I’ve just moved to Bristol, which naturally calls for some exploration. Bristol is a lovely city to go and explore, especially when it’s dry (which it hasn’t been much lately!)
I went up to the Clifton Downs to have a look at the suspension bridge. I’ve run past this landmark several times now, and ever since thursday, whenever I go past it I can’t help but think – that would be a great place to bungee jump off of!!
My friend went on to ask me: ” but I thought you were afraid of heights?” I am, so much so that I have to descend the baby way if there is a steep flight of stairs. But somehow jumping out of an airplane or off a bridge, being temporary, is manageable.
And where better to risk your life than in a foreign country!
Here are my top 5 adrenaline-inducing experiences.
1. Bungee jumping Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe.
Currently rated fourth highest in the world, this 113m drop was my scariest, possibly because it was my first jump. I couldn’t believe the guys helping me out were so blasé about it, but when I followed this by jumping the AJ Hackett Bungy in NZ, formerly the highest in the world, I just didn’t get the same rush. I was a little nervous on the ledge and leading up to it, but the jump itself and its after effects not so much. I think this is more to do with the jump itself – as the Zimbabwe jump is lower tech, but equally safe let me add, after the initial fall you get pulled up, you stop in mid air as gravity catches up, and then you do another fall almost equally scary. It’s that moment, when you you try to balance yourself in mid air, that was the biggest adrenaline rush for me. And because the NZ jump is more controlled, they take some of the impact of that second fall away and it’s just not as exciting.
(apparently bungee jumping was inspired by David Attenborough’s footage of land divers in Vanuatu, who tied vines to their ankles and jumped off platforms as part of a religious ceremony to bring a good harvest).
2. Sky diving, New Zealand.
It’s one of those must-dos when you’re in New Zealand, and you’ll see it advertised pretty much everywhere. I’m sure it’s a big money making scheme, because it will definitely make your wallet feel a lot lighter.
But it is also a brilliant place to do it, if you do decide to do it only once – I did mine over Lake Wanaka, and you not only get an adrenaline rush but also a stunning view.
It’s a different rush from bungee in that it’s not as scary (you’ll be tandem in the beginning) but it’s more enjoyable and lasts longer.
My instructor was a proper chilled out guy who was joking on the plane ride up about how he might fall asleep so if the parachute doesn’t open after 15 seconds, I might need to give him a little shove. Not ideal. But when the parachute is suddenly drawn, it can be a bit uncomfortable.
3. Zip lining in the Monteverde rainforest, Costa Rica.
I found this activity more pleasant than scary, though it’s not as nice if you’re not hanging right and you end up spinning in circles as well as straight ahead, or you end up hanging mid air because you did it wrong. The best thing about zip lining is that the trails often have lots of lines – mine had 18, so you get to enjoy it for longer. And again, the views make it all totally worth it!!
4. Boat ride from Siem Reap to Battambang, Cambodia.
Not all adrenaline activities will cost you money, and can be completely unexpected. When travelling on cheaper transport that is used frequently by locals, they tend to break safety regulations in every way possible, especially when it comes to loads – the more the better they say! On this particular trip, they had put way too many bags on the boat, and the low water level meant that bend were particularly tricky. And when your life is in a backpack (read: camera) your heart skips a beat at every bend. Or when you’re on a flimsy little boat from little corn island to Big Corn Island in Nicaragua and you can just about manage your anxiety but the woman next to you is freaking out so bad… So just remember – always have a dry bag lining inside your backpack when taking water transport. That won’t help you as such when riding on top of a bus next to a big cliff face, or on a motorcycle in Hanoi (there are more motorcycles in the entire country than its population!)…
5. Night diving with sharks on the Barrer Reef, Australia.
I love watching sharks underwater, they are so elegant. But when you’re on a night dive, prior to which the dive crew feeds them and lies to you telling you it’s BCD roulette with one stuffed with a bit of meat, they aren’t the nicest animals to be around. Though they weren’t so bad. It’s the giant trevally that you should beware of. These giant fish, frequently over a metre in length, have learned to hunt off a diver’s torch, so if you shine it directly on a fish it will eat whatever you were admiring without thinking about what’s in its way. And that means having to deal with sudden flashes of silver as something large swims at you high speed bumping into you.
Others include quadbiking on sand dunes, experiencing a tsunami and encountering a bear!
And these are high-up on my bucket list:
1. Diving with whalesharks. Or basking sharks.
2. Mountain biking Bolivia’s Death Road.
What about you? Tell me your stories!