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In a dizzying helicopter spin, gently bobbing up and down, I was laughing uncontrollably. As my body rotated towards the sun, a cool blast of glistening mist hit my face.

As a young 22 year old buck, at that point, I had never experienced anything like it…

I looked up (technically down) and watched the torrent of the Zambezi River roll past. The colours I saw were so vivid I could barely keep my eyes open.

My body was still trying to figure out what to do with the dump of adrenaline that was surging through my veins. Dangling there, euphoric and carefree, nothing to do but to enjoy the spectacle of Victoria Falls from the most extreme perspective possible.

I had just survived my first bungee jump!

Victoria Falls

— Walk-way overlooking the falls —

The Day Before…

I’d always wanted to go to Victoria falls. I’d always wanted to bungee jump.
So when I found out there was an 111 m bungee jump off a bridge, between Zambia and Zimbabwe (technically no-man’s-land), I just had to get there.

Bro Sion (my chipper scouse compadre) and I arrived in Livingstone, Zambia after a 2 week stay in Ghana. We were at dinner playing “rock, paper, scissors” for who would bungee jump first.

He won.

Sion chose to jump first. Fuck…I wanted to jump first. “You win some you lose some” I thought as we continued to chow down on our crocodile meat shish kebabs.

crocodile meat

— Bro tip – Croc meat has more protein per gram than nearly any other meat source —

Arriving At The Jump Site

The next day we woke to get to the falls extra early, as waiting time can be horrific. As our taxi pulled up to the main entrance. Everything seemed pleasant enough.

We walked down the main road to the falls itself. A faint roar became more and more audible. Upon reaching the bridge crossing at the Zambia border we asked around for “the bungee jump” and were directed towards one of the view points. An African man in his late 50’s was waiting to eagerly sign us up.

It was $90 cash (2011). “No jump. No Refund!” the man laughed as he weighed us and wrote  numbers on our arms.

It was true to be fair. It was even in writing on the torn cardboard sign next to him. Under it, a reassuring claim of a “100%” safety record scribbled in permanent marker.
(Unfortunately that claim is not longer true.)

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— Entrance to the falls —

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— No turning back now! —

 

As we waited anticipation and nerves built. Thankfully there was a restroom nearby for us both to drop the deuces our churning stomachs could no longer handle.

Soon the wait was over and we were ushered towards border control. Surprisingly it was a fairly quick and painless process. Show the lady your passport, slip her $20 and your in!

 

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— Maybe it was the crocodile… —

bridge over Victoria Falls

— The bridge between the falls —

As Bro Sion and I walked towards the jumping platform I was remarkably at ease. Glancing over the railing, it was a fair way down, but it didn’t seem that bad. Even though clearly I had been tattooed to go first, I am a man of my word and allowed Bro Sion to get strapped up before me.

All was fine, till the guy sorting out my Bro’s leg harness, started wrapping large towels around his ankles! On closer inspection of the rope, thousands of frayed elastic ends were bouncing away making it look like a giant, white cheese string that had been thoroughly abused.

We looked at each other worried. “Sorry mate. Can’t help you” I thought. I was recording Bro Sion on his camera as he slowly shuffled gingerly towards the edge. The verbal count down was start by one of the crew and on the cry of “ ONE!” Sion majestically took flight like a sunburnt, scouse, baby eagle leaving the nest for the first time. This moment was short lived, as he then plummeted towards the ground like a sack of potatoes.

Suddenly, the tsumami of fear hit me…. #secondthoughts.

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— Before… —

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 — … and after —

5, 4, 3, 2, 1, Bungee!

As Bro Sion was needed to film my jump and was still hanging upside down, “Guy number 3” went before me. Watching No. 3 jump only heightened my fear, and thoughts of the unknown flooded my mind.

Eventually my Bro returned ranting and raving about how amazing it was. My mind was elsewhere.
I tried to put on a brave face as my legs were towelled up. I was shitting it. People were talking and snapping photos, I was in my own world of terror though.

Only instruction I heard was to jump as far from the edge as you can. (It’s safer that way apparently.) As I moved into position on the edge of the platform I stretched out my arms trying my hardest not to look down.

 

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— Pre-flight prayers —

“Five!” Immediately I look down. Holy fuck that’s far. I cant do it.

“Four!” My legs shake uncontrollably.

“Three.” The sounds around me fade away.

Two.” The guy counting sounds like he’s on the other side of the falls.

One….” Fuck it! Lets do this!

 

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— Note the frayed rope! —

I jump, what felt to me like a decent leap. I start flying head first toward the ground.My eyes are glue open from sensory overload. I’m too shocked to even scream.
(I’m later told the crew had thought I had fainted. That would have been a waste of $90)

Three seconds of the most mind-blowing moment of my life left no room for fear. No room for anxiety. My mind was 100% present to the moment, probably the first time in my life. Like a spaceship going into hyperdrive, light stretched out in long streaks past me as I fall. Every passing moment more intense than the last. Finally, just as it looks like I’m about to crash into the water below I blink…

Next thing I know I’m upright? Flying up towards the bridge? Huh? Something doesn’t feel right. Out of the corner my eye I see the cord coming towards me. My Neck! I shoot my arms up to prevent any possibility of me getting choked out by the bungee cord. As I fell backwards into the “conventional” bungee hanging position I get fired into a tornado spin.

Twirling, my mind started to come to terms with what’s I’ve just been thorough. Out of nowhere, I begin laughing… Euphoria.

Will You Take The Leap Of Faith?

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If anyone reading this has ever had even the slightest desire to do a bungee jump. I say DO IT.
Put all your fears to one side and do something a bit mad. One could argue that you can’t appreciate life fully till you’ve tangoed with death for a second or two.

“Truly, only acting without thought of one’s life is superior to valuing one’s life.”

Lao Tsu

P.s.

Learn from my mistakes. When your meant to jump, actually jump. If you’re like me and just fall off the edge, you might also find yourself having an uncomfortably close encounter with your friend, the bungee cord.

Bro Breakdown

  • Cost – $160 per person (2016)
  • Jumps take place daily, all year round unless interrupted by heavy rain (possible November to April)
  • Jumps operate from 09:00 Hr – 17:00 Hr, starting at 10:00 Hr (March to June)
  • Passports are required to access the bridge
  • Jump height – 111m. Free fall time – 4 sec

Check out Wikivoyage’s page on Victoria Falls for more info:

https://en.wikivoyage.org/wiki/Livingstone

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