Have you ever considered taking a tour in a helicopter? I have always wanted to, but I always assumed it was way out of my price range. Well, last year some friends invited Marc and me to join them on their helicopter tour. You can probably guess how much I squealed with delight when they asked us… They’d actually booked Valhalla Helicopter tour earlier in the summer; But on the date of their tour, the helicopter had been needed to help fight fires that were taking over British Columbia’s forests. Their tour was rescheduled for September. It costs the same amount if they came as a couple, or if brought 2 friends… and luckily for us, they opted to bring friends!!
Valhalla Helicopter Tour – the basics
There are a bunch of different tours you can book. It starts at $499 for a 20 minute flight, but you can spend more for longer tours, wine tours or even helicopter picnics. We’d done a walking wine tour of Naramata the previous day, how good would that be via helicopter!?
You need to arrive early so they can explain the safety procedures and show how everything works. It all felt very professional and safe. We were unsure if we’d be allowed to fly until that morning, as they need to check the weather.
If you like the idea, many of their torus give you the option to fly without doors! Our tour was to celebrate our friend Chris’ birthday. He likes taking fabulous photos, so they’d requested to fly with doors off. The idea of flying at 3000ft in a vehicle with no doors sounds a bit scary. But we were all well strapped in (and we wore loads of layers to stay warm!) If you can, flying with the doors off is exhilarating.
We didn’t fly straight off into the air. First the helicopter hovers for a while just off the ground while the pilot does a bunch of extra safety checks. Then, once he has permission (over a radio) we could finally fly up over Kelowna.
The views down to Okanagan Lake were spectacular! Okanagan Lake is 135km long and 4-5km wide. It is lined on either side with vineyards that produce the best BC wines. This is the view south towards Penticton.
I was pretty worried about taking these photos as it is sooo windy with the doors off. Marc would have been so mad if I had dropped my phone.
Myra Canyon from above
One of the fun sounding trails near Kelowna is Myra Canyon. This used to be the location of the Kettle Valley Railway. The railway is now history, but the trestles and tunnels along the route have been linked up as a fantastic hiking/cycling route.
There are 18 trestles in this section of the Kettle Valley Railway near Myra Canyon. I will just have to come back to hike it so I can show similar views from the trestles!
After flying up close to some of the trestles and waving to the hikers; We flew over to Crawford Canyon. This canyon is deep with impressive vertical walls of rock.
Crawford Canyon was the highlight for me, as it was so cool to feel so close to the edges of the canyon. I was in awe of our pilot.
On the way back we passed Kelowna Mountain. This is a adventure park with a cool suspension bridge, oodles of bike trails and newly planted vineyards. In 2003, the Okanagan Mountain Park Fire burned down the forests that used to cove these slopes. It’s impressive to see how they are revitalizing the area.
Good weather for flying
We were really lucky! The weather was perfect for our flight, although it started to look a little moody as we flew back across Okanagan Lake. Big drops of rain started to fall just after we had landed and made it back to our cars.
We absolutely loved our helicopter tour! It was really cool to see Kelowna and the surrounding countryside from up high. I was pretty chilly by the end of it, but it was worth having the doors off so we could take good photos.
If you ever plan a helicopter trip and you need two extra bodies to fill up the space and get excited with you – please feel free to invite me. 😉
Warm up at Loki’s Garage
If you need to warm up with some tasty comfort food after flying (or if you’re in Penticton); Try Loki’s Garage. We needed to drive south to pick up some wine (from our walking wine tour the previous day – we couldn’t carry it all.) After collecting our wine, we stumbled upon a fantastic brunch restaurant the served up perfect soup and incredible toasties.
Do you fancy flying above the beautiful scenery in BC? Or does flying in a helicopter with the doors off sound a bit too terrifying? Click on the pins below to save this for later.