Monday, January 17, 2011

Victoria Falls from the Air! [Part 4 of the Rovos Rail Trip]

One of the outstanding highlights of our holiday at the Victoria Falls was our helicopter flight to view the falls  from the air.  This is a popular 'touristy thing' to do and we generally avoid doing 'popular touristy things' as a matter of principle.  We far prefer taking the 'road less travelled' when we visit new places.  We get a thrill out of looking for the extraordinary that normally goes unnoticed in most people's hot pursuit to get the standard issue tourist pose and photograph in front of the standard issue tourist sight.  The big difference with the Victoria Falls is that everything is so remarkable and breath-taking that you really need to do it all, even if it means setting aside your 'principles!'   

We spent two full days covering the Rainforest on foot, not because you need two full days to get right around it, but because to do it properly and to absorb this mystical place right into the depths of your soul, you cannot rush it.  Believe me, two days is not enough, but that was all we had.

There were bus loads of tourists hot-footing it through the Rainforest on both days we were there.  Many wore blinkered, if not agonised, expressions while they were rushing from point A to Z desperate to snap a picture proclaiming they'd 'been there, done that!' and now qualified for the badge.

I wanted to see it all waking up in the early morning, during the heat of the day and then see it settling itself down for the evening and night-time ahead.  I wanted to see it in each season, to be able to explore the many rock pools at low water and be there to marvel in the thunderous roar and gigantic mass of water spilling over at the height of the rainy season.  The best I could do, was to take in as much of it all as I could in the limited time we had. 
Please click on the read more button below to continue

One of the helicopters returning with passengers.  We were up next!
Of course, seeing it from the air, reminiscent of Dr Livingstone's iconic words, would be like taking a
flight with the angels, gazing down on the majesty of this place from heaven.  Too much to resist and, so it was that the four of us eagerly and excitedly arrived at the helipad to take our flight.  None of us was at all anxious, as we'd flown in a helicopter before this.  Also, our son holds a private pilot's licence.  We've flown with him for 10 years, so we're perfectly accustomed to small aircraft.

It is impossible to describe the thrill of seeing the falls from the air, so I'm not even going to attempt it.  I hope the pictures I've uploaded here will speak for themselves...
Excitement mounts!  We have arrived at the Falls from the helicopter base, which is some distance away.  We're in for a treat!  The whole flight is only 20 minutes duration from takeoff to landing, so take it all in while you get the chance!
A nice view of the main path running along the outer edge of the Rainforest. Smaller paths lead off this to take you close to the edge - it can be very trecherous, but is absolutely mesmerising if you don't suffer from vertigo. 
Rainforest to your left.
The various cataracts separated from the main body of the falls all have names, as do all the pools and gullies beneath the falls.
Rainbows in the mist are almost a permanent feature...
Flying along the lip of the falls.  Rainforest in the mist on your left.
Flying over the Zambezi River, Zambia to your right, Zimbabwe off left. 
The Rainforest on your right.  The outer-perimeter paths run close to the edge here and can be quite treacherous. 
Zambian side ahead - there are several large, modern hotels to choose from on both sides.
Zimbabwean side to the right of the bridge, Zambian side leading off left.  The bridge is favoured by Bungee jumpers for those brave enough to take the leap!

Rainforest National Park with mist from the falls causing the 'rain' on the edge of the forest.
Zambian Border Post directly below.  Zimbabwe across the bridge to the left of the picture.
The Zimbabwean Border Post visible immediately below, with the Rainforest National Park behind.
Hydro-electric scheme on the Zambian side.
Another popular way of viewing the falls from the air is by Microlight. 
The Zambezi River - the large island ahead, left, is Livingstone Island. The landmass on the left is Zimbabwe, that on the right is Zambia.
My husband and son's cameras were working overtime.  They took many, many magnificent pictures, far too numerous to upload here.  It was very difficult for me to make a selection.  In the end, I just had to go 'eenie,meenie,minee,mo!'  And now I'd better blog this, otherwise I'll still come back and dither some more!

