Adrenalin seeking bungy (bungee) jumpers of today have a tiny South Pacific island to thank for the creation of this brief but incredibly thrilling activity. Pentecost Island, one of the 83 islands that make up the country of Vanuatu, was ‘discovered’ in 1768 by French explorer Louis Antoine de Bougainville during his attempt at circumnavigating the globe. The young men of this island had long practised an ancient ritual of ‘land diving’ or ‘naghol’ as both a means of appeasing the gods as well as a rite of passage to prove their manhood.
Central to the naghol ritual were towers constructed of bamboo and wood lashed together with vines. These towers were roughly 30m high and were stabilized with vine guy ropes. Freshly cut vines, still very elastic, were used as jump ropes and, through a rigorous selection process by the elders, suitable candidates for the jumps were selected. Good luck charms and sex on the evening prior to the jump were forbidden! With only vines attached to their ankles the young men leapt off the towers whilst their mothers tossed an object from their childhood onto the ground, symbolizing their transition from a child to a man. Groups of 20 or more would participate in each jump, their heads bobbing just above ground level at the foot of the tower!
A BBC film crew shot a documentary of this practice in the 1950’s which inspired Oxford University’s Dangerous Sports Club to perform the very first modern bungy jump in the 1970’s – four immaculately dressed men jumped from the 250 foot high Clifton Suspension Bridge in Bristol. Despite being immediately arrested these men were also instrumental in the evolution of modern day bungy jumping. Many jumps followed culminating in the first commercial bungy jumping site in Queenstown, New Zealand in 1988. The word bungy is New Zealand slang for ‘elastic strap’.
The Bloukrans Bridge on the Garden Route marks the border between the Western and Eastern Cape provinces. Bloukrans is the largest single span concrete arch bridge in the world as well as the third highest. Face Adrenalin, world leaders in adventure tourism, conduct 216m high jumps from this bridge – the highest bridge jump anywhere globally! Jumpers are secured in full-body harnesses combined with an ankle connection and pendulum bungy technology is used for a smooth, comfortable jump. Incredibly a 96 year old man recently completed this jump!
Face Adrenalin offer other options for those too apprehensive to try the bungy jump – a Bridge Walk along a spectacular catwalk suspended under the bridge and the 200m Flying Fox cable or foefie slide onto the archway of the bridge. For those brave enough try the double adventure combo – both the bungy jump and the Flying Fox!
The Bloukrans Bridge in Tstsikamma is certainly the right destination for those Bamboo guests seeking an extraordinary and thrilling experience.
Visit http://www.faceadrenalin.com/bloukransbridge.asp for further details.