Recently on a transfer between Windhoek International and my place in Windhoek I was “stuck” in a van with two young German tourists. As the airport is quite a bit outside of town and one of them was extremely good looking we started talking. As is the case with all enthusiastic travelers the topic quickly moved to travelling. They were in Namibia for a 5 week mega road trip which included a short visit to Botswana.
Being the gentleman I am I started sharing all my local knowledge and as we came to Swakopmund I boasted that it was voted one of the top 10 places to Skydive in the world. It is then only that I realized after being made aware of it by her (I never got her name) that I’ve never gone for a jump even though its right on my doorstep. I immediately make a note of it, promising myself to remedy the situation a.s.a.p.
Its 05:00 on a Saturday morning in Windhoek. I am in my VW Polo and on my way to Swakopmund which is about 350km away. I need to be at the Swakopmund skydiving club (SSC) at 10:00 for my first ever tandem jump which I booked online earlier in the week. I stop for coffee in Okahandja and somewhere between Usakos and Swakopmund get pounded by a rain storm. About 20 mins later dense fog, I am very worried about my jump. I am flying to Cape Town tomorrow and this is the only opportunity I have. If not it will have to wait for 2017.
I safely arrive at the SSC, but as expected the jump is delayed to 12:00. Looking at the overhead conditions I am certain this jump is not going to happen today. I spend 2 hours in Swakopmund with my first stop at the jetty. This is always my first stop, I love the fresh sea breeze and the view. Thereafter, I head to Café Anton for more coffee, a toasty and some German pastry. I always go to Café Anton when I am in Swakopmund. I receive a call the jump is happening.
The atmosphere at the SSC is super relaxed. I confirm my jump option the deluxe package, complete the paperwork and pay. Thereafter we are given a short, but thorough safety briefing by a guy without shoes. We are assigned our instructor, mine is Thys and harnesses are fitted. At this point it hits me, I am about to jump out of a perfectly working plane at 11 000 feet.
Its my turn to jump. I am rushed into the plane. Is this even a real plane? Its slightly larger than my VW Polo and the inside are completely stripped out… There is six of us in total. I see the other tandem jumper wearing safety glasses. I immediately go into a frenzy, why do I not have glasses. I remember them telling me I will have safety glasses for the free fall. I put on a brave face, refusing to show any signs of panic. Then we reach 11 000 feet, they open the flimsy plastic door. I look outside. I should not have looked outside, its shit high!
We get the signal, it’s jump time . I follow the drill previously demonstrated and before I know it we are free falling. For a full 40 seconds I empty my lungs screaming whilst enjoying probably one of the best moments of my life. It does not even feel like falling, it’s more like floating.
Thys informs me that we are deploying the chute and shortly thereafter we are slowly descending towards the earth. I am surprised by the tranquility of it all and the view is spectacular. The white frothy waves of the cold Atlantic bashing away at the golden beaches formed by the Namib Desert stuck in a perpetual battle for dominance but neither ever truly gaining an inch. The line formed by these two giants of nature can be followed all the way to Walvis Bay where it fades away in the distance.
As if to bring me back to reality Thys makes a sharp turn to the left followed by another sharp to the right. He tells me it was necessary, but the smile on his face makes me believe otherwise. Regardless, I enjoyed the hell out of it. It goes on like this for another few minutes before we prepare for landing. Surprisingly the most likely place one can get injured is the landing. We ace it as is expected from an instructor whose completed nearly a 1000 jumps.
I am relieved to have two feet safely on the ground. I shake Thys’ hand thankful for an amazing experience and head straight to the Skydiving Club bar for one of Namibia’s finest.