JUMP IN TO 2006
|If your New Years Resolution is to add a little excitement to your life- why not start planning now to join Kenya’s next Skydive boogie? For the last seven years, up to 260 of the world's best skydivers have congregated at Alliance Safari Beach Hotel in Diani, South Coast for a 3 week aerial adventure- and beginners are welcome.|
The event is the only one of its kind in Eastern Africa and attracts jumpers from all over Europe, USA, Canada, South America, Australia, Asia, the Middle and Far East. Past boogies have received rave reviews in the parachuting press, including 'Skydiving', 'Para-Mag', 'Freefall Express' and the BPA Skydive Magazine.
The term Boogie is generic term for a gathering of skydivers from all over the globe, and each year brings a bevy of boogies as enthusiasts meet up in the world's best skydive destinations. To the uninitiated, one skydive location may not be that different to any other, but wind and weather conditions, altitude and the facilities and attractions on the ground all combine to make each boogie unique.
According to the Boogie's chief organizer, Capt. Harro Trempenau, the event has attracted top world jumpers because it has several advantages over other similar events held elsewhere in the world.
It is one of the only such events where divers are based at a single beach resort and can depart from a nearby airstrip and dive from an aircraft directly over their base.
This means that at Diani, skydivers stay at the Safari Beach Hotel - take a short 10 minute drive to Ukunda airstrip, take off in a waiting Air Kenya Twin Otter, and then dive directly over the beach- landing on the sands right at the doorstep of the resort. Aircraft regularly make an average of 13 dive loads throughout the day.
The air over Diani is filled with colour as parachutes drifted on the gentle ocean breezes, with divers making touchdowns on the palm lined beach, just a few feet from their hotel. Divers could wander back into the resort, compare their jumps with other divers- freshen up- collect a newly packed chute and within 10 minutes be airborne again.
For the skydiving addict, this is a perfect arrangement- some of the divers complete 19 jumps in a single day. But this is not just about frequency- the other draw is the freefall.
For most skydivers, it's all about the fall- the pure freedom of flight that lasts from the time a jumper leaves the plane until the parachute is pulled at around 2000 feet.
This is one of the main draws at Kenya's Skydive Boogie- a combination of sea level altitude and equatorial temperature means a long freefall- often just over a minute as opposed to the usual average of around 30 seconds. That may not sound like much of a difference- but just try it- and you will relish every second of your freefall.
There is plenty to enjoy as you do. The views from 14,000 feet are literally breathtaking as you leap from the door of the aircraft into the thin cool air. You are plunging towards paradise - stunning blue water that stretches to the limits of the stunning blue sky. Then, as the air currents grow warmer, and your chute opens, the thin strip of white below is gradually defined as the sands of idyllic Diani beach, and the detail of the coral reef and tiny fishing boats become clear.
For skydivers used to landing in paddocks and fields, this is a unique experience, and many take their time descending to the beach, letting their chutes drift back and forth over the sea before touching down on the sand. The favourite dives of the day are the special sunset jumps, timed to let divers glide across the beach as the sun dips to the horizon. Even for non-jumpers, this is a special time of day, the air over the beach filled with the coloured silk of parachutes as the divers land and gather for sundowner drinks.
This is a social sport, and the Boogie is a very social event. The international camaraderie adds to the Boogie experience, and being based in a single beach resort made this Boogie ideal for fun both on and off the ground. Of course, travelling to Kenya for the boogie also gives them the opportunity to combine their skydiving with some more 'down to earth' safaris throughout the country.
If you are a non-skydiver, there is no need to feel left out. The Boogie is an ideal chance to be introduced to the sport. Specialized tandem jump and skydive instructors are on hand throughout the event.
Tandem jumps are the best way to discover skydiving. Physically attached to an instructor, you jump together, giving you all the thrill of a skydive, with none of the stress of managing your descent and parachute along the way.
These jumps are extremely popular- and straightforward- after a 15 minute safety briefing, you are ready to climb on board the plane and jump. A tandem jump is an unforgettable experience, but for many- it is not a "once in a lifetime" thrill. After this introductory taste of the pure adrenaline and freefall, plenty of jumpers- even those who may have felt some apprehension at throwing themselves out of plane- can't wait to do it again.
The Boogie also offers full accelerated freefall courses with professional instructors, in which students become fully fledged, qualified skydivers.
For all of the fun of the Boogie, this is a serious professional event, which is run to exacting international safety standards. The organizers- Kenya Skydivers- establish a full scale DZ (Drop Zone) on site at the hotel, with teams of Kenyan Army Paratroopers (each with 1000 jump experience) on hand to professionally pack and check each and every parachute used. Full safety equipment and rescue boats are on hand throughout the event.
Alliance Safari Beach Hotel not only hosts the actual event, but also provides logistics support such as transport, food, safety boat, video facilities, and the beach to land on!
So when you are planning your safari to Kenya in 2006 look beyond the usual, and take to the skies for a very different perspective on paradise.
If you are over 18, physically fit and looking for adventure- come to Kenya for this year's Diani Skydive Boogie, to be held in October 2006. For more information, click here or here or email organizers for more details.
Photography by Steve Saunders.