A bet, a bridge and my first bungy!
That’s right it all started with a bet in New Zealand. Known as the home of bungy, everyone I met was amazed that doing a jump was not on my list during my six-week tour of New Zealand and my retort was “if I’m going to bungy, I want to do a big one”, and of course I cited the Bloukrans back home in South Africa. The truth was that I’ve always been a bit of a sceptic as to the safety of bungy and its effects on our anatomy! Then in a bar in Queenstown fed up with justifying my position I came up with an ultimatum, which I thought was fairly safe bet, that if any of them came to South Africa in 2013 then I would do the world’s highest bridge bungy at Bloukrans.
I have stopped and looked at people jumping off this bridge before and thought no way would I do that. This time I was there looking at the same view but knowing that I had made a bet and I was going to have to do it. So after watching a few people jump we went to sign up only to be told they were fully booked for the rest of the day. Was this a sign or just a test of my nerves?
Luckily we had booked to stay in Tsitsikamma National Park (read more here) just down the road and so undeterred we simply booked for 11:00am the next day leaving a whole 18 hours to stress about the jump.
The weather on the following day couldn’t have been more perfect and back at the bridge this was it. I was about to jump one of the world’s highest bungy jumps, 216 metres above the trickle of a river below and as if I didn’t need reminding…
As you check in you get weighed then they write your weight and a jump number on your hand – this was all starting to get very real!
Once everyone in the group had been fitted with a harness we started the long walk down to the bridge with everyone dealing with their nerves in different ways, whether it was making jokes, trying to focus on other things or simply suffering in silence.
The walk underneath the road to the middle of the bridge was terrifying enough along a steel mesh platform with below us the river gorge and above us each car that passed overhead sounded like a jet flying past. At the middle however our nerves were put somewhat to ease as we were welcomed with loud music and a very friendly relaxed bungy crew. There were still a few nervous smiles as we posed for a group photo.
I was one of the last in the group to jump and I’m not sure if this helped my anxiety but I wasn’t nearly as scared as I thought I would be. Watching a dozen others jump off and come back alive goes a long way to convincing the brain that everything will be OK. Here’s a shot of me getting my ankle harness attached. Do I look nervous?
Doing my best to not look at the gorge to my left and the impending 216 metre drop.
Final safety briefing and nervous laugh!
All tied up with a moment to myself to contemplate one last time what it is I’m actually doing.
With your legs tied together they carry you to the edge where they tell you to position your feet with your toes over the edge.
Then they step back and count you down. Five….four…. three…. two…. one… BUNGYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY!
If I do something I want to do it properly so I bent my knees and took a pretty impressive leap, if I do say so myself.
Having been focused so much on the jump it was only when I stopped travelling up and forward that I realised I was falling and I started screaming as loud as I could.
It all happens so quickly that you don’t really take note of what’s rushing past you or towards you but then you feel the bungy cord start to stretch as you slow down and then get catapulted back up again like something in a Disney cartoon.
After three falls and rebounds you hang suspended above the gorge with terrific views down towards the ocean on the one side and the mountains on the other as the adrenalin starts to work its way out of your system and relief sets in. Before you know it one of the guys has been winched down to bring you back up to the bridge station.
All smiles !
I never thought of myself as an adrenalin junkie but I have to say this was an amazing experience that I would do again if I had the chance. What about you, would you do the 216 metre high bungy jump off the Bloukrans Brdige?