Cape Town’s beautiful mountains, coastlines and beaches make it one of the best cities in the world to visit. And there is no better way to see the Mother City and its surroundings than from Above! So get out of your comfort zone, go for that adrenaline rush and tick skydiving of your bucket list, everyone can do it! In this blog I will talk you through my experience of jumping for the first time! For me, skydiving in Cape Town was an unforgettable experience.
It has been three months now since I arrived in Cape Town. and before coming to South Africa I had never really travelled that much in my life. I’ve been trying very hard to make the most of my time and so I made a list of all the things that I really want to do before I fly back home in February. I’ve surfed, hiked, done safaris and have seen much of the country’s incredible nature! But now that time is starting to run out, I decided that it was time to do something adventurous that I had never done before. I spoke with some friends and we decided to go skydiving at Skydive Cape Town!
A few years back I probably wouldn’t have thought that I would be jumping out of a plane. I have always hated the sensation of free falling and a fear of heights also doesn’t really help. But after looking at other people’s experiences online, talking to friends and to other people that have skydived before I decided that it would be a missed opportunity not to go while I’m in this fantastic country. After all I probably won’t be back here for at least a couple of years. And I’m certainly not going to find such beautiful blue skies back home in the Netherlands.
Sunday was the day, we had booked nice and early. It’s the best thing to do as the wind starts picking up in the afternoon. One small issue, we couldn’t see any of those blue skies I just told you about. I sort of figured that this would probably mean that we couldn’t jump. And sure enough, I received a message from Jonathan, who manages bookings at Skydive Cape Town. “Good morning, the weather is cloudy at present, please do not drive out to us yet, we’ll send an update later”. Me and my friends decided to go to the ‘Oranjezicht Farmer’s Market’ to have breakfast. But as soon as we ordered our food, I again received a message from Jonathan confirming that we would probably be able to jump in an hour from then.
Arriving at the Drop Zone
After a 40-minute drive from Waterfront, we arrived at Skydive Cape Town. The staff welcomed us, and we quickly made the payment and signed our indemnity forms. Because the company flies lightweight planes, we were put into time slots according to our weight. Unfortunately, I was the last one to jump, which did not help with the nerves. But it did mean that I could see my friends jump and land. And while waiting, Mark, who does marketing for the company, was kind enough to show me around the place and answer some of my questions.
When it was finally my turn, I was given instructions by Jan, who would be doing the tandem jump with me. He quickly and clearly explained the process and instructed me what to do at which stage. And don’t worry, even if you don’t understand everything that is explained because you might be learning English still. Everything will still be fine as the tandem master is in full control. He then asked me if it was my first time jumping. And after I said it was, he admitted that it was also his. Haha. We walked towards the runway and as soon as the plane landed we got in it, and 3 minutes later we took off.
We spent about 25 minutes in the small airplane, from which we could see Robben island, Table Mountain, Cape Town, Cape Point, the Atlantis Sand dunes and more. We could see as far as 80 kilometers. The plane’s door is not much of a door, it’s sort of a see-through plastic garage door that doesn’t seem to have a lock. It is safe and functional but also makes you nervous as you are then not yet attached to the person with the parachute. Just 5 minutes before, Jan connected all the carabiners and other stuff. Then, the first tandem jumped out. At this point I was no longer nervous, so I just moved to the edge. The fear of heights sensation is also not really there as we were in the sky with a plane already, and there was a lot of wind noise and movement. The one thing that I was worried about was the feeling of my stomach turning when we would enter the free fall. But this wasn’t the case.
We jumped out, and it was just smiles from there on. At first I needed some time to breathe and understand what was going on, but soon after that it was just fun! It is very extreme as you crash into the wind while you accelerate at the speed of gravity. The free fall lasts no longer than 40 seconds as you pick up a lot of speed (about 180 km/h). Then the parachute opened, and we slowed down rapidly, which meant that we could communicate and put off the goggles. The parachute is very sensitive to steering input and I also got to have a go at it. I pulled it slowly as I wanted to be careful with the turns considering the fact that we were still about 500 meters above the earth. And I didn’t want to do anything stupid. Jan had other plans, and repeatedly gave the steering mechanism a good pull. This meant that we were not only turning rapidly, but were also descending very quickly to the point where it felt like mini free falls. Very thrilling.
After another few minutes paragliding with views of the ocean and Cape Town, we landed softly and safely back on the ground! This was my first jump, but it will definitely not be the last one.
What is the Price of Skydiving?
- jump with professionals that have done thousands of jumps.
- Enjoy 25 minutes of sightseeing from a small airplane, close to the ocean and Cape Town.
For an additional R800, everything will be captured on photo and video. After the jump I received about 230 photos and a 5-minute video with images from the moment we left the hangar until after the landing. You receive the edited images on a free USB drive just 20 minutes after your jump. We used Uber to get to the drop zone, but there’s also a R300 transportation option with a guide that drives you from your home to the drop zone and back.
How Long does Skydiving take?
If you only have a couple of days to spend in Cape Town or South Africa, you have to consider whether skydiving will be the best activity to do in the short time that you have as the sport is weather dependant. Then you get put into a time slot based on your weight (maximum is 100 kilograms). This means that, even when you are at the hangar, it can take up to three hours before you get to jump. Of course, it’s worth the wait, and the company tries their very best to be honest and upfront with its customers in their communication. But it does mean that it’s hard for tourists to plan activities directly after skydiving.
As for the time spent in the air:
- You’ll be in the small airplane for about 25 minutes.
- The freefall lasts about 40 seconds.
- The paragliding lasts 3 – 5 minutes.
Is Skydiving Safe?
Still worried about safety? Well you have to be extremely unlucky to die while skydiving. The fatality rate is extremely low as companies are strictly regulated and only work with well-trained professionals. According to The Skydiving Company, In the United States, there were 21 fatal skydiving accidents out of 3.5 million jumps in 2015. Just 0.006 fatalities per 1000 jumps. The risk is even lower for tandem jumps, just 0.002 out of 1000 jumps. The same applies to South Africa, with just 0.003 fatalities out of 1000 jumps, according to Skydive Cape Town.
So what are you waiting for?
You are reading this because you are either interested in, fascinated by or scared of skydiving. In my opinion it should be on everyone’s bucket list, especially Cape Town. This will make your stay in South Africa an unforgettable experience, at least that is the case for me. I will be looking forward to my next ‘extreme’ activity, bungee jumping from the Bloukrans bridge!