The Call of the Sky | A Helicopter Ride over Victoria Falls

| Tamlin Wightman

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“He was not bone and feather but a perfect idea of freedom and flight, limited by nothing at all.” ― Richard Bach, Jonathan Livingston Seagull


It’s amazing how natural it feels to be a bird.

Perhaps it has to do with being schooled in the art of Jonathan Livingstone Seagull as a child, all that flying I have gotten up to in REM sleep, and the hours we’ve sat on our riverbank, studying the Zambezi’s birds – ogling the skimmer’s skim and the African fish eagle’s swoop.

Up in the air, in a helicopter flying over the Zambezi, the earth still feels close – we can spy the waving hands of local villagers, the going-nowhere-slowly pods of hippo, the lone baby elephant and giraffe ambling through the trees, the fishermen in their mekoro, the odd bird with its wings outstretched below.

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What I can’t see is the helicopter between me and my surroundings. Sitting in the front with the glass window stretching wide across my field of vision helps this, of course; but the closeness to it all is not missed on the fliers seated behind me.

As for the calm, the control and the inimitable freedom of flying… that you feel when you finally reach the Victoria Falls and drop down into the gorge that has been carved through the earth over thousands of years. That’s the moment your partner beside you might grip your hand with newfound strength; but it’s also the moment – if you’re one to whom the call of the sky is strong – that you wonder how you can hold onto this feeling forever. Because this is where you’re meant to be – soaring with the birds.

Or the angels, according to David Livingstone, who called the area surrounding the Falls, “a sight so wonderful that angels must have gazed down on it in flight.”

In Bach’s novel, Jonathan Livingston Seagull is told that perfect speed, when it comes to flying, “isn’t flying a thousand miles an hour, or a million, or flying at the speed of light. Because any number is a limit, and perfection doesn’t have limits. Perfect speed, my son, is being there.” Step one to being a bird – be here now.

Discover the rest of the steps for yourself, on your own flight, your own brush with life as a bird. (After step one, step two is surely, in the words of Jonathan, “Like everything else, Fletcher. Practice.” Best we take to the air again soon…)

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The Logistics

  • This is one of the best ways to see and photograph the Zambezi River and Victoria Falls, while flying overhead and through the gorge.
  • Royal Chundu offers guests helicopter transfers from the airport over the Falls and to our doorstep at Royal Chundu’s helipad – or from the lodge to the airport.
  • Take the shorter journey and fly right over the Falls (about 12 minutes) or venture further over the gorge and game park for about 25 minutes, taking in the wild sights below.
  • Chat to us about organising a trip with a reputable company, such as Batoka Sky.

Scenic Flight