Worlds Highest Bungy Jump

The world’s highest bungy jump beckoned my name from the instant I heard about its towering height, 216 meters (710 feet). It’s location was far from close to anywhere, but the distance would not stop me from conquering the crown jewel of an adrenaline junkie’s resume. This past January my two friends and I set out to face adrenaline and conquer all our biggest fears; taking the ultimate leap of faith off the Bloukrans River Bridge in the heart of South Africa’s beautiful garden route.

I had first heard about the Bloukrans jump a year earlier when I was traveling in New Zealand doing death defying stunts almost daily; such as sky diving, ice climbing, abseiling and of course bungy jumping. New Zealand is home to some of the most beautiful and highest jumps in the world. Queenstown has made its reputation as the adrenaline capital of the world based on its plethora of amazing jumps. It was at Queenstown’s most famous jump, the 134 meter (440 foot) levitating monster called the Nevis that I first was notified of the Bloukrans bungy by a fellow adventure seeker. After the sheer ecstasy of the Nevis, I knew it wouldn’t be long before I would be in South Africa to try my luck at the Bloukrans Bridge.

My friends and I set out on a journey that took us through seven African countries, many wild animal encounters and tons of wonderful people. Finally, we left Jeffrey’s Bay heading west along the southern tip of South Africa on the backpacker friendly Baz Bus toward Cape Town to stop at a small resort town called Plettenburg Bay. This would be the starting point to our jump location. After several hours in the bus we approached the actual bridge that we would be jumping off. The bus stopped on top of it to show all the people who weren’t going to be jumping what they were missing. Seeing the height of the bridge beforehand did not ease our minds, in fact it got our adrenaline and our fear pumping harder than ever. We knew we would soon be standing on the ledge.

We arrived a half-hour later in “Plett”. We had already arranged transportation from our hostel back to the bridge. We just dropped off our bags, went to the bathroom for the first of five times before the jump and hopped into the van to go to the bridge. The ride to the bridge was filled with stories from our driver of how it is going to be the most amazing experience of our lives and how everyone who does it loves it. I asked him how many times he had done the jump. He replied, “Never, are you nuts?” That didn’t sit too well with us, as you might think, but nonetheless we came thousands of miles for this jump and we were doing it no matter what.

Finally, we arrived at the Face Adrenaline office to sign up for the jump and to get weighed in. We found out that we would have to wait over an hour because a flight of six people had just left for the bridge and each person takes approximately ten minutes to be completed with the whole process of being pulled up from such heights. So we had nothing to do but watch and wait.
We sat at the observation deck watching people jump and listening to their piercing screams as the knots in our stomachs grew tighter and tighter. I did push ups to stay loose and to get rid of the tension. And, of course we tried to lighten things up by trying to psych each other out. I think it worked because by the time it was our turn to go we were all pretty nervous and terrified.

In order to get out to the jump spot at the peak of the bridge’s arch, which is the largest concrete arch span bridge in the world and the highest bridge in Africa, we had to walk out on a steel grid walking bridge that was see through on the bottom. It was quite nerve racking and my friend Jake nearly had a heart attack and would say later that the walk out was the worst part of the jump experience. Finally we arrived at the apex of the arch and readied ourselves to go. We were under the impression that we would be the first three to go because we were the three heaviest of the six and, based on our other bungy experiences, that is how they worked. Not at the Bloukrans! We were the last three in the order and I was the last one to go.

In the middle of South Africa, it was absolutely frigid standing on the underbelly of the arch bridge because the roadway blocked the sun above us and the wind ripped through the canyon with a ferocious chill. I was only wearing shorts and a tank top and was slightly miserable.

We sat and watched all three of our co-jumpers; two Irish kids and a Brit jump and come back up to safety. Finally, it was my friend Mike’s turn to go. He saddled up, stood on the ledge, legs shaking and head looking up not down. Arms out, he flung himself off the great bridge with the grace of an ostrich that fell off a building. Next, Jake geared up, looked back at us as if giving his last rites to us with his eyes. He swallowed deep and looked up at the horizon. As soon as he jumped, all the jump workers were sure to make fun of his technique for the camera that was videotaping the spectacle. As he returned safely to the comforts of the cement arch I knew it was finally my turn to go. This is what I came eight thousand miles to do.

My heart was beating a thousand times a minute. Normally for a jump, it only beats about 500 times a minute but, because of the height, it was much faster. The adrenaline was pumping. I couldn’t really feel my body as the jumpmasters were securing my harnesses. As I made my way over to the ledge I kept my eyes focused out as I looked down at my feet to inch them over the edge. As I pulled my arms up to flying position I was sure to look straight at the clouds on the horizon, which momentarily I would try to jump toward. As the jumpmaster started the countdown at five, my body went numb, my ears deaf and my brain obsolete. The reality of what I was about to do had set in. A sixth sense told me when he was saying “one,” as I started to lean forward and bend my knees for the push off jump. Then there is complete silence.
During the freefall of eight whole seconds, I am unaware of anything else in the world. All I hear is the wind and air pushing in one ear and out the other, in an eerie, rapid whooshing sound. All I see is the ground 700 plus feet below getting closer by the second. It’s strange because you are so numb and out of your regular mind that you don’t even realize the ground is creeping up on you. That is until the chord starts to pull and then instantly you snap out of it and start to scream. You are no longer weightless; your eyes get bigger, practically popping out of your head. As the chord reaches its pinnacle and you are stuck in temporary limbo, there is a sense of peace and security that you are still alive. Then suddenly, the chord tears your guts out and rips you back toward where you took the crazy leap. The best part about the Bloukrans jump is that for your money you actually get to re-experience the horrors and joys of the jump over and over because it’s so ungodly high.

