank under typical flow conditions, or if the waterfall has been Cataloged, under the conditions which it was most thoroughly surveyed. Often this number will be approximated because of a lack of approachability to many waterfalls. We often utilize Google Earth to measure the width (where imagery is of sufficient quality and resolution to allow it.

Maximum Width

Maximum Width represents a hypothetical measurement of roughly how wide a waterfall could get during peak streamflow or flood conditions. For smaller waterfalls, this figure will generally not differ much from the Average Width measurement, but for broader waterfalls - especially those that feature a crest that isn't constricted - this figure can at times be consideraby larger. Like the Average Width measurement, this measurement will take into account the difference in width at the top and bottom of the waterfall as much as possible, but will often be made based on the width of the crest of th falls alone.

Pitch

The Pitch of a waterfall is an estimated - often very roughly - measure of the average slope or steepness of a waterfall. The Pitch figure only takes into account sections of stream which are actively falling. Pools or stretches of level stream in between two or more successive drops of the falls will not factor in this figure. As an example, a waterfall which features two truly free-falling leaps separated by several dozen yards of flat stream will have a Pitch of 90 degrees. Similarly, a waterfall with two drops separated by a pool, one with a true free-falling drop, and one with a Horsetail type fall will average the two, so while the Plunging drop has a Pitch of 90 degrees, if the Horsetail drop has a Pitch of 45 degrees, the total Pitch will be roughly 67 degrees.

Run

The Run of a waterfall is a measurement representing the total linear distance on the ground between the top and bottom of a waterfall. This figure is not often easy to establish with a high degree of precision and as such will often be estimated. Waterfalls with a longer Run will usually either be less steep, often cascading type waterfalls, or will feature multiple steps separated by shorter stretches of a more gradual gradient streambed.

Form

The system of classification of waterfall forms we use is a heavily modified derivative of the classifications outlined by Greg Plumb in his "Waterfall Lover's Guide to the Pacific Northwest" books. While plumb uses eight distnct forms, we wanted further granularity and opted to break down the hierarchy twofold: first based on the overall pitch of the waterfall, and then based on what shape the fall takes as it makes its descent. There are five primary Categories of falls in this system: Plunge, Horsetail, Steep Cascades, Shallow Cascades, and Rapids. Additional deliniation is then applied depending on characteristics such as the breadth of the falls, whether it splits into two or more channels, whether it falls in multiple successive drops, etc. For more information on our waterfall form classifications, see the Help page.

Watershed

The watershed which a waterfall occurs within, if it is specified, will be based on the ultimate distributary watercourse to the ocean. For example, Washington's Palouse Falls occurs along the Palouse River - which is a tributary to the Snake River, which is itself a tributary to the Columbia River, which ultimately enters the Pacific Ocean, so Palouse Falls would then fall within the Columbia River watershed. Streams which empty directly into the ocean, or into a minor basin which then empties to the ocean will often have this field left blank.

Stream

The name of the watercourse which the waterfall occurs along. If the watercourse is not known to have an officially or colloquially recognized name, this field is left blank.

Avg Volume

The volume of water present in the stream at the location of the waterfall. This is often the most difficult figure to pin down because accurately measuring streamflow is not a simple process. We will rely on USGS data as much as possible, and attempt to take into account seasonal fluctuations in stream levels if possible. There is no guarantee that this figure will be accurate, and in cases where there is no USGS data to use, it may be a very, very rough estimate at best.

Source

If known, the primary source of the watercourse which produces the waterfall will be listed here. This is helpful in determining whether a waterfall may flow more consistently during certain periods of the year - streams which originate in Springs, Lakes, or Glaciers will often flow more consistently throughout the year than those fueled by simply Runoff. The source of the stream may also be either unknown or undetermined.

Flow Consistency

A rough estimation of how many months out of the year the stream which produces the waterfall will actually hold water. The vast majority of waterfalls featured on this website will technically be truly perennial waterfalls (those that flow all year long), but some may see their flow dwindle greatly in the late summer months. This figure will not take into account the winter months when the waterfall may freeze, because in such cases the waterfall will very often be inaccessible. Entries which specify a Flow Consistncy of 12 Months should in general have an acceptable flow at any time of year (but may be better during certain periods - see below).

Best Flow

A general estimate of the best period of the year during which time the falls will be considered at optimal conditions, or flowing at their best. There may be variance within the range specified where the flow will be better or worse, but visiting at any time in the range specified (if available) will generally present the waterfall in its best light.

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Key

Cataloged Icon
Cataloged
Waterfalls which are Cataloged we have visited and surveyed in person. Statistical information should be quite accurate (for the most part), and exact measurements will often be available (information is not guaranteed to always be up to date). Detailed information, directions, and photographs will almost always be available.
Confirmed Icon
Confirmed
Confirmed Waterfalls are known to exist, should be relatively accurately mapped and geotagged, and the statistical information available will often be dependable. If height information is presented, it may be estimated but should be accurate. Directions will not likely be available.
Unconfirmed Icon
Unconfirmed
Unconfirmed Waterfalls are often marked on a published map, but we have yet to confirm the exact location and / or whether or not its stature is significant enough to qualify for listing in the database. Statistical information may be estimated and may be inaccurate. No directions.
Unknown Icon
Unknown
Waterfalls marked as Unknown are either suspected to exist based on heresay or a hunch, or we have received unverified information suggesting a waterfall may exist near the location provided but cannot corroborate it in any way. Geodata may not be accurate, the location may not be known at all, and statistical information will be estimated and highly inaccurate.
Inundated Icon
Inundated
Inundated Waterfalls have been submerged beneath lakes or reservoirs, usually a result of impoundment of a river behind a dam, and most often no longer functionally exist (there may be rare exceptions). We maintain records for these features out of historical importance.
Disqualified Icon
Disqualified
Waterfalls which have been marked as Disqualified do not have the necessary stature or features to qualify as a legitimate waterfall according to our criteria. We will maintain records for entries with this status where the feature is well known and / or may have been historically referred to as a waterfall at some point in time.
Posted Icon
Posted
Posted Waterfalls are known to exist, and we may have a large amount of information associated with them, but are located on private property and are not legally accessible to the general public. Accessing waterfalls with this status should not be attempted without first being explicitly granted permission of the property owner.
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