BY: CHEMONE CARPENTER | 2012-11-19
The very first time I ever came to the realization that I was going to be skydiving was literally when I was in the activity centre in Swakopmund, Namibia standing in the queue to pay for it … Yup… that was it, I’m doing this!
The next morning a group of us were collected in a small van and we headed off into the desert. There were quite a few of us and upon arrival at the hanger in the middle of nowhere in the Namibian Desert, we were greeted by another approximately 60 people all waiting for their chance to brave gravity and throw themselves out of a perfectly good aeroplane! Oh dear… What had I been thinking!
Everyone there was so supportive and happy and seemed to have no cares in the world at all, they had a small radio playing and it was very festive with everyone hiding their fears on the inside. They suited up, climbed into the plane, soared off into the sky and then one by one they jumped and landed… simple!
My turn next! The harness fitted snugly between my legs and under my arms, it was very tight and rightly so! They wormed me into the suit as I had to be as secure as possible to remain attached to them when we jumped out of the aeroplane. Harnessed up, all set and scared to death, off we went! My palms were sweaty, my heart was racing, yet other than that I felt calm. We climbed into our little plane feeling like sardines as we launched into the air.
Looking back, and at the photos above, it really does look like I am over the moon to be travelling at snail speed in the smallest plane known to man, climbing to heights no one could ever fathom wanting to throw yourself out of?
Before I tell you what it is actually like to throw yourself out of the plane, I have to tell you that I did it again! Yes, I did it again… It is honestly the most amazing and truly amazing adrenalin rush you could ever dream of! My new goal is now, one jump a year!
I’ll try to get together the correct words for this phenomenal experience:
They slide you slowly to the edge of the plane, kick your legs out so that you are literally just hanging onto the front of your jump buddy on the outside of the plane. You look down and look around not really able to comprehend what you are about to do. He starts rocking you, taps your shoulder and gives you a thumbs up. 3…. 2… 1.. and off you go!!
You drop at an incredible rate with the wind blowing past you so quickly that through all the screaming and all the magical and expressive words you can possibly use in your 36 seconds of freefall, you are left with a very dry mouth, a heartbeat that feels like it is now on the outside of your chest and a smile that no one could ever take away from you! You did it! The sky is no more the limit! Conquered!
After my jump, I found this on the wall in Swakopmund Jump Club which is the best description of the life changing experience of throwing yourself out of an aeroplane!
You must jump to know, no words can describe the incredible rush when the wind invides you to play. You are one of the few. For a moment you doubt, but the doubt is short lived, as gravity pulls you from the safety of the plane you understand, this is freedom! No turning back now, but who would want to?? The dream of human flight. You know what it means to SKYDIVE!
Swakopmund is the adventure capital of Namibia and there are so many phenomenal activities to do here! You can visit Swakopmund on a number of our tours and experience all of these activities yourself! Here are a few of your options:
20 Day Vic Falls to Cape Town – available in the opposite direction
14 Day Vic Falls to Swakopmund (Desert and Delta) – available in the opposite direction
12 Day Cape Town to Windhoek (Namibian Experience) – available in the opposite direction
7 Day Cape Town to Swakopmund (Desert Explorer) – available in the opposite direction
As always, I would like to start at the beginning of my day. This was at 2h30am! I briefly mentioned the barking Gecko in the rafters yesterday? I have now decided, it is not a Barking Gecko, it is some kind of demonic hissing, spitting amphibian creature, put in the rafters to specially annoy me! Every time I turn around in bed, it spits at me! And then comes the post spit HISSSSSsssss! But the problem is, Damien ( it now has a name), puts so much effort into the HIsssss, that it promptly has a bowel movement! There are little fire balls of crap all over the room now! Hence, me being awake at 2h30! I was spat awake (English is not my first language, but even I can see something is amok with that sentence?)!
