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Adventure Travel in Nature’s Elements

Adventure Travel in Nature’s Elements

When you think of adventure travel, there are so many ways to make adrenaline can rise in countries other than your own. From traditional, like rafting and safaris, to the less so and almost dangerous (think bull running in Pamplona), travel can be an adventure anywhere. But there is something about communing with nature’s elements (Earth, Air, Fire, and Water) to make adventure travel even more raw and exciting. Leaving out fire with the presumption that no one really wants to burned to a crisp whilst on their vacation, we’ll show you adventure travel in each of the other three elements: Land, Air, and Water.

LAND
The best adventure travel one can partake in on land is a safari. Ride on horses or in a jeep alongside zebras and other animals and get back to the basics of living. Or not – the best thing about the safari is its high level of customization. Tour operators go to great lengths to create a package that fits your exact needs and wants, including luxury locations for overnight lodging and sumptuous meals. For the more adventurous, tree top lodging is an excellent choic, like the lodges in the Aberdare National Park, Kenya. Reportedly, this is where Queen Elizabeth was told of her father’s death in 1952 and the fact that she was now the Queen of Great Britain.

Low Point: Cost. Safaris are quite expensive and you are lucky if you can actually fi nd anything under $4,500 per person for a 8-nights stay. To this, you would also add travel fare, expensive if you come from outside Africa, as is probably the case. You should be able to continue to adventure travel in the years to come as well, ratherSafaris are a particularly great place for romance and we know of many couples whose love has blossomed under a canopy of Kenyan trees. Talk about romantic: a cocktail by the fi re in a luxury camp like the Meru Camp, in Kenya, followed by candlelit dinner in your tent (and the tent is not that thing you bought at the local Wal-Mart and spent half a day setting it up. Think large, comfy, stylish, and luxurious – straight from the movie Out of Africa). Kenya is usually the preferred destination for safaris, with amazing national parks and reserves such as the Mwingi National Reserve or the Masai Mara (not the best choice if you want to have more privacy with your loved one: it is one of the most popular locations, so it is usually filled with groups of tourists). Other traditional destinations are Kruger Park in South Africa, as well as several destinations in Namibia, like the Etosha National Park.

than splurge it all in one trip.

AIR
What is it about hot air ballooning, the best travel we’ve found for the element of air, that makes it adventurous? Not necessarily a great question ask yourself after the recent accident in New Zealand that killed eleven people… but honestly nothing matches the ability to see beautiful places from up high, combined with the human and ancient fascination of flight and the danger of it all. An interesting way of combining all these is a hot air balloon ride in Cappadocia, in Turkey. The big bonus about Cappadocia is the unusual scenery volcanic rock, whose erosion led to a variety of shapes and forms, best observed from above, but there is so much more that you can enjoy in the region, including visits to historical and cultural sites (ancient churches, dining halls, and even entire cities carved into caves and underground).

Low Point: A hot air balloon ride usually takes 2-4 hours, so it will be just a small part of your travel plan. You need to find other adventurous things that you can do on your trip or move on to other attractions. Not a problem, when the “Valley of Love” is just a few minutes away. Spend a few hours hiking, horseback riding, or four-wheeling in the valley and discover old cave homes not inhabited for thousands (yes, thousands) of years. One look at the tall, slender, and quite erect formations of volcanic rock that make up the valley, and you’ll quickly understand why it is called (even by locals) the Love Valley.

WATER
For adventure travel on the water, rafting is one of the best choices you can make and Costa Rica is the best country to do it in. The rivers in the Cost Rica are fast and make for a great rafting experience because of their excessive rainfall and the challenge of numerous rapids. You also have a wide range of options, depending on your skill and desired level of adventure you are willing to go for. If you are a beginner, the Pejibaye River is a good choice, most of it being an easy float. If you want more, the Reventazon River offers a wider selection, with the route from the Powerhouse to Tucurrique  (about three miles) being a good combination longer.

Antarctic Cruise

Antarctic Cruise

An Antarctica Cruise is most likely one of the most passive adventurous things you can do in your lifetime. Think of it: traveling to the most remote part of our world, which just happens to be the coldest on earth, encountering penguins, spotting enormous whales and remembering for the rest of your life how lucky you are to have had this opportunity.

