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Our planet is home to more spectacular destinations than one could possibly visit in a lifetime and some of the best views can be enjoyed from above. In fact, there are some landscapes that truly demand it. Taking a helicopter tour brings the opportunity to experience these places in a way that’s absolutely unforgettable for a thrill of a lifetime, and plenty of postcard-perfect photo-ops.
Milford Sound, New Zealand
One of the “eight wonders of the world” as Rudyard Kipling once called it, Milford Sound is absolutely breathtaking, with spectacular forest-covered mountains, dramatic fjords and endless waterfalls, some of which plunge 3,300 feet to the dark sapphire waters below. While taking a cruise here is a great way to experience it and perhaps spot dolphins, seals, and penguins, what may be better is a helicopter tour for a bird’s-eye view above it all. The half-day Milford Helicopter Flight and Cruise from Queenstown tour allow you to do both – and the helicopter flight includes a glacier landing on Mt. Tutoko.
Kauai has one of the most inaccessible interiors of the Hawaiian islands, making a helicopter tour one of the best things to do. You’ll have the chance to marvel at some of its most spectacular natural wonders. The flights generally cover most of the island, like one of the world’s most stunning and photographed places, the cliffs of the Na Pali coast. You’ll also pass over the Grand Canyon of the Pacific, Waimea Canyon, along with countless waterfalls like Manawaiopuna, famous for its appearance in Jurassic Park. In the winter, there’s a good chance you’ll spot humpback whales in the ocean below too.
Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona
In order to grasp the immensity of the Grand Canyon, which measures 277 miles from east to west, it’s best seen from above. The higher you fly, the smaller the canyon becomes allowing you to see more of it while the true size is revealed. While there are many different options for helicopter tours, choosing one that will bring you over the South Rim will allow you to soar over its deepest, widest section.
One of the most breathtaking countries in the world, legend tells that it was named by tricky Vikings who, in an effort to keep it all to themselves, tried to disguise the fact that their new settlement was actually a magnificently lush, green land worthy of envy from the entire Nordic world. Marvel at its dramatic landscapes from above by helicopter, offered by multiple operators like Reykjavik Helicopters, to gaze down at black and beaches, fjords and waterfalls like Glymur which spills more than 640 feet between precipitous cliffs. Watch for the many geothermal pools and the point where the western side of the Eurasian and eastern side of the North American tectonic plates meet in Thingvellir Park on the Silver Circle Tour.
Less than 30 minutes from downtown Juneau is Mendenhall Glacier, a 13.6-mile glacier that’s part of the over 1,500-square-mile Juneau Icefield. A tour is one of the best ways to view it along with the endless horizon of ice-capped mountains and flowing rivers of ice. The helicopter tours land at the glacier site and provide everything from guided ice walking to exploring the ice caves with their brilliant blue interiors.
Victoria Falls, Zambia/Zimbabwe
Victoria Falls, located on the Zambezi River straddling the border of Zambia and Zimbabwe in southern Africa, is one of the world’s most spectacular waterfalls. While it isn’t the tallest or widest, it is the largest sheet of falling water with a combined width of more than 5,600 feet and a height of over 350 feet. By soaring above on helicopter flight you’ll be able to fly up the Zambezi River passing the Batoka Gorge as you take its magnificence in on a 12 to 13 or 25 to 27-minute flight. The tour includes pickup from your local accommodation as well as guided narration.
The Himalayas from Kathmandu
One of the best ways to explore the Himalayas if you aren’t up for a challenging climb is to take a private helicopter tour. You’ll get to soar over the highest parts of the Himalayas, including Mount Everest, flying towards Khumbu, the Everest Base camp and Dudhkoshi River in a window seat, landing at Kala Patter for a video and photo session at over 17,700 feet high. Take in the stunning view from Shangboche hill viewpoint and then head to Mount Everest View Hotel enjoying an optional breakfast, if you wish.
Volcanoes National Park, Hawaii
Hawaii Volcanoes National Park offers the chance to witness ecological dominance firsthand, home to Kilauea, one of the most active volcanoes on Earth. It encompasses some 330,000 acres, from the summit of Maunaloa to the sea, with volcanic craters, rainforests and desert terrain. Flying above on a scenic helicopter flight from Hilo you’ll get a jaw-dropping aerial perspective of Kilauea and Mauna Loa volcanoes, including some of the most geologically active environments on the planet. Your knowledgable pilot will provide commentary as you gaze down at the Halemaumau Crater, pass over waterfalls, the Hamakua Coast and more.
Great Barrier Reef, Australia
A 30-minute scenic helicopter flight from Cairns is an unforgettable way to see Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, one of the most spectacular wonders on Earth and the largest living thing that can be seen from space. You’ll get so close you’ll even be able to spot tropical fish, rays and coral.
Black Hills, South Dakota
The Black Hills in western South Dakota is a lush region perhaps most famous for Mount Rushmore, but it’s also home to forested hills and mountains, unique granite spires, sparkling lakes, waterfalls and abundant wildlife, all of which can be witnessed on a helicopter tour. Black Hills Helicopters offers a range of trips from 8 to 80-minutes long.