We took the 25 minute flight which included both the Falls, some gorges downstream and a flight over the National Park upstream. Cost at US$265pp was expensive but from my point of view we were only going to be here once so we just went for it. Cost included pick-up and return from our hotel to the helicopter base in a reasonably clean and comfortable passenger van. Time from our hotel, the Ilala Lodge, to the helicopter base was about 10 minutes. We chose the 11.00am flight as we thought that this would mean that the sun was largely above us and therefore would not interfere too much with either our view or our photography. This pretty much worked out well and we still saw a number of rainbows. There do not appear to be as many 25 minute flights as the shorter versions so advise booking a few days beforehand to secure a place.
Once at the helicopter base we were weighed (if you together with your bags/camera equipment etc weigh over 95 kilograms you cannot sit in the front seat next to the pilot), given a quick safety briefing and shown on a map were the flight would take us. The helicopter we were in was a 5 seater with 2 in the front (including the pilot) and 3 across the back seat. We were then lined up at the gate onto the helipad, person sitting in the front at the head, where we waited for the helicopter to land. Once it landed and the doors were opened to let out the passengers on the flight before us we were directed to move towards the helicopter such that we passed the passengers from the previous trip midway between the helicopter and the gate. We were quickly seated, our belts checked then we were away. During this process i.e. arrival at the helicopter base till the departure of the helicopter we had been filmed.
The helicopter pad was upstream from the Falls so that our approach was along the Zambezi River where you could clearly see the mist from the Falls rising to a great height. Within a couple of minutes we were over the Falls looking down at what I believe is one of the most magnificent and stunning sights that nature has to offer. The pilot did a couple of figure 8's over the Falls in order that those of us in the back got a view of the Falls from either side and then took a quick diversion down a couple of the gorges downstream from the Falls where the water rapidly zig-zags away. We then flew back over the Falls, on this occasion I felt some updraft, before flying over a section of the National Park upstream where we looked down at herds of giraffes, buffalo and elephants. Unfortunately it was over all too quickly.
Similar efficient unloading before we were taken into a small viewing room to see both a short video on Victoria Falls that contained some spectacular images followed by a video of our group of 4 that had been filmed before our departure on the helicopter but also contained some slides taken of us as we disembarked and walked back from the helicopter to the gate. Cost of the first video was US$30 and of the second US$15. Once viewing and purchases had been undertaken (there was also a small shop at the helicopter base) we were taken back to our hotel.
I was a little concerned prior to our departure regarding this flight, in part because I am not great with heights and secondly because of where we were. I was advised by the ground staff that the pilot was an ex-Zimbabwe Air Force pilot and that the helicopters were routinely serviced by fly-in/fly-out South African personnel. Not sure if this is correct or not but the pilot on our flight was certainly excellent and the flight, apart from once hitting an updraft, was very smooth.
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