Flight-seeing tours offer the chance to take in a bird’s-eye view of a landscape that you just can’t get by any other means. Sure, there are towers and buildings that rise high into the sky, providing stunning vistas from above, but you just can’t get the same perspective that you could via a small aircraft. From waterfall-filled Kauai to the world’s tallest mountain, you have to experience at least one of these flight-seeing excursions across the globe.
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Kauai (Nearby Hotels)
The Garden Isle is famous for its waterfalls, and many of them are inaccessible by road, on private land, or otherwise hidden from view. By taking a flight-seeing tour, you’ll be able to see the falls and a whole lot more. You’ll also be able to take in the legendary 16-mile Na Pali Coast with its dramatic cliffs and hidden valleys. As getting there on foot can be a major challenge, and by boat is a stomach-churning experience, air is arguably the best way to view the entirety of the coastline, from the dazzling Pacific to Waimea Canyon.
Denali (Nearby Hotels)
Alaska is home to North America’s tallest peak at 20,310-feet-high. While you can obviously view it from a distance, private vehicle traffic is limited to the first 15 miles of the 92-mile-long park road so most tourists take a bus shuttle. But if you’d rather not rub elbows with others while hoping to catch a glimpse of the Alaskan wilderness and its wildlife, this adventure is for you. For an especially unforgettable Alaska experience that doesn’t require a lot of physical effort, take an air tour. You’ll be able to witness the arctic-alpine tundra, the Wickersham Wall of Denali, considered the world’s greatest continual vertical relief, and perhaps even spot the park’s wildlife like moose, wolves, caribou, grizzly bear, Dall sheep, lynx, beaver and fox.
Mt Cook National Park, New Zealand (Nearby Hotels)
Aoraki Mt Cook National Park showcases the tallest mountain in all of New Zealand, Mount Cook, with its sky-scraping peaks, glaciers and permanent snowfields. While mountaineers and climbers enjoy getting up close and personal with it, you don’t have to be that adventurous to get a good look. A flight-seeing tour may be the best option, providing an unsurpassed view as well as the chance to land atop Tasman Glacier. While the rugged alpine terrain is rather barren due to its altitude, colorful lupine brightens the rocky landscape that feels as if it’s the top of the world.
Iceland (Nearby Hotels)
A nation of sharp contrasts, with both fire and ice, Iceland is home to some of the world’s most truly spectacular landscapes and the only way to really take it in is from above. From active volcanoes and powerful waterfalls with rainbows in their mist, to massive glaciers, black sand beaches and ice-filled lagoons, there are many possibilities for a flight-seeing trip here. Tours can be found throughout the country and sometimes combine other experiences too, like exploring an ice cave or viewing icebergs and whales.
Nazca Desert, Peru (Nearby Hotels)
Located in the Nazca Desert of Peru is a series of ancient geoglyphs referred to as the Nazca Lines, believed to have been created by the Nazca culture sometime between 500 B.C. and 500 A.D. This high, windless plateau is one of the driest places on in the world, which contributes to the preservation of these 2,000-year-old rock motifs. They’re miles long, shaped like animals, humans, trees and geometric shapes, though the only way you can really appreciate them is from high up. The best way is by air, though you can see them from the highest points on the surrounding foothills. Mystery Peru offers a 35-minute flight tour of the lines for which no one knows the real purpose. The pilots makes multiple passes above images of the strange human figures, whales, monkeys and more.
Grand Canyon, Arizona (Nearby Hotels)
As one of the Seven Wonders of the Natural World, the formidable Grand Canyon is 227 miles long, up to 18 miles wide and a mile deep, with walls offering a striking mosaic of colors and erosional forms that become even more spectacular at sunrise and sunset. While you could hike down or rent a mule to descend into the canyon, the very best view of this wondrous sight is definitely from above. There are multiple flight tours available, providing a wide range of options, including opportunities to take in other sights like Lake Mead, the Colorado River and Hoover Dam.
The Serengeti Via Hot Air Balloon, Africa (Nearby Hotels)
Not all flight-seeing tours are by plane, as a hot-air balloon is also ideal for an aerial excursion, especially above the world-famous Serengeti at sunrise. You’ll soar over the tops of umbrella trees, rising high above the vast Serengeti, which is the Masai word for “endless plains.” Look down at the woodlands, wetlands and savannas, where lions try to stay cool in the shade, hippos can be seen bathing in rivers, herds of zebra graze on the grass and giraffes nibble on the high tree branches. After a flight, most trips include a toast with Champagne, and some, a full breakfast too.
Whitsunday Islands and the Great Barrier Reef, Australia (Nearby Hotels)
The Whitsundays are made up of 74 Island Wonders along the tropical coast of Queensland in the heart of the Great Barrier Reef. It is an internationally-renowned archipelago for snorkeling and diving, housing an astonishing array of marine life, including more than 1,600 species of tropical fish, turtles, sharks, dolphins, rays and giant clams. One of the best ways to experience this beautiful archipelago is to take a scenic flight over it all, viewing secluded beaches like Whitehaven Beach with its white silica sand and striking turquoise waters often rated as the most beautiful in the world. While the flight is sure to leave you longing to dig your toes into those soft sands, most tours include the chance to walk the stunning four-mile crescent of sands at Whitehaven Beach and jump in for a snorkel.
Whistler, British Columbia, Canada (Nearby Hotels)
Whistler is famous for its jaw-dropping mountain scenery that was featured in the 2010 Winter Olympics. Choose from several different flight tours for various perspectives of this spectacular region. You’ll be able to admire both Whistler and Blackcomb mountains, Whistler Resort, lush meadows and glacier-fed lakes, waterfalls and volcanic formations before the grand finale: a glacier landing.
Mount Everest, Nepal (Nearby Hotels)
Mount Everest needs no introduction. While its summit can only reached by the most skilled, experienced climbers, you can still enjoy one of the world’s best views by joining an aerial tour that will get you as far as base camp.