I joined up with Earthstompers Garden Route and Addo National Park tour for an amazing 5 days of sight-seeing and good company. Day 4: Sedgefield- Tsitsikamma – Addo
“Can you go first?”
What? No. I thought my heart would be racing, but it seems to have just stopped. My brain appears to be picking up the slack:
If I die, how will they get my body home? That’s if there is a body. Is it better to go first so the rope hasn’t been stretched, or last so you know there isn’t a fault in the rope? What if they haven’t tied me properly? What would they say about me at my funeral? Will the rest of my tour group still enjoy their trip if I plunge to my death? My parents are going to kill me, if I survive.
“Don’t hesitate, hesitating is the worst thing you can do.”
I guess I take the advice from Mr. Bungyman, because next thing I know I’m tied into two harnesses, attached to the end of a hand-made bungy rope and standing on the edge of the 216 metre high Bloukraans Bridge along South Africa’s Garden Route. Sometimes I really hate my life choices.
The team of experts are counting down from three, assuring me they’ve done it a hundred times, I’ll have fun. My thoughts have turned into a single mantra. You are safe, you can do this.
I don’t remember making the decision to jump, but I do remember the first time I let myself look down. For the whole walk along the bridge, the waiting for the person who was supposed to go first to look over the edge and chicken out and the harness preparations, I hadn’t let myself look anywhere but straight ahead. I wasn’t going to let a little thing like the view stop me from taking this leap, not until it was too late. Now it was too late. Oh shit.
I am free falling only a few seconds, but it feels like a lifetime. All I can do is hug myself for dear life because, just maybe, if I do that and the harness breaks I could still come out alive. I can’t clearly say if I had any other thoughts until I reached the end of the rope, but once I got there it is pure relief flooding through me…until I feel myself falling down again.
The logical brain could assume that, of course, the rope is elastic and will bounce more than once before coming to a stop. The terrified mind can only assume the rope is breaking and this is how you go. Once the bouncing has come to an end and you’re happily still attached, nobody mentions that your feet really feel like they’re slipping out of their harness. Seriously, somebody should mention that. But if you can just ignore it for one second, the view, oh the view.
One of the bungy team members is lowered down to hoist me back up. I don’t think I’ve ever been so relieved to see another human. The conversation went a little like this:
Him: I’m here to take you back up.
Me: You beautiful, beautiful man! I’m completely in love with you right now!
Him: You have to let me go so I can hook you to the hoist.
Finally, finally, with a team of about 10 hauling me back and lending me a hand, I reach solid concrete. Photos are being taken and a chant of ‘Aussie, Aussie, Aussie’ goes up once they discover where I’m from. I am Kassia, Queen of the World. Bow down bitches. But just never put me back on that bungy.
I’m sure things happened before the bungy, there was definitely driving involved, but apart from that I couldn’t tell you a thing: I was far too consumed by my impending doom. But I can tell you we spent the afternoon in the gorgeous Tsitikama National Park. Right on the coast line, small waves lap against rocky cliffs and pebble shores.
While some of our group had skipped the drama and arrived here early for the full 3 hour hike, we jumpers only had time for the shorter 45 minute walk to the suspension bridges connecting the islands. The walk to get there felt a little surreal: somehow I must have ended up back in Australia with these trickling waterfalls and scrubby plants. Only the dassie’s, milling about in sunlit branches, reminded me I was still in South Africa.
After the walk, when my adrenaline levels were finally starting to calm down, we headed to the only restaurant in the area. There was only one vegetarian plate, but it was full of deep fried mushroom and cheese goodness. I deserved this.