WHAT TO EXPECT
There are several things you should expect as you consider an Antarctic cruise. First, this is not necessarily the place with the most diverse array of animals or birds in the world. Less than 20 species of birds live here and no land mammals. However, you will likely see lots of penguins, especially if you travel in November or December (early Spring in Antarctica), when most of the penguin species lay their eggs on land. Whales, including orcas and humpback whales, as well as seals will also entertain
you.

Second, you should know that you will be in the coldest place on Earth. The lowest temperature ever recorded on Earth was here, in July 1983 – -89.2 degree Celsius, about -129 degrees Fahrenheit: too cold for most living things to survive. Because it is so cold, the only period of the year during which people are able to cruise is from November to March. But you’ll still need to bring plenty of warm clothes.

Third, it is really about the scenery. Yes, there is ice and snow everywhere, but this is different from the ice and snow you may know from home. Here, the ice and snow are moving actors in the landscape, breaking away and strolling across the sea or simply standing still, jutting out of the water as majestic guards of the overwhelming views. You will go ashore during your cruise, so you will be able to directly interact with all this and see the animals up close and personal. Just remember your ice-hiking boots to protect you from the cold and from some potentially nasty slips and falls on the icy terrain. On your journey you will likely pass through the Drake Passage—between Cape Horn, the southernmost tip of the American continent, and the Antarctica Peninsula—at 500 miles is the narrowest part of water between Antarctica and any other land. For many, this is a rite of passage and you should embrace it as such, thinking of the explorers who passed through there at some point or another, albeit during a much more dangerous time.

HOW DOES IT WORK
Obviously, as this is a cruise, you will travel by ship. But there is great flexibility when it comes to the length of the cruise, with many around 8-10 days, but some as long as four weeks (Antarctica’s Far East cruise, from Quark Expeditions, takes from December to January and takes the visitor along the east coast of the continent). Most of the cruises are around the Antarctica Peninsula, but the actual route taken will depend on whether you leave from Latin America (in Latin America, you will start from the Southernmost town in the world, Ushuaia) or Australia.

PRICING
There is something for everybody there, but you will expect to pay at least $7,000 for an 8-day cruise. Depending on the number of days and the conditions on the ship, it can go as high up as $35,000-$40,000.

BOTTOM LINE: Splurge or Save? If you want to take an Antarctic cruise we would recommend you go with the less expensive cruise options rather than splurging on a $30,000+ cruse, as you’ll enjoy the same cold weather and the same amazing sights (whales, penguins, ice bergs, etc.) at any price point, but maybe with a bottle of sparkling wine rather than French champagne.

Travel Firsts My First Visit to Amsterdam’s Red Light District

Travel Firsts My First Visit to Amsterdam’s Red Light District

Not only is prostitution legal in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, it is very much on display and open for business in a very retail, store-front kind of way in the city’s Red Light Districts. So famed (or infamous) is the red light district, that as a tourist of course I had to visit one just to say I went.

I (a female, traveling with a male) arrived at Amsterdam’s main Red Light District (RLD) around 12:30 am. The main RLD is in the Walletjes area (between the Centraal Station and Nieuwenmarkt) while the other two are in Singel (between Raadhuistraat and Centraal Station) and de Pijp (behind the Rijksmuseum). I was glad I went with a male, as there were some dodgy characters on the street and the single females seem like more of a target.

True to what I’d heard, the ladies really are on displays like in stores – they sit and stand in little window boxes in their respective brothel. Talk about a strange site! It’s like walking through a shopping center but instead of shopping for clothes you’re shopping for people. The brothels which are open for business are lit up on top by a thin red neon light, hence the district’s name, giving everything an eerie hue. and They call to passersby to come “watch before you buy”. I was a little surprised to realize that the women were motioning to me just as often as they were to my male companion; no discrimination here!

In addition to the girls on display another thing I couldn’t help but notice was the huge ‘NO PHOTOS’ signs (camera with a line through it). They are serious about not taking pictures and if you so much as reach for your camera or hold up your phone, nice policemen will come tell you to stop.