Ok, post 2h30 demon spit later, some confusion with gate times. On the map they kindly give you to illustrate the two roads in the Kgalagadi, it clearly states gate opening time for November is 5h30am. But, on the clock sign at the gate it says 6h15. I reckoned that the people at the park would know better than the media print shop in Cape Town that printed the map and gate times. So I will go with the Gate clock sign! By 6am, I am standing ready, but strangely, the sun has been up for a while! I got clarity on this matter later in the day, when the gate guard said he doesn’t know who made the time on the gate wrong (my personal feeling, somebody who wanted to hog the Lions for themselves)
So at incorrect 6h15, I went into the park! Halihaaaa, what a day! Spectacular! It started off with a family of Suricates (and o henetjie, how embarrassing would it be if it was actually banded mongoose or some such, and here am I, Guide trainer of note, and a qualified field guide saying it is a suricate!). But I know in Afrikaans they are called Meerkatte or Graatjies. I digress. Back to the massacre theme of this epic adventure! One of the Graatjies managed to catch a Rock Agama. A BIG one! It was chomping away, starting with the head, and from here it is going to get a bit graphic. PG in effect! So, it bit of the head, but apparently the sinew is a bit of a tough customer to get loose. So, furious snapping and pulling, and that sorted it out. And in the middle of this feast, some danger was noted, so the Suricate was standing on its back legs with an agama’s lower half dangling out of the side of its mouth, with one agama arm still kicking! I wonder what the agama though it would do if it could kick itself free? Run around with no head? Oe, this reminds of Matjiesfontein all over again!
Now in my head I am an award winning photographer. In reality, I am rather crappy at it. But it gives me so much joy just pressing that shutter release button that I actually don’t really care if the photos never end up in the National Geographic! So unfortunately, my photos don’t really show the guts and gore, but believe me, it was spraying all over the show!
After that little blood fest, I stumbled over a Dark Chanting Goshawk! Again, some mediocre photos there, but well worth the 70 spaces it took up on my memory card!
And so it went on. Two hours of small birds, little mammals running around, and fun and games to be had by all. I have to admit, seeing as I am in Blue bullet all alone, and Bullet is not a big talker, I found myself having fat chats with myself, and random animals around me! Hello there Mr Ostrich! How YOU doing? And the last song I played before entering the park was a song of which I only know about a half a stanza, and that got stuck in my head (I see a hmmm la la da, grace lala your mind. In a world of laahmmmlaaa la I see). Hence my decision to turn back after about 2 and half hours in one direction (also, the guy at the gate told me that the road is closed from 20km from Twee Rivieren Camp. He also drew this on my map with magic marker, in case I got confused between the metric system and the other system that people use on maps. Ok, I see his point. But, 30km later, still no clear “road closed, don’t you dare cross this one rock lying on the ground” sign. I thus turned around of my own accord. ( They say it is hard to find internet in Jail)
And then it happened! I was doing a spot of bird watching, and as one does when doing this hobby, the eye will always go into trees, and underneath trees. So I saw a small black bird, under a tree. This now as I drove past. But then my mind said, hang on, a small bird wont sinuously stretch itself out like a snake! Slam brakes, come to a skidding halt that even the big Sarel van der Merwe would not have been able to pull off, without rolling poor Bullet! I Slam into reverse, and take out three Kanna bushes. O hell, it could have been Njarra bushes too, I was not really looking ok! And then I see it. One ear sticking up, in the shade! Leopard I think? Nah, the last time the Kgalagadi pulled a strange animal that don’t belong here stunt, was when they brought in 12 Giraffes, and my brother also nearly rolled the car when we saw one. Basically, a traffic hazard to do that. Then in my jumbled confusion, it sunk in, CHEETAH! The fast cat? Lives in the Kalahari and Namibia. Ag, ok, pretty much everywhere. Seriously endangered, due to its love life being a little Mississippi, Deep South thing, where your grandmother is also your cousin, and you are your own nephew! So, with the tune from Deliverance Banjo duet playing in my head, I switch off the car and just sigh and smile. Cheetahs.
And not one, but four of them. Mom and cubs!
Eventually another car arrives, and I hang out half mast through the car window, in my excitement that my eyesight is actually not as bad as I thought, and enthusiastically pointed out the four cheetahs. All lying flat, can barely see them. So we settle in for the duration, because at some point one of them must surely go to the bathroom?
Then the lady in the other car drives parallel to me, and asks me, she bought a new camera, and do I know which camera setting one uses to get the Cheetah to come out of the shade? My answer in my head was, yes, of course, turn the dial on the camera to raw meat, and then point it in the direction of the cheetahs. But that was in my head. In fact I was a bit worried about the lady, as her eyes were watering terribly. Now I am not sure if it was with emotion, to finally see a cheetah, or if she should rather stick to the Kruger Park, where they have tar and not dust roads.
