It’s safe to say that I am a pretty adventurous type of girl. I have cage dived with Great White Sharks, jumped out of a plane, gone snorkelling in the middle of a blizzard, hung out with lions, gone caving in Budapest and donned some crampons for vertical ice climbing. Throughout all of these adventures, and throughout the rest of my life, I have been pretty much fearless. However, that all changed when I set foot on the Bloukrans Bridge near The Crags in South Africa. A busy thoroughfare for buses and trucks, and also the home of the highest bridge bungee jump, and the third highest overall bungee jump in the world.
I had pre-purchased my jump online, knowing that if I had paid for it, I wouldn’t back out, even if I wanted to. It might seem strange that I felt no fear when flinging myself from a plane, yet felt true terror when faced with the prospect of jumping off a bridge. To me, the bungee is scarier because it is all on you. When skydiving, you are strapped to another person, who is going to jump out of that plane whether you like it or not; and having the decision making part taken away from you, actually makes the process easier and much less daunting. When you bungee jump, you have to be the one to decide to do something that goes against every single survival instinct your body has. To say that I was a bit scared was an understatement.
The Bloukrans Bungee is a whopping 216m jump. Located between Nature’s Valley and Storms River, it is an easy stop along the Garden Route. Once you arrive at the bridge, it is all very efficient. Face Adrenalin, the company running the bungee, does hundreds of jumps each day, so at this point, they have it down to a fine art. First things first, you check in, and are then weighed, which was almost as terrifying as the jump itself! Next you harnessed up, and then it’s time to walk across the underside of the bridge to the bungee point. Known as the ‘bridgewalk’, this is an option for people wanting to get up close to the edge without the pressure of having to jump.
The bungee point is surprisingly upbeat. With a huge sound system blaring out fast paced tunes and an entire group of staff who are genuinely funny and excited for you to have the most incredible experience of your life, it isn’t as daunting as I had expected. However, the tension, excitement and nervousness amongst jumpees is sufficiently palpable.
I was the sixth person in my group to jump. I was pretty okay while waiting to get my harness adjusted and go through the quick safety briefing.
But it was at this point, when they started to position me at the edge of the bridge that the fear really set in.
When they told me to put my toes over the edge, I really didn’t think I could jump. Every part of my mind was screaming ‘NO!’, and I remember saying that I couldn’t do it at least three times. However, and kudos to the staff for this, I ended up only taking about 5 seconds to jump. The two men getting me jump ready responded to my cries of ‘I can’t’ simply by counting me down. They yelled “3, 2, 1, BUNGEE!” and I jumped.
It was the most incredible experience of my life. The moment I was off the bridge, all fear was gone. The feeling of falling felt like it lasted much longer than the 7 seconds that it did (four seconds on one side of the bridge and 3 seconds on the other side due to a pendulum effect). I could feel my heart racing and the wind in my hair and the adrenaline pumping through my veins. I would go as far as to say that this feeling was the greatest feeling ever (and that includes being better than sex).
There is video footage of my jump, but I shall not be posting it here, as it mainly consists of me screaming and swearing like an absolute banshee. I did get some pretty sweet shots though, and the company takes some shots too. A little hint for those who may be heading to Bloukrans in the future – if you are planning to do as I did and take your GoPro or other handheld camera, be aware that they will only let you do so if you agree to pay for the Face Adrenalin photos too.
After hanging upside down for a solid 20 seconds post jump, I was greeted by this smiling face. This charmer has the fun job of retrieving jumpers post bungee, and plays the role of saviour very well. After he called me beautiful at least three times it was time to climb back onto the bridge.
Once back up to safety, I could not wipe the smile from my face! I had so much adrenaline and energy, I could not stop jumping around all afternoon! I would definitely bungee jump again (I’d do it in a heartbeat to be honest) and am now researching the best jumps in the world so that I can do them all!
Camera: GoPro Hero
Hostel: Rocky Road Backpackers, The Crags
Budget: R130 ($13) per night for a four bed dorm, R150 ($15) for transfers to and from Bloukrans Bridge
Remember: Nerves of steel!
Bungee Jumping: R850 ($85) for a single bungee, discounted rates if you book a second jump on the same day. R100 for the bridgewalk for non jumpers. Visit Face Adrenalin for more details and to book.
So, I know I have quite a few daredevils reading this blog, would you be game to take the plunge and jump off Bloukrans Bridge, or would you prefer to keep your feet on solid ground?