February, the month of love and of course, good old Valentine’s Day. A day of Instagram declarations of love, mass panic for last-minute roses and let frantic tinder swiping not be forgotten. It’s been a while since I’ve been single on this day and I was pretty excited about it TBH. I have always felt like V-day is a bit of a letdown. I mean choccies are great but a mug that says “I love you a whole latte”? – not this year, girl. Because I knew exactly how I wanted to treat myself…
This month Women’s Health has been focusing on ‘Self Love’ but roses have never really been my thing. They smell great and look pretty but that’s about it, right? So cliché gifts aside, where do you take yourself on the perfect date? Simple – jump out of a plane that’s 9000ft in the air. Sky Diving has always been on the bucket list. Call me crazy, but luckily I found a bunch of guys that totally get this. I contacted Skydive Africa who put me in touch with a brand spanking new drop zone just outside Worcester: Skydive Big Five. But the day of self-love didn’t end there. Skydive Big Five currently have a Valentine’s Day special running in partnership with Aquila Private Game Reserve and Spa and thought I’d be the perfect candidate to try it out. A date…with myself.
The day began with a scenic drive out into the ‘klein karoo’. I arrived at Aquila Private Game Reserve and Spa at 8:30 am, just in time for a decadent breakfast. After picking out a few tasty treats from the buffet, I selected a table right on the edge of the pool with a magnificent view of two elephants in the park. Because the weather was a little overcast, the sky diving was moved up on the agenda and the first activity of the day would be the game drive.
Big 5 Drive
After breakfast, I was escorted to an exclusive safari which would be guided by the entertaining and knowledgable Bob. Blake, my sky diving instructor, joined as well. We went to have a closer look at those ellies, who then decided to have a closer look at us. Bob kept us at a safe and respectful distance at all times. These are wild animals after all.
A slow cruise through the park yielded plenty more sightings including Blesbok, Giraffes, Rhinos, Ostrich, to name just a few. We then arrived at a high fenced section of the park where the lions roam. The trip wires and intense gating system reminded me yet again that these are wild and incredibly powerful animals and what a privilege it is to enter their territory. It felt a bit like Jurrasic Park as we quietly rolled in and squinted for a lion amongst the rocks. Bob’s well-trained eyes spotted a male lion hiding in the shadows high up on the hill. At the exit gate, we were pleasantly surprised with a lioness only a few meters from the vehicle.
The game drive took us to around 11:30am, when Blake informed me that the weather conditions were now ideal and it was high time for sky time. Hello nervous butterflies my old friends.
I went bungee jumping on New Year’s Day so I thought Sky Diving would be a breeze. I mean same same but different right? Not quite. Bungee jumping from 216m is one thing, jumping out of a plane 9000ft up – it’s next level.
The manager of Aquila Private Game Reserve and Spa was persuaded into jumping with me. It would be his first jump too and we bonded over this fact. We arrived at the landing strip where the plane was waiting for us. After a quick briefing and getting harnessed up, it was time to get some air. One thing is for sure, the plane is small. I sat next to the see-through rolldown door with a prime view of the ground falling away beneath us. It takes a while to climb to 9000ft and the nerves were building.
Jump time. This required turning around and sitting down in Blake’s lap. He made sure we were securely attached and reassured my the whole time. And then the door was pulled up and it all became very real. “Put your legs outside the plane,” Blake tells me. I had to keep my feet tucked up under the plane and my head back, looking up not down. Falling. At first, it’s a sensory overload. There was quite a bit of screaming (me not Blake), but a whole lot more adrenaline and pure joy. I could easily get addicted to this feeling.
Once the parachute was deployed, everything goes still and peaceful. I even had a chance to steer the parachute, which is a lot harder than it looks. And then, just like that, we were back on solid ground. High-5s all round as we all bonded over the shared experience of pushing the limits. Will I be back? Abso-f#cking-lutely.
The Royal Treatment
When you think self-love, a spa treatment definitely springs to mind right? Well, the team at Aquila Private Game Reserve and Spa were thinking along the same lines. A full body massage of my choice. It was a day of firsts as I have never actually been for a spa massage and keen doesn’t even begin to describe it. I selected a Swedish Full Body massage and went from that Sky Diving high to probably the most relaxed I’ve ever been.
Yep, it really was. I have finally experienced a Valentine’s Day that has surpassed all expectations and is going to be incredibly hard to beat (future boyfriends, good luck).
Skydive Big Five is running this Valentine’s Day package until the 14 March, in collaboration with Aquila Private Game Reserve and Spa. No, you don’t have to be single to try it out (that was just me), it’s a couples package for you and your adventurous partner if you want it to be. Or a date with yourself. Everyone should experience the best day ever.