I Did It: Skydiving Over the Namib Desert
In 2010, I saw video footage and photos from a Nigerian friend, Ewemade, jumping off a plane somewhere in the UK. Until then, this activity was not relatable to me. I had always seen skydiving as “such a white thing to do” until she shared her experience with me.
I remember that day like yesterday. “I’m going to jump off a plane today,” she said. “That’s so cool,” I responded, “but isn’t that for white people?” Her comeback was photos and an amazing video of her beautifully gliding in the air. It looked magical and I knew I had to experience it. She bumped skydiving up to the number one activity on my adventure list!
Eight years later, I got the opportunity to experience this magic in Namibia.
Ewemade’s skydiving experience got me researching the best places to sky dive in the world. Dubai, Swakopmund and Livingstone fast became my top three and I didn’t want to experience it anywhere else but these places. After I received confirmation of a press trip to Namibia courtesy Air Namibia, my dream of skydiving over the Namib dunes was finally coming true. I already planned my cute faces (can’t afford to have an ugly face up there) and the perfect red lips (I got that tip from a fellow enjoyment lover, Victoria Alao).
Air Namibia provided a 3-day itinerary which included attending an annual jazz festival in Windhoek, a Windhoek city tour, visiting the moon landscape in Swakopmund, Namib dunes and a walking tour of Swakopmund. I asked to extend my stay by two days so I could book the sky diving activity. Giddy with excitement as we touched down Namibia, all I could think of was jumping off the plane. In the same breath, I was scared shitless. Not of heights as I have since overcome that fear, but of puking on the pilot! In 2017, I discovered my new "super power" which is my ability to puke mid-air. It happened during paragliding and could definitely happen again. I put that thought in the backseat and vowed to enjoy every single moment up in the air regardless of the outcome.
On my first extended day in Swakopmund, my travel buddy and I picked up a couple of sky diving brochures at the hotel concierge and made a few calls. Based on recommendations from the hotel, we settled with a company called Ground Rush Adventures. The company offers two jumps daily, depending on the weather. Our first booking got cancelled because of bad weather, so solid advice would be to stay in the city for at least two full days.
We got picked up from our hotel the next day and we enjoyed a short ride to the Ground Rush Adventures office. As we got into the bus, my earlier perception of skydiving being for white people was confirmed. Out of ten people scheduled to jump that day, we were the only black faces. See why sharing these experiences matter? I digress.
There, at the Ground Rush office, we were asked to sign some paper work (i.e. sign our lives away), pay, and finally, check our weight. The weight part is important as you are assigned to an instructor based on your weight. They offered various packages based on the altitude you’re comfortable jumping from and whether you’d like photos or video footage. I decided to take my jump from 9,000 feet (the shortest jump BTW) and also pay for photos and video footage because if you did not capture it, you didn’t do it!
At the jump location, we had a five-minute lecture on the do’s and don'ts of skydiving. From how to get into the plane to our leg and head position during take-off and landing. It was an interactive and comprehensive session which I definitely appreciated. We put on our jumpsuits and they checked our harnesses at least a thousand times before getting on the plane.
The flight was scenic. From the airplane window, we could see the point where the Namib Desert meets the sea. In less than 20 minutes, we were at 10,000 feet. It was finally time for our jump.
The first person jumped out with her pilot and photographer, then I was next! My heart began to beat like a jungle drum but I could not go back. I had parted with good money for this experience and I was not going to back down. Today is the day we die on the line! My instructor, attached himself to me, asked me to sit on his lap, and started to talk. He was probably reminding me of the instructions, but I didn’t hear him — I was so absentminded. Then, he tapped me and it was time. We did a butt scoot towards the door of the open aircraft then I heard:
"Cross your arms!"
"Bend your knees!"
Next thing I knew, I was free falling! I shut my eyes so tight and I was torn between soaking in the amazing scenery or praying to God that I don't puke on the instructor. He tapped my shoulder twice and that was the command to uncross my arms. I opened my eyes slightly, caught a glimpse of the photographer/videographer and began to pose! I mean I wore red lipstick — I had to get solid photos.
Mid-air, the parachute was released and I started to feel queasy. Earlier, when I’d informed the instructor of my “superpower,” he told me he had once been peed on by someone. He reminded me, "Just breathe in and out and don't think too much about it, you'll be fine." Then he asked where I was from, how long I'll be staying in Namibia, and the fun stuff I've been up to. Not long after our chat began, I heard "Put your legs up!" It was finally time for landing and I'm excited to share that I survived without a puking accident!
Shout out to our friend Mofe of Naija Nomads for sharing this with us! The photos are so beautiful and definitely makes me want to try this.
What do you guys think? have you gone skydiving? How was it? Did you puke? If you haven’t is it on your list of things to do?