Top 10 Bungee Jumps In The World

06 Oct 2015

Social Media Widget

"I still recall my first jump," reminisces New Zealander AJ Hackett, the man who launched commercial bungee jumping 25 years ago today. "I had the most amazing sensation."

At the time Hackett was running a struggling ski shop, but inspired by British daredevils The Oxford University Dangerous Sports Club, Hackett had begun experimenting with the adrenaline activity.

Together with his friend and fellow Kiwi Chris Sigglekow, he had started doing tests with latex rubber, climbing equipment and parachute harnesses. There was no back-up, just two guys pushing their luck.

"I used to do a lot of climbing so knew about ropes," says Hackett, "but we wanted to figure out if it could be predictable, so that we could go to greater heights.

"To see who would jump first we drew straws," he explains. "Chris lost," Hackett adds with a grin. "But we weren't nervous – the first jump was only 19 metres – it was more about hoping it would work."

It did work and, within a year, Hackett was on a French ski tour with teammate Henry van Asch, jumping bridges up to 150 metres high in his spare time. In 1987 Hackett made headlines around the world, getting arrested for jumping off the Eiffel Tower.

Hackett and van Asch quickly realised there was money to be made and, as skiers, New Zealand snow hub Queenstown seemed an obvious starting point.

On 12 November 1988, the Kawarau Bridge bungy site (Hackett prefers bungy to bungee) opened for business. On that day 28 people took the plunge.

Since then, more than three million have followed suit at 15 Hackett sites around the world. Every one of them has lived to tell the tale.

Millions more have jumped at over 50 other bungee sites across almost as many countries. Accidents have happened, but they've been rare.

The thrills meanwhile, just get bigger and more extreme, the craziest of which has to be Chile's Pucon jump, a six-day trip which involves leaping from a helicopter towards the bubbling lava of a live volcano, before flying the 56 kilometres back to town, still bouncing around on the bungee.

If that's a little beyond your budget, then here, in no particular order, are the 10 best jumps currently on offer.

Kawarau Bridge

Queenstown, New Zealand

While its 43-metre drop might now be considered light on scares by serial thrill-seekers, the Kawarau's status as the place where it all began is undisputed.

More than 650,000 people have taken the plunge from this historic suspension bridge, with many dipping their heads in the stunning turquoise waters below. It's also the only Queenstown bungee that can be done as a tandem.

The Nevis

Queenstown, New Zealand

A title contender for the world's most terrifying bungee jump. The secret for this one is in the build-up: you start in a four-wheel drive and head up, up and up the bumpy mountain road until you arrive at the stark and stony Nevis gorge, in the middle of which, 134 metres up, hangs a cabin, blowing in the wind, which you reach courtesy of an open-air cable car. You've then got eight seconds of freefall ahead of you.

Europabrucke

Innsbruck, Austria

This huge structure, the name of which translates simply as 'Europe's Bridge', stretches 657 metres across the Wipp Valley, rising 192 metres above the Sill river, just south of Innsbruck.

Carrying the Autobahn that stretches through the Alps between Austria and Italy, the bridge was, from 1959 to 1963, the highest on the continent. Standing on its edge will perhaps be the smallest you'll ever feel.

Verzasca Dam

Ticino, Switzerland

If you've ever dreamed of being a real-life James Bond, this is the jump for you. Made famous by the dramatic opening to 1995's GoldenEye, Pierce Brosnan's first outing as 007, this bungee involves plunging down the 220-metre-high concrete wall of the dam.

The landmark, built in the 60s and officially known as the Contra Dam, doubled as a Soviet weapons facility in the film, but in reality houses a hydroelectric power station.

Macau Tower

Macau, China

At 233 metres high and in the heart of the far east's gambling capital, this is the world's highest bungee jump from a building.

You leap from the outer rim of the giant tower, with mainland China just visible if you squint. Hackett and his team had to develop a "second-generation bungee cord" for the site, due to the height and need for it to fall straight, rather than swing.

Bloukrans Bridge

Tsitsikamma, South Africa

Set amid the nature reserves and ecological riches of South Africa's Garden Route, the 216-metre-tall Bloukrans Bridge is the highest bridge bungee in the world.

Those harbouring second thoughts, while looking out at the surrounding mountains and distant sea views, can steel themselves with the knowledge that the likes of Prince Harry and Jack Osborne have done the jump and survived.

The Last Resort

Tatopani, Nepal

Located on a ridge overlooking the rapids of the Bhote Kosi river, about 85 kilometres east of Kathmandu and just 12 kilometres from the Tibetan border, this adventure-mad resort is home to whitewater rafting, canyoning and the country's only bungee jump.

It is surrounded by jungle and you plummet 160 metres from the bridge towards the raging Bhote Kosi below.

Niouc Bridge

Val d'Anniviers, Switzerland

Nicknamed "Spider Bridge" due to its cobweb of cable wires, the 190-metre-high Niouc is the world's highest suspension footbridge and one of the loftiest jumps in Europe.

Before diving from the shaky structure, you can take in the typically vivid blue skies as well as the sublime views of the Navizence river and surrounding Alpine peaks.

Extremo Park

Monteverde, Costa Rica

Latin America's highest bungee jump is also one of the newest. Adrenaline junkies leap from a tram suspended by a series of cables, which stand 143 metres above the Central American cloud forest, totally exposed to the area's often wet and windy conditions.

It's set in a park that also lets you explore the jungle canopy with an extensive circuit of ziplines and a Tarzan swing.

Victoria Falls Bridge

Border of Zimbabwe and Zambia

You'd be hard-pushed to find a more spectacular setting in which to take the leap of faith than here. You stand, in no man's land between two countries, atop the old railway bridge that Cecil Rhodes ordered to be built.

Behind you crash the mighty falls, known to locals as "the smoke that thunders", while 111 metres beneath crocodiles circle in the Zambezi river.

This article originally appeared on guardian.co.uk

This article was written by Andrew Westbrook from The Guardian and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.

The Guardian

The Guardian offers the latest in travel, news, sport, opinions and analysis in the United Kingdom and around the world.