It’s only when you are standing at the precipice 44 metres above the River Nile in Jinja, Uganda, that you discover the folly of your decision. You are about to jump into the source of the longest river on the planet. If this is your first time doing such a foolhardy thing like this writer, then you realise that you might die. You have been talking about doing this for weeks on end and your ego tells you rightly or wrongly that you can’t back down. And you take the plunge.
The bungee jump is an activity that involves jumping from a tall structure while secured to a large elastic cord. The word “bungee” originates from English slang meaning “anything thick and squat” and for many years, cloth-covered rubber cords with hooks on the ends have gone under the generic name bungee cords.
For those wishing to try this new way of having fun, the shortest of the jumps in the region is at the Bujagali Falls in Jinja, Uganda. You can take a shuttle from Kampala directly to Jinja, 81km east of the capital where the action is happening by road. I opted to use public transport. Normally, the price of the white 14-seater vehicles would be UGSh8,000 (Sh270) but as I went on Sunday morning, I was charged UGSh5,000 (Sh170).
I headed out to Jinja, admiring the beautiful Uganda landscape that inspired the building of a railway across a barren wasteland that eventually became Kenya, my homeland.
On getting to Jinja, there are many options for you as a tourist. A lot of it is centred around the fact that the Ugandan authorities state that this city is the source of the River Nile, the longest in the world. Therefore at the source of the Nile, you can go white water rafting or kayaking, on horseback safaris, paragliding, mini golf and many more.
For those who are less thrill seeking, you can still have a meal and drink at the many hotels along the water where Lake Victoria and River Nile meet. There are even more cultural and historical sights to visit.
However, the point of this trip was bungee jumping and I secured the services of a boda boda (motorcycle taxi) operator to the Bujagali Falls, the site of the bungee jump. This cost me UGSh5,000 (Sh170). While at the falls you are accosted by this large structure which is branded by a popular Nile Special beer brand from Uganda.
I made my way to the payment area where there were two options; UGSh100,000 (Sh3,330) for Ugandans and $115 (Sh11,500) for other nationalities for two jumps.
Payment made, I went up the stairs of the 44-metre structure and was welcomed by two friendly gentlemen. Isaac strapped me up. My feet were tied, a bit too tight which reassured me, and then I was asked to walk like a penguin to the edge of the ramp and count a simple, 1,2,3 bungee! Across from me on the land there seemed to be a camp but I was to face the water in front of me.
I made the plunge! The sudden rush of adrenaline to the blood stream is one that cannot be adequately described in a short travel piece as this. It is a feeling of exhilaration in its rawest form; that thrill adrenaline junkies seek the world over. You feel like you are powerless and about to die but at the same time, still filled with life at its fullest until the bungee cord pulls you back up. Reality!
At the bottom of the site in the water, there is an inflatable raft with men who fetch you and get you to dry land. You then walk up the site and do your jump again if you feel the need to. I didn’t jump again. I made my way quickly to the nearby pub where I drunk a lot of beer to get over the fright I had just had endured. Who knows, maybe even with that experience, I’ll be jumping again.
Some of the jumps you can do In Africa
- Bloukrans Bridge, Tsitsikamma, South Africa, 216 metres
This is the largest one on the African continent. Set amid the nature reserves and ecological riches of South Africa’s Garden Route, the 216m-tall Bloukrans Bridge is also is the highest commercial natural bungee jump in the world and the highest commercial natural bungy jump in the World.
faceadrenalin.com, Single jump Sh7,400
- Victoria Falls Bridge, Livingstone, Zambia/Zimbabwe – 111 meters
This bungee is in the no man’s land between Zambia and Zimbabwe atop a old railway bridge. Behind your crash you will the see the mighty falls, known to locals as “the smoke that thunders”, while 111m beneath crocodiles circle in the Zambezi river.
victoriafallsbungee.com, Single jump Sh12,500
- Savage Wilderness Camp, Sagana, Tana River – 60 metres
In this jump, you will walk 177 steps up to the 60-metre structure before plunging head first into the mighty Tana River. The most exciting period to do your bungee is during the rainy season when the river is rushing down.
http://www.savagewilderness.org Single jump Sh6,000