Monday, 10 April 2006
S.A. Extreme Sport How To's: Bungee Jumping
by Jacques Marais
Bungee jumping and the myths surrounding the sport originated as a manhood initiation rite in the forests of Papua New Guinea. Centuries later, this adrenaline activity continues to feature high on the ‘I must do this before I die’ list, but the forest vines and bamboo platforms have long since been replaced by high-tech gear and professional operators. The good news? The highest jump in the world is right here in SA, so what’s your excuse?
If you’re brave enough to do the Big Daddy of all commercial bungee jumps, haul your butt down to the Garden Route. You will cross the Bloukrans Bridge about 40km beyond Plettenberg Bay and, once you’ve stared into the ravine, you might be tempted to quietly sneak off again. Whoa right there, buddy – if you don’t do it now, this jump will taunt you every time you cross that bridge.
Don’t expect it to be a walk in the park though. At 216m (and ratified by the Guinness Book of World Records as the highest bungee in the world), you’re staring fear right in the face when you step up to the edge. A jump master guides you through the process as they attach your feet to the anaconda coil of the bungee cord, carefully explaining the jump and retrieval in detail.
And then it is time for your date with gravity. With the countdown echoing in your ears, you swallow dive into the gorge to freefall for more than eight seconds. The G-forces really kick in as you rebound nearly a hundred metres through thin air back up to the bridge. Finally, when your world eventually stops spinning, you will truly understand the concept of facing your adrenalin ...
Bungee jumping is not a sport as such, and should probably be viewed more as an adrenalin activity. As a participant, you need no previous experience, expertise or technical gear. You do however need to be able to face your fear, and you will be required to sign a medical indemnity form before jumping.
Highly trained staff will secure you in a full-body harness and then accompany you as you walk along a specially designed catwalk suspended beneath the bridge. The jump site, situated at the apex of the central arch, commands a bedwettingly terrifying vista into the rugged gorge.
Rest assured - the waiting is the worst part of the experience and, once you’ve stepped over the edge, you click into superhero mode. Face Adrenalin utilises pendulum bungee technology, thus ensuring a safe and comfortable jumping experience. They do not, however, supply you with clean underwear once you’re back on terra firma.
Bloukrans Bungee: The Mother of all jump sites, Plettenberg Bay, W/Cape – firstname.lastname@example.org
Gourits Bridge Swing: SA’s first bungee and bridge swing, Albertinia, W/Cape – email@example.com
Vic Falls Bungee: Number Two on Africa’s ‘Big 3’ Bungee List – www.shearwateradventures.com
Graskop Gorge Swing: An adrenaline trip of a different kind in Mpumalanga – www.backpackafrica.com
International Contacts: Get your endorphins on-line – www.bungeezone.com