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Kerepakupai Merú
   Bolívar, Venezuela

This waterfall has been confirmed by the World Waterfall Database, has been mapped and its height has been approximated but exact measurements have not yet been confirmed.
Photo of Kerepakupai Merú 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.


  • Also Known as: Parakupa Vena, Salto Angel, Angel Falls
  • Kerepakupai Merú is the Official name of this waterfall

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.

Kerepakupai Merú is shown in the center. Additional nearby waterfalls (if any) can be found in the list below.

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Photo of Kerepakupai Merú

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