It’s really cold but we bundle up and head out into the desert anyway. We’ve booked the ‘dawn strike’ – skydiving over the Namib Desert for our adventure, just outside Swakopmund in Namibia.
I have heard so much about the huge sense of satisfaction derived from skydiving. Consequently, I have spent every waking moment so far concentrating only on how much better a person I will be afterward, and not about gravity and things like that.
Air-borne and Skydiving over Namibian landscapes
We arrive at the drop zone to discover a friendly crowd of slightly off-beat folk, keen to share their thrilling hobby with us. It is easy to get caught up in the excitement during the preliminary briefing and the outfits we get to wear are pretty cool, in a Top-Gun kind of way.
Before too long we have bundled into the aircraft and are upward bound. It seems to take forever to reach the appropriate height – 10 000ft I am told, and for the plane to level out. It’s jump time, and as the door opens, there is an overwhelming blast of cold, noisy air which disturbs me!
It’s too late though, I am already hooked up to my designated instructor and he is ready for lift-off. We drop out of the plane and I am surprised at how unfazed I am by this. It seems my brain is unable to comprehend the height, and thus has neglected to go into panic mode.
The sensation is not like falling at all, more like flying through suspended time, and once I have caught my breath and got my limbs under control, I can settle down to enjoy the views.
It’s all pretty orange and blurry at this speed, but once the chute opens with a gentle bump, the sun glistening over the sands is quite spectacular and the vastness of the desert and beauty of the Namibian landscape is simply amazing. We spiral gently to the ground and land surprisingly gracefully on our feet (no thanks to me).
It’s true, you can’t help but feel like the world-champion of all things after completing this exhilarating activity and I burst into tears and laughter all at once. I am grateful to hear that this is quite a common reaction among first-timers.
Four Wheels and a Motor, a Board and Mountains of Sand
A cup of coffee and lots of adrenalin-filled chatter later we are on the way to our next adventure – quad biking. We have booked a 3-hour trip which includes breakfast and sandboarding and need to hustle to make our start-time of 9am.
Having little faith in my quad-bike-operating capabilities, I opt for the double-donkey option which has me hanging on for dear life to the driver as we set off across the dunes. We traverse the Swakopmund riverbed all the way to Rossmund Lodge Golf Club. While it can’t be compared to falling from the sky, there is a certain amount of freedom to be found travelling like this with the wind in your hair and the gorgeous desert sands all around.
Our breakfast at Rossmund Lodge Golf Club is most welcome after the morning’s thrills and we practically inhale the bacon, eggs, and toast placed before us. We hop aboard our trusty steeds and make our way back to base for the sand boarding portion of our trip.
‘Fun’, is the best way to explain this activity. It reminded me of my childhood sliding down the hill in our garden on a cardboard box and has all of us out of breath with laughter and enjoyment. Two hours passes in a flash of slipping, sliding, tumbling exertion and then it’s time for a late lunch.
Since it’s our last day in Swakop, we treat ourselves to a calamari feast overlooking the ocean. While lingering lazily on the deck, we decide to tick off one last item on our desert adventure checklist and head off back out of town to the Camel farm for a ride.
I must say I was quite surprised at how much I enjoyed this, preferring my quadrupeds a little closer to the ground. The camels were actually rather well-behaved compared to expectations, and the views from my mount were quite different from the air or on board a quad bike. We enjoyed our meander around the dunes on these gentle giants and even got some photos of us in our Arab headgear to mark the occasion.
With the adrenalin wearing off, our weekend in Swakopmund winds to an end as we head off back to town for a good night’s sleep before our journey back to Windhoek in the morning.