This excerpt is from the essential get-out-and-about guide, Wild Weekends – Places to Go, Things to Do, by travel experts Claire Keeton and Marianne Schwankhart (Bookstorm), R70 from good bookstores nationwide.
CARLETONVILLE: ’CHUTING THE BREEZE
Skydiving is the ultimate, effortless thrill. The gold-mining town of Carletonville, about 80 kilometres west of Joburg, is famous not only for its mine dumps but also for an array of parachutes floating down through the sky. In The Bucket List, a film starring Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman, the two men choose skydiving as one of the things they want to do before they die. Don’t wait.
Somersaulting out of a plane into the clouds is pure fun. When I skydived for the first time, on a stormy Sunday, my exhilaration, unexpectedly, was not diluted by fear. The jump happened too fast to get scared. The ground was far away and I was strapped to a licensed tandem instructor with 10 years’ experience, so I felt safe.
But I did feel nervous excitement as the plane climbed nearly 3 300 metres into the sky. I told Marianne, who went skydiving as a student years ago, that it seemed like an insane activity. Nevertheless, I relaxed as soon as we exited the plane and were free-falling in the sky – our average speed was 201 kilometres per hour for the first 40 seconds. And once the parachute opened, the descent slowed suddenly to become silent and calm, until the landing.
If you want a once-in-a-lifetime rush and you can afford to go tandem skydiving, then do it: you won’t forget it. Or, even better, if you like it, do a skydiving course so you can pull the ripcord yourself.
If you want a once-in-a-lifetime rush and you can afford to go tandem skydiving, then do it: you won’t forget it.
When to go
Winter months, from about May to September, are best for skydiving in Carletonville, as the air is more stable. Summers can be wet and stormy.
Contacts and rates
• Skydive Joburg: tandem skydive R2 730 (less if excluding DVD/photos); static-line course R1 500 (one-day training, gear rental/first jump); accelerated free fall R3 175 (one jump with two instructors). A non-refundable deposit is required at least a week prior to the jump. Tel 084 998 3178; www.jsc.co.za; email email@example.com.
How to get there
Carletonville is less than an hour’s drive from Joburg.
Location: Carletonville Airfield, Corner Geldenhuys & Wolmarans Streets, Carletonville, Gauteng