Today we had a free day in Victoria Falls, and so some of our group members decided to do helicopter flights over the falls to get a different perspective. The helicopters were quite small – two people plus the pilot – and as soon as we took off we could feel the helicopter being blown side to side by the wind. On our way to the falls we flew over the Zambezi River, which is filled with small islands and shallow inlets. We could see elephants grazing on tree branches as we approached the cloud of mist over the falls. From the air, as we circled the falls, the sunlight in the mist appeared to create a rainbow that moved from one end of the falls to the other as we changed position. It was amazing how it appeared that the earth just swallowed the water – it seemed to disappear after the falls until a slow, meandering river reappeared in the Batoka gorge far below. From above, it became apparent why different areas of the falls have different names – there were distinct segments where water flow was heavier than it was in other places. We circled the falls two times, and then flew up the river and back towards the landing strip.
After everyone had completed their flights, our group arranged for a ride to the bridge that connects the Zambian and Zimbabwean sides of the falls. Mid-bridge, there are lines painted and signs depicting where each country begins and ends, with a neutral zone in the middle of just a few feet. Vervet monkeys were climbing on the rails of the bridge as we watched the sunset. The bridge had a great view of the boiling pot, or the turbulent water at the bottom of the falls, that we could not see from the park in Zambia.
We returned to the lodge and had a group dinner under the stars, overlooking the Zambezi. We will be leaving Zambia tomorrow to return to Botswana and explore Chobe National Park.