We did not “watch before you buy”, nor did we buy, and I noticed there weren’t a whole lot of other people doing so either. I thought this was due to the poor economy but instead it was apparently the time of day we were there – things picked up at 1am as we were leaving. I guess prostitution is one business immune to economic downturn to an extent. After 1am when the tourists dissipate, people really get down to business in the RLD, so if you’re only there to window shop and not make a purchase, you’ll be more comfortable going between dusk and 1:00 am.

First Time in North Korea

First Time in North Korea

This is definitely a ”first” for many and, for most, a last as well. It is not that North Korea is not an interesting country, in its own way, or that it is not worth going to, but its remoteness, its lack of contacts with the outside world (there are only a couple of direct flights from the Sunan International Airport that operate on a daily basis, mostly to China and Russia) and the constant feeling of being watched and carefully supervised make it a place I would not want to go back to. So, bottom line, if you are willing to accept restrictions on your freedoms and travel back to Stalinist times, this is definitely an adventure not to be missed. You will be one of only 2,000 annual foreign visitors in the country.

Since we are talking limitations on travel, your flight will likely come in from Beijing. You do need a tourist visa to get into North Korea, but usually this is not a problem (unless you are a journalist, which would kick the ball into a completely different dimension and make this a double-adventure issue) and is usually handled by one of the travel agents that will take care of your trip (no, this is not one of those trips where you buy your flight tickets on Expedia and send an email to your chosen hotel – you’ll need a professional agent). If you have trouble getting a visa (residents of some countries do) then consider signing up for a teaching job teaching English, the employer will take care of the legalities of entry into the country.

The first thing that will shock you in the airport is that your passport is retained “for security issues”. It is never very clear whether it is your security they are worried about or the security of the country itself (you dangerous traveler you) or that of the Kim triad (to which we will refer later in this article).

The most revered Kim is Kim Il Sun, Eternal Leader, which translates into his picture being posted through the city (and country). You will be amazed to see he has not aged a bit, despite being dead since 1994. Kim Il Jung, Dear Leader, joined him recently, to the dismay and sadness of the entire nation. His successor, Kim Jong Un, is yet to be named, although Great Successor seems to be the word of choice. As a good word of advice, restrain yourself from saying anything bad about all these leaders and their policies, no matter how absurd you feel they are (and they are, they really are): you are likely to be under some sort of surveillance throughout your trip. Your tour will cover at least one or two of Kim Il Sun’s statues and you will be asked to lay a wreath of flowers at his mausoleum (you would be wise to comply with this request).Much of the architecture you will see around the capital is a combination of Stalinist architecture (read “monstrous buildings”) and veneration of the three Kims that have led the country since its independence and appearance as a nation in 1948. Some of the interesting architectural points on your tour will be the Juche Tower, the Palace of Culture and the Arch of Triumph (not quite the same as Napoleon’s).

If you do get a chance to go outside of the capital, you will likely be surprised by the wide highways with almost no cars on them, as well as, in general, the strangeness of activities such as cutting the grass by hand or cleaning the pavement by hand. You will become used to the guide telling you about the “greatest” this and the “largest” that – some of these are even true: the largest hotel in the world was started in Pyongyang, but construction was stopped because of a lack of funds. There remains a gruesome silhouette that dominates the city.

FUN FACTS ABOUT NORTH KOREA

  • The work day in North Korea has a three hour rest period in the afternoon. Kind of Mediterranean, isn’t it?
  • Many buildings have no elevators because of uneven intervals between the floors.
  • North Koreans must abide by state mandated rules about their clothing and hairstyles, so everyone looks more or less the same.
  • Kim Jong Il’s biography states that he was born under a double rainbow.
  • Traffic lights have an additional, fourth light (blue), signaling when the car can turn right. This is when they work…

NOT SO FUN FACTS ABOUT NORTH KOREA

  • North Korea has the fifth largest military in the world, with 20 % of the population aged 17 to 54 in the army
  • Military spending is around 25 % of the North Korean GDP
  • It is believed that North Korea has at least 6 nuclear weapons.
  • 60% of North Korean children suffer from malnutrition, with most of the food going to the military

WATCH IT!
Before you go (or instead of) watch the Dutch documentary “Welcome to North Korea”, which won an Emmy award for best documentary in 2001 (yes, it will still be relevant today).

