After a long drive from the desert plains of Sossusvlei, we arrive in Swakopmund, a coastal town on the Atlantic Coast. Known as a centre for adrenaline based activities, the town spreads itself from the mouth of the Swakop River out into the surrounding desert plain. Alex and I were here for 3 nights with quad-biking, the sandwich harbour, sand-boarding and sky-diving on the agenda.
I’d booked my skydive with Ground-rush Adventures, a local agency established in 1997. The Namib Desert, often referred to as the oldest desert in the world, stretches along the entire western coast-line of Namibia from Angola and to the northern Cape Province of South Africa. I was excited by the idea of sky-diving where the crescent shaped sand dunes meet the wild Atlantic sea.
After breakfast, we were picked up by a complimentary shuttle van at our hotel, the Cornerstone Guesthouse. I was travelling with Alex. Ground-rush Adventures are happy for friends and companions to accompany throughout the experience.
We were dropped off outside the office (situated in central Swakopmund). I completed formalities such as a waiver, personal details and to select a skydive option (there was the choice to dive from 12,000ft or 15,000ft). Each skydiver was weighed before setting off on a 20 minute drive to the private air-strip owned by Ground Rush.
We arrived at the airstrip. With colourful huts, a bar and shipping containers on site, the small area was surrounded by a picket fence with a group of sky-diving instructors chatting merrily. A yellow and red aircraft decorated with a cartoon bird is parked on the runway. There is music and a jovial atmosphere. It is a unique vibe that you could only associate with individuals whom throw themselves out of aircrafts thousands of times a year.
We’ve instructed to sit in a circle on the floor. Chris, our de-briefer, approached us with a quiet confidence. With a polo shirt, sunglasses and a soft smile, his knowledgeable and calm demeanour set aside any doubt we had about the skydive. He made it sound as easy as pie!
The first sky-divers (3 females) were first to board the plane. As they opted for the video package, I saw a ratio of 2:1 skydivers vs tandem jumpers. Staring upwards, the plane flew so high that the aircraft became a dot in the midst of a endless blue sky backdrop. We watched as the first parachutes opened and drifted towards the private airstrip. I can feel my heart beating out of my ribcage. There is always the demon whisper of ‘what if my parachute doesn’t open?’
With all the sky-divers landing safely, the plane arched in a full circle, ready to take round II of the participants. I shook hands with David, my sky-diving instructor. We climbed aboard the plane, sitting in vertical lines between the legs of each instructor.
As the plane climbed high, each instructor sets upon attaching the participant’s harness to their front. We’re strapped tight. The door of the plane slid open in a hasty, yet almost casual manner with the roar of the world outside.
It is within this second that the most guttural, primeval bubble of fear and adrenaline erupted. Mine came in the form of mumbling “oh fuck”.
David crouched at the entrance of the plane and he asked me to swing my legs over the side, which felt like dangling over death. With a sudden swoop, you fall at over 200kph. Your legs swing upwards into a scorpion-like position and with a tap on the shoulder, you uncross your arms and you are flying!
There isn’t a drop sensation. Just the feeling that you are moving extremely fast with a crude and intense 360 degree vision of the world beneath you. There were sand dunes folding out like a ruffled blanket and the white foam of the Atlantic Ocean hitting the dunes. We fell for approximately 45 seconds. With a sudden yank, the parachute slows down our fall.
“Oh no that plane isn’t beating us down there!” yelled David with glee. He manoeuvred the parachute in a way that makes us spin fast towards the ground. A crushing and slightly nauseating G force made my stomach turn.
“Knees up!” was the last command I heard from David before he sets us gently on the ground. I grinned so hard and so happily, it was a feeling I can’t put into words. All I can do is urge you to give it a try, it was one of the best feelings ever!
- I originally booked the skydive for 5th December (it was cancelled due to high winds). The skydive was re-scheduled to 7th December. The local team there were great at giving updates on the day.
- I booked the experience with Ground-Rush Adventures who are brilliant!
- I went for the 12,000ft skydive and the approximate cost was £140 / N$ 2,500.
- The private air-strip is situated approx. 20km north of Swakopmund. As we were heading north for Damaraland after, Alex followed the van shuttle with our luggage in the rental car. This saved us having to double back as we drove to our onward destination after.
- There is Wi-Fi at the private airstrip and a bar available to purchase drinks from.
- You can book online or via your accommodation a day before. If you book with your hotel, you pay for the experience on the same day (rather then paying in advance online e.g. avoiding bank fees!).
- You can pay by card at the Ground Rush office.
- If you find yourself in Namibia, go for it! The professionalism, customer service and experience is top notch :).
- The experience is from 10:30AM to 12:30PM including the skydive, transfer timings, introductory briefing and the office visit.
- If you have any questions, feel free to email me or post here and I’ll be happy to help.