The magic of Cape Town by Helicopter

Cape Town by helicopter with NAC helicopters

Though I have travelled the world on everything from planes, trains, and automobiles to mega ships and even ships of the dessert, I have steadfastly avoided ever setting foot in a helicopter.

This is mostly due to a) my being scared of flying, b) my being claustrophobic and; c) my being a gutless chicken shit.

That is until now. I’m in Cape Town and despite my unbridled terror, the temptation of the bird’s eye views over the spectacular Mother City is proving hard to resist. As I whip out my wallet to pay the nice lady from NAC Helicopters who I’m sure is sending me to my imagined death, I am kind of surprised at myself for stepping up, voluntarily, to do something that I’ve always swore I wouldn’t. Sober.

NAC helicopters Cape Town

It may have something to do with FOMO as I see the beaming faces of a bunch of fellow travel writers who’ve just disembarked from the tiny helicopter. It may be peer pressure as they tell me I simply HAVE to do it. Or it may be because I feel an urgent need to find my courage following a visit to Robben Island.

You see, after hearing stories of how the mighty Nelson Mandela and a bunch of far braver folk than I overcame their own very real and justified fears to change their and our lives, I figure facing a fancy schmancy helicopter and some of the most stunning views in the world at sunset doesn’t really seem like a big ask.

Cape Town by helicopter

So in the spirit of living with courage, I swallow a teaspoon of cement and, with knees knocking and breath held, harden up to climb aboard the tiny, levitating tin can to view Cape Town by helicopter.

As we take off from the Victoria and Alfred (V&A) Waterfront, my heart is racing so fast I convince myself it could probably power the frigging helicopter in the event of an emergency. Thankfully the incredibly skilled pilot doesn’t resort to platitudes or condescension when I tell him I am quite literally soiling myself, though I am sure he fears for his upholstery, and instead just makes a pinkie promise that he’s done this a few times before and won’t kill me. This is reassuring given we are already several hundred metres up and watching as The Cape Wheel and harbour disappear from view…

THE V&A Waterfront for the sky

And you know, true to his word, I don’t die once. Instead I feast my eyes on the rugged majesty of Table Mountain and the jagged headland of Cape Point and forget all about the whirling blades keeping me in the sky. The flat-topped  Mountain, which has exerted a powerful pull on me since I arrived, is even more spellbinding from the air.

Cape Town by helicopter

In fact, I feel free and have never felt less claustrophobic than I do at that moment. It appears that helicopters might just be a magical and rather unexpected exception to my flight phobic rule.

Indeed, I’m pretty fly for a scare guy. Instead of freaking, I spend fifteen minutes in awestruck bliss soaking up these unbeatable views over gorgeous Cape Town by helicopter, disappointed when the time is up.

Cape Town by helicopter

And as we come in to land, I’m happy to report I leave the good captain’s upholstery just the way I found it.

SAfe and sound back at the V&A waterfront

NAC Helicopters
E Pier Rd,
Victoria & Alfred Waterfront,
Cape Town, South Africa
Tel: 27 (21) 425 3868

Cape Town  – Need to know before you go

When to visit
 Cape Town is a great year-round destination.
While English is widely spoken, especially in the city, there are 11 official languages spoken in South Africa and the most commonly spoken languages are Zulu, Xhosa, and Afrikaans.
The Rand (R)
Voltage is 230V and 50Hz. Power outlets are round three pin sockets.
Visa & Passport Requirements
A South African tourist visa is not required for citizens of Australia for a stay up to 90 days.  South Africa requires that all children entering or leaving the country carry an unabridged birth certificate and parental consent affidavits if they are travelling with only one parent. All visitors will require a passport valid for at least six (6) months.
Cape Town is free from malaria and safe for travellers of all age. While there are no essential vaccinations for travellers to South Africa at the time of publication, we advise visiting your family GP at least six weeks before travel for up to date advice on the latest recommendations and necessary immunisations.
Crime is an issue but 95% of serious crime occurs in the communities of the Cape Flats area, where it is not advised to travel. Pick pockets are bean issue in the city centre and muggings do occur in Table Mountain National Park, so it’s best to go with a guide and always keep cash and valuables hidden. It is not recommended to catch public transport or walk after dark, UBERs are a safer option.

Disclosure: Our joy flight over Cape Town by helicopter was independently paid for.

25 Comments on The magic of Cape Town by Helicopter

  1. Deborah
    October 14, 2016 at 10:37 am (8 years ago)

    Stunning pictures and the view is amazing!

    I haven’t been to Africa since 1996, but I found Cape Town (and its environs) to be stunning!

      October 18, 2016 at 11:51 am (8 years ago)

      Thanks Deborah, it’s such a special place. Can’t wait to go back to see more.

