There are many ways to experience Africa’s mighty Victoria Falls, which sit between Zimbabwe and Zambia, but a microlight flight is undoubtedly the most thrilling.
As a result, these flimsy aircraft circle the falls like vultures over a kill.
The jubilant faces returning from the air did nothing to calm my nerves as I climbed into the muddle of wing and wire and pulled my seatbelt tightly. It was, after all, the only thing stopping me from plummeting 1,000 feet.
There’s no hiding from the elements in a microlight. With no doors, windows or even a windscreen and only a handrail to grip, it’s just you, the wind and the scenery.
The bright blue hang gliding wings reached out above me while the small engine behind me hummed away.
“Ready?” asked my pilot, Pascal, as he turned around to face me.
As I considered my response, the wheels started rolling.
The microlight rumbled down the short muddy runway and we were airborne.
Heart racing, I stole an immediate glance beyond where my feet now dangled freely. Huge clusters of acacia trees blurred into the forest green landscape and a lone giraffe grazed as we circled to gain altitude.
Soon we were hundreds of feet over the murky Zambezi River as it flowed towards the waterfalls where a million litres of water plunge over the 103-metre drop every second, spewing spray high into the air.
The 1.7 kilometre-wide falls — known locally as Mosi-oa-Tunya (The Smoke That Thunders) — were discovered in 1855 by Scottish explorer David Livingstone, who named them after the reigning British monarch.
Now at our maximum altitude, Pascal banked the microlight sharply for one more loop. We glided straight into the plume of spray directly above the falls. Greyness closed in at every angle and fine droplets settled on my visor.
The ride was over before it began. Pascal landed the microlight with a bump and tug of the handlebar. A smile spread across my face while we rolled down the runway as the next passenger waited nervously.