Saturday, February 11, 2017

Plettenberg Bay Skydive - Eastern Cape - South Africa

We regretfully left Thesen Island in Knysna after having a packed schedule and wonderful dining experience.  On our way to Amkhala Game Reserve, where we would be staying in accommodation called Woodbury Tented Camp, we had arranged to do our first skydive!  Arranged via Skydive Plettenberg Bay, we packed our stuff into the back of the car and headed to the small airport where the company is based.

Inside the plane shortly after takeoff, Plettenberg Bay
There were a small group of girls who had recently completed their skydive chatting about how exciting and care free it was, though I must admit, Kate and I were a little nervous.  We had heard that it was much easier when compared with bungee jumping, which while it was a great rush, it feels  as close as it can to committing suicide without actually committing the act at the time!  We weren't too sure what to expect, but the guides Mike and Jeff were very friendly and explained everything to us whilst we put on the harness and got ready to board the plane.  We were running a little behind schedule and whilst I wasn't really nervous leading up to the jump, now we were waiting for the plane to refuel I was running the experience through my mind including how it could go wrong!

Kate and Mike waiting on the landing strip for take off
Soon we were boarding the small Cessna 182 propeller plane, which didn't have anything in the way of a door.  Kate and Mike got in first and Jeff sat behind me where the door would have normally been.  We took off and I got a full view of the terrain below as we climbed to 10,000ft during the slightly turbulent ascent.  Whilst it didn't feel like I was going to fall out at any time, I could have easily stuck an arm or leg or more outside the aircraft and my main view was the sky and the ground below.  It was actually a very scenic ascent, which did something to calm the nerves.  We could even see Knysna lagoon and the Heads where we had cruised in the John Benn the night before.

Plettenberg Bay Skydive, scenic view during the ascent!
The aircraft was loud, it was difficult to talk.  After what seemed like a long time although was allegedly only around 20 minutes or so, it was time to depart.  Jeff suddenly got a bit active and asked me to put my legs on the outside of the plane.  Next thing I know the wind is hitting my face and we're dropping through the air like a bomb.  Again the freefall was supposedly around 30 seconds but I don't remember much other than the parachute opening and being able to relax a bit for the first time in a while as I was suspended in front of Jeff like a big daddy and baby!

Seconds before jump, Plettenberg Bay Skydive, South Africa
The company actually lets you fly the parachute, although I was feeling quite sick by this point, a feeling similar to sea sickness so I was more than happy to let Jeff glide us slowly back to earth.  Even so I thought I'd have a go and with Jeff's instruction was able to steer a little and he even showed me my first experience of zero gravity, we built up some speed with a spinning motion before he pulled back hard and there was an amazing feeling of weightlessness.  Jeff then took back the reigns and guided us back down to earth with expert precision.

Freefalling in Plettenberg Bay South Africa
As I was going down I could see Kate a little way above us also doing some spinning and things. We waited a little while for Kate to land then we embraced, happy to have our feet back on land but buzzing from the experience.  We needed to take a half our or so whilst the video was being prepared, but this would have been needed regardless prior to getting back into the car and making the rest of the four and a half hour car ride to Amakhala!

Happy but relieved to have feet back on the soil!

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