Extreme Bungee Jumping

The seed was planted in the 1950’s.  David Attenborough returned with his BBC film crew from Pentecost Island in Vanuatu.  What he and his group filmed on that journey can still be found sometimes on TV today.  Young boys, as part of their passage into manhood, would be forced to dive off of tall wooden towers with vines tied to their angles.  Two decades later, on April Fool’s Day 1979, several members of the “Oxford University Dangerous Sports Club” attached modern bungee cords to themselves and dove off of the Clifton Suspension Bridge in Bristol.  By the mid 1980’s, the first permanent commercial bungee location was established in New Zealand.  The sport had definitely hit the main-stream when in 1995 James Bond himself bungee-jumped at the beginning of the film, “Golden Eye”.  Today there are countless places where one may experience bungee-jumping.  Below are some of the best.

Verzasca Dam, Val Verzasca, Switzerland

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TpvbHC_QyMc&NR=1[/youtube]

So, do you want to be like James Bond?  If so, then this is about as close as it gets.  Why?  Because this was the dam Bond dove off of at the beginning of “Golden Eye”.  Okay yes, we could technically say it was Pierce Brosnan who jumped off, but to heck with that, it was James Bond and you’re not going to tell any of us otherwise.  A commercial bungee-jump company offers anyone willing to do it the opportunity to take the same jump Bond did.  And at 722 feet it’s one of the longest jumps in the world.

Bloukrans Bridge, Plettenburg Bay, South Africa

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EGV30-WqsVI[/youtube]

There is one very specific reason to go here.  Bloukrans Bridge is acknowledged as the highest commercially operated bridge jump in the world.  At 708 feet above the river below, you’ll be in for quite a fall.

Victoria Falls Bridge

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-4VQaEHJWAg[/youtube]

This bridge traverses the Zambezi river, which serves as a border between Zimbabwe and Zambia.  The bridge is so close to Victoria Falls that one can feel the spray as they dive 364 feet down.

The Bhote Kosi, Kathmandu, Nepal

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xf5F4axEPXg[/youtube]

How does bungee-jumping in the Himalayas sound?  If that’s right up your alley, then you’re in luck as anyone can take a 500 foot dive off of a suspension bridge directly above the Bhote Kosi, one of Nepals wildest rivers in the Himalayas.

Auckland Harbour Bridge, Auckland, New Zealand

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ugnxNPkHD8o[/youtube]

This 131 foot dive into Auckland harbor is especially fun due to the options it has.  One can choose a normal, jump, or they can extend the dive just enough to allow one to touch the water with their hands.  Best of all though is the option to go all out and plunge completely into the water before being pulled out.

The seed was planted in the 1950’s.  David Attenborough returned with his BBC film crew from Pentecost Island in Vanuatu.  What he and his group filmed on that journey can still be found sometimes on TV today.  Young boys, as part of their passage into manhood, would be forced to dive off of tall wooden towers with vines tied to their angles.  Two decades later, on April Fool’s Day 1979, several members of the “Oxford University Dangerous Sports Club” attached modern bungee cords to themselves and dove off of the Clifton Suspension Bridge in Bristol.  By the mid 1980’s, the first permanent commercial bungee location was established in New Zealand.  The sport had definitely hit the main-stream when in 1995 James Bond himself bungee-jumped at the beginning of the film, “Golden Eye”.  Today there are countless places where one may experience bungee-jumping.  Below are some of the best.

Villarrica, Pucon, Chile

Chile 002-species_snob887Creative Commons License Photo credit: species_snob
Villarrica Volcano

Alright, let’s start with something big.  You probably have never heard of the town of Villarrica, and that’s because it’s not a town, nor is it a city.  It’s a volcano.  Not only that, it’s active.  And we’re not talking, “Oh… yeah, some day that normal looking mountain could blow.”  This volcano is one of only four in the world to have a crater at its peak containing an active lava lake.  So what does this have to do with Bungee jumping?  If you’ve got the guts, and the cash, a helicopter will fly you up over the crater and let you dive straight down with a fiery Hell literally staring you in the face.  It’s widely considered the most extreme bungee jump in the world, and it’s easy to see why.

Macau Tower, Macau, China

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NGwdo3KdgfE[/youtube]

Located on the outer ring of the famous Macau tower, this is quite possibly the longest jump in the world.  Diving off will result in a fall of 762 feet that stops at only 30 feet above the ground.  Not for the feint of heart, and possibly the only jump that could hold a candle to diving into a volcano.

Angeles National Forest, Los Angeles, California

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ln-scVwjTH8[/youtube]

Natives to Los Angeles like to brag that they can surf in the morning and snow-ski in the afternoon.  Well, if they drive fast enough they can also sneak in a bungee jump on their way up to the mountains.  Angeles National Forest offers the only state licensed bridge jump in the state of California.  The company hosting the jump is also the oldest, still-operating bungee company in the United States.

West Edmonton Mall, Edmonton, Canada

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J0n21ZfjpOE[/youtube]

This jump is a 106 foot drop.  But that’s not why you go here.  This jump is entirely indoors.  In fact, it’s in a very large shopping mall.  Where else can you jump, grab a “Hot Dog on a Stick”, then catch a movie?

Kawerau Suspension Bridge, Otago, New Zealand

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vkx796FPhyQ[/youtube]

This is genesis, site of the world’s first commercial bungee jumping operation.  Hovering 141 feet above the river below, this is a location one should visit for the sheer history as much as the jump itself.  After all, how can one truly understand bungee-jumping and how it has evolved if they’ve never experienced how it began.

The Rock, Wakefield, Quebec

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2VuCs5NUCPo[/youtube]

“The Rock” is a 200 foot high chunk of limestone that offers one of the best commercial cliff dives in the Americas.  Not only that, it is also one of, if not the longest jump that can be found on both continents.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wVX3dLgQukE[/youtube]
If plummeting face-first towards the ground below isn’t your thing (or perhaps it has just grown stale), then you might want to take a look at tossing out “vertical” altogether and going “horizontal”. Ever wonder what it would feel like to be launched from a giant slingshot? Well, now you can! Granted the whole contraption looks like something a coyote would use for catching a roadrunner, but it is also seems undeniably fun. For now, they are still the domain of do-it-yourself backyard adventure seekers, but within the next few years they will undoubtedly begin showing up at your favorite bungee jump locations.

There’s a lot more variety than one might expect from a sport that sounds as simple as jumping from a perch with elastic ropes tied to your ankles.  Whether it be from a bridge, a cliff, a helicopter, or even inside a shopping mall, bungee jumping is one of the most thrilling sports in the world today.

Creative Commons License Photo credit: carla777

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