Travellers do all kinds of crazy things when they’re off exploring exotic destinations. Many just want to enjoy the sunshine and hit the beach. Some like to eat local food that most wouldn’t touch. Others have to conquer mountains and peaks. Then there are those who want to jump off bridges and cliffs. I decided to be one of the latter when I went skydiving in Namibia and it was one of the most awesome things I ever did!
I never intended to go skydiving in Nambia. It was just one of those spontaneous things that happened. I’ve never been an adrenaline junkie or anything like that. But I was in Africa, having the time of my life with an awesome group of people that I met on my overland tour. SoI just thought “why not?!”
What Was I Doing In Africa?
Travelling, of course! I’d just come back from an incredible few weeks exploring Brazil and was about to try an overland tour with Absolute Africa. I had never been to the continent before and was super excited. I’d always thought visiting Africa to see animals in the wild would be too expensive, something that honeymooners or retirees do, but I met a guy in Sydney a few years before who told me about overlanding!
He told me about the time he spent on the continent in a big truck taking him from country to country. He had seen all the big five too – elephant, lion, cape buffalo, leapord and rhino. As a lover of nature documentaries, the thought of being able to see them without having to spend a fortune was too good to be true.
So, after two years of saving my socks off, I booked myself onto a tour that travelled from Nairobi in Kenya all the way down to Cape Town in South Africa. Along the way, I made a bunch of new friends, saw some amazing wildlife, camped under the stars nearly every night, and did a few adventure activities too.
What Exactly Is An Overland Tour?
Overlanding is simply travelling over the land! The term was thought to have originated from Australia where cattle ranchers would herd their cattle across the outback. Overlanding can have many meanings today but most companies that offer overland tours have the same principle – you jump in a vehicle at point A and you travel in that vehicle all the way to point B.
The journey can take a few days, weeks, or months. Some overland journeys have even taken years. There are usually several international border crossings and you almost always stay exclusively in tents. The vehicles on Absolute Africa’s trip are big yellow trucks that have been kitted out with seats to carry passengers rather than cargo.
What Was The Overland Tour Like?
Really, really awesome! Imagine meeting a group of strangers who become your new friends who then become your family. That’s what happens as you travel together for weeks at a time. You have so much more time to bond with people than the typical one-night partying in a hostel.
We stayed in tents most of the time and camped in national parks like the Serengeti and Masai Mara. We even had hippos sniffing around our tents at night at South Luangwa National Park in Zambia. Shopping, cooking and washing duties were divided amongst the group so everybody had a chance to be involved.
One of the best things about travelling overland is the chance to pass through pass through all the little towns and villages. There was always an opportunity to meet the locals during the long drive days. You also get to eat and shop in places most travellers would miss because they flew or took a train.
Why Did I Want To Try Skydiving In Namibia?
Well, Namibia was the only place on our itinerary that had the option to skydive. So that was probably the main reason. A few of my new friends had already booked their spot way back in Kenya or Tanzania, at the beginning of the trip.
Earlier, in Zambia, we had already taken part in a few adrenaline activities. We did a gorge swing, or canyon swing, which is similar to a bungee jump but you swing across the canyon. We also did some white water rafting on the Zambezi River and some quad biking, and sand-boarding, on the sand dunes when we arrived in Namibia.
Jumping out of a perfectly good working plane just seemed like the next stupid thing to tick off my bucket list while I was on a roll!
How Much Did It Cost To Skydive In Namibia?
Not cheap but probably cheaper than if you were to do it back home (at least in the UK) But it all depended on which company you go with. Absolute Africa had a partnership with Ground Rush Adventures in Swakopmund and their price for a standard 10,000ft tandem dive was around $200/£145. With the option of video of the dive for around $50/£35.
These prices are at today’s exchange rate (2021.) When I did the skydive back in 2008, the US Dollar was around $2 to £1 (2 US Dollars to 1 British Pound Sterling!) Being part of the tour meant we had a slight discount too. So when you think about it, the experience was an absolute bargain. Not that you could ever put on a price on these kinds of experiences!
What’s A Tandem Skydive?
A tandem skydive is where you jump with a fully qualified instructor. You are attached with a few straps (something crazy like just three) and you jump out of the plane together and your instructor then pulls the cord to release the parachute. This is what most people would class as a skydive experience but I just wanted to clarify that the official term is a tandem skydive.