But, eventually she leaves, and not 5 minutes later, the cheetahs get up! I slam Bullet into reverse, again nearly take out two dunes, and half a plantation of whatever bush that was, and so I ran with the Cheetahs! Truly! In reverse! And I got some lovely shots. Cheetah walking. Cheetah walking still. O look, Cheetah walking! And then Cheetah sleeping 2 km further down, under a duplicate shade tree!
O well, all ends well that is well? No, all is well that ends? Bugger, you know what I mean.
Lunch time saw me back at camp with a duet tan going on on my face. Half burnt, the other half very light white! And, there stands a Nomad truck! In the Kgalagadi! I must tell you, white contrasts very nicely with the red sand dunes! It was a truck on a charter tour, but luckily the driver, Richard, could come check out Blue bullet and the V8 sound. He gets under the car, with about 30 bystanders cheering on, and it seems there is a hole in the silencer! And, more bad new, Blue Bullet is going through a slight identity crisis! Reason, she lost her Registration number plate! This part Richard asked me very politely: “Boss lady, where is the Number plate?” So I explain about the hell road, and also the Kgalagadi roads, and he says, but is Bullet then 4×4? I could hear a faint sniff coming from Bullet at that point.
So, number plate-less, I venture back into the park. And saw a side striped Jackal! Either that, or a very Mangy looking black backed Jackal. I am hoping for the side stripe, it is rather rare to see. So, as I am minding my own business, taking photos of said sick black backed, or rare side striped, another 4 wheel drive car approaches at the speed of light, or rather much more than the allowed 40km per hour. Then the driver slams on brakes, creates a dust cloud like Hiroshima would not believe, and looks around. Then he asks me, what am I seeing. Now, right underneath his nose, possibly with its tail caught under his tyres, is the Jackal. Which I meekly point out. O, he says, its just a jackal. He has been looking for a Lion the whole day, and still have not found one. I thought to myself, if that is how you drive, and you can’t even see a jackal under your nose, chances are you drove by a whole assembly of Lions! But again, wisely, I kept that to myself!
So, the bottom line, boys and girls, is that we all learnt a lot today! Demons can live in Geckos, and then spit. Cheetahs sleep with the wrong ones. If you drive too fast, you park on Jackals, who in turn won’t tell you where the big Lion party is being held that evening!
My day ended with another insect attack! This time it was done in full frontal attack mode, on the entire bush front Chalets! While I was busy battling a swarm of bees, the Dutch family next door was busy chasing them with a bath towel, and the Americans two chalets down, were just bemoaning the fact that one just can’t control wildlife anymore these days! I have to admit, I was screaming a bit like a girl. Sorry.
I got the bees out, had a nice piece of sheep, and started looking forward to tomorrow.
My sighting list add-ons:
Four Cheetahs. Did I mention I saw cheetahs? Yes, four.
Two very close Ostriches. Not close to me, close to each other.
Dark chanting Goshawk.
Pale chanting Goshawk.
Blue Heron (water bird, but seemingly one with identity crisis as well)
Spingboks and springbok babies! Very very cute
Side striped Jackal.
And I did see one Black backed as well. Or then, one healthy and one sick Black backed Jackal
One Nomad truck, with emotional Spanish Tour Leader.
One Agama foot, still kicking.
Did I mention about the four Cheetahs?
O, how could I forget! Tree climbing mice! Beyond adorable! They hang like Kite surfers on three different branches and try to get the seeds on the bush! Then the wind pulls one of the branches to one side, so then the poor mouse stretches like bubblegum and eventually just ! Hundreds of them on bushes! Looked like the Chinese Lantern festival!
That’s it for today, tomorrow the adventure continues!
Don’t miss out on an opportunity to do this tour with us, have a look at the itinerary for the 9 Day, Karoo, Kalahari and West Coast Tour and book as soon as possible!
Nomad’s Operations Manager, Tosca Korver, has dangerously been let out of the office to get a closer look at our new tour route, the 9 Day, Karoo, Kalahari and West Coast Tour (Cape Town to Cape Town). Don’t miss out on her epic adventures right here!
