A short 3 days after visiting the beautiful coastal town of Durban, my inner travelers spirit re-appeared and I was open to traveling anywhere for a weekend. Thankfully, a good coworker had just the remedy I needed by telling me to book my tickets, and pack my bags for the city of George. I had absolutely no idea what this city was but after some quick research learned it was midway along the Garden route which I have heard is absolutely beautiful.
It also happened to be the closest airport to Bloukrans, the world’s highest bungee jump off a bridge. Very little convincing later, my “screw it, let’s do it” mentality kicked in and 2,200 Rand later, I’m booked to visit the city of George. Bloukrans is a stop I highlight on my perfect travel itinerary for South Africa.
George, South Africa
Well the city of George isn’t much to write home about. I can’t really do a blog post like every other weekend adventure I’ve taken because there’s not much to do in the city. It’s a small town that people fly in to as it is half way between Port Elizabeth and Cape Town (starting and ending points of the Garden route). The town of George itself is small, with a few restaurants serving great seafood, a shopping center with your Woolworths and Pick and Pay grocery store, and a few bars that are dirt cheap. There is a college here, however, so it isn’t entirely a sleep town. George is probably overshadowed by its much more developed and tourist friendly neighbors in Plettenberg Bay and Knysna.
The climate here is not tropical like Durban but rather more Mediterranean as it is located at the intersection of the Indian and Atlantic Oceans. The winters are mild with a little rainfall, and the summers are moderately hot making for near perfect weather year round.
You absolutely must have a car here as you’re likely not here to see the city of George but rather the beaches and scenic driving of the Garden Route. We only had a short weekend here so we could not stay in any of the surrounding cities but I am without a doubt returning to the coast during summer and allotting a week to drive the entire Garden route.
Plettenberg Bay and Knysna
From George, we drove to the surrounding cities of Wilderness, Knysna, and Plettenberg Bay. My god these places absolutely stunning. I’ve never seen anything like it. All these places had beaches that were straight as an arrow stretching for miles, with waves gently crashing the coastline. Surrounded by beautiful mountains and palm trees, this area is paradise rediscovered.
I came here during “winter” time, if you can even call it that, and it was amazing so I can’t imagine how nice it will be come summer time. Unfortunately, given how little time we had, there were other things on our mind (like playing with elephants and bungee jumping!) so we were only able to stop at Wilderness beach which is certainly worth a stop no matter how little time you have. I’ll be back to do the entire Garden Route without a doubt.
Knysna Elephant Park
Having already done elephant riding in Thailand on an Asian elephant, and an African elephant in SA, I figured I had most of my elephant experiences covered. However, this park got some great reviews on TripAdvisor and we could actually feed and interact with the elephants. Located just outside of Knysna, another beautiful city that I will be checking out upon my return to the area, this place has a big reserve with a lot of elephants. The fee is 250R for entrance and a bucket of food to the feed the elephants.
Tours are about 30 min-1 hour depending on how long you want to play with the elephants for. There’s nothing too fancy here. You’re driven out to meet the elephants, and they very well trained and know how to be around humans (which is good). There’s about 10 elephants or so on this reserve and they are all orphans. One of the things you’ll notice while feeding these guys is the bigger elephants will straight bully the smaller ones to get your food.
After you’re done feeding, aka you run out of food, the elephants will know immediately and will walk the other way looking to chow on more food. Turns out, elephants pretty much eat the whole day and can chow like 500kg or so of food a day. While they’re chowing, you are allowed to go up to them, touch them, hug their trunks, or whatever else to get a good picture.
These guys didn’t seem bothered by any of the people and continued to just chow away. Pretty awesome photo opportunities to be had here. The trainers here are more than happy to take pictures of you and there’s no added fee for a change. Unfortunately, you can’t ride these guys to my knowledge.
Bloukrans Bungee Jump
Located about 1.5 hours east of George, this little bridge (not actually little) is home to the world’s largest bungee jump off a bridge with the highest being only a few meters higher off a building in Macau. The bridge stands some 300 meters off the ground but the jump itself is a massive 216 meters, or 715 feet! That’s the size of almost 2.5 football fields and the entire height of the Metlife building in NYC.