  2. Nicole @ The Builder's Wife
    October 14, 2016 at 11:52 am (8 years ago)

    Just stunning! I love flying in a helicopter, and so do my kids. My favourite flight so far, was through the mountains in NZ

      October 18, 2016 at 11:51 am (8 years ago)

      I’m part Kiwi and that would be amazing. Maybe that should be flight number 2!

  3. Em @ Have A Laugh On Me
    October 14, 2016 at 4:32 pm (8 years ago)

    I am so jealous – I LOVE helicopters, I’ve only been in 2 but still! Looks so stunning from up there!

      October 18, 2016 at 11:53 am (8 years ago)

      It really was. Who knew helicopters could be so much fun? I’ve said no so many times before. Whoops!

  4. Breharne
    October 15, 2016 at 8:57 am (8 years ago)

    Beautiful shots! Like you, I’m not a fan of helicopters. Fine on planes but helicopters make me uneasy. Good on you gurrrrl!

      October 18, 2016 at 11:54 am (8 years ago)

      Thanks Breharne. Never thought I’d step foot on one but very glad I did x

      October 18, 2016 at 11:52 am (8 years ago)

      It is really amazing. I though that would be the worst thing but it didn’t feel claustrophobic at all!

  5. Helen K
    October 15, 2016 at 11:31 am (8 years ago)

    How stunning does that look?! I might even be able to get over my own fear of helicopters for that view …

      October 18, 2016 at 11:56 am (8 years ago)

      If I can you can! I was prettified until we actually went up! It was actually extremely peaceful

  6. Joy Adan @joyadanwrites
    October 15, 2016 at 3:39 pm (8 years ago)

    Wow this is magical! Your trip to SA wounds absolutely amazing. What a precious view to experience…

      October 18, 2016 at 11:58 am (8 years ago)

      It was definitely a bucket list moment Joy

  7. Lyn aka The Travelling Lindfields
    October 15, 2016 at 4:15 pm (8 years ago)

    I took my first ever helicopter flight last year in Sydney. Like you I am claustrophobic but I didn’t find it was an issue at all. In fact I have already taken my second flight (in Newport Rhode Island) and when we arrive in Capetown next year I intend taking my third. Thanks for the great review. p.s I can highly recommend a flightseeing flight over Sydney Harbour!

      October 18, 2016 at 11:58 am (8 years ago)

      Hope you love Cape Town as much as I did

  8. Sammie @ The Annoyed Thyroid
    October 15, 2016 at 5:05 pm (8 years ago)

    I once had a similar pants wettingly terrifying experience flying in a helicopter over King’s Canyon. I was actually born in Cape Town but left when I was a baby and didn’t return until my honeymoon. It’s stunning, isn’t it? I think it looks even more beautiful from up above – what fabulous pics!

      October 18, 2016 at 11:59 am (8 years ago)

      Kings Canyon would be amazing by Helicopter. I think there will be many more flights in my future

  9. Hugzilla
    October 15, 2016 at 9:56 pm (8 years ago)

    Hahhahha mate, that would scare the shit out of me too. Even those stunning pictures freaked me out when I imagined being you up in the sky. Kudos to you for overcoming that fear and grabbing that experience by the balls.

      October 18, 2016 at 11:55 am (8 years ago)

      I am trying hard to overcoming my inherent wussiness and trying to grab ’em all by the balls, Hugzy. Opportunities that is. I’m no female Trump! :p

  10. inthegoodbooksblog
    October 16, 2016 at 2:02 pm (8 years ago)

    Gorgeous views!!

      October 18, 2016 at 11:55 am (8 years ago)

      So incredible 🙂

  11. Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella
    October 19, 2016 at 9:21 pm (8 years ago)

    Well done Aleney!! It’s a great feeling to conquer a fear. Helicopters are so much fun and you got some wonderful shots 😀

  12. Grace
    October 20, 2016 at 3:44 pm (8 years ago)

    Wow, those views are amazing! I have still yet to take a ride in a helicopter. You’ve inspired me!

  13. Kirralee @ Escape With Kids
    October 21, 2016 at 9:31 am (8 years ago)

    That does look incredibly terrifying but it looks so worth it too. I just read Ellen from Positive Psychology’s article about the positive effect of experiencing awe and thought that’s one of the reasons I love travel. And here you are having an amazing awe-inspiring experience.


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Hey, I’m Aleney! A mum, award-winning travel writer, magazine editor and gallivanting glutton. He’s Raff, the “boy” in boyeatsworld, and a fearless foodie, adventurer and eco-warrior. Along with his all-singing, all-dancing, all-adventurous sister, Sugarpuff, we’re exploring the world’s colour, culture and cuisine on a food safari for the junior set.

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