BOTTOM LINE
This is really an adventure trip, because, wherever you are coming from, it is likely you have only experienced this if you lived in Stalinist Soviet Union in the 1930s or in some of the former Communist states in Europe. It is an experience worth undertaking, if only to understand what happens when there are no checks and balances, when groups of individuals are allowed limitless power and when they decide to run social experiments on the population they are supposed to be serving. On the adventure side, have no fear: stick with the rules, respect what your guide says, don’t speak badly of the Leaders and you will be all right to tell the story.

Sandboarding

Sandboarding

If you are in Peru and someone comes up to you and invites you to go sandboarding with him, don’t look at him like you both had too much to drink last night: sandboarding is not only a cool adventure activity today, but also one that Egyptians and Chinese reportedly used to practice over 1,000 years ago.

WHERE TO DO IT
In Peru, this is an especially awesome undertaking. For one reason because Peru is home to the largest sand dune in the world, the Cerro Blanco, standing 2070 meters above sea level. Since it is less likely that you will be able to say that you have climbed the highest mountain or traveled the seven seas, at least you have sandboarded the highest dune! Other sandboarding options include the dunes at La Huacachina de Ica or several along the coast of Camana, but trust us: if you are going to do this, go for the very top.

Peru Adventure Tours offers a custom sandboarding tour, complete with transportation in sand buggies and additional options, such as a tour of the dunes. The company is flexible in offering you a customized package, so shoot them an email, let them know what you want out of this experience, and leave it to them to plan something great. The prices are not outrageously expensive either: depending on what you want, the package will likely cost around $70 per person.

THE ESSENTIALS
The most important part of the equipment is the sandboard, which is a little different from the snowboard you might know, mainly because the surface itself is different in consistency and texture. The base of your sandboard is harder and the laminex material it is made of makes waxing an absolute necessity before going downhill (if you take a tour package, you will be briefed on all this, but you will be an A+ student if you’ve read this article beforehand and come prepared).

MORE ESSENTIALS (AKA MUSTS)

  • Go early: the main difference between sand-boarding and snowboarding (other than the obvious sand vs. snow) is the environment: sand=dessert=hot weather. So, if you are not on the dunes by 6.30 or 7 am, it will get too hot for you to do too many descends and it will be a missed opportunity. You will sleep when you are dead, anyway, as the song goes. Another interesting idea is in the late evening, once the sun has gone down: the lights from your sand buggy will create a unique experience on your way down.
  • Go with the tour option or, at least, make sure you choose an option where a sand buggy regularly takes you to the top of the dune for every trip down: you will really appreciate this once you realize how much you would have to otherwise had to walk uphill.
  • You pick up speed really fast: if you are a beginner, remember that falling to your side (on your backside) is always a great way to stop if you start going too fast. And the safest as well!
  • Keep your clothing light: the weather will get very hot and the experience will definitely be more enjoyable if you are dressed adequately for this. That said, when you fall (for most people it won’t be a matter of if, but when) the sand is quite scratchy and uncomfortable, so you might want to avoid shorts. A pair of light cargo pants would be ideal.

Beginner or expert, however you get down the dune you can expect a fast ride down – faster than on snow! If you can’t stand up and board, an easier way is to sit on your bottom on the board, hold on to the sides, and ride it like a sled.WHAT TO EXPECT
Half the fun of sandboarding is getting there. You’ll feel like you’re on a real live roller coaster as dune buggy speeds up and down sand dunes, slipping and sliding at breakneck speeds. Fortunately the drivers are skilled and your likelihood of rolling is minimal, but even if it happens, you’re surrounded by a steel frame, so passengers are unlikely to get hurt.

