Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe, has long been referred to as the adventure capital of the world, a place where adrenaline is served right alongside an ice-cold Zambezi lager. Fittingly, in addition to the classic sampling of active stunts like whitewater rafting and the adrenaline high-wire thrills, this playground for daredevils also lays claim to one of the most heart-pounding bungee jumps in the world.
A Brief History of Victoria Falls Bungee
Bungee jumping in Victoria Falls began as a business in 1994 and has successfully launched around 150,000 adventurers off the infamous and historic Vic Falls Bridge. What makes this jump the best bungee in the world? Perhaps it’s the unimaginably unique setting, the awesome jump staff or the quirkiness of being in a no-man’s-land between two the countries of Zimbabwe and Zambia.
Imagine this: A 105-year-old iron bridge constructed in England and then shipped to Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) to form part of the great Cape-to-Cairo railway envisaged by Cecil John Rhodes. The bridge crosses the full expanse of the Batoka Gorge, 120 metres above the Zambezi River, a legendary African river that cuts and hurtles its way through the steep, black rock faces of the rugged gorge on its journey to the Indian Ocean.
What might Rhodes have thought if he knew that one day his bridge would become the stage for the best bungee-jump setting in the world? The bungee platform itself is anchored to the side of the bridge, exactly halfway between Zimbabwe and Zambia. Better than any movie set creation, the waters of Victoria Falls form the incredible backdrop. These falls are where the 1.7-kilometre-wide Zambezi River is channelled over a 90-metre drop into a narrow, 100-metre-wide gorge, creating fast and furious torrents and rapids racing beneath the bridge.
Don’t Just Watch. Jump!
Bungee jumping is a fascinating spectator sport. Crowds gather to watch people fling themselves into a gorge with nothing but a sophisticated rubber band to catch them. Will you be among the next to take the leap? Here’s an exercise of the imagination to help you visualise yourself on the bungee platform getting ready to jump:
The mist of the falls cools the onlooking crowds from the heat of the African sun. As you step into a harness, mixed emotions kick in. The initial excitement following your decision to jump begins to fade as you are suddenly aware what the harness symbolises; to all those watching, you are an adrenaline seeker, ready to take on the challenge! Is it too late to turn back and lose face? Only you can decide that.
Stepping through the platform gate, you are now even closer to a moment of truth. Hosiah and the bungee team seat you on a bench; they wrap padding towels around your ankles, talking in soft reassuring tones as they attach the cord and safety gear to your harness and ankles. Your mouth begins to dry up; you lick your lips in a vain attempt to find a speck of moisture to soothe the dryness stress has brought on. Your smile diminishes but the cheers, jeers and chatter of the crowd continue.
Almost oblivious to all around you, you try and focus on everything the crew tells you. ‘Don’t look down.’ ‘Keep you hands out wide.’ ‘Jump forward.’ ‘Smile for the camera!’
It’s time. You’re encouraged to stand and hop to the edge of the platform, ankles bound together, camera men at the ready. Your toes grip the surface as you face outward to the Victoria Falls Hotel ahead, aware of the vastness that surrounds you, the yawning chasm below. Hosiah begins the countdown: 5… 4… 3… 2… 1… BUNGEE!
Vic Falls Free Fall
Nothing has prepared you for the free fall; you hurtle 111 metres toward the Zambezi River, screaming all the way. Then, just before all hope is lost, the cord kicks in and you recoil upward toward the bridge. Just when that seems too close, you drop for a second time. Don’t forget to smile for the camera!
By now you begin to relax and take in your surroundings. You see the majestic falls thundering into a boiling pot, the rapids beneath. You recoil again and again, slowly losing the bounce with each rise and fall.
A crewman has lowered himself from the bridge, descending adjacent to the bungee line in order to recover you. He grabs your hands and turns you toward himself. You smile and thank him as the blood rushes through your veins, adrenaline pumping. The feelings of exhilaration are beyond compare. Grinning and waving to all your mates, you set your feet once again on the solid iron bridge, alive! You made it! How many more will dare to jump today, take the plunge, face the fear?
Don’t be a spectator. Try it for yourself. Just jump! I dare you.