Finally, as the reverberations begin to slow you are just hanging upside down awaiting a little guy to come down to attach himself to you, setting you straight up again. You are almost completely content hanging upside down 300 feet above the ground. You begin to have private thoughts of ecstasy of the best feeling that is available on this planet. The feeling of the build-up, the freefall, the numbness, the ground rush, the horror and the joy is unlike anything humans were ever meant to experience in this life. For myself it was extra special because I also got to share every sweet emotion with two of my best friends and we can relive it forever.

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  1. Scared2Bungee says

    Hi lee, this story is amazing. I am going to South Africa later this year and was thinking about doing this bungee. Is it stupid to do the worlds highest for the first one I do or should I try to do a smaller one first? I live in Norway, do you know any bungees in Europe?

  2. It’s not stupid to do it first. If you’re only gonna do one, you might as well do the biggest one, right…the only ones I know of in Europe that are any good are in Switzerland, there are several there. I’m sure there are others but I don’t know of them. New Zealand and Australia have the highest amount of them that I know of besides Suisse, Costa Rica, Southern Africa and I know there is one in Nepal now that is supposed to be good-I haven’t done that one though. Thanks for the comment.

  3. …you conveniently forgot to mention the tragic form of your jump. The fluttering of your arms like the fins of a fish out of water definitely took the cake.

  4. As opposed to your knees just buckling and you falling off the bridge

  5. …and wasnt it YOU who the workers made fun of into the camera imitating your spastic flapping of your arms????

  6. It was certainly you my man…don’t try to pin that on me

  7. Is this the biggest one in the world? I\’ve done the Nevis one in Queenstown, but want to do the biggest in the world. That coming after my first one on Nisi beach in Aiya Napa, Cyprus which was 200ft.

    It\’s my goal to do the biggest one in the world though, definitely.

  8. Yes, its ther highest commercial bungy on earth, certified by the guiness book but always subject to change I suppose. I have done several of the highest in the world. Bloukrans is scary high and very wondy. Always tough to say but I will be doing the one in Cyprus in a few weeks, thx for telling me because I didnt even know therre was one

  9. I did the 007 bunjee 2 years ago…your story brought back so many memories!!!! It is only when you experience these feelings you realise that you are alive and what being alive is all about !!! Definitely gonna do it again some time soon!!!

  10. My friend Jake and I tried to get to the 007 Goldeneye bungee last september but apparently they needed to have a group of at least 6 people so we couldn’t do it last fall bc after Sept 1st the times cvhange–it was really annoying but thanks a lot for the comment-if you’ve done a high jump before then you know what I mean.

  11. kiwilana says

    Your story has inspired me to get off my butt and get to Africa, jump and Bloukrans and white water raft the Zambezi. And given your name is the same as my partner who suddenly passed away at 32 I thought it was a good sign. thanks can’t wait jump!

  12. Thanks Kiwilana, thats really nice of you to say and I really hope you do get to Africa and do Bloukrans, it is amazing. I am truly sorry about your partner and I hope you are doing well.

  13. Thomas Hedley says

    Hey Lee,

    wicked story you have convinced me to do this jump, I like you have visited queenstown before and done the three jumps, I thought nevis was up there with the biggest in the world, your experience has given me sweaty palms for nervousness which is what I live for also, thanks for your insights! jumping guru Tommy

  14. Hey Tommy, thanks for the comment. Bloukrans is awesome and ridiculously high. I tried to describe it as best I could. Check back with me when you do it, love to hear your take.hopefully they will have improved their videos since when I did it four years ago bc the quality was awful so we didn’t end up getting it, whereas the thrillogy jumps videos are great.

  15. Hey Lee! I did this same bungy this past summer after doing the Garden Route Trip, and your experience is dead on with how it went for me. I have never done a bungy jump previously and I was more excited than nervous until we did the walk to the point. That was the worst part as we all tried not to look down but of course one person looks and sets off a chain reaction and gradually everyone’s freaking out. I would definitely do this jump again and could I just say Cape Town was one of the best places I have ever lived. I hope you got to enjoy all that Cape Town had to offer!! Did you get a chance to do shark cage diving as well?

  16. Hey Raj, Cape Town is a great city and I spent some 10 days there in 2004 and loved it. The bungy was awesome and glad you got to do it. Hopefully you can get up to Vic Falls and do the one there or maybe down to New Zealand where you have your pick of them if you liked Bloukrans.

    Shark diving truthfully doesn’t really interest me that much. I suppose next time I am in Cape Town I will do it just to do it. I am sure its fun but after snorkeling and diving with sharks, especially with close encounters in the Galapagos and some other places, I have no desire to be that close to them anytime soon!

  17. What an awesome story Lee. I got giddy just reading it. Just did my first ever Bungy in Chiang Mai, Thailand; only a fraction of this awesome height, but still thrilling. I’ll be looking to take on a higher jump soon. Thanks for sharing this incredible experience. Cheers.

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