10 Bungee Jumps for Joy

Bungee JumpsThe guaranteed adrenaline rush of bungee jumping for fun is a fairly new phenomenon—first attempted just 30 years ago—and not an activity for the faint of heart. Modern bungee jumping supposedly began in 1979, when members of the Oxford Dangerous Sports Club attached bungee cords to themselves and dived from the 75m (245 ft.) Clifton Bridge in Bristol, England. Today, the activity is offered around the world, and these are some of the top 10 spots to do it.

Verzasca Dam, Switzerland:

James Bond fans will recognize this place from the opening scene of Goldeneye, when 007 plummets 220m (728 ft.), daringly close to the solid concrete side of a dam. Now you can re-create Bond’s experience and dive from the Verzasca Dam’s edge, freefalling for just 7 1 ⁄ 2 seconds at nearly 200kmph (125 mph). At that speed, you probably won’t have time to fully appreciate the spectacular views here, so make sure to explore the area in this Italian-speaking region of Ticino.

Kawarau Bridge, New Zealand:

Home to the world’s first commercial bungee jumping operation, the Kawarau Bridge—just outside of New Zealand’s adventure capital Queenstown —offers a 43m (141-ft.) drop. In 1988, when New Zealanders Henry van Asch and A.J. Hackett (Hackett still runs it today) started attaching rubber bands to jumpers’ ankles, people called them crazy. Twenty years later, this jump is one of the area’s most well known and popular.

Ottawa River, Canada:

This jump starts at the top of the bungee tower in Morrison’s Quarry, Wakefield, Quebec, more than 46m (150 ft.) above a deep aqua blue lagoon surrounded by limestone walls. This picturesque point is only 20 minutes from Ottowa, but it feels peacefully remote. After attaching your harness, leap head-first toward the water. This is the only jump in the Americas where you can submerge your head or your entire body 60m (200 ft.) into the river before a boat comes along to transport you back to dry land.

Bloukrans Bridge, South Africa:

At 216m (709 ft.) high, the Bloukrans Bridge is the tallest bridge in Africa and the largest single span concrete arch bridge in the world. To reach the jumping-off point on the top of the arch, you can either walk along a unique 216m (709-ft.) roadway with breathtaking views or zip along a 200m (656-ft.) cable line called the Flying Fox.

Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe:

The Victoria Falls Bridge, which crosses the roaring Zambezi River, was originally built in 1905 to connect Zimbabwe and Zambia. Its more recent claim to fame is a small platform at its center, 111m (360 ft.) above the water, from which bungee jumpers freefall for nearly 5 seconds before rebounding. With the crashing Victoria Falls on one side of you and the turbulent Zambezi churning inside a gorge on the other, this may be the world’s most spectacular setting for bungee jumping.

Macau Tower, Macau:

This 233m (764-ft.) plunge keeps jumpers screaming as they descend just a few meters away from the concrete side of Macau Tower. It has been deemed the highest commercial bungee jump in the world by the Guinness Book of World Records, and it is also the most technically advanced, with a special attachment and vertical wire cables running on either side of the jump platform. Jumpers fall at a speed of up to 200kmph (124 mph) for 5 seconds, before rebounding a few times approximately 30m (98 ft.) above the ground. A guided cable system allows a slow landing onto a specially designed airbag.

Old Colorado River, Costa Rica:

Just about an hour-long drive west from San Jose, this scenic spot is a haven for adventure seekers. From the Old Colorado River Bridge, gaze at lush jungle surroundings and powerful rapids rushing far below your feet—80m (265 ft.) below—before pushing off a platform and plunging toward them on a bungee cord. Tropical Bungee opened this picturesque jump site in 1991; today, it’s the longest-running and highest bungee operation in Costa Rica.

Viaduc de la Souleuvre, France:

In picturesque Normandy, along the Channel coastline, this area was the landing site for the liberation of Europe from Nazi Germany during World War II. Although the original Souleuvre railway bridge, which was built between 1889 and 1893 by Gustave Eiffel, fell into disrepair and was ultimately removed in 1970, the 61m (200-ft.) stone columns that supported it still stand tall today. Around 1990, a suspension footbridge was constructed, providing access to a jump deck off the highest pillar and an official bungee operation opened for business. The site is open on the weekends from March through November, and every day from mid-June through mid-September.

Pacific Northwest Bridge, Washington State, U.S.A.:

Just south of Mount St. Helen’s in Washington state—about 2 1 ⁄ 2 hours from Seattle and 1 hour from Portland—this private bridge in a forested canyon over a beautiful river offers the highest bungee jump in the United States (equivalent to about 20 stories). It’s also the safest and most respected; Bungee Masters has been an industry leader since 1988, and its stunts have been featured on MTV’s The Real World, Road Rules Challenge, and CBS’s Amazing Race, among numerous other shows. Jumps from the bridge are offered all year on the weekends, and at other times by reservation.

Double Six Club, Bali:

On the coast of Bali, Kuta beach is the only place in the world where you can party and bungee jump at the same time. The energy level really revs up when the sun goes down. Just off the white sands of the Double Six club, you can hop on an elevator and ride to the top of a 45m (150-ft.) tower, built by A.J. Hackett. As the music blasts and you gaze out into the darkness, you can dive toward a swimming pool, even dunking into it if you want to, before the rubber bands snap you back up. Night owls rejoice.