I am a bit of an adrenaline junkie. Well, compared to normal people at least. But until this week, I’ve never done an actual bungee jump. I’ve had the opportunity twice though. The 1st time was in 2005 when we went to the bungee site at the Gouritsmond Bridge, coming in at 85m vertical. While Fadeelah was the brave one and did the full-on bungee, I chose to do the bridge swing instead. It’s also super daunting but you are tied at the waist and not the feet. So, although you do free fall, you never go upside down and you also have something to hold onto in front of you if you choose. The 2nd time was in 2008 at Victoria Falls, at 111m vertical. Again, I chose the swing option. Although granted, the gorge swing at Vic Falls is off the charts on the adreno-meter!
I suppose the prospect of doing a bungee jump was always on the cards though. I mean, we are lucky enough to have the world’s highest commercial bungee jump right here in South Africa, in the Western Cape. It is the Bloukrans Bungee site just outside Plettenberg Bay. It comes in at a whopping 216m vertical. So how could I not take advantage of it and jump at some point in my life? When we did the Otter Trail in September we were really close to it. In fact, the biggest river crossing on the 5-day hike is the Bloukrans River, the very river that the Bloukrans Bridge (the bungee site) crosses over. The river crossing on the hike is at the river mouth just a few hundred metres downstream from the bridge. But after 5 days of hiking the Otter, driving back to Bloukrans and jumping was not something that seemed very appealing.
How did I end up there this time?
On Tuesday, as had been the case a few times this year, I had to travel to Plettenberg Bay for one of our projects. While it is always somewhat of a disruption of life to be travelling for work, there is probably no place in this country I would rather be travelling to than the Southern Cape. Amidst the chaos that is inevitably involved with the nature of the work we do, those little towns have an air of tranquility around them, far from the hustle and bustle of the big city. And if you have some time during your day, there are so many places you can pop into for a visit. There is the beach, the big cats, the elephants, the raptors, the birds, and…amongst others… the BUNGEE.
This time I had a colleague with me, and while we were casually chatting about what to do if we finished early enough that day, she suggested we take a drive through to the bungee. She said it in jest, but I clung to it like a dog with a bone! I was now hellbent on going to bungee jump. She ended up opting out of jumping, but was still excited that I was going to do it and happy to still drive us there. (the reason I didn’t go on my previous visits to Plett was that I didn’t want to drive that far. It’s not that far, but it’s far for a small town and especially far if it’s been a hard day)
We did finish early enough to still get them open and off we went to the Face Adenaline bungee site at the Bloukrans Bridge. Have a look at the video of my experience below.
On facing your fears…
I’m not exactly sure why I wasn’t as afraid to do it this time. Besides for feeling like I was going to zip into a pillar during the zipline to the centre of the bridge, I seriously didn’t feel any fear until I was fully harnessed and moments before the jump. It’s probably because over the years since I’ve last been at a bungee site I have had to face and overcome many fears. I’ve said it before and I will say it again…that is what I love about the endurance sports that we do. It changes you to the very core, you are not the same person on the other side of anything that challenges you that much. And sometimes you don’t realise how much you have grown until you are faced with a situation that you know you would not have followed through with before. This was one of those for me.
Getting back to the jump… When I got to that ledge and looked down… OH MY GOSH!!! It is terrifying AF. You have to put your toes over the ledge as you stand there, so it feels as if you can fall off unintentionally. I’m sure you can see the fear in my face on the video while I’m getting ready to go. I screamed my lungs out during the freefall. I’m sure the folks doing the Otter trail a few km away could also hear me 😅.
After the free fall and on the elastic extension, your body becomes one with the elastic rope and you are flung about like a rubber band, at the mercy of gravity. It is a very therapeutic process of surrendering completely, because you have absolutely no control over anything that happens during that entire process. And I believe we all need such a release every now and then, no matter what method you choose to get it through.
But if you choose to do it via a jump, please make sure there are strings attached…by a professional!
Here’s some more pics of my jump…
Here’s a fun fact as a reward for reading until the end:
Humans are born with only 2 fears. One of them is the fear of falling. The other is the fear of a loud sound. All other fears are learned/acquired.