There is nothing more refreshing than gaining a new perspective. If you're gazing down from thousands of feet high in the sky, everything looks different.
If your feet are so itchy they've got you flying, here's our round up of the world's best aerial views.
Flying over the glittering Indian Ocean from large, picture-perfect Mahe to private and tropical Fregate, you’ll pass palm-fringed shorelines, lush forests and oh-so tempting turquoise waters.
The annual Great Wildebeest Migration is one of nature’s most enthralling spectacles from any stance, as hundreds of wildebeest and zebra crash across 150,000 square miles of woodland, water and open plains in search of fresh pasture.
However, watching the colossal herds thunder across the Serengeti from a hot air balloon adds the extra element of epic scale. This unique bird’s eye view lets you appreciate the grand size of not only the National Park, but also the immense game below.
While Table Mountain is a sightseer’s typical stop-off, Myanmar’s Bagan is only just back on the tourist trail. With a strikingly less amount of visitors, Bagan’s temple filled plains are a land of enigmatic majesty and religious splendour.
What’s more, hovering among the pagodas’ stupas on a hot air balloon is particularly mesmerising and if that’s not enough, take the ride at sunset to witness these stately monuments silhouetted against a fiery sky.
One of the lowest, hottest and driest places on earth, this surreal Ethiopian terrain features bubbling lava lakes, immense salt pans, hyper-saline lakes, sulphuric springs, sun-baked mountains and hydro-thermal fields in venomous greens, flaming yellows and vibrant reds. So inhospitable and alien is the climate that astrobiologists work here to understand how life may arise on other planets.
Undeniably, the best way to see this landscape is from the air, where you can take in panoramic views of the vast, extra-terrestrial desert. You will even see camel trains snaking through the heat haze, led by the unbelievably hardy Afar people who have managed to survive nomadically in this hostile environment for centuries.
Few cityscapes are as dramatically panoramic as that of Brazil‘s Rio de Janeiro and Guanabara Bay, with its sweeping ocean view, slick of tumbling multi-storey rooftops and misty mountainous borders. Not to mention, as sunsets go, Rio’s is pretty spectacular.
For unparalleled views of the whole region, including the hideaway coves and verdant slopes surrounding the city splashed with smaller Brazillian neighbourhoods, take the cable car up to the top of Sugarloaf Mountain.
Africa‘s mighty Victoria Falls definitely deserves a mention. Rise above the spray and see this majestic sight from the luxurious vantage point of a scenic 25-minute helicopter flip over the plunging falls and down into the gorge. You can also take a canopy-tour of the falls, or hitch a thrilling microflight. However…
For a thrill-seeking alternative, try the hair-raising bungee jump at Victoria Falls Bridge, plunging down towards the rushing Zambezi River with the booming waterfall behind you. At 111 metres, this is one of the world’s highest jumps, while a micro-light tour cranks up the thrill notch even higher, promising an exhilarating vision over the crashing waters.
It’s fun to get up close and personal with this vast coral reef through diving, snorkeling and boat trips, but at 2300km long, there’s really no better way to take in its immense size and biodiversity than from the air, with its hundreds of islands and beaches spread out below you.
The biggest coral reef system on the planet, this is considered one of the great natural wonders of the world. A jewel-like patchwork of turquoise and blue, seeing it from above is a bit like cloud-gazing in reverse: there’s even a heart-shaped reef to spot!
Lalibela is Ethiopia‘s holiest city and a site of pilgrimage for many Orthodox Christians. The 900-year-old church of Bet Giyorgis (Church of St. George) is the best known and best preserved, located on the western side of the cluster of 11 churches.
It was carved from a single piece of rock 40 feet into the ground in the shape of a Greek cross. This is a truly epic sight from the air. The surrounding landscapes are also starkly, astonishingly beautiful, making for a unique panoramic experience.
Take a scenic seaplane from Colombo down to Yala National Park, and you’ll fly over Sri Lanka‘s lush and verdant tea country. The first tea plantations were established in Kandy in the 1860s The first tea plantations were established in Kandy in the 1860s and now most of the scenic central region’s elevated slopes are covered in rows of painstakingly maintained plants.
Aerial views of these gorgeous mountainous slopes reveal colourful, interlocking patterns, swirling fields and contoured rows, giving the whole view a completely different, hypnotising look.
Right outside Huacachina are clusters of historic Nazca Lines. They are one of the most beguiling mysteries left by the ancient civilisations of Peru. The best way to experience the impressive size and technique of these creations is by over-flights which can easily be arranged. Though the origin and meaning of these lines is still a mystery, many believe they were drawn as an offering to the gods.
These symbolic pattern formations depict hands, trees and monkeys, and are believed to have been drawn by a pre-Inca civilization. In contrast to the nearby sand dunes, these lines are drawn in the hardened bedrock of vast, flat desert terrain, and because rainfall is so scarce in this area, the lines are remarkably well preserved.
Arguably the most popular tourist sight to tick off in Cape Town is soaring up Table Mountain for those mind-blowing ‘Mother City’ panoramas. Despite the crowds, it does indeed live up to the hype. In your glass-walled cable car, with its 360 degree vistas, you ascend the mountain reaching high above the Atlantic.
For tip top scenes though, head up on a clear day or you may find yourself peeking through the legendary ‘tablecloth’ for a glimpse of the otherwise fabulous, sweeping views. Alternatively, active adventurers can hike to Lion’s Head Peak, or for the ultimate luxury you can hitch a heli-tour.
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