I had one day left from my four-day visit to Johannesburg (Jozi) and decided I would do just one adventurous thing. I was attending a wedding so I didn’t have time to do a lot of touring.
Because I only had one day to drive around, I was picky about what I wanted to do, seeing that this was my second visit and I had done it all the first time around. Yes, I have screamed my lungs out in the Miner’s Revenge at Gold Reef City, had lion cubs attempt to rip off my jeans at the Lion Park and even strolled through the Palace Hotel at Sun City right before nearly crapping my pants while sliding down the Temple of Courage at the Valley of Waves.
A fellow Ugandan living in Jozi recommended bungee jumping at the Orlando Towers in Soweto and I was immediately sold. Bungee jumping has been on my bucket list since forever and I wasn’t going to pass up the chance to do it in a town so iconic, Nelson Mandela’s hometown.
It was getting late and the towers would close soon, so I didn’t have time to rethink my deadly decision. I paid my R550 ($40), had my legs strapped and waited for the lift at the bottom of the towers.
When I tell you that those towers are hella high? They are actually 100m tall. While waiting, I saw one guy take the jump and as much as it looked like a suicide mission, I wasn’t going to give up.
The elevator arrived. I got in and it slowly made it’s way up one of the towers. I wasn’t scared. I figured that if for a second I thought about it too much, I would back out and the sales-lady had told me about the no-refund policy like five times, so now was not the time to be afraid.
Once I got to the top, I could see into the tower to which my elevator was attached. It was a hollow space inside, with a trampoline all the way at the bottom. I asked the guy walking with me if people took jumps in there and yes they do.
I got to the little bridge connecting the two towers. There was a guide standing in the middle who signaled me to walk down and join him. I kept telling myself not to look down. All I could think about was, “Buba, you are fucking crazy for this shit.” I could feel every one at the bottom watching me. There weren’t too many people but each time someone got up there, everyone stopped to amazingly witness their bravery.
I got to the guide. He rechecked my straps and retightened them. I could tell he was trying to calm me by asking where I was from and what had brought me to South Africa. I’ve got to admit, it kinda helped to talk about something other than the fact that I was about to attempt suicide. Together with his assistant, they did one last inspection to make sure everything looked good enough for me to jump.
“Okay, I need you to move as close as you can to the edge of the bridge, but don’t look down,” the guide said. I slowly complied. “When you jump, go head fast, it’s easier like that and you won’t get any injuries,” he added. “You mean if I make the slightest mistake, I can die?” I asked. “No,” he said, “It will put a lot of strain on your leg and you will get a muscle ache…Okay, move a little more closer to the edge until your toes are off the bridge and you are standing with your heels,”
At this point, my thoughts stopped. I could feel every speck of the wind blowing past me. Everyone and everything was now quiet. “Buba what have you done,” I spoke to myself. I could feel every breath I took in as though it was my last. I felt a hand on my back and a gentle push.
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It’s the first three seconds. The first three seconds are when you actually feel like you are going to die. I felt frightened, so much that I couldn’t let out a loud girly scream like I normally do on roller-coasters. It was a low and loud groan, almost as if I didn’t want to waste my final energy sounding like a distressed prick. It’s not a long fall, but so much goes through your mind in those few seconds on your way down. I truly understood the meaning of the phrase, ‘your entire life flashing by you’. It’s like time stops and in a matter of micro seconds, vivid images of your life in detail go through your mind. I wondered how I would land, if I would feel the rope come to a hard stop.
One moment I was dropping, and next thing I knew, I was going back up. I thought I was losing it. The moment I regained my senses, I looked up at my feet and noticed the rope was elastic. That’s why I didn’t feel the hard stop. It keeps bouncing and then the guides at the top pull you half way and let you swing a little just so you can really take it in. Once I was sure that I was okay, I took a moment to enjoy myself . The graffiti on the towers suddenly looked so much better upside down. I was swinging. I don’t know if I was excited that I had actually jumped or that I hadn’t died.
I then heard a voice from below, “Give me your hands.” He repeatedly said it while the guides at the top slowly lowered me. Once the people at the bottom got a hold of me, they laid me down, took off the leg straps, and high-fived me saying I had done good. My necklace that had fallen off when I jumped was handed to me. I walked away with the craziest amount of adrenaline you could imagine.
Bungee jumping is a one-time experience that you never forget. I did this over the summer but to this day, I can still feel every emotion like it just happened. There is no roller-coaster that can compare to the thrill of jumping and not knowing at which point you will land. I don’t know if I would do it again, but I will never regret the experience.
Oh, I had one of my friends record the whole thing too.
We then drove around Soweto, checked out Hector Pieterson Memorial and Museum and bought some crafts. I have one last place I haven’t been in South Africa and ironically, it’s the one place I would like to spend a good portion of my life…Cape Town. I guess saving the best for last really is a thing.
Till we meet, Buba.
Ps. Share your most thrilling experience in the comments below.