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Lying on the border of Zambia and Zimbabwe in Southern Africa, Victoria Falls is stands at about twice the height of North America’s Niagara Falls. Although it was named after Queen Victoria of Britain by famous explorer David Livingston, the World Heritage Sites List actually recognises two names. The indigenous Tonga name Mosi-oa-Tunya meaning “The Smoke that Thunders” also stands. As you know, I absolutely love alternate forms of transportation than the usual car or bus. I’ve caught the Trans-Siberian Railway with Golden Eagle and the Maharajas Express in Rajasthan and traveled by helicopter to Everest Base Camp on the Nepal side. I also caught the train from Xining to Lhasa where I climbed to Everest Base Camp on the Tibet side. So a Victoria Falls helicopter tour was a no-brainer.
I also love Africa. I learnt a lot from my time there. The safaris, the gorgeous rustic lodges and camps in the middle of nowhere and sipping gin and tonics to epic sunsets in the veld. There’s no doubt then that I jumped at the opportunity to take a flight over this most scenic landscape where the mighty Zambezi River flows with power and force over Victoria Falls. This is my Victoria Falls helicopter adventure.
Geography for the Victoria Falls Helicopter Ride:
The Falls made CNN’s Natural Wonder Bucket List and for a good reason. While it is neither to highest nor widest waterfall it is considered the largest sheet of falling water in the world. It is an impressive site to behold with combined width of 1,708 metres (5,604 ft) and height of 108 metres (354 ft). There are several gorges within the area but the most impressive is the First Gorge where the entire volume of the Zambezi River flows through a 110m wide opening.
Brief History of Victoria Falls and the surrounding area
The Falls were originally inhabited by the Khoisan and then the Bantu tribes of the southern Tonga people. Later on the Ndebele, Batswana (Tswana) and Makololo occupied the surrounding area. David Livingstone is said to have been the first European to spot the Falls from the Zambian side on 17 November 1855. Access to the Falls became easier after the railway was built in 1905 and during the British colonial rule over Northern Rhodesia (Zambia) and Southern Rhodesia (Zimbabwe).
Since Zambia gained independence from Britain in 1964 and Zimbabwe following in 1980, there has been a surge of tourism to the area that not only includes sightseeing, but also a range of adventure activities from whitewater rafting to bungee jumping and kayaking. The intrepid traveler can also choose to have a swim and risk falling over the Falls in Devil’s Pool. If you want to cross the border and see both viewpoints of the Falls, you are required to buy a visa for about US$50–$80 (as of January 2017). A cheaper and more convenient option is to buy a KAZA visa for US$50 which allows visitors to travel between Zambia and Zimbabwe for up to 30, but you must stay in one of the two countries as exiting either of the countries means forfeiting the visa.
The Victoria Falls helicopter flight
I stayed at the gorgeous Islands of Siankaba Lodge which organise their own helicopter tours over Victoria Falls. Yet there are various other companies that provide this service such as Victoria Falls Helicopter Flights, the Zambezi Helicopter Company, and Shearwater, to name a few. For roughly US$150 per person, it is a steal in my opinion as it truly is a once in a lifetime journey.
So why should you take a helicopter ride over Victoria Falls? Well, I’ll let this video speak for me.