From the Road…. Day 1
It was a Massacre!! I left a blood trail from Cape Town to Sutherland! I am so depressed at the moment, drinking a plastic cup of Beyerskloof red, and hope that tomorrow the small animal life will please STAY OUT OF MY WAY!! It started with a Cisticola (little bird) that went Kamikaze on me, and flew into the side of my car! Then, of course it is apparently locust migration season in the Northern Cape, so, yes, quite a few colonies were wiped out by my 2×2 wheels. And then, the Leopard Tortoise, that, not at the speed of light, in fact, at no speed at all, crawled across the road on some unnamed pass. That one I missed, but nearly rolled my car in the attempt, seeing as the Leopard tortoise is on the endangered species list. I think. And then, of course, the snake! Seriously, it should not be on a 45km per hour road. Where I drove 30km per hour, as I was trying to capture the spectacular view from the Observatory Mountain! Not sure if I hit that one, but I think the tail might be something of the past now.
And this was NOT due to reckless driving, or lack of attention! They all just seemed to brim over with a lust for death!
Anyhow, that being said, what a fantastic day. My first vacation leave in yonks (and when I say Yonks, I mean, since the advent of electricity type of Yonks), so the first three hours was of course taken up with thoughts of work, and what did I forget. Then I ran into the Bikers club from Cape Town. At the wimpy about 5km outside of Cape Town(I was hungry, OK), and they seemed to be in such a high spirit for their bike trip (possibly to the Tygerberg Zoo and back) that I also promptly got into the spirit of the Epic adventure!
Du Toit Kloof tunnel, as always, gave me a moment of hesitation. I am not the type to be driving blithely underneath a couple of tons of mountain, and not be worried. But that 4km went past without a ton of bricks coming down on my head ( SA Engineers, ne!). I was very tempted to stop at every farm stall, and trout fishing stop, but managed to contain myself, until I saw the sign post for the Ostrich farm just past Touws River!
Ag cute man! Did a lovely 40 min tour there, with Bob, the Ranger, from Zimbabwe nogal. And low and behold, Bob knows Nomad very well, as he recalls our trucks pulling into Vic Falls when he was still living there.
That bonding session later, I fell back on the road again, looking for Matjiesfontein. Now, it must be said that I have been there before! A couple of times, but strangely, I couldn’t find it this time. Possibly because it has a population of like 3. And is more like a thought of a town, than a metropolis. I eventually pulled off at a truck rest stop, to check my map, to see if perhaps I did not drive past, and was speedily on my way to the Lebombo border to Mozambique (but I do carry my passport, so it would not have been a train smash, except for the 2000km round trip part). 15km later, I stumbled into Matjiesfontein. Originally founded by some Scott, and his wife, the whole town has been declared a national monument. And one can see why. Strangely, it reminds me a lot of Pilgrims rest in its hay day, with clapboard houses, and staff in colonial dress. The Museum was closed, temporarily, as the caretaker had to go to the bathroom, just as I arrived. So I meandered over to the bar, and met the Character of Matjies! He grabbed me by the scruff of the neck, pulled me inside and gave me an impromptu tour of Lord Milner’s home. Or lord somebody. (Sorry, I was not really listening that well, as I was too busy looking at the amazing range of weird and wonderful old time furniture!
It seems that my casual tour guide, is actually a jack of all trades, who can play piano ( which he did, bowler hat and all), and a standup comic! He showcased the performance he did on a SA standup comic television show, and if I must say so, he was rather good with his Madiba impression. If it was not for the beer gut, I would have thought I was in the presence of the big man himself!
I took my leave of Mr. Piano man, after he issued an invite to any Nomad group arriving, that he will take them on a 5 minute drive through tour of the town in the old London bus, and found the Museum caretaker back from her bathroom break. And not a tooth in her mouth, but mouthy is a good way to describe her! Fantastic! So, she showed me around, and then she had another urgent call from nature (I know, I also started worrying about the state of the food there). And there I found myself, abandoned in the cellar/basement, dungeon of the museum. Now, as my mom would say in Afrikaans “Ek is nie met die Helmet gebore nie, maar hier kan ek voel spook dit vanaand” ( Translated, I was not born with Du Bois ESP Ghost detection built in, but even I can say that here the ghosts are running free). I felt a cold chill running down my spine, and absolute deathly hollow quiet! Not to throw away my name as a fearless type, I exited the basement at a brisk pace. I did not run.
I suspect that lady caretaker might actually not exist on this astral plain? Maybe she is a manifestation of the slave of the Scott? Halihaaaaa!!!
And just before I jumped in my car, to make haste out of Ghost town, my tour guide from the bar shows up, and shows me a photo taken just the previous week, of him, with a ghostly apparition in the back ground!
Matjiesfontein. A town for all souls, lost or not!
