There’s not much out there that can fully prepare you for your first jump. Those crazy GoPro videos on YouTube can give you a sneak peek into the madness, but the minute you step out onto that ledge and leap off into the open air, you’ll realize that no video can fully capture the euphoria of experiencing it for yourself.
My friend and I arrived around 9 AM, and before I had a chance to notice how high the bridge was, I was distracted by the breathtaking scenery surrounding it. To my right, Victoria Falls thundered in the distance, creating delicate showers of mist that transformed into spontaneous rainbows before disappearing. To my left, a clear blue sky balanced out the intimidating rocks, steep cliffs and crashing waves of the Zambezi river below.
Wait. Crashing waves? Massive rocks? Steep cliffs? What am I thinking? This is crazy!
“American Girl Makes Tasty Lunch For Local Crocodiles After Victoria Falls Bridge Accident.”
Temporarily mortified, I decided to watch a few other people jump in hopes it would calm my racing heartbeat. The first person I watched was a young Asian girl with a mohawk ponytail. The sheer joy that radiated from her face as she rebounded from the river will forever be etched into my memory. She was beaming long after she returned to the bridge, and while I suspected she had partaken in Zambia’s finest substances prior to jumping, I still wanted in on that feeling!
So I signed up and got in line. There are 3 degrees of insanity: Bungee Jump, Bridge Swing or Zip Line. I chose the Bridge Swing, and from there everything was a blur. The guys out there have it down to a science, distracting you with casual chatter while they strap you into the harness. Before you realize it you’re wearing a dozen seatbelts, have the biggest wedgie of your life, and are standing on a ledge about 39 stories high, listening to instructions on how to jump properly.
At this point my heart was beating out of my chest and I refused to look down lest I punk out at the last minute. The rope strapped to my waist felt like it was pulling me off the ledge, but the guys assured me they had me. I just needed to get my trembling toes over the edge for the final countdown.
“You’re almost there…..Okay stop! Ready?”
Hell NAW I’m not ready!
What am I thinking? This is insane! I’m too old for this! No wait, I’m too young to die! Who do I think I am? Some carefree hippie who wants to feel the wind on her face like a bird and soar above the worries of the world while R. Kelly’s “I Believe I can Fly” plays faintly in the distance?
Okay maybe not R. Kelly, but the flying part is pretty cool! I’m like an eagle! Wait, do they have eagles out here? And where is the strong warrior-looking dude with the life raft to save me in case of emergency? Do they have 911 in Zimbabwe?”
Without the slightest hesitation I jumped feet first into the open air. It felt like decades passed as I fell towards the river below, and just when I thought it was over, I kept falling. And falling. And screaming every time I realized I was still falling. Suddenly the swing engaged, flinging my body towards the sky and I began laughing hysterically. I laughed and laughed, and then laughed even harder when I realized how crazy I sounded. I laughed till my lungs had exhausted every ounce of oxygen in my lungs, and then settled into an awkwardly big smile that lasted long past my ride up to safety.
When I returned to the bridge and tried to tell my friend Omar how it felt, I couldn’t find the words to describe it! My body was so flooded with adrenaline that I could barely hear myself think, let alone form cohesive sentences, so if I make no sense at the end of the video, you know why!
As I swung between Zambia and Zimbabwe that morning, flooded with an endorphin rush of happiness, I finally understood why people love these sorts of daredevil experiences. The euphoria is indescribable, and you walk away feeling more alive than ever felt before. If you’re ever in southern Africa, definitely take a trip over to Victoria Falls. Whether you jump or not, the energy is infectious in that little house over the bridge, and you’ll leave more aware of how awesome a single day can be if you’re open to a new experience.
[Note: The first portion of this video is promotional from the company. My portion begins around 1:19]
Photos courtesy of Omar McKenzie: @Omartakespictures on Instagram and XploreDreamDiscover on Tumblr
For more photos from “The Great Escape” follow @bktraveladdict on IG/Twitter, and visit Facebook.com/BKTraveladdict