I’ve already mentioned my birthday bungee jump a couple of times (see posts here and here), but it’s taken me more than a month to edit the video footage from the GoPro camera I wore during the jump. I’m finally ready to tell the story.

Bloukrans Bridge

I jumped from the Bloukrans River Bridge, on the border of South Africa’s Eastern Cape and the Western Cape provinces. Bloukrans is a bit more than an hour’s drive from Knysna, where I stayed during the Knysna Oyster Festival. The bridge is 216 meters (709 feet) high. I can’t believe I jumped from that seemingly tiny space at the top of the arch. 

The Bloukrans River bungee jump is run by Face Adrenelin and is the highest commercial bungee jump in the world. There are higher places in the world to bungee-jump (see list here) but apparently the other places aren’t commercial, whatever that means.

At any rate, I don’t see myself doing any non-commercial bungees so I’m pretty sure this is the highest bridge I’ll ever jump off of.

I didn’t have much time to psychologically prepare for the jump, which was a good thing. I mentioned off-hand that I might like to do it and somehow, a little more than 12 hours later, I found myself in the car on the way to Bloukrans. I had never bungee-jumped before, nor had I even seriously considered it.

Pre-jump selfie

Pre-jump phone selfie.

Here’s how it works: You arrive, sign a few forms, pay, and then step on a scale. The Face Adrenelin guy writes your weight on a your hand (!), and you walk to a small pavilion to get outfitted with a complicated set of straps and harnesses. Then you troop down to the bridge with a group of 10 or 12 jumpers (along with friends and family who want to watch but not jump) and walk out to the platform.

Bloukrans walkway

Walkway to the platform.

Processed with VSCOcam with c1 preset

Instagram I shot on the way to the platform.

View from bridge

View from the bridge.

I don’t remember much about what happened once we reached the platform. I guess I was too nervous to notice anything.

I was the third person in my group to jump.

Mark jumping

This is my friend Mark jumping. In reality he jumped after me. But I’m trying to build suspense.

I think my video tells the rest of the story.

Before you watch the video, here are a few tips/observations:

1) If you’re wearing a scarf, remove it before bungee-jumping. This may seem like an obvious tip but you’d be surprised how many obvious things one neglects to consider before diving off a very high bridge.

2) Your feet are strapped together before you jump and this is rather uncomfortable.

3) Jumping off a bridge is hard. (Again: Obvious.) As I stood on that ledge, every cell in my body begged me not to jump and I had to willfully disobey all 37 trillion of those cells. The moment after I jumped was the purest moment of sheer terror that I have ever felt. It was also curiously awesome.

4) I nearly cried for joy when a guy appeared out of thin air to haul me up to the bridge after my jump. That’s because for the final 20 seconds that I was hanging there, I felt certain that my feet would slip out of their straps and I would plunge 50 meters into the river. Apparently it’s common to feel this way even though there is virtually no chance of it happening. And afterward someone reminded me that I had another strap around my shoulders as a backup. If I ever do this again I’m going to comfort myself with these reminders during the jump.

5) My video editing is extremely poor but I personally think the amateurish quality enhances the video’s effectiveness.

Here it is:

2Summers Bloukrans Bungee Jump from Heather Mason on Vimeo.

Despite the sheer terror, I really loved this. Maybe I’ll do it again when I turn 80.

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