There is no better analogy to an act of desperation than jumping off a bridge. It is no surprise then that it is a popular phrase to describe a marriage in a lot of cultures (and joke books). However, the jump we will be talking about is bungee jumping from Bloukrans Bridge, one of the highest bungee points in the world. That the Bloukrans bungee coincided with our honeymoon will remain a story to tell our grandchildren along with the play on the words it represents.
The bungee jump however is no mean feat especially given how many people give up after standing at the edge of the bridge – we even saw a couple of participants give up right at the end before their jump. We bungee jumped separately as our numbers were called out and we speak for both of us when we say that we saw our life go past us for a few seconds after we jumped, then gained a semblance of control only to panic again as the next swing literally took our breath away.
Bungee Jumping Stage 1: Self Alignment
The Garden Route is one of the most picturesque regions in South Africa and well deserving so. In the middle of coastal stretch on the way to Port Elizabeth, is the Face Adrenalin Bungee Jump point at Bloukrans Bridge in South Africa. The statistics did little to soothe our amateur nerves at 216m altitude and though we let out a relieved sigh at being greeted with a huge 100% safety record signboard, having to sign a waiver in case of a mishap, provided conflicting emotions at best. Asking questions didn’t really help either, the cheeky response of “If something happens it’s really not too far down” did little to quieten the butterflies fluttering in Rishabh’s stomach. Nirali was watching everything as cool as a cucumber. Kind of strange as a few days ago before the wedding our roles were reversed. After a quick weight check (the limit was 150 kg and both of us together didn’t reach that golden number), it was time to head for that massive leap of fate.
Bungee Jumping Stage 2: Pre launch checkup
The Bloukrans bungee point was a chaotic bundle of activity. It took a small walk across a suspended glass bridge to reach the jump point. The DJ was belting out hit numbers to get the tempo moving and others were getting the next jumper ready. Once harnessed, there’s a seemingly long and nerve wrecking 15 second walk to the jump point, which lies on a steeply arched metallic walkway suspended from bridge. The scene ahead is astonishing, the Face Adrenaline team recovering the cable from the previous jump to prepare for the next one, and even with the music blaring at full volume, there was deathly silence. A few people behind me were tapping their boots and presumably grooving to the music on the airborne dance floor as we were a few minutes ago. The music set the tone for the long wait, while we waited for our turn; Inwards continually debating whether to take the plunge or chicken out. No refunds are issued if you back out, but we were told, many quit with no loss of face.
We’ve done our fair share of adventure sports and consider ourselves always up for a challenge. But even the idea of jumping off a bridge is scary. Conversely, flying (or as close as one can get to it) with about seven seconds of free fall, alone with the wind, should be pure ecstasy. What’s more, a poster on the wall cheerfully describes Mohr Keet, world record holder for being the oldest jumper, jumping from the very same bridge at the age of 96, not too long ago.
Bungee Jumping Stage 3: Countdown
For such a leap (literally) it’s really important to have a pillar of support to have your back. In our case, newlyweds as we were, Nirali became the support for both of us; she jumped first. We exchanged a very emotional bollywood parting hug and goodbye before she gave a wave and plopped down from the bridge having my heart jump up to my throat. A terrifying few minutes of watching her swing dangerously on the television screen, she made it back up and we had the inevitable, you-made-it-back-in-one-piece, I’m-so-happy hug”. Finally, it was Rishabh’s turn!
The way he describes the experience is almost vivid and in retrospect quite comical. The cliff faces surrounding the bridge are verdant and the Bloukrans River (which the bridge is named after) below seemed like a thin white line dividing the ground miles away. The only thing between him and imminent death (his words’ not mine) was a Velcro cushion pad around the ankles and a thick, elastic cable tied around it. To hear him say it appeared that he was the only person subjected to such treatment and we were all protected by strong steel cable tied to our waist. However looking down from the top of the bridge is a BIG rookie mistake! The DJ insists on playing Yo Yo Honey Singh because we’re from India, group members cheer in the background and Rishabh finally jumps. Planning this jump is one of the best decisions we’ve ever made.
Bungee Jumping Stage 4: Jumpoff
It’s very difficult to explain the Bloukrans bungee experience in words. You have to feel the cocktail of jumbled up emotions hitting you all at once, listen to the small nagging voice saying ‘the cord around your ankle is going to slip’, feel the blood rush to your temple once you’ve dived head down and experience the joy of being one with yourself on the near-death journey. You may be no adrenalin junkie, but you’ll feel the rush too. It’s just like marriage, you’ll never be ready for the jump until you take the leap.
Our two cents, a trip to South Africa without this jump. If you’re a couple like us, it will be a bonding experience like none other. It works very well as a bachelor trip activity as well. The final jump before the final jump. Not so much for a relaxed family vacation. The bundle of nerves you gather from the experience takes some time settling down. For us it’s one more ticked off the bucket list, with several other leaps to go.