So, I’m somewhat of an adrenaline junkie and bungee jumping is, of course, one of the most extreme sports ever invented. Naturally, I had an inkling to do it and there was no better place than the Bloukrans bungee experience. During one of our recent family trips to Cape Town (my home town) and Knysna – one of my favourite places in the world and a place that I’ve been going to for years, I decided to jump off a bridge – attached to a rope, obviously!
About the Bloukrans Bungee Jump
Found between Nature’s Valley and Storms river, you will find the Bloukrans bungee bridge – the highest commercial bridge bungee jump and third highest overall bungee jump in the world. The bridge itself stands at 300 meters off the ground and the jump is a whopping 216 meters high. This bridge is actually a part of the freeway and traffic passes by on it like any other regular bridge. But, right beneath it is the Bloukrans bungee spot.
The Face Adrenalin entrance, restaurant, shop and bar are all situated on the right side of the bridge. So if you are coming from the Storm’s river side, you will have to drive across the bridge to get to the entrance. When you arrive here to do your jump, it all runs very efficiently. Face Adrenalin which is the company that runs the Bloukrans bungee experience, does hundreds of jumps each day, so they have the process down to a fine art. First you check in and are weighed – they write your weight down on your hand. Next you will be all harnessed up. Then it’s time to walk across the underside of the bridge to the bungee point. You usually go in groups of ten and jump in order according to your weight.
Purchasing your bungee jump
I pre-purchased my jump ticket online which cost R900. I believe that the price has now gone up to R1000 (about $70). The photos and video footage cost an extra R400 – which I highly recommend. To be honest, I wasn’t all that impressed with the quality of the photo’s but it’s still great to have photographic evidence. Also, the video is pretty cool. You could always jump with your gopro – which many people do – but it’s worth noting that Face Adrenalin will only let you jump with your gopro if you agree to purchase their photos.
I did my jump in December which is a very busy time of year. During the busy season, it is advised that you pre-purchase your jump online to guarantee a spot. Also pre-purchasing your jump, makes it more likely that you’ll turn up, knowing that you’ve already paid for it!
My Bloukrans Bungee experience
The build up
I’ve always been a bit of a daredevil – ever since I can remember. It’s safe to say that I am a pretty adventurous type of girl. I loved roller coasters as a child, was always up for “risky activities” that most of my friends would avoid; like cliff jumping, and have never been afraid of heights. But, let me tell you, I’m pretty sure that nothing can prepare you for the Bloukrans bungee experience. Bungee jumping is one of the scariest but most exhilarating things that I have ever done. Standing on that platform on the edge of the bridge, looking down at the rapids below – my knees were weak and my heart was beating so fast.
But first, before you even get to the bungee jump spot (which is halfway across the bridge), you actually have to walk halfway across the bridge. This is possibly the scariest part of the whole experience – it’s an open-glass bridge. So as you walking across you can see the terrain 216 meters below you. If you can make it across here, then you will be fine to jump. I was lucky enough to have my boyfriend and mom do this walk with me. The “Bridgewalk” is an option for people who want to get up close to the edge without the pressure to jump. Or to accompany someone who is jumping. They were my cheerleaders!
The good news is that once you make it over the bridge, everything changes. It’s a completely different vibe – there’s loud house music playing, high energy, and a great atmosphere. The Face Adrenalin team are fantastic. They’re friendly, energetic and really pump you up to get you in the right frame of mind.
When it’s your turn to jump things move fast. It is a business after all – they need to get people off that bridge as quickly as possible, haha. While the music is playing you will be asked to sit on a stool where they will attach your ankle straps, tighten the padding, and attach your back-up harness around your shoulders and waist. My heart started skipping a few beats here because I knew my time to jump was close.
Once all the equipment is attached, two guys will grab you under each shoulder and lead you to the platform. The best advice that I can give you is – DO NOT look down! Really, you will thank yourself for it. You will have all the time in the world to look down as you jump. But, if you do it before, you’re making things a lot harder for yourself. The guys will position you so that your toes are sticking over edge – keep your eyes focused on the mountains ahead of you. This is it – they will count you down from three and then yell BUNGEE! That is your que to jump! This is your moment. Look forward, smile (because it will all be on camera) and DON’T hesitate, just do it!
