If you’re a BUCKiTDREAMER that lives for the thrill of an adrenaline rush, chances are you’ve already decided to schedule a bungee jump or two in an amazing location on your BUCKiTDREAM planner. On the other hand, perhaps you’ve heard about the experience from friends, have never done one, and are keen to feel the fear and do it anyway.
Completing a bungee jump (and proudly wearing the T-shirt) can be a memorable, once-in-a-lifetime experience for many people. But be warned – if you’re not good with heights, free-falling headfirst from a bridge into a canyon, attached by latex rubber at your ankles, may take some strong nerves.
Commercial bungee jumping has been around for about 25 years. It was invented by New Zealand entrepreneur and outdoor sports activist, A. J. Hackett. Hackett was a keen snowboarder and skier who was inspired by land diving in Vanuatu and the bungee jumps by The Oxford University Dangerous Sports Club in the late ’70s.
After coming up with the idea of a super-stretchy elastic bungee cord, he made his first jump off Auckland’s Greenhithe Bridge in 1986, and made several subsequent jumps in New Zealand and overseas. Perhaps his most recognized bungee jump is the one that he did off the Eiffel Tower in Paris in 1987, which brought international attention to the sport.
While New Zealand is still seen as the official home of the bungee (or bungy, as they call it) there are lots of other amazing scenic locations around the world to do one too. Here are our picks of top five places you could do a bungee jump…if you dare.
The Nevis, Queenstown, New Zealand
While Hackett’s original Kawarau Bridge Bungy is still operational, once you’ve conquered the 43-meter fall and lived to tell the tale, then you’ll feel more confident about attempting The Nevis. Known as ‘The Mother of all Bungy Jumps’, at 134 meters and 8.5 seconds of freefall, the Nevis Bungy is New Zealand’s highest bungee jump and is a must-do if you’re in Queenstown, the adventure capital.
Apart from the height of it, what makes this bungee potentially terrifying is the build up. You head out to the Nevis Canyon by 4WD which takes around 40 minutes through a bumpy mountain road bypassing a sheep station. Upon arrival you first see what you’re jumping from, essentially a swaying ‘pod’ suspended on a wire far above the canyon with a river rushing beneath.
Jumpers are winched out to the pod on a small cable car, which for some may be quite enough, thank you. There’s always the chance that you may still chicken out, even if you’ve got this far, but before you can change your mind you’re being harnessed up and given a pep talk by the upbeat staff. The secret is to dive out from the platform as soon as the ‘3..2..1’ has been given and not linger, don’t forget to smile and wave at the camera before enjoying an extreme adrenaline rush!
Europabrücke, Innsbruck, Austria
With a height of 192 meters, the Europabrücke (Europa Bridge) is considered one of the most spectacular locations in the world for a bungee jump. The 777-meter long bridge spans the Wipp Valley above the Sill River linking Austria and Italy across the Alps.
With scenery as awesome as this, it would be a crime if Europe’s second highest bridge didn’t have a bungee jump option. Luckily, if you’re in Innsbruck, Switzerland and want a stunning alpine view coupled with a thrilling adventure, you can tick both boxes with the Europabrücke.
The first bungee jump was done from the Europabrücke in 1993 by Rupert Hirner who set up an official operation in 1998. Jumps were only allowed once a weekend but you can now do them any time of year. You don’t need any specialized gear, you just need to get to the bridge and you’ll be provided with everything you need.
The stats connected with this bungee jump are quite impressive. Once taking the leap of faith, you’ll reach a speed of over 60 mph in two seconds, and a total speed of 74.6 mph with the total flying time of five seconds.
Victoria Falls Bridge, border of Zimbabwe and Zambia
At 111 meters, although it’s not the highest bungee jump in South Africa (the credit for that one goes to Bloukrans Bridge at 233 m), this is still an impressive place to do a bungee. The Victoria Falls Bridge is an old railway bridge spanning the Zambezi river, it is in “no man’s land” as the river is the border crossing between Zimbabwe and Zambia.
With a backdrop of the magnificent Victoria Falls (known to locals as “the smoke that thunders”), misty gorges and spray rainbows, you might have to pinch yourself to realize this surreal experience is actually happening. It’s over in a flash, so make the most of your surroundings – don’t just keep your eyes closed!
With the Victoria Falls bungee, you get four seconds of freefall, and this is also one of the places you can do a tandem jump with a friend if you’re not quite brave enough to leap alone. Yes, you can tell your friends there were crocodiles swimming below you in the Zambezi River!
The company that operates the bungee jump is called the Zambezi Adrenaline company and while first-time jumpers do the standard swan dive, stick around afterward and you may see some more experienced jumpers doing flips and tucks.
Extremo Park, Monteverde, Costa Rica
The whole point of doing a bungee jump is to conquer your fear of heights but, if you’re going to do it, you may as well build up the experience even more by taking a ride on an aerial bungee tram to a platform suspended by cables high above a beautiful cloud forest. Welcome to the Extremo Park, Latin America’s highest, and arguably one of the most amazing, places in the world to do a bungee jump.
Spectators gasp in awe when they see people undertaking this 143-meter high jump as it seems they are plunging into thin air, only to pop back up again a few seconds later much to everyone’s relief (especially the jumper’s).
The anticipation first starts to build when you’re in the tram being winched across to the platform as it has a metal grid so you can see how high up you are. It also tends to sway a bit as the conditions can often be wet and windy, leaving you wondering if you’ve made a wise decision.
But once you’ve been harnessed up and have taken the brave plunge into the mist, you want to do it all over again…and again. You wear a GoPro camera on your helmet so you can watch the footage of your amazing jump afterward. If you do chicken out (which apparently happens 4 or 5 percent of the time) there is always an extensive circuit of ziplines and a Tarzan swing instead.
Royal Gorge Bridge, Colorado, USA
Last but not least, if you want serious bragging rights then this bungee jump will give you them in spades. Noted as the highest suspension bridge in the world at 321 meters, the Royal Gorge Bridge takes some beating for dizzying depths. Unfortunately, you can’t just turn up and do a bungee jump – you have to participate in the Go Fast! Games held in September of each year. But screaming uncontrollably is definitely allowed on this one!
There’s no other activity in the world where you’d definitely want proof of your fear conquering moment. So once you get the photos or video be sure to proudly post your bungee jump on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram for everyone to see.