Hope you enjoyed the flight as much as we did ;)


  1. I am very much enjoying this multi-post record of your amazing trip! Incredible photos of what I'm sure must have been an incredible experience.

    Looking forward to the next installment!

  2. Thank you, Alison! It really was a 'once in a lifetime' experience :)

  3. Mind-blowing images of surely one of the most dramatic places on earth. This series has been a treat Desiree, and brought back happy memories for me, so thank you!

  4. Hi Belinda:

    Comments such as yours definitely make sharing glad I've been pushing your memory buttons!

  5. Hi Desiree...again...amzing !! speechless....happy new week

  6. Hello Ria! So pleased you've enjoyed this post. I hope everything is OK in regard to your Mom. It's so sweet of you to make time to pop on over and leave comments when I realise things are not easy for you at all right now! Much appreciated!


    Des xo

  7. I'm loving taking this journey with you. The fallsloook just as spectacular from the air as they do from the ground. I have a friend who would hate that 'edge' path though!

  8. Hi H:

    So glad you're having fun on this trip, too :) The edge is protected in the most dangerous spots with fencing, but there are still plenty of places where adventurous types can have that sense of thrilling danger they seek. I was not brave enough to venture that close!

  9. These are such beautiful pictures of such a lovely place .Thanks for sharing them.

  10. wonderful to see the falls from a birds eye view! Surely the only way to take it all in! Thanks so much for sharing your adventures.

  11. Oh WOW, Desiree, what an exhilirating trip you took us on over the falls! I agree, we also don't do the touristy things when we travel and we get to see SO much and experience the best the country has to offer! Would you mind if I gave your link to two of my US friends: one lives in the Grand Canyon and visited SA last year. She would LOVE to see the falls and the rainforest etc. Another is another dear blogger friend of mine in Tennesee: she and her hubby "collect" waterfalls. Thanks for your comment on my post today. Please do visit my garden labels on my sidebar and you will see my "large" garden as it grew and became a very special part of my life. Have a blessed day, my friend. (((Hugs))) Jo

  12. Hi Jo!

    Absolutely no problem if you wish to share my link. I'd be delighted!

  13. These photos are just majestic, what a marvelous, vast and beautiful place!

  14. A magic view from the helicopter. I guess it is hard to avoid touristy things when you are where the most magnificent waterfall in the world is situated. It must have been awesome.

  15. What a beautiful picture. I love what you said about your principles for traveling. We enjoy the road less travelled too. Would be amazing to spend time in a place like that. Thanks for sharing about it! :)

  16. Thank you for letting me know there were more pictures in this post! I didn't see the read more button the first time. Such beautiful photos. What an amazing place!

  17. Desiree, the limited time you had is more then I shall ever have..and that should make it more than enough. :) It sort of makes my heart hurt to look at it all and know that the only way I will ever experience such beauty is in photo's and film clips...
    You are so fortunate. Just living where you live and seeing the views you can see is, to me, like living in your very own paradise.

    Thank you for stopping by and for your encouraging comment. I am off to the dentist, to top it all off!

  18. I've just been sitting open mouthed at all these photographs. We took an hour flight in a helicopter flew over the Drakensburg Mountains and hovered over some small falls but this is just magnificent. I am sure it was definitely worth it - touristy or not. Actually the last time we came to South Africa some fellow travellers had been to the Falls and said they were dry! They were a little disappointed.
    Well it's just something else to add to my bucket list. Many thanks for sharing these - they are wonderful pictures. I think I might just be a shade of green now ;)

  19. I'm so glad I finally got a chance to enjoy this post. I can't even imagine what that would be like to see in person, just amazing!

    PS Thank you so much for visiting my daughter's blog. She was beyond excited to have a visitor from South Africa as well as your kind comments.

  20. WOW! I guess you know you are a gifted writer. I have always wanted to visit South Africa. But, unless I win a trip there is no way that will ever happen.

    Movin on>>>>>>>>> kt

  21. wow! I would love to see it


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