The bridge is actually used as a part of the freeway and traffic passes by on it like any regular bridge but right beneath, you’ll find dozens of people jumping to their dooms every day. Just kidding. Face Adrenaline, the name of the group that does this, have been in the business since 1997 and have not had any accidents occur. They were extremely professional and just the type of people you’d want with your life in their hands.
Immediately after we booked our tickets to George, this was something everyone said should be done as it was nearby. I got scared just thinking about it as most normal people would but the way I looked at it was screw it, if I’m going to bungee for the first time, why not make it the highest bridge jump in the world? In addition, the scenery around the bridge is what you would expect from the Garden Route; beautiful. You can’t really ask more in a bungee jump as you have the ocean to one side and the mountains to the other. It’s no wonder the bridge used to be a popular destination for suicides. I suppose if you’re gonna go, may as well take in some good sights before you do.
Bloukrans Cost of Jumping
The cost of a jump is 750R and video/pics will run you another 250R. They will not allow you to bring any cameras or phones onto the jumpsight unless it’s a go-pro. So unless you have one of these, you really have no choice but to buy the photos/video because you’ll want to show all your friends what the hell you did in SA.
The place opens at 9am and the last jump is around 5pm. Make sure you call ahead and book a time frame. We booked a 3pm time slot but didn’t end up getting there until around 4:30 but this was fine.
As of 2019: The cost is now around R1,000 per jump
Pre Jump Jitters
As soon as I booked my flight, I started getting butterflies knowing that I was already committed and there would be no turning back. As I landed in George, the butterflies resurfaced knowing that I only had one more day before my inevitable doom. The night before the jump, we drank and partied hearty in George (pretty much going to every bar in the city) and after a few drinks (many), I had so much liquid courage worked up, I was ready to jump on the spot in the middle of the night. I knew what I had to do; get a few brews in me before I jumped the next day. Unfortunately, we had drank so much the night before that I was so tired and hungover the next day that I just couldn’t stomach anything.
As we drove through the Garden route, through the Elephant Sanctuary, past Knysna and Plettenberg bay, I could hardly enjoy whatever activities we were doing because all I could think of was throwing myself off a damn bridge. I almost wished that as the days events took place, the rest of the group would forget the last jump was at 5 and we’d just miss it.
Prepping for the jump
Alas, we make it to the jump sight and there’s no turning back now. You’ll get a nice view of the bridge as you pull into the jump sight. Pictures don’t do the bridge any justice because as you drive through it, you realize how damn high this thing really, and how surreal the views are. The views almost calm me down…until we park the car and head towards the reception and then I know it’s really happening.
Not wanting to seem like a huge pussy, I walk straight to the reception, pay my 750R jump fee, soak in the breath taking views by snapping some quick pics, and then I’m headed towards the area to put my gear on. There’s a bar right next to it and I’d highly recommend going in and taking a few courage shots before jumping if you think it’d help. Unfortunately, it was so late in the day for us that the bar was already closed. The guys equip me with everything I need, I take a few last pictures, say a few prayers, and away we go to the bridge.
As we walk to the bridge, we make one last stop before getting onto it by one of the guys briefing us on the logistics of the jump, something I didn’t really need to hear at that moment. We finally proceed to walk on to the bridge. How you actually get to the middle of the bridge where the jump takes place is via a cage that’s literally attached to the bottom of the bridge and it is see through.
You have an unobstructed view of the landscape…and of the ground a thousand feet below you. The walk takes only a few minutes but seemed like an eternity. I did not look down once because I would have lost it as I was already feeling nervous as all hell. There is also a zipline that takes you to the middle but it wasn’t in service, probably because it was so late in the day. The walk across the cage finally ends and we’re at long last to the middle of the bridge where the view is at its best.
Finally, the jump
As we get settled, we choose the order of the jumps. Out of 5 people, I am last which at the time I wasn’t sure if it was a good thing or not. If I had to do it over again, I think I’d have just gone first because after seeing four other people jump before me, I was even more terrified. There’s a DJ spinning house music on the bridge and even if you’re not a fan of house music, you will be because anything to pump up your adrenaline at this point is needed to go through with what you’re about to do.