Those first few split seconds in the air – as you jump – are terrifying. It feels as if you’re free falling. The thought that ran through my mind in that millisecond of a moment in time was “Why on earth did I choose to do this?” But before I put you off, let me assure you that a few split seconds later (you kind of realize that you’re attached to a rope), and it feels amazing. Just as one of my favourite quotes so perfectly says:
“Getting yourself off the edge and into the first few feet is the hardest part but once you’re off you’re free. You’ve gone through the fear, thrown yourself into flight and suddenly everything starts to make sense. Things slow down, you’re in control and you feel alive.”
This is 100% how I felt at this moment in time!
As soon as the rope catches you and you start going back up (the rebound) everything becomes so much calmer. The scenery changes and it’s so quiet and peaceful. You can see the stream below you, hear the birds around you and the echo of your own breath (no longer your screams). You’re suddenly able to take it all in; to bask in the moment. You’re flying and you’re loving it. You will keep elasticising up and down like that for a while, I would say a minute or two.
A guy from the Face Adrenalin team will come down by abseil to get you. A few of my friends had done the Bloukrans bungee experience before and all of them told me the same thing. That when you’re hanging upside down waiting for the guy to come down and fetch you, it feels as though your foot braces are going to slip off. I’m so glad that they told me this because it absolutely felt like that. Had I not been warned, I probably would have thought that I was about to slip to my death. Obviously this is not the case, but it does feel as though your feet are slipping out of the brace.
So after hanging upside down for about 20 seconds post jump, I was greeted by a smiling face. He clipped me to his harness and I was hoisted back up to the top in a few seconds. I was quickly unstrapped and congratulated by the enthusiastic staff. It was time to stand up and I couldn’t believe that it was all over. The adrenaline was pumping through my system for the entire day. It’s truly a surreal experience and one that’s very difficult to put into words.
Things to keep in mind
On average, out of every ten people that go up, two don’t end up jumping. In other words – you have an 80% chance of jumping. Don’t be that person that “chickens out.” Don’t let fear take over. Face Adrenalin has been running for 25 years without any injuries, deaths or incidents of any kind. Hopefully that will ease your mind a little.
You will be scared on some level. I mean, it’s only normal – you’re about to jump off a bridge tied to a rope around your ankles. All you can see is mountains ahead of you and you haven’t even looked down yet. Remember that fear is your body’s way of protecting itself. Your mind sees a threat and evokes fear as a self defense mechanism. Try to channel your thoughts and convince your body that you’re not trying to inflict harm on yourself.
Truth be told, I wasn’t all that concerned about the rope breaking – I knew they had been operating for more than 20 years without any incidents. The rope breaking is highly unlikely. I was worried about my body. My fear was whiplash or injuring my neck. But, you don’t need to worry about this because Bloukrans use pendulum bungee technology. What this means is that the bungee is rigged so that the cord attaches to the back of the bridge and loops under to the jump platform. When you jump, the cord pulls you out of free-fall into a smooth pendulum swing rather than a jerky up and down. If you watch my video you will see that I experienced quite a hectic recoil – but it looks a lot worse than it felt. Also, it’s very uncommon for this to happen. Typically the recoil will be a lot smoother.
At the end of the day you will be so happy that you actually went through with it. You will go through the fear and on the other side of that is complete euphoria. As soon as you’re in the air, you’re free. It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity and one that I would do again in a heartbeat. Now that I’ve done one of the highest bungee jumps in the world, I feel like I could probably do any.
Why the Bloukrans bungee experience?
If you have the guts the Bloukrans bungee experience promises an extraordinary time. As the highest commercial bridge jump in the world, you should be prepared for a thrill like no other. It was one of the best, most rewarding experiences of my life.
“In the end we only regret the chances we didn’t take.”