“Don’t Swoop the Giraffes!”

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Photo by Ralph Wilhelm

The Kenya Riviera Boogie was the perfect exotic skydiving event

A woman’s touch

Zainab Alibhai is a Kenyan-born entrepreneur from Indian descent. After being picked up by a friend at 4am to surprisingly and “voluntarily” do her first tandem, she was hooked. Sounds familiar so far?!

During intermediate stations in the US, Germany, the Emirates and South Africa Zainab qualified as an AFF instructor, Senior Tigger and S&TO, before moving back to Kenya with the mission to start the perfect dropzone there. Which was an uphill battle as a previous dropzone run by foreigners left ‘scorched earth’. In the end she camped outside the headquarters of the Kenyan military in a tent for 5 days to accelerate the red tape. While on the first look this may sound stubborn, whoever meets her can sense the fire, love and dedication that burns in Zainab for skydiving. 

Beach landing area
Photo by Ralph Wilhelm

Kenya Boogie September 2023

So, it was not a question of ‘if’ but only ‘when’ she would organize a boogie. It was also beyond doubt, that this boogie would be organized perfectly. It happened in the first week of September, 3-9, 2023. Flying into Mombasa, Kenya is quite easy from many international airports around the world. From there the choice was a 1,5 hour car ride trough vibrant Mombasa or a 10-minute flight in a Cessna Caravan equipped with leather seats. Most skydivers had never seen such a beautiful Caravan or flew in one, and therefore chose to enjoy the comfort and the views during the short ride to the Vipingo Ridge resort. Their faces when told after landing that this would be the jump plane were priceless. Of course, the seats were removed and the walls were covered with a protective sheet, but still it was a classy ride to altitude. The only thing that at first created astonishment was the fact that, after removing the original door, no skydiving door was installed. A “convertible” ride to altitude all the way! Due to the temperatures above 30° C, it was a pleasant ride. Only 10 skydivers per load made the climb to altitude fast. 

Blown away by the Kenya internal flight
Photo by Ralph Wilhelm

Vipingo Ridge

We were housed at Vipingo Ridge, a high-class PGA golf resort, situated at a ridge some 4 km from the beach, with marvelous views over green landscape onto the ocean. The houses for the participants were, as everything in the resort, top notch. However the skydivers did not have much time to enjoy the accommodation on arrival, as paperwork and reconnaissance of the landing area was scheduled next. As this was done at the beach club, it was bearable with a cool welcome drink in one’s hand. As Kenya is located close to the equator, the winds are south to north or the other way around, changing direction every half year. As the beach, with beautiful white sand, was also aligned north/south and the wind was always between 5 and 15 knots, landing was easy, convenient, and beautiful. A dinner at sunset with the sound of the sea as music ended the first day. 

Photo by Ralph Wilhelm

Animal Sanctuary

The next morning the participants took a 5-minute minibus ride from the houses to the airport, located at the bottom of the ridge within the premises of the resort. In this short ride the participants already saw zebras and antelopes, as the resort is a sanctuary for orphan herbivore animals. 

Photo by Ralph Wilhelm


Zainab had hired world-class skydiver Omar Alhegelan as one of the load organizers, who also gave an hand in planning and organizing the event. Omar is one of the inventors of freefly and also a multiple world champion. Anyone who ever jumped with him can acknowledge his passion to give back to the sport. The second load organizer was Ralph Wilhelm, who took care of the belly flyers and also acted as a cameraflyer. The spotting was perfect as the flying, so everybody landed within 50m of the beach club/drop zone from the first jump onwards. However, directly after jumping some truly tough decisions had to be made. 15-meters to the restaurant for some delicious food and cool non-alcoholic drinks, 10-meters to the beach to relax in a lounger or 5-meters to the drop zone building to talk the usual skydiver yada-yada. Or just order food and drinks to the beach?!

Photo by Ralph Wilhelm

Golf course jump

In the evening fortunately the decisions were made for the skydivers. Every night they had dinner at the different place. The beach club, the swimming pool, the rooftop bar at the Golf Club, the beach itself and other places. One the first day the participants made 4 relaxed jumps, while the last one was above the ridge with landing on the driving range of the golf course. For sure, this was the nicest grassy area most participants ever landed on. All houses had a rooftop pool, so some legendary parties happened at night – but for obvious reasons no pictures were made!

Photo by Ralph Wilhelm


The next day the two groups mingled for some hybrids, but also there was a constant flow between the groups of angle/tracking, head-up, head-down and belly. With 6 easy jumps the day was nailed and the number of jumps included in the package were done – something that has not occurred very often this year on exotic events like this. This was the perfect reason for everyone to jump even more!

Photo by Ralph Wilhelm


On the third day, the participants took it easy and only made an average of 4 jumps per person, however two of those were very special. Did you know that, if you are a female skydiver, and you get handed a Barbie doll in freefall by a member of the Pink Mafia Sisters (PMS), you also become a member. Passing the doll over in freefall was the easy part, the new members also had to sing the song “I am a Barbie girl” on the way to altitude. That was the hard part, at least for all other skydivers in the plane. 

Photo by Ralph Wilhelm

Giraffes in the landing area

The second special jump was much more visual. It was again a jump on the driving range of the golf course, however just a hop-n-pop. But this one really had it in spades. While spotting from about 1,800m, one could not only see the big red landing T, but three giraffes next to it. Giraffes in the landing area? “Do not swoop the giraffes”, was therefore part of the briefing!

As mentioned, the resort is a shelter for animal orphans. Those giraffes were raised with a bottle and thus were not shy of humans. The ridge rangers lured them with some food up to the landing area and they were for sure more interested in the food than in any skydivers landing a few meters from them. By contrast, the skydivers were over the moon to say at least. 

Photo by Ralph Wilhelm


On the fourth day, all participants took the chance to book a safari. They took the plane (now again with seats and door) and flew over to a safari resort. Here they got their full share of real wild African wildlife including elephants, rhinos, lions, buffalos and many more.

Inflatable jumps

After almost too many wild animals, it was back to skydiving on the last day. Pool noodles and inflatables were used as well as a Vladiball. Four to five more jumps on the beach were made. In total most participants did around 17 during the event. Even on the departure day, as most people were flying out in the afternoon, some squeezed in another jump in the morning. 

Photo by Ralph Wilhelm


During the farewell dinner, several participants who has been to other exotic boogies all over the world, uniformly stated, that the Magical Kenya boogie was the best-ever exotic event they attended. Most probably due to a woman’s touch!

Photo by Ralph Wilhelm

If you would like to join the fun in Kenya, please join the @gojumpkenya pages on FB & Instagram. We will be posting information for the upcoming boogies very soon. April ’24 will feature a bigger event (registrations will open in January ’24); yet still very much bespoke.

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Meet: Ralph Wilhelm

Ralph Wilhelm is from Germany and he started skydiving in 2007. He has accumulated more than 5000 jumps since.

He is a successful bigway jumper with several world records in FS - belly and several national records in freefly, but these days he prefers to be camera flyer on bigway events, no matter if they are in belly or freefly.

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