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Vic Falls from above

Posted by on December 17, 2011

I finally didn’t have to get up super early this morning, which was great. I had a helicopter flight over the falls scheduled for 8 am which would give me plenty of time to run, shower and have breakfast. Sadly, it was raining when I got up so I scratched the running plan. During my leisurely breakfast, a driver came asking if I was going on the canoe trip. I told him I had no idea what he was talking about. Apparently, the tour company found other people who wanted to go canoeing and since I had enquired about it, they signed me up to go even though they didn’t contact me at all. Maybe if the weather had been nicer, I would have joined, but it was not a good day to be on a river so I just told the driver that I was booked for the helicopter ride and he said alright.

At 8 am I was ready to go and I waited, and waited. Finally at 8:20 I called the tour company to see why they were late. They said the flights were not running due to weather. That was totally understandable but they could have called me! They said it would be around 9 am so I hung out and read for a while. When it was still sprinkling at 9 am I called them back and just requested that they phone me when the trip would depart.

With nothing else to do, I walked into town and went to an internet café for a while to check my e-mail. Then I browsed the shops for a while. I finally got a call that the helicopter ride would depart at 2 pm so I hung around until that time.

I got picked up from town and taken to the launch pad. After a very brief safety video (just do what they tell you to do), I was weighed (no one over 70 kg can ride in the front) and then I was swiftly loaded onto a helicopter with 5 other people. The whole process reminded me of Disney World: it really was like a production, with a helicopter landing and people getting off as the next group waited to get on. It all happened so quickly. And before I knew it, we were airborne!

We flew to the falls and made several circles in either direction so that everyone had a good view. I took a ton of pictures (hopefully some of the look good). It was absolutely amazing! Such a unique perspective and one that I’ll never forget. I got to see the river that becomes the falls and the gorge that the river has eroded away. We saw the rapids where people go white water rafting and all of the islands that make up the channels above the falls. Then we flew 4 km upstream and saw the slow moving water and the cities of Victoria Falls and Livingstone. It was amazing! But 13 minutes goes by very quickly and before I knew it, we were landing and being ushered to a small room where we were forced to watch a video of our flight. The video had some footage of us being weighed and getting on the helicopter then it had some standard footage of the falls then some more video of us getting off. All for just $30! Disney-esque, right? It was a great experience and I would definitely recommend it.

After the flight, I had the driver drop me off at the bridge for my zip lining! The highest bungee jump in the world if from the Victoria Falls bridge, which spans the gorge dividing Zimbabwe from Zambia. Normally to cross the bridge you have to go through immigration and pay the visa fee to enter Zambia. However, if you are doing the bungee jump, bridge swing, or zip line, then you can get a bridge pass without having to pay the fee. You can’t go far into Zambia, but I didn’t want to.

I got a lot of pictures of the bridge and watched some of the crazy people bungee jump. It looked scary. It’s 130 free fall, stopping 30 feet above the swirling waters of the Zambezi river. Not for me.

I did the “baby” event, and got put into a harness then strapped to a metal cable that spans the gorge. With a bit of a push, I went flying from Zambia to Zimbabwe! I went kind of fast, but it wasn’t scary at all and I had a good chance to look out and see everything. On my way back, I even got to view the falls from the Zambian side, which was pretty cool (although mostly dried up at this time of year).

Although the day started off slowly, the afternoon was awesome! Afterward I walked back into town and got a smoothie since it was getting warm again and I hung out and watched the people walking around town.

For dinner I went to a restaurant called “In Da Belly” which is a spoof on one of the local ethnicities, Ndebele, which is pronounced roughly the same way. I had crocodile curry with peanut butter rice which was quite tasty.

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