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Great Escapes and High Adventures


There are many ways to see Kenya on safari, but how about from 14,000 feet above the ground, falling earthwards at 120 miles per hour? For adrenaline junkies, the Kenyan coast has become the latest hot spot for aerial adventure- where the equatorial atmosphere at sea level can give skydivers more than a minute of full freefall over the beautiful blue Indian Ocean, before touching down on pure white sands on one of the world's best beaches. This is the draw for international skydivers who gather at Diani Beach on Kenya's South Coast each year for the Kenya Skydive Boogie. This event, now in its 14th year, is proving very popular both with experienced skydivers and those interested in experiencing the thrill of freefall for the first time.

What began as a social event organized each year among Kenyan divers has become a major event on the international skydiving calendar. 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.

The Kenyan boogie is becoming increasingly popular- as it is one of the only such events where divers are based at asingle 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. Throughout the 2002 event, over 120 divers made continual skydives over 2 weeks, the Air Kenya plane carrying an average of 13 loads throughout the day. The air over Diani was 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 at the 2002 event completed 19 jumps in a single day. But this is not just about frequency- the other draw is the freefall. More below

SAIL INTO THE PAST: If you are looking for a safari with a real difference, an all new Sailing Safari based around the historical island of Lamu offers an enticing blend of adventure, history, culture and romance. This fascinating safari is one of the first tourism projects to be funded and assisted by the Tourism Trust fund of the European Union, which is working to spread the benefits of sustainable ecotourism and community tourism throughout Kenya. The 7-day safari is a joint effort between African Quest Safaris, the Kenya National Museum and the local communities of the Lamu Archipelago. Sailing from Lamuís stone town, a traditional dhow will carry you along the waters of the antique spice trade, through a beautiful tropical archipelago, discovering ancient ruins and visiting small villages where East Africa's Swahili culture is at its most pure and welcoming.

The island of Lamu is regarded as one of the most exotic and romantic places on earth- where life has changed little over the centuries, a place with own unique, relaxed lifestyle and atmosphere. The winding narrow streets of its 14th Century Stone Town (recently declared a World Heritage Site) are filled with living history, and the air is rich with the aroma of spices. In Lamu there are no cars, and all transport is by foot or donkey- ensuring that life is lived at its own leisurely pace.

The Dhow Safari uses Lamu as a base for exploring the neighboring islands of Manda, Pate and Kiwaayu- where visitors discover some of East Africa's oldest settlements, including the ghostly ruins of Takwa and the remote settlement of Siyu. Transport is by sailing dhow, and the islands will be explored on foot using donkeys as pack animals.

Local guides are on hand to bring the fascinating history of the archipelago to life- but this is no staid museum tour. The safari visits small villages throughout the islands, and time is spent learning about the traditions and cultures of the local people, sampling the local cuisine and lifestyle.

At Siyu, guests will attend a special night Ngoma in the village square, where ñ traditional dancers ñ men dressed in White majestically twirl their sticks and sing to the music of the piper and the slow beating of the drum under a starlit sky. The safari reaches its end at Kiwaayu, an uninhabited paradise, where there is plenty of time for swimming, snorkeling and relaxing on the beach. This competitively priced safari is perfect for anyone looking for a genuine adventure, and promises to give visitors a first and experience of the history and culture of this region.

Kenya's reputation as Africa's premier adventure destination has been bolstered by the opening of East Africa's first Bungee Jumping operation on the banks of the Tana River at Sagana, just 95 km North of Nairobi. 'Bungeewalla' now offers high adrenaline jumps at their base and campsite, shared with the country's most popular White Water Rafting outfit.

This combination of rafting and Bungee makes the Tana a one stop adventure center. Bungee jumping is a popular extreme sport worldwide. Started in New Zealand, it involves jumping from bridges or towers with your ankles attached to a long rubber bungee cord. Kenya's bungee is from a specially constructed 60 meter tower over the Tana River. Jumpers ascend the tower attached to a safety rail by specialized climbing harnesses. Once at the top, they are fitted with the bungee cord, and are then free to take the plunge over the wild waters of the Tana.

After the jump, they are collected in a raft, and returned to the bank to rest, recover, or even take to the rapids and raft. The bungee location is an ideal stop en route to Mt Kenya or Samburu- and can be combined with a day's White Water rafting on the Tana.

A recent tour by the Blues III Professional Kite surfing Team from Italy has confirmed Kenya's place as a major destination for this exciting new sport. Kite surfing is a faster, more thrilling alternative to Windsurfing. With a Kite powering the board instead of a sail, a strong wind and waves allow the surfer to perform acrobatic jumps, flips and turns.

The 14 day Blues III tour took in the best of the Kenya coast with time off for safaris in nearby Tsavo National Park. This combination of wind, waves and wildlife makes this an ideal location for the Kite surfing fanatic. The Prosurfís Kite & Windsurf Center at Nyali Beach has top notch equipment and training for both professional and amateur wave riders, while the conditions at Che-Shale near Malindi make for world class Kite-surfing.

So perfect, in fact, are the conditions at Che Shale that it has become a host for international Kits Surfing championships. The trade winds that once brought the spice trade to the Kenya coast are now spicing up the waters as travelers looking for waterborne adventure converge to ride the waves.


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. The average diver falls at the incredible speed of 120 miles per hour- but those who have never tried it may be surprised to know that this experience does not feel like falling- the continued momentum of the plane sends the diver earthward on a sustained arc- which means that there is none of the stomach lifting "plunge" sensation that you may expect.

This is the nearest experience possible to flying free as a bird &endash; freedom at its most pure and simple.

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. Skydivers from

16 different nations gathered at

Diani, including members of skydiving

clubs and specialist skydive formation

teams. 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 gave 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


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 ArmyParatroopers (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.


The Boogie is organized by Harro Trempeneau of Kenya

Skydivers, who has been skydiving since 1976. He can also

arrange skydives in Nairobi, or for the truly adventurous- he

can arrange a special skydiving safari, letting you freefall with

a view of Mt Kilimanjaro, or drift over the plains of the Maasai Mara.


So when you are planning your safari to Kenya, look beyond

the usual, and take to the skies for a very different

perspective on paradise. For more info on Diani Beach, see

the Related Links above.


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 2003. For more information, click here or here

or email organizers for more details.

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