The world’s most exhilarating aerial race comes to Zimbabwe

The skies above one of the world’s most iconic natural landmarks, Victoria Falls, are set to host the thrilling finale of one of the most spectacular aerial races on the planet this weekend, as the only long distance paramotor race, the Icarus Trophy, visits Zimbabwe for the first time.

For those not in the know, paramotoring is effectively flying with a motor tied to your back and a paragliding wing above your head and is growing rapidly as a sport.

After three hotly contested editions in the United States, this week saw the Icarus Trophy migrate across the Atlantic to take to the skies above southern Africa, starting in South Africa and finishing in Zimbabwe near Victoria Falls, with the kind permission of Dr Karikoga Kaseke, CEO of Zimbabwe’s Tourism Office.

Like its predecessors the race is roughly 1000 miles long, depending on the route contestants choose, and began on Wednesday just north of Johannesburg, before heading over Botswana, and is set to finish near the stunning Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe.

The route will take in some of southern Africa’s most iconic landscapes, including the Kalahari Desert, numerous mountain ranges, Botswana’s Okavango Delta and salt pans, the Zambezi National Park and of course the world renowned Victoria Falls, giving contestants views of these environments and their wildlife like no other.

The race is split into two divisions; one for more experienced pilots racing for glory and an Adventure Division for the less seasoned racer who wants to take things at a more ‘leisurely pace’. Racing Division pilots are expected to cover the 1000 mile distance in a few days, with the record standing at a rather incredible four, whilst those in the Adventure Division will take around 10 days to fly the course.

Bringing the Icarus Trophy to Africa means adventureremains at the heart of the 2018 race for all pilots and it is for this reason The Icarus Trophy is a largely unsupported event. As the organisers point out...

“Probably the key part of any adventure is the adventurous bits. And that means setting out into the world and fending for yourself. Anything else becomes a bit less exciting. It starts to remove all the fun bits, like ‘where will I sleep tonight?’ or ‘what do I do now I've run out of fuel?” – Dan Wedgewood, Director at The Adventurists

All competitors must carry their own food, clothes, a way to sleep (although if you land near a hotel there’s nothing in the rules against you sleeping in luxury) and basic parts to fix their paramotors should anything go wrong. The organisers, The Adventurists, do however track your course, provide you with an SOS tracker, should you need emergency assistance, and send you specialised weather reports. There’s also a ‘support truck’ which follows the competitors just in case there is a major incident it will however probably take a while to reach you if you land in the middle of the desert, so best pack some sandwiches.

Source: Icarus Trophy