Victoria Falls – Mosi-o-Tunya – ‘The smoke that thunders’. This immense curtain of water in Zimbabwe is considered the largest waterfall on earth. The mass of water, over a kilometer wide, tumbles over 100m into a crack in the earth and down into the Zambezi River. This river forms the border between Zambia and Zimbabwe and draws millions of visitors per year to enjoy the falls, white water rafting fishing and boat trips.
The best time to see the water mass is in April – after the summer rains. The spray is shimmering with rainbows and you will get drenched by the watery spectacle. During the low season – November – there is no water on the Zambian side of the falls. From the Zimbabwean side, there is less spray so you can better appreciate the rock formations and depth of the river.
Vic Falls can be appreciated from the trails and walkways on the cliff facing the falls. Entry to the Victoria Falls national Park costs $10 and gives you access to the falls, restaurants and shops near the falls.
The best way to experience the falls, however, is from the sky. You get an excellent view of the wide falls, the town and the old railway bridge linking Zimbabwe and Zambia. There are numerous operators booking flights and can arrange transfers between lodges and the small airfield just outside the town. Alternatively, book directly with any of the two helicopter companies that offer the ‘flight of angles’.
We choose to go with newcomer Bonisair, a Zimbabwean company with 4 helicopters and two fixed wing aircraft. A licensed company, their pilots all have over 25 years experience. Bonisair offers a 15, 22 or a 25 minute flight over the falls, river and Zambezi National Park and operates from their private terminal a few minutes from town.
After a short briefing explaining the route and how the headsets work, we were taking off; my tummy made somersaults as we swooped up into the morning air. The pilot first circled the town then flew upstream over the black glistening snake that is the Zambezi. Then with figure-8’s twisting and turning over the rising mist, we saw the falls; water rushing over the cliff edge into the narrow slit of darkness below. Further downstream the white waters restlessly jumped the rocks on its 1000-mile journey to the sea in Mozambique.
Safely strapped in, I could lean out the window to take photos while swallowing to keep my tummy inside. Gasping for air and with excitement as the heli turned and dipped, I was not sure which provided me more delight – the rush of adrenaline or the rush of the water…