A visit to the Pentecost Island in the nation of Vanuatu in April should include time to see the N’gol land jumpers. Dozens of men climb to the top of a rickety, hand-made-from-sticks tower one at a time, with vines tied to their ankles. They then jump 80-feet, head first, and try to touch the ground without killing themselves.
The closer they get -- a head and shoulder touch is best-- the better the yam harvest will be for the year. Boys as young as 7-years-old take this jump, too. A group of Brits from Oxford took the first bungee jump in the late 1970s and the activity started to blossom in the late 1980s when it achieved commercial appeal in New Zealand.
Bungee platforms have gotten higher and the jumps more death-defying and thrilling. For men on an extreme Mancation hunt, we’ve got 5 jumps that could make you a legend in your own mind.
South Africans seem to have an adrenaline gene and excel at anything extreme. I suppose it’s because they’re up against great white’s in the water, and lions, crocs and hippos on land. Life can get dull after a day or two of not fearing for one’s life. So, bungee jumping off the 216-meter/708-foot high Bloukrans Bridges, just outside Plettenbuerg Bay, helps fill the thrill gaps. It’s the third highest bungee jump in the world. They videotape the fall just in case the OMG ricocheting through your cranium causes memory loss.
We couldn’t tease you with the world’s third highest bungee, then not tell you about the world’s second highest. It’s the Macau Tower with a 233-meter/765-foot stomach bender of a drop. Unlike bridges and platforms that hang out over rivers and gorges, this drop will scare you witless because you’re dropping straight over a parking lot, and as you fall, you’re only a few feet from the tower. This is probably not the bungee jump where you admire the view, but clinch your teeth and feel the adrenaline surge through your veins for months afterwards. Try running up the stairs to the top to take the edge off.
On a bungee jump, the first thing that happens is your body screams and you feel a flush of panic. Then, especially during the almost 900-foot drop you get at the Royal Gorge, you start to feel as if you’re floating. Ahhh … Just when you get comfy with it, the cord starts to arrest your fall, then you slow down and gravity reminds you that you’re on Earth and blood empties from your extremities into your head (at least it feels like that.) Welcome to the 321-meter/1,053-foot high Arkansas rite-of-man-passage. Other bungee jump platforms brag about height, but not here. There’s no need to boast.
Real Mancations at some point get inspiration from James Bond. Take out your DVD of GoldenEye and you’ll see what’s in store in the form of the Verzasca Dam in Switzerland, where you dangle from 220-meters/722-feet and then for 7.5 seconds you get to fall in the footsteps of Pierce Brosnan. It’s the highest bungee jump from a dam, and the wall of the dam is pretty dam close for comfort. After this jump you’ll want to take your adrenaline addled body to the nearby enchanting town of Locarno, a quiet, peaceful and lovely old-world village along Lake Maggiore that sports a castle reputed to be designed by Leonardo di Vinci.
When you jump, rocketing back to Earth while dangling from a cord, you’re definitely immersed in the essence of a Mancation. It’s about being on the edge, sucking as much life out of life as possible,
Writer Ty Sawyer started his bungee adrenaline recharge therapy in Cairns, Australia. He’s dangled from bungee cords about a dozen times in spots around the world.