Africa from the air is a breathtaking sight — vast herds, sprawling wetlands, snow-capped peaks and rising cities.

Thanks to creative safari outfitters, aerial views of the continent are a lot more accessible than they once were.

hueyHuey helicopter flights at Victoria Falls (Zambia):

Based in Livingstone on the Zambian side of Victoria Falls (the falls form a border between Zambia and Zimbabwe), United Air Charters introduced 20-minute flights in a “Huey” helicopter — the widely used military helicopter — in 2013 as a radical way to experience Africa’s largest waterfall.

With fully open side doors, the 13-passenger Huey zigzags through the 125-meter-high (410 foot) rock walls of Batoka Gorge, skimming close to rapids that make this stretch of the Zambezi one of the continent’s best for whitewater rafting.

Upon reaching the violent clash of water and rock called Oblivion, the chopper rapidly rises up and over Mosi-oa-Tunya (“The Smoke that Thunders”) at the falls.

United Air Charters Huey tours over the falls with an open door are $175 per person for 15 minutes and $330 per person for 20 minutes
namibiaPrivate flying safari (Namibia, Botswana)

Little trumps the glamor of a private flying safari in southern Africa, which takes visitors over the Kalahari Desert and Okavango Delta and delivers them to some of the most exclusive and expensive safari camps on the continent.

As one of the region’s leading flying safari outfitters, African Profile Safaris lists corporate tycoons, politicians and movie stars among its clientele, and organizes flying safaris anywhere in Africa, from week-long trips around Namibia, Botswana and South Africa to month-long Cape-to-Cairo journeys.

African Profile Safaris offers 13-day fly-in safaris in Namibia, Botswana, Zambia from 60,900 rand ($5,770) per person

mulanjeClimbing the West Face at Mulanje (Malawi)

Rising 1,700 meters (5,500 feet), the hulking West Face of Chambe peak on the Mulanje Massif is one of Africa’s greatest rock-climbing challenges.

The wall features two distinct sections — a 610-meter (2,000-feet) Lower Face and a 1,067-meter (3,500-feet) Upper Face.

Those who want to experience the view from the top without the death-defying climb can trek the Skyline Trail, a three-hour hike between Likhubula guest house and Chambe mountain hut.

The Mountain Club of Malawi (MCM) helps plan climbs. A seven-day trip of trekking and climbing booked through MCM costs $162
zambiaBusanga Plains hot air balloon trip (Zambia)

“There’s nothing like it,” says balloon pilot Erik Hesemans of the low-level gliding he does over Zambia’s wildlife-rich Busanga Plains with Namib Sky Balloon Safaris.

“Sometimes we’re only three meters above the ground — close enough to look straight into the face of a lion or hippo as you’re flying past.”

Hesemans pioneered the maneuver over the red hot dunes of the Namib Desert and brought “skimming” to Zambia’s savannah country in 2012.

Hesemans brings his balloons to Busanga during the dry season between June and October, when animals are drawn to waterholes and are thus easier to spot from the air.

Excerpts from : CNN

20 May 2014