One by one by one by one, everyone jumps before me making it look easy and fun. At long last, it’s finally my turn. It takes about 2 or 3 minutes to get strapped in but feels like an eternity. I stand up, waiting for the signal and I slowly inch towards the edge, once again soaking up the sun and gorgeous views. I’m assisted by two guys who tell me to just take a deep breath and not look down. I don’t listen because well . . . it’s just natural to want to look down. Big mistake. I’m even more terrified, take one breath as my face turns pale and step right back shaking my head saying wtf I can’t do this shit.
The next five minutes consist of me talking to my two caretakers, them telling me it’s going to be all good, and everyone else cheering me on. “Don’t worry about it”, “If you turn back now, you’ll regret it forever, trust me”. During this time, I don’t even remember what the hell I was talking to these guys about but I was just trying to do whatever I could to stall. At no point did I ever think I was going to back out because I had just paid 750R to jump off this damn thing but I just needed some time to collect myself which I’m sure these guys see on an hourly basis.
I take a few more steps towards the edge, and back away, and do this a few more times, before the guy finally tells me, either you jump now or we’re unstrapping you because there is another person waiting to jump. The next few seconds are a blur and the next thing I know, my arms are no longer around them, I’m near the edge and 3, 2, 1, BUNGEE. Holy crap, I’m off the bridge and falling, accelerating at 9.8 meters per second!
After the first second, my adrenaline kicked in like a fire hose and I was no longer scared whatsoever but screaming at the top of my lungs loving what I was doing. You free fall for about 5 seconds and when you finally reach the bottom,, you’re bounced a few times, each bounce of decreasing heights, and these residual bounces are not scary at all. Taking in the views, while I’m suspended by the foot upside down was amazing.
I was so happy I did not back out and just said f it, I’m gonna jump even if it took two guys to push me off. The scariest part of the whole jump actually turned out to be when you’re completely finished bouncing and you’re just suspended, hanging by the rope, staring straight down. You’re hanging for a minute or two before someone comes to fetch you and brings you back to the top.
Eventually, I’m hoisted all the way to the top. I’m unstrapped quickly, stand up, get congratulated by the staff and I’ve never been so much smiles. With adrenaline still pumping through my system, I feel like the big boss and I’m ready to jump again immediately (really was). We stop to take some pics and we’re on our way back to platforms that will not lead to your death. Walking back on the cage bridge, I immediately looked down and was no longer scared whatsoever.
I think I actually looked down the entire way back. You can then collect your pictures/video for the extra 250R and then you’re on your way. Highest bridge bungee jump in the world? Check that off the list, it’s been done. Although I was such a fan, I’ll be back for another jump when I’m doing the Garden Route.
Bloukrans jump video
If pictures are a thousand words, then a video is how many? Probably more. Here is the video you get when you buy it from Face Adrenaline. I cut out a bunch of it to minimize the time of me looking like a bitch. Enjoy.
This area of the world is some proper paradise with its amazing beaches, scenery and food. It certainly deserves more than two days and I’ll be visiting this area of the country again during Christmas for at least a week (and probably throw myself off a bridge again).
For more reading on the Garden Route, see my write up of the full roadtrip along the garden route I did 4 months after this epic bungy jump.
- Garden Route Roadtrip Part 3: Oudtshoorn to Hermanus
- The Ultimate Guide To Visiting The Geierlay Suspension Bridge
- Garden Route Roadtrip Part 2: Addo to Plettenberg Bay
- Garden Route Road Trip Itinerary Part 1: Intro and Addo Elephant Park
- Ultimate Travel Guide For Victoria Falls And Devil’s Pool
- Hlane National Park, Swaziland
- The Perfect One Week, Two Week, and Three Week Travel Itinerary For South Africa
- Guide To Visiting Ranomafana National Park, Madagascar
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- Guide To Visiting Mostar, Bosnia and Herzegovina
- Guide To Visiting The Okavango Delta in Botswana
- Neuschwanstein Castle: Ultimate Guide To Visiting Bavaria’s Disney Castle