BOTTOM LINE
Sandboarding is a truly unique adventure that you might want to try at least once in your lifetime. The fact that you are going downhill, but outside is hot and you don’t see white all around is only part of it. If you are deterred about going all the way to Peru for this (although, remember, it is the highest sand dune in the world), you can always try other locations, include several in the US (Arizona and California are a couple of good picks, with the likes of Yuma Sand Dunes, Carmel Beach or The Pit in
Sand City).
Marathons in June

Marathons in June

It is probably unnecessary to explain why this is part of our adventure section, but one can remember that the first guy who tried the feat, namely the Greek soldier, Pheidippides, perished in the attempt. With all this introductory encouragement, the month of June has some excellent events for those who are passionate about running marathons, with additional fractional options for those of you who are passionate, but don’t have the stamina (or desire) to run the entire course.

Rock ‘n’ Roll Seattle Marathon & Half Marathon (June 23rd).
The best thing about this marathon is that it is in Seattle and by Seattle, we mean the entire fun part of downtown. The full course also takes you to Seaward Park, one of the landmarks of Seattle, an amazing forest laid out on a peninsula going into Lake Washington (however, by the time you get here you will have experienced about half the marathon, so those physical cramps might hold you back a bit from enjoying the scenery). The bands and cheerleaders along the way help make this a great experience. On the down side: there have been complaints about Cytomax handouts (too rare) and other offerings that are necessities for the runner during the course (water and bathrooms). At the same time, the number of hills in the city itself is less pleasant when you are letting your lungs out. Overall, a fun course to try at some point!

Stockholm Marathon (June 2).
Right at the beginning of the month, the Stockholm marathon is one of the several organized on the Old Continent. You’ll find tradition, culture and history all on this marathon course. Although only 30 some- years in existence (the inaugural edition was in 1979), the beginning and end to the course is right at the 1912 Olympic Stadium, so it gives a historical sensation to the whole deal. The Stockholm Marathon is also a chance to visit much of the old part of the city, with such sites as the Royal Palace or the City Hall, which is still wonderful, even during this time you are putting in tremendous efforts. The city is relatively mild when it comes to the ups and downs of the course and the Swede’s organizational skills are an extra plus.

Cork City Marathon (June 4).
We like Cork, the second largest city in Ireland, so the Cork City Marathon is one of the choices we make here. The course is also nicely done so that you get in as much of the city views as possible, including a run through the marina and passed Blackrock Castle. The Irish are passionate throughout the course, so you will get plenty of encouragement, which, as you runners out there know, sometimes makes the difference between finishing and not finishing. The weather is not always the best: occasionally hot, you can add to that some strong gushes of
wind.

If you want a great place to relax after the Cork City Marathon, book in advance a room at the amazing Liss Ard Estate, in Skibberen. Although it is about 80 kilometers from Cork, this historic house is set in amazing scenery, with ample gardens and a great breakfast, just the right thing for to unwind after the race.

Travel Firsts: First time on the Amazon River

Travel Firsts: First time on the Amazon River

The trip in the Amazon jungle was my “trip of a lifetime”. You know what these are: those trips that you plan for years and years and then you start saving money for them for more years and years, until they finally happen. The sheer size of the Amazon River gave it a legendary figure: second longest river in the world, but with the largest waterflow and an average discharge that is greater than all the next seven largest rivers combined. Almost 50 kilometers wide during the rainy season, 1,100 tributaries and I should probably stop here.

A trip to the Amazon River is not one of those trips in which you jump in your car on a whim and drive from Berlin to Paris or from Washington DC to Boston. You need a tour company to guide you and choosing one is not the easiest task. You want to get as much of the experience as possible (agreeably, this is a place where you are less likely go back just whenever you feel like it), but without getting anything else, like animal bites or near death experiences. This is why when selecting the company, I tried to look beyond the marketing part of it and read more in depth as to what the company offers. I stopped at Green Tracks (http://www.greentracks.com) and not only because their sustainable message appealed to me, but also because I looked at their staff and found that the people running the day-to-day trips and tours have backgrounds in anthropology or environmental studies. So, they definitely seemed like the right people for a trip to the Amazon.

The second big choice that I had to make was the type of trip to select from Green Tracks (and trust me, they have a lot). After much consideration, I chose the Amazon Camping Trip, mainly because I liked how it was presented as a trip for “those wanting to experience the rainforest on their own terms and indulging their personal interests”. On my own terms…Cool! Usually I had to fight for having anything on my own terms and here they were offering it right up front. The camping trip is in the Pacaya Samiria National Reserve, a great place for spotting animals and birds, navigating small rivers and canals and just feeling great about being in the rainforest (let’s call it the jungle, from now on, it just sounds so much cooler).

