Noleen Makhurane, Showbiz Reporter
IF one is a thrill-seeker then bungee jumping off the Victoria Falls Bridge in a 100-metre free-fall with a rope on your ankles is something you should try before you die, as the near death experience is exhilarating and at the same time terrifying.
The Victoria Falls Bridge crosses the Zambezi River just below the Victoria Falls and is built over the second gorge of the falls. As the river is the border between Zimbabwe and Zambia, the bridge links the two countries and has border posts on the approaches to both ends, at the towns of Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe and Livingstone, Zambia.
Bungee jumping is rated in the top 10 must-do things in Africa for tourists and they flock to enjoy the rush of adrenaline that is described by many after they jump.
My sisters Lee-Anne and Monica and I were on holiday at Victoria Falls over the festive season and bungee jumping which we booked and paid for through our travel agent.
Monica vehemently objected to us doing this citing all sorts of wrongs that could happen such as the bungee cord breaking as one jumps off the bridge.
She even said a famished crocodile was lurking in the waters below and would jump up from the Zambezi gorge and snap me off the line when I bungee jumped. We rolled our eyes and laughed it off with Lee-Anne. We knew she was just afraid of heights.
Funnily enough she opted for white-water rafting an equally dangerous, but thrilling sport.
So when we arrived at the bridge we had already paid the $250 each that was needed to do the bungee jump. The price is steep because it was during the summer season, but it can drop to $100 when it’s off season.
The first stage is to sign up at the bridge when they weigh you and take your height. My height was written on my right forearm with thick felt pen, so bungee instructors at the bridge could calculate the length of my bungee rope. Once I was done, it was time to make my way onto the bridge.
Before that, I had to sign an indemnity form, and it dawned on me, this is very dangerous. I felt nervy, in fact petrified.
There were a lot of people on the bridge waiting for their turn. I was encouraged when I saw others bungee jumping.
When my name was called up, suddenly I felt I had to go to the toilet for the last time, at least in my life. However, there was no time as the jump masters (those who help you off during the bungee) welcomed us with smiles and told us to sit down so that they could attach harnesses on us.
Wards of towels were wrapped around both my ankles to protect my feet from the rope that they attached to my feet.
In all this the jump masters were asking me how I was feeling, where I was from and I replied: “I’m a girl from Bulawayo and I’m scared to jump, but I’ll do it for the ladies!”
With the final checks in place I was then ushered to the ledge! From the steel bridge you can see the giant waters of the Victoria Falls. Ah! Was my reaction when I looked down and seeing how high I was? The gorge below had jagged, edged rocks on each side! “What have I gotten myself into?” I whispered. One of the jump master bellowed, “No going back now!”
I was constantly pleading with them to wait as I felt I wasn’t ready to jump 111 metres. All my pleas fell on deaf ears as they pushed me further and further to the ledge.
They talked me through the motions of the jump. I would countdown from five to one and at that juncture scream bungee as I jump off the ledge.
This sounded all so simple until the moment to jump came.
With hands spread wide with the aid of jump masters the countdown began five, four, three, two, one bungee . . . . I looked to the horizon and launched myself off the ledge! This was dreamlike. I wasn’t sure that I would be able to do it until I actually did it.
In fear, for some reason I started praying in my heart confessing all my sins!
There is no jerk at all; the whole motion is very smooth as the bands take up the slack and stretch. Once you are bouncing around it is exhilarating.
I spun round and round, terrified and thrilled at the same time, screaming at the top of my voice. I could hear my sisters also screaming out how proud they were of me.
When the jump master came to get me using the zip line the dream was over. I got to the top of the bridge and they removed their harnesses and my body was shaking, the adrenaline was pumping.
We left and had coffee at the nearby coffee shop with my sisters and spent hours on end describing to each other how we felt.
Days after the jump, I was given the video and photos of my achievement to keep and cherish, possibly to show my children and grandchildren.