I admit, I have been suffering vertigo for a very long time now. It all started when I was fourteen years old and went on a trip to Paris with my parents. I was overwhelmed by this huge city and it’s beautiful buildings and of course I wanted to climb the Eiffel tower. We decided to take the stairs to the second level (a bit of exercise does not hurt anyone, even if you are only fourteen). The climb was fantastic. It was tiring, but the view was amazing. We had beautiful weather, clear blue sky and the visibility was perfect. It all started going down the drain when we went back down the stairs. You must know that since the Eiffel tower is a steel construction, the stairs are made of steel as well, with holes in it. It looks nice at first sight since you can look all the way down.
Anyway, after a while I started feeling dizzy and nauseous and that’s where my vertigo started. I managed to climb down but was never really able to climb these kind of stairs again, not to stand too close to the edge of a cliff, or even to sit relaxed in a cable car.
To skydive or not to skydive…
Over the years, my vertigo softened, but don’t ask me to do these weird adrenaline sports that require heights. And yes, I mean bungee jumping. Who on earth in their right mind jumps off a bridge with only an elastic band wrapped around their ankles. No way would I ever try this, even though bungee jumping is very popular in southern Africa, with the Bloukrans bungee in South Africa being the highest in the world and Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe over the mighty Zambezi river.
A few years ago, I was talked into skydiving. I had never really thought about it. I thought this was something done by the military to get dropped off in a war zone, but not for fun (little did I know…). Skydiving is a very popular activity in Swakopmund, Namibia (among other places in southern Africa) and I have been to Swakopmund many times over the last years.
One way or another, skydiving attracted me more than bungee jumping and I wanted to give it a try…but at the last moment, on one particular occasion, I chickened out. I always regret not having done it at that time, because later you start thinking about it too much and all the things that can go wrong (have you noticed that you never think about the positive things when doing something like this?). So I thought, I missed my chance, I will not do this again.
Swakopmund – A town in Namibia packed with adrenaline
When I got a chance to return to Swakopmund again with a group of tourists, most of the group were interested in jumping. I told them the story that I chickened out years ago, but that I would still go skydiving over bungee jumping. The result of the story was that the group decided to put my name on the list of skydivers, and the worst of all, they paid for it. No way could I say no to that. I still had my hopes that the weather would deteriorate on the moment of the jump.
The morning of the jump, I hopefully poked my head outside and looked at a perfectly clear blue wind free sky. Bugger…I would jump today….
I was anyhow convinced I would still be able to say no at the last moment. Of course I could, I smiled…
The moment we arrived at the club of Ground Rush Adventures, all went very fast and before I realised I was stepping into the cesna plane with the skydive instructors, while I was still waiting to get some kind of explanation. I was still hoping to wait for the others to jump first and chicken out at the end. So probably it was a good call to have me first on the list so I did not have time to think about anything.
Anyway, before getting on the plane I asked the instructor again to give me the instructions. He just looked at me, smiled and said, just enjoy the ride. Well, that still did not ease my mind so I tried again and asked if there would be anything that could do wrong. He shook his head. I guess that calmed me down since if something would go wrong, it would not be my fault…as if it would matter in the end.
The flight up took about 30 minutes and I think it was the calmest flight I’ve ever had. I was so relaxed and just enjoyed the view over the Namibian desert, the Atlantic ocean and the Skeleton coast. This half hour passed extremely fast and before realising I was hanging out of a plane.
Yes, I finally did it…
That moment were you jump off the plane and experience your first ever free fall is just indescribable. It feels amazing. The first time however, you forget to enjoy it. It all goes so fast so there is no time to think. The wind is racing over your face and with a speed of about 200km/h. You fall towards the ground. But the funny thing is that you don’t get the feeling your are falling.
I’m a bit embarrassed to admit that at that time the only thing that worried me were my goggles. Due to the pressure of the free fall I had the feeling my goggles were going to fly off and my only worry was that I would not be able to see anything without them.
I was glad I did not book a videographer to free fall along, I think I would not have made the best impression and would never be able to show anyone my amazing skydive video.
When I realised my goggles were stuck to my face the free fall was over and the parachute was open and flying. Then suddenly it felt like I lost the adrenaline due to the shock of the opening parachute and it kept on racing with 200 km/hour towards the ground while I was peaceful and calm high above. That feeling was indescribable, but I’ll try. It was the most beautiful feeling ever, so relaxed, so one with your surroundings, so peaceful, so…so…And then I realised, skydiving is fun and everyone should have done it at least once in their lifetime.
The moment you land and realise ‘I did it’, is just out of this world. It makes you so happy and makes you want to savour that moment. I can really recommend it.
We used Ground Rush Adventures / Skydive Swakopmund for the tandem jump and we can highly recommend them. Most of the photos are credited to them as well.