Flight of Angels
Named after Livingstone's famous comments, the 'Flight of Angels' describes any sightseeing trip over the Falls by small aircraft, microlight, helicopter or ultra-light aircraft. This is a good way to get a feel for the geography of the area, and is surprisingly worthwhile if you really want to appreciate the Falls. If you're arriving from Kasane, or leaving for there, consider combining a sightseeing flight into a flight transfer. Otherwise any of these trips can be readily booked by agents in the area, including:Light aircraft
Surely the most novel is United Air Charters' daily scenic flights over the Falls in a 1940s' two-seater de Havilland Tiger Moth, departing from Livingstone airport. The vintage biplane with its open cockpit offers a single passenger an Out of Africa experience, complete with leather flying helmet, goggles and wind in the hair. The flights provide stunning views of the Falls and take visitors upstream over the Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park for game viewing. Unlike in a microlight, cameras can be readily taken along. United Air plans to add aerobatic flights in 2004, using an American-made Pitts Special, a fully aerobatic competition aircraft. These promise G-forces guaranteed to 'separate the man from the mouse', combined with flying upside down directly over the Falls! Meanwhile, if you prefer something more conventional, Migration Air offers scenic flights over the Falls in a single- or twin-engine light aircraft. Tour operators in Victoria Falls offer comparable flights in light aircraft using the small runway near the town (not the main airport).
Rates: UAC's Tiger Moth: US$100 per person for 20 minutes, US$160 for 30 minutes including transfers and tea/coffee. Migration Air: US$75 per personMicrolight
This is a totally different experience from a light aircraft: essentially sightseeing from a propeller-powered armchair 500m above the ground. It is only available on the Zambian side and is operated by Batoka Sky out of their Maramba Aerodrome. Like the Tiger Moth, the microlights take only two people: one pilot, one passenger. Because the passenger sits next to the propeller, cameras cannot be carried for safety reasons. However, you can arrange to be photographed, or even pictured on video, above the Falls from a camera fixed to the wing. This is the closest you can come to soaring like a bird over the Falls.
The microlights are affected by the slightest turbulence so, when you book a flight in advance, it's best to specify the early morning or late afternoon when conditions are ideal. Transport between their Maramba Aerodrome (about a five-minute drive from the border) and Livingstone or Victoria Falls border is provided.
Rates: US$80 per person for 15 minutes including circuits over the Falls and a flip over the game park; US$140 for 30 minutes, including safari flight up-riverUltra-lights
Another way to get a bird's-eye view of the Falls is with an ultra-light (which feels like a cross between a microlight and small plane). As with the microlight, you are completely exposed with the wind in your hair and they take only one passenger at a time. The craft flies more like a small plane but it's much quieter and you can take your camera with you; the lack of confines makes for good photographic opportunities.
These trips are based out of the Victoria Falls main airport (look for them on the tarmac if you fly in here) and run by Bush Birds Flying Safaris. Being so far out of town does make them slightly inconvenient, but they are the closest option to a microlight on the Zimbabwean side. On balance, the microlight is more fun, though you do get a nice view of the gorges as you fly up to the Falls.
Rates: US$100 per person for 35 minutes, US$150 per person for 55 minutesHelicopter
This is the most expensive way to see the Falls, but it is tremendous fun. Batoka Sky, based at their Maramba Aerodrome, use a five-seat Squirrel helicopter, which is designed to give all passengers a good view. The front seats are on a 'first-come, first-served' basis. New on the scene, United Air Charters takes passengers in four- or five-seater helicopters from their aptly named Baobab Ridge just south of town, or from the Royal Livingstone. A 15-minute trip takes in the Falls and the national park, or for 30 minutes you will fly over the gorges below the Falls as well. Alternatively, if you plan to raft, river board or jet boat, you can get an exhilarating lift out of the gorge by helicopter, at extra cost of course, but inclusive of a scenic flight over the Falls and Zambezi gorges. The Zambezi Helicopter Company, based at Elephant Hills, offers helicopter flights from the Zimbabwe side.
Rates: typically US$85 per person for 15 minutes, US$170 per person for 30 minutes. Prices include transfers from either Livingstone or Victoria Falls. Jetboat and heli-out US$160; full-day rafting heli-out US$210; half-day rafting and heli-out US$175