Garden Route: Canopy Tour, World’s Highest Bungee Jump, Sandboarding

September 19, 2008

Installment two from the Garden Route!

On Wednesday morning we had breakfast at Ingwe and then a small group headed into Tsitsikamma Forest for a canopy tour of the indigenous forest. The company is called, unsurprisingly, Tsitsikamma Canopy Tours.  They are a leader in eco tourism and put a strong focus on developing the community in which they operate.  (Making them a “Fair Trade in Tourism” member.) Most of their employees are local, and more than 50% are women, up to the top tiers of management.  They organize a variety of activities other than the canopy tours, and host team building activities for local youth.

To be honest, it wasn’t THAT great.  It was cool and the long zip-lines were really fun, but the forest was pretty standard.  The age of the trees is impressive, and the rarity of many of the species, but… meh.  I was actually most fascinated by the fact that the platforms and zip lines are designed not to hurt the trees.  There are no nails, screws, ect.  Everything is designed around tension.

Unfortunately, I don’t have a good picture of what I’m trying to describe.

The next stop was much more exciting!  We drove to Bloukrans Bridge, the site of the “World’s Highest Bungy Bridge”!

We bought our tickets, got into our harnesses, and spent a lot of time waiting.  I was really, really excited.  Almost everyone was nervous and a little hesitant, but I could not wait to get out there.  The bridge had a little restaurant right on the edge of the cliff, set up with a big screen TV hooked up to the cameras on the bridge so you could watch everyone jump.  That was certainly entertaining.

Finally, the group that was on the bridge finished up and my group got to go.  You got to the center of the bridge by way of a catwalk type of bridge, an activity you can pay for separately if that’s all the excitement you’re into. 

Some people actually thought this was worse than the jumping itself.  Strangely, heights don’t scare me much at all and I enjoyed the walk.   The view  was absolutely beautiful.  The river runs between two huge cliffs and empties into a picturesque Indian Ocean. 

When we got to the bridge, they announced that I got to go first.  I was SO excited.  I’d wanted to go first, but in a group of 30, who would have thought?  Well, my excitement only lasted about 5 minutes, because some guy walked up to me and told me I’d be going sixth.  BOO!
This is pretty much how it went:

I LOVED it.  I wished after I was finished that I had purchased two jumps.  I loved the feeling of the freefall and when you were hanging at the bottom waiting to be brought back up, it was just complete and total silence, you were completely alone, hanging in the middle of the world.

For those afriad of heights, who wants the job of the guy who goes down to get the jumpers back up?  There are two of them, and they alternative turns, but I asked on the way up and he said they work normal days, so 9 hours shifts with time for lunch.  I can’t imagine hanging underneath a bridge, 216 meters (about 718 feet) above the ground… all day.

That night, we drove to Jeffrey’s Bay, the surf capital of South Africa.  We stayed in a hostel called Island Vibe, which was like a little world unto itself.

It was right on the beach and treated visitors to beautiful views of sunrises and sunsets.

On Tuesday I started off with a sandboarding “lesson”.  In reality, the guy told us what to do and then went and played by himself.  It was tons of fun though!  Think snow boarding, but with sand.

I wasn’t AS bad as I thought I’d be, considering it was my first try… but I did fall a lot.

I’d like to try it again, and it definitely gave me the confidence to try skiing or snowboarding.  It was tons of fun and the beach near the dunes was perfect!

The rest of the day was spent at the beach!  We got up really early the next morning and left for the long drive to Addo National Park… which means lots of elephants in the next addition!


7 Responses to “Garden Route: Canopy Tour, World’s Highest Bungee Jump, Sandboarding”

  1. irbaktam Says:

    Aayyyyyeeeeeee. I surely would have soiled myself on the jump. Who ever imagined this certifiably insane adrenaline junkie thing happening? Skiing or snow boarding huh? From a helicopter I suppose. OSU will never feel the same again.

  2. Kathy Says:

    This is the real Kathy, not the mom posing as Kathy on her computer—— your mom is freaking out with the bungee jumping pictures!!!!!
    Atta girl Jes! Awesome isn’t even the word for this. Gotta go read more blog….

  3. Mom Says:

    First, tell me they had to push you off the platform yelling “mommmmmyyyyy”! Second, please tell me that expression on your face is extreme terror and NOT adrenaline and excitement! Your look is priceless; your form…not bad for a first-timer…Toes were pointed, body was straight. I now have it in 8 x 10 form thanks to Kathy and her amazing photo equipment.

    Excited to read about the elephants…did you ride one? Bareback? Jump off of him? Slide down his tail? What is going to compare to your bungee jump?

  4. aunt mary anne Says:

    My god, girl, those pictures made my stomach jump from my chair behind the computer. I’m not sure I could look at them a second time..well maybe a peak…with one eye. That looked absolutely amazing. I wonder how much its like skydiving? I don’t understand about the person pulling you back up. How does that work?

    I’m glad you are taking tons of pictures..not only for our benefit, but for yourself. Sure is beautiful country.

    How are your classes going?

  5. Casey Says:

    Ok first of all props to you for getting up there and jumping..thats all you girl..and no im never going to jump with you so dont ask..even if you offered to pay i’d have to decline you….NOWWWW two things i noticed in observation of your wonderful pictures… 1) Was is absolutely necessarary in order for you to jump to look like Rainbow Brite in those ankle/leg warmers..oh so hot!! lol haha… 2) Why in the pic with where you have two thumbs up is that guy trying to smooch on that other guy’s ear?????
    Is it just me or does it look like you photoshopped that guy into the pic…It reminds me of when we used to watch sesame street and they had that skit about “One of these things dont belong, one of these things isnt like the others” remember that song…ok well anyway im done harassing you! I love you beautiful sista! MWAH kisses and hugs!

  6. Unkle Bob Wallace Says:

    I always wanted to bungee jump, but was told there is a limit to what the cords can hold 🙂
    Also, don’t you hand upside down for like 5 minutes as they pull you back up? I think my head would bust?

  7. Cousin Courtney Says:

    You are so lucky!! I am not sure if I would ever do that and I have done some crazy thing in my life. It seems like you are having the time of your life. Enjoy it!!!

    Have fun and be safe!!

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