Claire has been keeping a secret desire to throw herself out of a plane and after being assured by our tour guides that this company (Groundrush Adventures Swakopmund) was reputable and safe she signed up with 6 other people from the truck. Why chose Africa to jump out of a plane? Well, in Swakopmund you can see the South Atlantic Ocean meet the Nambiban Desert. The jump was scheduled for the afternoon we arrived so they headed out to the airstrip in the desert only to be told when they got there that the winds at jumping altitude were too strong and they would need to return the next day.
For those that have never been sandboarding, it is similar to snow boarding, but on the 120 metre high sanddunes. Mark & Dan joined Steve along with the Dutch couple, and were very excited when we arrived at the base of the dune just in time for the weather to clear.
This photo is from Claire's skydive DVD and is the location for the boarding.
There were two options at the sandboarding, stand-up or lay down. I chose the stand-up version. After three runs down the dune (and the long walk back up the 80 metre dune) I started to slowly get the idea. At this point we were given the opportunity to give the lay down style a go. Apparently we didn't need the gloves or knee guards that the others had, or the 4 warm up runs down the easy part of the dune. Instead those of us that had chosen the stand up option went straight into the fastest lay down run of the day. This time the 80 metres was almost vertical, reaching speeds of 72 kph!! The only advice that I remembered was hold the board up, and that you could use your toes as brakes. Thankfully there were no major incidents.
The afternoon activity was Quad Biking on the dunes. Again the scenery was incredible. There were a couple varieties of bikes, from Automatic (but less powerful), Semi-Automatic (you had to change gears, but you didn't have to worry about a clutch), and Manual (which were apparently the fastest). Most of us went for the semi-automatic, which was a good choice.
As the dunes are a protected area, there are only certain parts that we were able to drive on. Basically we were split off into groups of about 6, and it was follow the leader. The only exception to this was Johannes, who can only be described as a crazy man behind the wheel!
We weaved our way up & down & around the dunes, and eventually made it to "the lookout" which was a point high on the dunes but close to the coast. To see the sand dunes plunge straight into the ocean was a fantastic memory.
The final memory I had to take away from the quadbiking experience was my melted trekking pants! It seemed that my right leg was resting against a hot part of the engine, which i hadn't noticed during the noisy & bumpy ride. I was glad that they had lasted the majority of our African adventure, as we were on the home stretch now.