At 216 meters high, the Bloukrans Bungy, was recognised in 2003 as the world’s highest commercial bungee.
We all know what it feels like to be scared: rapid heartbeat, nervous perspiration, hurried breathing, the list goes on… All this is caused by adrenaline, that lovely hormone that, when surging through our bodies, also provides a sense of fearlessness in the form of a noticeable increase in our physical strength, heightened senses, a boost of energy and an increased tolerance for pain. It is therefore not uncommon for individuals to seek out new and exciting ways in which to push the envelope when it comes to seeking thrills and get the adrenaline hormone pumping – finding out just how much fear they can tolerate and ultimately, enjoying a sense of accomplishment when they realise they are able to endure the anxiety.
These people, otherwise known as adrenaline junkies, are not as rare as you think. In fact, more and more of us are seeking ways to achieve this sense of accomplishment by pushing ourselves to our limits. It’s a natural human desire, just like curiosity. A thirst for exploration, knowledge and, of course, an experience never to be forgotten. In an article for FlySafair’s InFlight magazine, I went on a thrill-seeking adventure, jumping out of an airplane and paragliding off a mountain, all in the Search for Big Air (October 2015). I made mention of the fact that since I can remember, the allure of adrenaline has resulted in my participation in a number of adventurous (and somewhat risky) activities around the world and just recently, on an epic camper van road trip of the Garden Route and beyond, I found myself in Tsitsikama overlooking the Bloukrans River valley, about to take a leap of faith off the highest commercial bungee bridge in the world!
At 216 meters high, the Bloukrans Bungy, was recognised in 2003 as the world’s highest commercial bungee. Face Adrenalin, the company behind the exhilarating “fear to elation” journey, discovered the possibilities of the bridge all the way back in 1990 and in 1997, opened up Bloukrans Bridge Bungy as a commercially operated activity. One really reassuring thing I would like to mention here is that during their almost 20 years of operation, there have been no accidents of any kind. However, even knowing this, the sheer height of the bridge and crazy prospect of jumping off it, is daunting and, on average, only 80% of individuals who sign up for it actually jump.
Having done a (much, much less significant) bungee before, I was most excited at the prospect that I had a partner with me who was, for lack of a better term, a bungee virgin and was not entirely sure whether this was a good idea. Luckily, I am quite convincing and so, on the morning of our scheduled jump, we arrived early and eager, ready to sign our lives away on the indemnity form that ensures that Face Adrenaline is not held responsible for injuries or…errr…death. It sounds daunting but it’s really not. The staff at Face Adrenalin allow no room for pre-jump fear and, despite the odd joke about the “rope snapping” (hilarious), participants are weighed and harnessed up between jovial conversation and warm smiles. A real friendly bunch. Unlike my previous bungee experience in Thailand – which may be the land of smiles, but it’s certainly not the land of safety regulations – jumpers are secured in a full-body harness as well as the ankle connection which ensures maximum safety.
Harnesses secured, we were led to the beginning of the walkway which is attached to the underside of the road deck and leads up to the arch of the bridge – the jump zone. After a safety briefing, we were on our way. The walk, some say, is even scarier than the jump itself and I have to say that in some ways I agree. Nothing but wire mesh underfoot as the ground starts to disappear beneath you. The view, however, inspires awe and wonderment, which does help to relieve the fear somewhat – the Bloukrans River, stretching through the valley all the way to the ocean is incredible and even if the allure of jumping off the bridge doesn’t appeal to you, there is the option to just do the walk which I would recommend to any nature enthusiast.
Once up on the arch, jumpers are selected based on their weight and which bungee cords are in place first. As luck would have it, I was chosen to jump first and once the other participants had found their place in the order, it was time to go. Adrenaline-inducing music at full blast (there is a DJ booth on the arch blasting out 100 beats per minute!), my ankles were strapped and I was hoisted up under my shoulders by two grinning, energetic and enthusiastic staff members and taken to the edge. This was it. 3, 2, 1… Bungee! I disappeared off the edge of the bridge and soared through the air, wind racing past my face and adrenaline gushing through every vein in my body. It was pure exhilaration. The Bloukrans Bungy, unlike most other bungee operations, uses pendulum bungee technology which ensures the smoothest, most comfortable bungee imaginable. There is no sudden recoil and, instead, once you reach the end of the cord, you simply swing into the valley – a feeling of freedom that you will be hard-pressed to find elsewhere. It is a truly amazing experience. After a while, a staff member will come down and assist you back up using a pulley-system and before you know it, you’re back on the arch with an insatiable urge to jump again!
After we had all jumped and my partner had lost her bungee virginity, we walked back and regrouped over a cold drink at the Cliffhanger restaurant – situated with a perfect view of the bridge and a great place to watch others enjoying the same thrill. Despite her initial reservations, she was elated and wanted to relive the experience over and over. The fear which she was anticipating before the jump was completely eased by the sheer magnificence of the surroundings, expertise and enthusiasm of the Face Adrenalin staff and the absolute thrill and freedom of flying through the air. I felt the same way and have to hand it to the team at Face Adrenalin for providing such a sterling service all-round. If pushing the envelope is what you’re after when it comes to seeking thrills and getting that adrenaline hormone pumping, the Bloukrans Bungy is a safe and exhilarating space to do it in. And, if jumping off the highest bridge in the world doesn’t leaving you with a sense of insane accomplishment and pride, I don’t know what will. Go. Take the leap of faith. You will have no regrets.
For more information, visit Face Adrenalin’s website at www.faceadrenalin.com.
Text: Julie Graham | Images: ©Face Adrenalin