Amid jagged peaks in the far-flung southern extremities of the Americas, a glacier-fed waterfall plummets into a pristine lake, lined with lush forest, and flows into the Pacific Ocean.
This is Ventisquero Colgante, recently selected by El País as one of the 25 “most incredible” waterfalls in the world.
“From Ventisquero Colgante, a block of ice suspended between two peaks in the Queulat National Park, in Chilean Patagonia, plunges a jet of water from almost 500-meters high,” reads the photo-essay, called “Locos por las Cascadas” or “Crazy for Waterfalls.”
Latin America featured prominently in the list, which included: the Salto de Gocta, in the Peruvian Amazon; the Cataratas Kaieteur in Guyana; Venezuela’s famed Salto Ángel and the Cataratas del Iguazú, which border Brazil and Argentina and are listed as one of the New Seven Wonders of the World.
Being remoter and comparatively unknown, Ventisquero Colgante is more of a challenge to get to, but offers in exchange a truly powerful experience with nature, well off-the-beaten-track.
At 1,541 square kilometers, Queulat National Park — located in the Aysén Region — is an unspoiled marvel of temperate rainforest, rocky escarpments and Andean peaks, glaciers and icefields, rugged coastline and fjords.
Among its other natural wonders is the “Bosque Encantado” or Enchanted Forest, which offers otherworldly hiking and a chance to see the tiny kodkod wildcat and pudú — an equally diminutive deer — as well as a wealth of birdlife, including Magellanic Woodpeckers.
Crazy about Chilean waterfalls
Another stand-out waterfalls in Chile include Siete Tazas, in the eponymously named national park in the Maule Region of Central Chile. In what is truly a photographer’s dream, 22 falls plunge from heights of up to 50 meters and have formed seven deep cup-shaped basins.
Further south, in the legendary Torres del Paine National Park, the Río Paine is another example of the raw power of Patagonian rivers, while closer to Santiago the Salto del Apoquindo offers a more accessible hike.