Then, the next 110km to Sutherland. This is where I truly felt I was in theKaroo! Tectonic plate moment that shifted mountains clear out of the sockets, flat ground in between, the occasional raptor ( this route is known as the raptor route, by the way, for those avid bird watchers), and pretty much nothing else. Breathtaking, abandoned piece of land that just shows the magnificence that is South Africa. Ok, enough waxing lyrical! I drove on a deserted tar road and saw some pretty amazing Karoo flowers, birds, and the occasional swarm of locusts. Biblical I tell you!
Sutherland has a population of 2000. I know this because it said so on the sign board at the beginning of town where I realized that I just drove past my camp site for the evening!! But, with a population of 2000, one can make a U-turn, with no traffic in either direction.
I popped in at the SAAO ( the South African Astrological organization?) or some such. And, managed to procure a star gazing tour for the Saturday evening, using SALT! No, no tequila drinking. It is the largest telescope in the Southern Hemisphere. So, one thing set at least, I am going back in the morning for a proper tour, and info session with the powers that be. But, meanwhile the friendly owner of Southerland Caravan Park will give a star gazing tour tonight, through the telescope here at the camp site! Pretty neat!
So, in order to kill some time, I made a fire. Well attempted to make a fire. I cannot see now, through the snot and tears, and also have to restock on Paper plates in the morning. Used them all to keep the wood burning. But it is finally crackling away, the sheep went home to bed (yes, sheep, next to the camp site. Very pastoral, Breughal kind of scene), and my toes are freezing!
All in all a very good day. Except now for all the deaths and dead people. I saw some spectacular scenery, visited two lovely towns, saw an Ostrich and an Emu, O, and a sheep, and managed to start a fire with paper plates and wet wood!
Epic I tell you!
To pre-empt Tosca’s next day on the road and see where she’s going – have a look at the Karoo, Kalahari and West Coast Tour itinerary!
How do you feel about going on a 7 Day Camping Tour from Cape Town to Swakopmund? For FREE!! And a 25% discount for your travel partner.
To make this dream a reality, all you need to do this November is grow the most creatively NoMADic moustache we’ve seen!
Send us your pictures of your Movembers! Frovembers and Logomos will be accepted too. Girls, no mo? Mow your hair in any creative fashion and your entries will be accepted too. Don’t be cruel to your pets but if they look like they have a cool potential Mopportunity for a photo, get them involved! Creative hair is what it’s about and the more Nomad’esque it is, the better!
Enter your photos by:
- Post them on twitter using #MoMad @NomadTours
- Post them to our facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/NomadTours
- Email them to email@example.com
- All entries must reach us by the 30th November 2011
- “like” our facebook page www.facebook.com/NomadTours
- Follow our blog: https://nomadafricaadventuretours.wordpress.com/
- Follow us on twitter @NomadTours
- Follow us on LinkedIn www.linkedin.com/company/nomad-tours
- For every photo that is entered into the competition and qualifies as above, Nomad will donate R2 to a charity selected by the owner of the winning picture.
- Movember: When Men Grow Mustaches For a Good Cause (bellasugar.com)
- Moustache Madness: Movember Emphasizes Fun, Not Guilt, To Raise Millions For Cancer Programs (fastcompany.com)
- Movember & The Facial Growth Starts (sparkthedebate.blogspot.com)
Rioters crashing through the streets, inhumane living conditions, congested, overpopulated, polluted, a mess. These are the graphic images that have stayed in my mind after a presentation by Bulelwa Ngewana, Managing Director of the Cape Town Partnership, about a fast growing city of Seoul, South Korea, hungry for development but with no feelings for it’s people.
A turnaround happened for this city as it was selected to be the World Design Capital 2010, the focus shifted to the people of South Korea and a general improvement of their living conditions ensued.
Today it was announced that Cape Town will be the Design Capital of the World for 2014 and we couldn’t be happier! Everyone in Cape Town wants a better future for their neighbours, friends and families and we believe that this is another opportunity for all of us to get involved and enhance general living conditions for all through design.
Keep your eye on Bulelwa Ngewana, Grant Pascoe, Andrew Boraine, Michael Wolf, Patricia de Lille, the Cape Town Partnership, Cape Town Tourism and the general design fraternity in Cape Town as they bring our city together and transform the lives within it.
If you’re feeling inspired to be part of the transformation, make sure that you keep on creating these opportunities and vote for Table Mountain to be included as one of the New 7 Wonders of Nature!