Sunday, January 18

Beverly does Africa

That's it.  Beverly has done Africa. Overnight we departed Victoria Falls to join our connecting flight back to Sydney.  Our return flights went without a hitch and we both slept like babies on our flight across the Indian Ocean. Mum is now waiting at Sydney Airport to board her final flight home to Auckland.

We made the most of our final day in Africa with a grand finale helicopter flights over the Victoria Falls. Weeks ago we booked the day's first flight hoping that the weather would play its part. We weren't disappointed. The morning dawned with lightly overcast skies and calm conditions.  It was near perfect weather for flying..

Our helicopter took off shortly after 9am on a flight route that took about 20 minutes to complete.  The tour company is based at Elephant Hill, about six kilometres north of the falls.  The hill a low-profile mound rising from ancient floodplains that follow the Zambezi River towards Victoria Falls. Several years ago an impressive five-star resort complex was built on its crest.

As we took off a distant rain shower gave the landscape a wonderfully African flair.  The view was spectacular. We traced the Zambezi river's path towards the falls.  Our route took us over the berths for dozens of boats we'd seen traversing the river two day before and on towards the falls themselves. 

A curtain of white mist hangs perpetually over the falls. For last two days we've watched this "cloud" drifting from our hotel dining room. At times the wind had swirled the mist into a jagged mushroom cloud reminiscent of a fading atomic bomb testing image.  However, from the air, the mist proved insignificant.  It obscured only a small section of the falls giving us an unobstructed view of its majesty and its equally impressive neighbourhood.

Our helicopter pilot flew us in a leisurely circle of eight around the falls, the Zambezi Gorge and the frontier bridge. The falls stretch an incredible 1,708 metres. Only from the air is it possible to conceive of just how far the falls extend.  However, the trailing gorge that's been carved over millennia proved equally spectacular.  A series of jagged Z-shape ravines scar the surrounding plains for more than seven kilometres downstream.

Our flight included ten minutes of safari flying over a nearby national park.  From the air we spotted several giraffe herds grazing on the tree tops, as well as a large herd of elephants rambling through the bush.  It was very cool to see the animals from this perspective after spending so much time viewing at ground level. Mum loved every moment of our flight. She told me it was one of the highlights of her entire Africa adventure.  The perfect way to finish an incredible vacation.

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