The Flight of the Angels at Victoria Falls

I have been to Victoria Falls twice, in 2016 and 2019. Both times I experienced one of the most powerful shows of nature. However in 2019 the whole Zambezi River basin suffered quite a serious drought, and the volume of water dropping down into the gorge was quite low.

To get to Victoria Falls you have a choice of 2: Zambia or Zimbabwe. If you enter via Zambia the gateway is the city of Livingstone, if you enter via Zimbabwe the gateway is the city of Victoria Falls. In both cases, be prepared for a quite a long line at passport checks, even if you already have obtained an entry visa regardless of it being a land board or an airport.

To decide which gateway to choose you have to consider a very important feature of the place: Victoria Falls has a front of more that 1700 meters, which is quite long. The observation path is on the opposite side of the gorge which is divided into 2 sections by a crack in the rocks, at the bottom of which is the so called “boiling pot”, where the uproar of the water is so intense to make you want to have some earplugs on. Most of the observation path is in Zimbabwe (approx 1200 meters) and a smaller section is in Zambia (approx 500 meters), thus the choice is up to how much you want to see of it…or you may do Zambia on one day and Zimbabwe the next day.

Victoria Falls. Photo by Matteo Gazzarata

You can visit Victoria Falls all year round, but there is something you must take into account: during wet season (which corresponds pretty much to winter for those living in the northern hemisphere), the trees are full of leaves and the whole landscape turns into a brigth green. That is the time when the Zambesi River is at its full capacity and the quantity of water that falls into the gorge is immense. The show is definetely great but only if you look at the Falls from the sky. At sich time of the year in fact it is practically impossible to “see” the falls from the land due the intense vaporisation of the water into the air that prevents from seeing-thru.

Victoria Falls during wet season. Photo courtesy of Shearwater

The first time I’ve been there I visited Victoria Falls from Zimbabwe. I was actually in Botswana the previous day, in the city of Kasane, which is located at so called “4 States Corner”. That is in fact the place where the border between Botswana, Zambia, Zimbabwe and Naminia is located. I Left Kasane pretty early in the morning so that I skipped congestion at the border control in Kazungule, got my Visa in a few minutes and reached Victoria Falls in approximately 1 hour.

Before my trip I researched quite a lot. Most of the information I collected reported that despite the impressive view of the Falls from the land it is only from the sky that the magnitude of such impressive show of nature opens up to a human’s full understanding. Therefore I decided to take what Livingstone himself called “the Flight of the Angels” before visiting the park. I booked it largely in advance (3 months prior to my trip) as the helicoper can only take 5 people at a time. The company which supply the Flight of the Angels is called Shearwater and the helicopter base is just few kilometers out of the city.

Myself oboard the flight of the angels. Photo courtesy of Shearwater

My family and I (a group of 5) were third in line for the flight, thus while waiting we have been delivered the safety briefing and the description of the flight itinerary which is actually a 8-shaped route above the front of the falls, the gorges and the Zambezi River, for a duration of 12 minutes. I had the chance to sit on the front seat, beside the pilot, which offers a 180 degrees view, thus I even managed to take some nice pictures. It is pretty hard to keep your camera still on board a helicopter, but I did my best.

Victoria Falls, Aerial view by Matteo Gazzarata
Victoria Falls, Aerial view by Matteo Gazzarata
Victoria Falls, aerial view by Matteo Gazzarata
Victoria Falls, aerial view by Matteo Gazzarata

We enjoyed our flight and landed back after 12 minutes of incredible views and emotions and we understood why Livingstone said that the magnitude of the falls would have been understandable only by the flight of the angels, even thought he bever flew above the gorge.

If you want to experience the scenic flight I recommend you to book in advance. The price is high but yet affordable (they will probably increase a bit after Covid, but hopefully they will still keep it at a reasonable level). It costed us 80 US Dollars per person in 2016.

We took a quick ride back to the city centre, parked our car and then walked to the entrance of the park, we paid the entrance fee and started walking on the edges of the gorge overlooking the falls. There are so many features to describe that it would take me too much to write about all of them: the devil’s gorge, the Livingstone Island which divides the Falls into two main sections, the main fall, the different heights of the gorge et cetera…. what I recommend you here is just to enhoy the show…Have a rain coat with you as it rains pretty hard at some point. It’s the water of the River that bounce off from the bottom of the gorge which has an average height of 98 meters.

Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe. Photo by Matteo Gazzarata
Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe. Photo by Matteo Gazzarata
Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe. Photo by Matteo Gazzarata
Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe. Photo by Matteo Gazzarata

There is just one thing which I do not recommend you to do at Victoria Falls, which is bathing in the so called “devil’s pool”. If you look at the next picture carefully you will see a group of people having a bath in a natural pool on the very edge of the Falls. To the best of my knowledge, such activity not only is against the law but, even if it wasn’t, it is also very dangerous and stupid. The thing is that if you give a consistent tip to a local, he guides you on foot to the pool. Getting there is an insane adventure as the river is populated with crocodiles and you have to start jumping from one rock to the next pretty far from the Falls.

Victoria Falls, Devil’s Pool. Photo by Matteo Gazzarata

Second of all, the pool is so close to the edges of the waterfalls that falling down by placing a foot in the wrong place is pretty easy. Third of all and most importantly, even you vaccinated before travelling against every possible tropical disease, the Zambezi River (as every other river of Africa) carries bacterias and viruses which are unknown to the bodies of all of us, citizens of the Northern hemisphere. They might do nothing to the locals, but they might cause quite some serious diseases to us. So, why should we be so stupid? Can’t we just enjoy the show without wanting to be part of it at any cost?

Victoria Falls, Devil’s Pool. Photo by Matteo Gazzarata

4 thoughts on “The Flight of the Angels at Victoria Falls

  1. wow these are incredible photos – I’m not sure I’d be sitting in a pool at the top though – not long before health and safety catches up and you can’t do that anymore đŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

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