Written by: Lisa J. Boden Felchle about her bungy jumping (also spelled bungee jumping) experience in South Africa
When we checked in to the Fernery Lodge, I grabbed several pamphlets in the front entrance of maps and activities in the area. One of the pamphlets was a Face Adrenalin advertisement for “BUNGY, the worlds highest bungy bridge – 216m”. Not only is it the highest bungy bridge but also the highest and largest bridge in Africa; the third highest in the world and the largest single span concrete arch bridge in the world. I read about this prior to traveling to South Africa, but I did not know that the highest bungy bridge in the world was along our path. Once before, in Thailand, two Japanese girls asked me to join them and bungy jump. I passed the opportunity up because I thought people bungy jump in Australia or New Zealand, not Thailand. But this is the world’s HIGHEST bungy jump; I cannot pass this opportunity up. I persuaded my husband to join me the next day.
The next morning, I psyched myself up throughout breakfast, at times questioning if I really wanted to leap off the bridge. My husband was right when he reassured me and told me that I already had my mind made up and there was no reason in questioning my decision. We arrived at the Face Adrenaline office and I skimmed some paperwork before signing my life away. I was thankful that I just missed a group of jumpers heading out to the bridge so I had to wait about an hour. I wanted to see what I was getting myself into. Fifteen minutes prior to walking out to the bridge I gathered at a gazebo where Face Adrenaline employees dressed in red jump suits helped me step into a safety harness. When he asked me if it was too tight, I replied that it was not tight enough. He laughed and said I was fine. This did not reassure me as I walked with a group of strangers along a trail to the bridge.
Just prior to the bridge, our guide stopped us and gathered us close as he gave us a safety briefing. I was surprised when the safety brief only included staying within the yellow tape on the bridge. And then he advised us about making the big jump. We were instructed to jump off and out as if doing a belly flop into a pool. I was surprised that it was not more of a swan dive. Everyone I saw jump looked effortless and graceful jumping off the bridge. That was it; the only advise we were given. I was shocked and terrified at this point.
We continued our walk to the bridge and stepped up onto a wire mesh cage which hung along the bottom of the concrete bridge and led to the arch. As we walked the bridge shook as large semis drove along it and other vehicle honked their horn cheering on jumpers. I made the mistake of looking down past the wire frame of the bridge we were on. Oh WOW! It was a long way down with jagged rocks and a brown colored river. What did I get myself in to? I jumped out of planes previously but this was different. I had no one there to reassure me because my husband, who is afraid of heights, stayed at the viewing area to watch and take photographs. I repeatedly asked myself what I was doing there. We arrived to the center of the bridge and we were given our order. I was relieved that I was number three and not the first jumper. My heart started beating faster as loud upbeat music blasted around us. I was excited, nervous, and amazed by the beautiful view that surrounded me.
I was “on deck” and did not have much time to think about what was before me. The safety placed padding around my ankles to protect my legs from rope burn. I took my place on the next seating where the safety showed me the six foot, three inch wide strap that would hold me on the end of the bungee rope. “That was the only thing that was holding me, this was crazy!” I saw them attach another strap to my harness as a secondary safety, this made me feel slightly better. The safety directed me to stand up and helped me toward the edge. I whispered to him that I was really, really, really nervous. He smiled at me and said, “you should not be jumping if you were not nervous, don’t worry this will be great.” I took another deep breath as he and another safety helped me so my toes were just over the edge. I didn’t have time to look down and focused on the view and performing the perfect belly flop. The safeties let go of me and yelled, “FIVE, FOUR, THREE, TWO, ONE, BUNGY!”
On queue, I jumped as far out as I could with my arms raised over my head. I have no idea if I closed my eyes or what happened those first few seconds. I think I held my breath for the six-second free fall. I felt the rope stop me at then end of the fall and thanked God that the small but strong strap held on to my ankles and my shoes did not fall off. I did not feel my body snap up like others I saw, but rather I was peacefully pulled back up by the rope. I looked out over the canyon and river below. It was beautiful, absolutely beautiful and was thankful I had the opportunity to see this part of the world upside down hanging from the tallest bridge in Africa. I hung from the rope repeating to myself, “I did it; I can’t believe I did this”.
The jump was exhilarating and unbelievable. This was definitely a great experience and now when someone asks me if I would jump off a bridge, I can say, “why yes, yes I have”. If you are thinking about doing a bungy jump, my recommendations is just do it, trust the safeties and take a leap of faith.
More about Bloukrans Bungy Jumping
Read another client’s account of the big jump from Bloukrans Bridge.