Victoria Falls may not have been that impressive, on ground level, when it’s dry season but from up in the air? Simply breath-taking.
It was my last day in Zambia and I was up for 7am waiting to be picked up for my microlight flight over Victoria Falls (and my first ever microlight flight at all!). There was an ushered peace as I sat in the relative quiet of the campsite feeling the warmth of the sun as it rose.
I’d spent the past 3 days watching the helicopters and microlights dance in front of the African sun at my campsite’s waterfront bar but couldn’t quite believe it was now my turn. I knew I was preparing to experience something special but I had no idea just how special it would be.
My driver was late, he’d been held up by traffic; a family of elephants that were too busy eating breakfast to move out of the way…such is the raw, natural life of Africa.
We arrived at Batoka Sky, an airstrip purely for microlights and helicopters and I was excited. After jumping into the Devil’s Pool the day before, my thirst for adventure had well and truly been awakened and I was about to tick something else off my bucket list; a microlight flight – I couldn’t wait.
After a safety briefing, I sat next to the runway to watch the first two people head off and after watching the staff push the microlight into place like it’s a bike, I suddenly got a sense of just how light and delicate the microlight actually was but instead of being scared, I couldn’t wait for my turn.
Before I knew it, they called me over. This was it.
I left my flipflops on the runway, got strapped in and had my helmet with headphones placed on me. My pilot introduced himself as Heiko and instantly I felt at ease; from his piercing blue eyes to the way he spoke, he had a gentle soul and I trusted him completely with my safety.
We started to taxi to the end of the dirty runway, we smiled for the camera attached to the left wing and with the gentlest of engine thrusts, we were airborne. Within moments we were flying over people, small buildings and even herds of elephants as we started to reach the banks of the falls themselves.
As we got closer, the water was no longer still; I could see the current building, the sand islands emerging and the spray from the gorge.
As we flew towards the gorge itself, I finally realised the grandiose statement that Victoria Falls makes. It wasn’t just one gorge, but several gorges for as far as the eye could see; I finally sensed just incredible the Falls really were.
As we flew over the Fall themselves, all I could say was ‘wow’; I was rendered speechless by such true beauty.
I told Heiko that I felt like crying and he said that people do everything from cry to pray and even sing when they fly over the falls; tears began to roll down my cheeks. Heiko said that that moment when people fly over the falls and feel the beauty in their heart is what makes his job the ‘best job in the world’, ‘to help someone have a moment in their life they will always feel and never forget is what makes me whole’; I couldn’t have said it better myself.
We flew over the spray and as we did, Heiko quoted the famous explorer David Livingstone: ‘scenes so lovely must have been gazed upon by angels in their flight’. I couldn’t stop the tears; to see such beauty overwhelmed me.
Just as we were about to start turning back, we spotted a rainbow and Heiko told me of a beautiful saying: If a rainbow follows you at Victoria Falls, it is said to follow you for life. And with that, he turned the microlight and we began to head back.
We glided over the water with the sun’s reflection following us as it danced among the hippos and and the trees and we spoke about how beautiful the planet was to create something as breath-taking as the Falls. I couldn’t express just how incredible a site they were or how emotional they had made me.
And with that, we touched down. In just a 15 minute flight, my heart felt a happiness I couldn’t hope to describe. Even to this day, the memory of that flight is something I will never be able to forget.
Batoka Sky offers helicopter and microlight flights which can be booked directly or through your campsite.
A 15 minute microlight flight is approximately $85 and includes transfers and 30 minute flights are also available.