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Casey Pruett flies his canopy at Skydive Cape Town with majestic Table Mountain in the background. Image by Bruno Brokken

Skyfari

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“We’re on standby due to an elephant in the landing area!”

The PAC-750 gives the crowd a flyby after a day enjoying the food and beverage at Webersburg Wine Estate. Image by Tom Sanders

Combine equal parts of fantastic South African locations, fun-loving skydivers, exotic animals up close in your personal space, three years of planning with world class drop zone operations, boundless opportunities for awe-inspiring experiences and you get another Rich Grimm classic – SKYFARI.

The next chapter in the incredible Tsunami Skydivers Exotic Boogies story was a mega-adventure to South Africa from 03 – 19 April 2024 to join forces with Skydive Pretoria DZO Billy Sharman, plus Graeme and Stephanie Anderson of Bup Tours from Johannesburg. Rich ‘dragooned’ 118 total participants (75 skydivers) for this trip of a lifetime.

Boogie participants take advantage of the weather to hike to the top of Lion’s Head in Cape Town. Image by Bruno Brokken

Table Mountain 

We met in Cape Town at the luxury Table Bay Hotel with a breathtaking view of Table Mountain from the lobby. Seriously, didn’t they know we are skydivers? They served oysters and sushi at the breakfast buffet! The morning briefing after this feast introduced the team, explained the schedule, checked gear, registered for temporary PASA (Parachute Association of South Africa) membership, issued jump tickets and let everyone enjoy a day exploring. Sporty and adventurous people hiked Table Mountain and/or Lion’s Head, whereas the less intense folks rode a cable car to the top of Table Mountain to enjoy the view without struggling to recover their breath.

The view from under the cable car station at the top of Table Mountain looking down on Cape Town. Image by Bruno Brokken

Time for Wine

Up first, on 5 April was a demo jump into Webersburg Wine Estate. This picturesque winery nestled at the foot of the Stellenbosch region outside of Cape Town was an ideal location for people to have their ‘first’ jump in South Africa and celebrate afterwards. Unfortunately, the winds didn’t agree and prevented everyone from jumping – after Billy volunteered to jump and test the conditions, then declared it unsafe! That left everyone with the only other important decision, “red or white”? Why not sample both?

Everyone got a chance to walk hand-in-snout with an elephant at the Elephant Sanctuary at Plettenberg Bay. Image by Bruno Brokken

Primates and Elephants

Not to fear, next on the itinerary was the beginning of our bus journey eastwards with a stop for a day of jumping over Plettenberg Bay, landing on the beach. Sadly, the pesky high winds in the west decided to follow us and prevented any jumping activities on the gorgeous beach. Rich called an audible based on the wind report en route and bought everyone entrance tickets to Monkeyland Primate Sanctuary and the Elephant Sanctuary at Plettenberg Bay. The naughty monkeys proved their reputation is intact and made everyone laugh and reconnect to their inner children as they walked through the worlds first free roaming muli-species primate sanctuary. At the Elephant Sanctuary, everyone who wanted got a chance to walk hand-in-trunk with these graceful giants and run their camera batteries dry. Rich treated us to an all-you-can-eat pizza lunch at Peppermill Café. The day rounded out with a blow-out party at a beachfront restaurant reserved just for us, complete with a DJ and raucous dancing into the night.

A lioness and her two cubs cross the road in front of a safari vehicle. Image by Tom Sanders

Shamwari Game Reserve 

As if that wasn’t enough already – we woke up knowing the best was yet to come – Shamwari Game Reserve. There was palpable electric excitement in the busses as we drove onto the grounds. “Zebras!” someone shouted on the right, while someone on the left exalted, “Giraffes!” I’d swear the bus heaved left to right as everyone pressed against the windows for their first glimpse of exotic animals. Quite simply, Shamwari exceeded our expectations. It is home to the Big 5 (lion, elephant, rhinoceros, African buffalo, and the elusive leopard), in addition to hippopotamus, cheetah, wildebeest, giraffe, hyena, warthogs, impala, and countless other exotic animals our guides described in great detail. 

A quick check-in to our rooms and then we zoomed off in custom-made Land Cruisers with 6 people per ranger. Never before (and likely not again until 2027…) has one group rented every single room at Shamwari for 5 straight nights! The lodges are spread across the 250 square km (97 square mile) preserve. The guides and staff were just as excited to meet us as we were them. Planning for weather to optimize chances for jumping, the first two and a half days were spent with an early morning and early afternoon safari outing. Each safari would last anywhere from 3-4 hours rain or shine. The rangers were excellent guides, describing the environment, history, animals, biology, ecosystems, providing personal anectdotes, and always paying attention to our enjoyment and safety. The afternoon cocktail stop was always a highlight. It is a poorly-held secret that anyone who didn’t gain weight from the delicious food at Shamwari is a person who wasn’t there!

Linked belly exit from the PAC-750 while others dive to get to the formation. Image by Bruno Brokken

Skydiving!

But wait, wasn’t this supposed to also be a skydiving adventure? The weather finally turned in our favor and Billy’s PAC750 airplane swooped in to carry the 75 jumpers from 9 different countries up for 374 total jumps including 48 tandems. Billy’s staff provided support for all ground operations, manifest, packing, and tandem instructors. The landing area was literally in front of the main lodge and in the animals terrain. Guides provided security to keep curious creatures away. Still, that didn’t prevent more than once hearing, “We’re going on standby due to elephants/zebras/insert-amazing-animal-of-your-choice in the landing area”. How many DZ briefings include instructions on how to remain calm in case of an off-landing in front of wild animals?!

Kate Cooper-Jensen guides jumpers through a successful and picturesque skydive over Shamwari. Image by Bruno Brokken

World Class

Every discipline had world class organizers from Kate Cooper-Jensen, Carsten Cooper-Jensen and Hermann Landsmann for RW, Andy Malchiodi for free fly, Casey Pruett for wingsuit, with cameraflyers Tom Sanders and Bruno Brokken there to capture the magic. There were numerous participants who captured publish-worthy pictures across the entire event and many shots are showing up now in our favorite publications. 

Andy Malchiodi and his freeflyers join a belly group for a dynamic hybrid over Shamwari. Image by Bruno Brokken

Farewell Dinner

The whole event was capped off in grand style with a farewell dinner that combined local musicians, dancers, culture, face-painting, handmade music shakers, and a drum for every person into an enthralling and all engaging program that had everyone drumming together. Held within the game preserve under a massive tent complex that took a week to build, the guides provided armed secuity around the perimeter from curious animals whetting their appetites at the smell of the “Braai”. The savory cookout, Braai (prounounced ‘bry’ in South African) featured all manner of local barbecue favorites of grilled meats. The summary from Rich made it clear that Skyfari was a HUGE hit and is planned to happen again in 2027! Stay tuned!

The farewell dinner was a magical evening full of dance, music, and fine local cuisine. Image by Bruno Brokken

FFI check out Tsunami Skydivers Exotic Boogie’s Facebook page

Skyfari Video Story

Video by Graeme Anderson, BUP Tours







Meet: Casey Pruett

Casey Pruett (USPA D-37244) is an American, living in Germany, and mostly jumps in Belgium at Skydive Flanders or in Spain at Skydive Empuriabrava. He has been jumping for 11 years and loves aerial photography to capture moments to share with others. He also loves flying a wingsuit, attending exotic boogies, and making new skydiving friends wherever he goes.

Casey is proud to be sponsored by SunPath, Atair Canopies, VIGIL, LB, Modern Camera Solutions, Wynd Blocker.

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