Day 287: Flight Of Angels

Mon. 27th May 2013

Falls and bridge from aboveThe Cape Town to Victoria Falls Nomad tour has now ended and we will soon be travelling alone again until 13th June. A few of our tour group are staying extra days in the Elephant Hills Resort so we will see some familiar faces for a few more days. This morning I am booked on a helicopter flight over the Falls with Liz our new Australian friend from the Nomad trip. However we say goodbye to Liesel who flies back to Germany today, after having a great time hearing about her visits to Newmarket and also listening to her English improving daily (we hope we will be as active as her once we turn seventy!).

Up up and awayGoodbyes said, Liz and I are collected from the hotel at 10:30am and driven less than half a mile to the end of the hotel drive where the helipad is! We needed to get there first as we needed to pay and be briefed. Dave walked there later and it took him less than five minutes. After our briefing we realise we are being videoed and are asked how we feel about the flight. We are on the smaller four seater helicopter along with one of the Park employees, which is good news as no-one has to sit in the middle seat in the back. Even better I get to sit in the front next to Sam the pilot who spends most of flight ensuring the best views are on the side Liz and I are sitting.

Above the fallsAs Dave said yesterday, it is difficult to appreciate the sheer size of the falls from the ground and we get an excellent view from the air passing over and around them at least twice. The view is still obscured, this time by the fact the water falls into a gorge. We also had great views of the bridge between Zimbabwe and Zambia where it is possible to bungee jump off but no-one was to be seen this morning. The flight is called Flight of Angels of course (see yesterday’s post)!

View downstreamIt was soon time to leave and fly over the gorge downstream of the falls, which I had no idea was there (poor research again!) and it was great seeing the river weaving its way through the high rockfaces. I do hope Dave does get his microlight flight over the falls once we get to the Zambian side in a week or so as he has missed out on some great views.

Elephant Hills and golf courseLiz and I had signed up for the longer twenty five minute flight which includes the gorge and also game viewing, so we were soon heading back past the falls and over our hotel on our way upstream (note the golf course!). Here the land is completely flat for miles and the river much wider. All the boats for the cruises are moored on this stretch and of all the activities which are available here the cruises are low on our agenda.

Giraffes from aboveOur flight passes along the river as we head on to the game reserve to try and spot some animals. Sam points out elephants and giraffes to me which are relatively easy to spot in the open grassland dotted with a few bushes and trees. Afterwards Liz tells me I missed the buffalos. There was probably smaller game as well but impossible to see from that height.

Smeg poseAs we land I saw Dave taking pictures so I just have to do my Japanese tourist pose, having seen it done everywhere in the world by said tourists. The official photographer is also snapping away and we are lead inside to watch the fruits of his labour. The video and still photos were professionally done and as it was essentially just Liz and I on the trip it was quite personalised so we both had to buy a copy. We cannot access the CDs here so will have to wait until we get hope to publish any of them (more to bore everyone with when we get home).

Tramride awaitsOur hotel is a few km out of town so we catch the free shuttle into town for lunch and find a great café. It does not take long to visit the shops so we head to the railway station where we see the old fashioned tram getting ready for its daily trip over the bridge and back, complete with red carpet and tray of drinks for the guests. This is next to the famous Victoria Falls Hotel which was also like heading back in time. It reminded me a bit of Reid’s Palace in Madeira especially the very traditional afternoon tea for a mere US$30 each.

Victoria Falls HotelWe, however, settled on just a pot of tea, which was the best tea we have had since leaving the UK and only US$4 for two. The pricing structure here is crazy, either very expensive especially for most hotels and activities, or cheap for drinks and day to day items. Even with the accommodation there is no mid priced places, it is either from US$130 to US$500 a night or basic with no private facilities at US$30. The Victoria Falls Hotel is priced at the top end and very colonial, with the obligatory piano player in the huge comfy lounge.

Bridge and falls from Vic Falls HotelBest of all is the view of the bridge and the spray from the falls. As you enter the hotel you can see it was clearly built so that the bridge could be seen from the hotel entrance through a series of arches. The sign in the gardens says it is 2,651 km to Cape Town but our route took us 5,664 km to get here from Cape Town showing just how much we have packed in on our Nomad tour.

Topical cocktailsWe have also booked the Terrace Restaurant in the Victoria Falls Hotel for dinner tonight and enjoyed showing Liz our find. The main restaurant was shut for refurbishment but I do not think we would have been admitted there with our limited wardrobe. The terrace was excellent and we just had to try the cocktails topically called Stanley, David Livingstone and I Presume. Shame we had not found this restaurant last night as it was much better value than the buffet at our hotel.

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