Waterfalls, skyscrapers, volcanoes - there is nothing that travellers can't fly over in a helicopter. Helicopters are not only a marvel of modern machinery to ride in but they provide unparalleled views of any area. Not only can they give the view of a city that most residents won't even see, but they can give travellers a peek at even the most remote of areas with very little effort. For those look to do a little helicopter touring, here are some of the finest rides they can take.
By Travis.Thurston (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Travellers in Hawaii will have their pick of both helicopter tours and companies that operate them. For many parts of Hawaii the terrain makes ground travel impossible so the only way to see them is by taking to the air. It has helped make riding around in these big choppers into big business on this United States archipelago. Some of the most popular flights include flying over active lava flows and spewing volcanoes on Hawaii's Big Island, without getting too close to be in danger, of course. Along the way to these fiery attractions, visitors can spot the pineapple plantations, Keehi Lagoon, Hanauma Bay and even the stunning Sacred Falls. Going out further to the islands of Oahu or Kauai, visitors can be flown over sheer sea cliffs or a number of gorgeous waterfalls, most of which are inaccessibly by ground travel due to the mountainous and occasionally dangerous terrain.
Australia's Great Barrier Reef
You think the world's largest barrier reef was interesting from the water? Just wait until you've seen it from the air. This reef that extends 2,500 kilometres in the Coral Sea off the coast of Australia nurtures a number of diverse sea life. However, visitors don't quite get the whole scope of exactly how big it is until they have seen the number of coral formations from the air. While a number of operators take off over the reef, Hamilton Island Air in Whitehaven is the most luxurious. Not only does is spend two hours circling the reef (much longer than the usual tours due to its close proximity), but at the end they provide a picnic complete with sparkling wine on beautiful Whitehaven Beach where visitors still have the reef in sight off shore.
By Ferdinand Reus from Arnhem, Holland ('Mosi-oa-Tunya’) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Although heavily debated, Victoria Falls on the border of Zambia and Zimbabwe is considered to be the largest set of waterfalls in the world. At approximately 1,700 meters wide and 108 meters deep, it is undoubtedly the biggest sheet of continuously falling water in the world, but it is so big that standing on either end of the falls simply isn't going to cut it. Visitors will have to take to the air to view it in its entirety, but there are extra perks to taking a helicopter ride over the Victoria Falls. Africa's wildlife thrives on water and the Victoria Falls has a lot of it. Lucky visitors will be able to spot some of Africa's world famous wildlife such as hippos, elephants, and maybe even a few of the crocodiles that thrive at the landing of Victoria Falls waiting for a few haphazard fish or bungee jumpers to land in their waters.
The Grand Canyon
By Ronnie Macdonald from Chelmsford, United Kingdom [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Arizona's Grand Canyon is simply too vast to fully explore on foot. At over 11 kilometres wide and just around two kilometres deep, the only way visitors can fully appreciate it is to take to the air. Travellers will be treated to the canyon's colourful formations, buttes and spires as well as a sprawling view of the powerful Colorado River that helped shape it over the past million of year. Some helicopter tours will even go so far as to land on the rim or on one of the flat mesas in the canyon for a lovely picnic in an area that most foot traffic will never set foot on. As an added bonus, most helicopter tours include passes over Lake Mead, the imposing Hoover Dam and Las Vegas which is an absolutely beautiful beacon when seen from the air at sunset or at night.
By Chensiyuan (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Like Victoria Falls, the Iguazu Falls is a massive series of waterfalls that straddles two countries. However, it is located a world away from Victoria Falls on the border of Brazil and Argentina. There are few sites as spectacular as this set of waterfalls, but it is not one continuous sheet of water. The Iguazu Falls is actually made up of 275 separate smaller waterfalls that spread out over three kilometres. With trees and other tropical plant life spread in between, from the air, the Iguazu Falls looks like the rainforest is flooding over a cliff. From the helicopter, not only can visitors get some sparsely glimpsed angles on the falls, but they can view its famous Devil's Throat area and the sprawling verdant jungle beyond.