Bungee Jumping in South Africa

For most people, looking over the edge of a 216m bridge might be quite enough of a thrill. For others though, throwing themselves off the bridge is a far better pastime.

Known as bungee jumping, willing participants attach a special cord to their ankles and after a fair amount of persuasion and at least 2 or 3 "no, I cant do it" remarks, they throw themselves into thin air and hurtle down to the ground below. Just in time, the stretchy bungee cord pulls tight and the jump is complete.

Did you know? In the Garden Route you can experience the Bloukrans bridge - the highest commercially operated bungy jump in the world. The 216 metre jump from Bloukrans bridge lies about 40 kilometres east of Plettenberg Bay on the N2 highway off a span arch bridge.

Bungee jumping began ages ago as a tribal ritual for boys to enter manhood. Fresh, stretchable vines were attached to their ankles and tied to two bamboo towers. Divers were required to jump from as high as possible and stop as close to the ground as possible to prove the extent of their manhood. Fortunately today, bungee jumping has evolved quite a bit and is now performed with only highly specialized equipment.

Bungee jumping in South Africa has earned a global reputation for its claim to having the highest commercial bungee jump in the world. Positioned along the gorgeous Garden Route, the Bloukrans Bungee Jump will send you plummeting 216m, headfirst, towards the bottom. Because of the extreme height of this bungee jump, a full body harness is used, instead of the traditional ankle harness. The harness, combined with a technique called 'pendulum bungee technology', makes for a very comfortable jump - considering the fact that you're jumping off a 216m high bridge.

Bungee jumping in South Africa isnít limited to the Bloukrans jump. 35 Kilometers outside of Mossel Bay along the N2 highway, is the old Gouritz bridge which was decommissioned for public transport a number of years ago.

The first commercial bungee jump in South Africa, the Gouritz bridge was a 65m jump - which was ideal for beginners or first-timers. Because of the relatively low height of this jump, tandem jumps were possible. (Sadly, the Gouritz River Bridge operation was closed a few years ago). The tandem jump is also good for the slightly less adventurous due to the fact that you donít go off the bridge head-first, but rather feet first which is naturally far less daunting.

Whats a Bridge Swing? Well, if you fancy yourself as generally an adventurous person, but you simply canít get your head around jumping off a 65m bridge head-first, then why not try bungee jumpingís little, slightly less scary brother, the Bridge Swing.

A safety harness is attached to your waist and a specialized rope is attached to a second bridge, 20 or 30m away from you. As you jump, the rope quickly pulls taught and you swing forwards and rather rapidly over the ground a few meters below. Granted, youíre still jumping off a bridge into seeming oblivion, so bridge swinging will still take some guts, but itís not quite as scary as bungee jumping.

Because of the inherent danger of bungee jumping and its unique requirements in terms of location, there arenít many commercial bungee jumps in South Africa. However the quality of the bungee jumps that South Africa does have to offer, more than make up for its lack in quantity. So if youíre up for the extreme adrenaline rush of a lifetime, then make a plan to try South Africaís world class bungee jumping.

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