Life on the edge
Updated: Aug 19, 2020
I RECENTLY FLUNG MYSELF OFF AFRICA’S HIGHEST BRIDGE WITH NOTHING BUT A LENGTH OF STRETCHY ROPE TIED TO MY ANKLES.
The first time I agreed to jump off the Bloukrans Bridge – the highest commercial bungee bridge in the world – I was in high school and was still blessed with the fearlessness of youth. More than a decade later, I like to think I’ve grown a bit wiser, but it would seem there is an unmentioned side effect of wisdom: a considerable decline in courage.
Nevertheless, there I was, once again precariously poised on the shelf of a 216m drop, looking out over a lusciously green gorge and a meandering little stream trickling far below (I’m sure I would have appreciated the beauty of it all much more if my stomach hadn’t felt like a snag of knots).
Once my ankles were securely strapped in – although I felt they could have been wrapped even tighter – the two gentlemen from Face Adrenalin who were positioned on either side of me gave me a recap of the correct way to jump. ‘Okay, boss, you ready? It’s as simple as falling off a bridge, ek sê. Just bend your knees, spread your wings and push off with your toes. Swan dive, mos.’
The woman who had gone before me had been highly apprehensive and nearly hadn’t jumped, but the two skilled negotiators had talked her back on to the ledge and, after a few more murmured assurances, she’d finally taken the leap, tears and all. They must have sensed my trepidation too, because now they were giving me the same speech about how there hadn’t been an incident on the bridge in 25 years and the backup safety measures made it impossible for me to get hurt in any way.
With a last ‘You’ll be fine, champ. You got this!’ and a fist bump from each of them, I felt slightly more confident and was ready to tumble into the abyss. So, with my two motivators on either side holding on to my outstretched arms, the countdown came. 3 ... 2 ... 1... Bungee!
It all seemed to slow down in that moment and my head was suddenly clear. I no longer feared the drop. Beyond that, all my worries and everyday stresses seemed to dissipate and, for a few carefree moments, all I felt was totally pure, unadulterated exhilaration. I leant forward, pushed off with my feet and then I was falling. It is a feeling unlike anything else and words can’t do it justice, but it boils down to a glorious combination of freedom and release. Giving yourself over to the forces of gravity and trusting that the rope will hold and, if it doesn’t, well, it’s certainly not the worst way to go.
One is always warned about the violent recoil of the bungee rope, but at Face Adrenalin the system makes use of pendulum technology, which lets you fall in an arc so that you barely feel anything as the rope snaps you back up.
The great thing about bungee jumping is that it’s not over after the first fall. The height of Bloukrans means your second plummet, after the rope has shot you skywards, is in fact higher than the drop from most other bungee bridges.
I’ll admit I was grateful I didn’t have to hang there for too long afterwards, as the rush of blood to the head can become quite uncomfortable. I was bobbing up and down, hanging head over heels with the adrenalin still thick in my veins, when one of the crew scaled down the rope and, without a fuss, hoisted me up.
A truly awe-inspiring experience – due in no small part to the guys at Face Adrenalin, who helped make it one I will never forget.
Get in touch
042 281 1458, 071 109 6872
Where to stay
Lily Pond Country Lodge
I recommend you spend the night at Lily Pond, which is a 10-minute drive from the bridge. Enveloped in the greenery of the Tsitsikamma Forest and dotted with several ponds, which attract spectacular bird life, the lodge boasts a variety of accommodation options, from standard en-suite rooms to lavish garden and honeymoon suites.
With simple yet unique architecture, understated African finishes and beautifully appointed spaces, Lily Pond exudes an air of luxurious tranquillity.
Scrumptious breakfasts and dinners are carefully prepared and can be savoured in the warm and inviting dining room or the outside dining area, when the weather allows.
You can also enjoy massage treatments, cool off in the lovely infinity pool or catch some rays on the sun deck.
044 534 8767