Can’t You Skydive By Yourself?
In a word, yes! But this requires a license from the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (or FAI) which doesn’t come cheap. An A-License will allow you to jump solo but this requires completion of an AFF, or Accelerated Freefall, course. Once you’ve completed all 8 levels of AFF, at a cost of around $1900/£1400, then you’ll need a few extra hundred dollars to make 10 more solo jumps.
It may sound expensive but there are many enthusiasts out there who have done their license and have gone on to become instructors or work for Red Bull, etc. Most people are OK to do the occasional skydive with someone strapped to their back. When you add up the costs, it’s not really worth it for someone who might only jump out of a plane a couple of times in their lifetime. Plus the equipment is like $7,000/£5,000 or more!
I must admit, the idea of flinging myself off a cliff in a wingsuit did cross my mind occasionally! But daydreaming about nearly dying from extreme sports and actually facing it are two completely different things and I was happy just do the tandem skydive on this occasion!
What Did Skydiving Feel Like?
Quite exhilarating, and odd at the same time! It was odd because I didn’t get that falling sensation for very long. The one you get when you go down the drop on a roller coaster ride and you feel your stomach shifting! Instead, I was felt like I was in a big wind tunnel and I just couldn’t take my eyes off the scenery around me.
Flying Up To 10,000 Feet
I was strangely quiet going up in the little propellered plane. I remember looking at the door and thinking “that’s just a plastic sheet!” But then again, nothing should’ve surprised me after spending weeks in Africa. That’s when my instructor shouts across to me “we’re jumping first!”
As we shimmied towards the open door of the plane I felt the wind slap me across my face and I asked my instructor not to send us twirling out as genuine fear began to flow through me. “No worries,” he said and we tumbled out in a bloody mess as we spun in every direction before reaching terminal velocity – the maximum speed I could fall.
Everything happened in a split second. The initial feeling of freefall quickly leaves and, despite falling at around 120mph, it didn’t feel like was falling at all. It felt more like someone had a giant fan underneath me. This actually caused me to continuously wipe my nose! Which looked great on the DVD they gave me at the end by the way!
The cameraman also jumped out with us and even though I knew he was in front of me, I couldn’t stop looking around and thinking how amazing this all felt. While wiping my nose at the same time.
When my instructor pulled the cord, a different sensation came over me. At first, it was fear as I thought about the few straps that connected me to my instructor, hoping they would stay strong! Then I managed to relax and just enjoy floating down gently to the drop zone. Enjoying the views before a surprisingly smooth landing.
We all had a good laugh watching everyone’s jump DVDs (that’s right, they were still around back then!) Some were laughing and screaming, some were dancing and waving to the cameraman and I spent a lot of time wiping my nose! Nevertheless, we all had an awesome time and had an absolutely fantastic day together!
Would I Skydive Again?
Without a doubt! It’s been a while since my one and only jump. The only problem is that my only skydive experience was in Namibia, so I may be a little spoiled now! It’s been a while now but any skydive that I do would have to be in an epic location.
I had the opportunity to skydive over Fox Glacier in New Zealand but, unfortunately, the conditions just weren’t right on that occasion. Hopefully one day I’ll return and have the chance to try again.
Along with Fox Glacier, I’ve seen plenty of other skydives locations that look out of this world, like the Blue Hole in Belize or Palm Jumeirah in Dubai.
Would I Recommend A Tandem Skydive?
Absolutely! It’s one of the best things I did on my overland tour and I hope to do another one day.
I definitely recommend doing a tandem skydive. Even more so if you’re on your travels as you are more likely to throw yourself out of your comfort zone, so to speak! If you are near a skydiving school you can always do a tandem dive there too. You may or may not get the scenery you desire but you won’t forget your first dive in a hurray.
Skydiving in Namibia just topped off an epic few months of travelling and is something I’ll always remember. I still haven’t had the chance to do another jump to this day but I’m hoping it won’t be too long before I take the plunge again!
I hope you enjoyed the story of my skydive experience in Namibia. If you liked this post or want to know more about my experience then please drop me an email or leave a comment. Thanks!