He reason I am going so fast through this part is because I wanted to tell you more about what this trip actually meant, other than talking about all these things you get to do. Camping in the jungle is probably the best experience ever. First, this is not a honeymoon safari, where being in the wild actually means staying at a luxurious lodge. Camping in the Amazon actually means spending time on the ground, in the jungle, in tents, hearing the sounds of the rainforest, the thrill of the wilderness, the danger of wild animals (yes there are snakes, so be careful). Second, there are no words to describe what this amazing experience really means to a person: you have to try it yourself. If I did it, anybody can (and no, the piranhas don’t go chasing you in the boat!). Have fun and be sure to send us photos!So, it all started in Iquitos, in Peru. We visited the confluence of the Ucayali and Marañon rivers, where the whole Amazonian madness begins as these two rivers merge to produce the Amazon. We stayed at the Pacaya-Samiria Amazon Lodge and then spent 4 nights camping in the Pacaya-Samiria National Reserve. I experienced all the excitement I expected to and desired on this trip: I fished for piranhas, I took the canoe down Yagua Creek (and by the majestic “I”, I mean of course that I was accompanied every second of the way by one of the professional guides), and I met some of the locals in a riverside village.

Inca Trail

Inca Trail

When I was planning my trip to South America, a trip that included a consistent Inca segment, I was split on a decision for quite some time: should I take the easy way out and opt for a train from Cusco to Machu Picchu or take in the entire Inca experience, embrace the mystery and hike the whole 40 on the famous Inca Trail. You can probably tell that in the end I chose the second option (otherwise this article would never have been written) and I have never regretted it one bit.

I think that the most impressive think about the hike (other than the kudos you can give yourself at the very end for doing it) is that it is a perfect mix of nature and history that you get to embrace throughout the whole four days that it takes to complete it. If you go straight to Machu Picchu, it’s great, but if you go to Machu Picchu on the Inca Trail, you will feel more of an insider, having already experienced some of the Inca mystery, including the Inca’s amazing communion with nature.

The hike starts at Qorihuayrachina (tongue twister, watch out!) and the first part of the hike usually takes you to Llullucha, about 11 kilometers from the start of the journey. I took plenty of photos on the way, notably of the many Inca ruins that surround us. One of the impressive things for me was the way that these ruins seemed to be a consistent part of the nature surrounding them. They looked less urban and more natural than other ruins I’ve seen (Roman ruins, for example). The second day is less fun, with an ascent to 4200 meters (hopefully, your time in Cusco should have helped with your acclimatization, but, if not, at least you will know why you are feeling sick).

The best for last: Machu Picchu, the “Old Peak”, but also “The Lost City of the Incas”. Some of the parts of the residential sector here are so well preserved you can almost expect life to resume the way it used to be in the 15th century, when Machu Picchu was believed to have been built for Emperor Pachacuti, who had built the Inca Empire during that time. A day should be enough for your visit here, although you may never want to leave again.It was the third day that I found most interesting, even if it was the longest one. You get to Sayaqmarka (another tongue breaker), which is a city with very well preserved buildings and other urban elements, including shrines and canals. The last part of the hike, in the fourth day, includes hiking through the jungle, so you have an (almost) complete picture of what a hike to Machu Picchu means in terms of the variety of landscapes and natural wonders that you encounter along the way.

Note that this is not your usual kind of trekking adventure. Other than the length of the trail, it is the altitude that may cause breathing problems and fatigue. I have spent about 3 days in Cusco, just to get used to the fact that life at 3000 meters (and, actually, 4200 meters at its highest point on the Inca Trail) is different than what you and your lungs are normally used to.

Machu Picchu was probably built around 1450 as an estate for the important Inca Emperor Pachacuti, who built the Inca Empire at its highest extent. Abandoned by the Inca and undiscovered by the Spanish conquerors, the ruins of Machu Picchu are pretty much a relic directly out of Inca times, without any alterations of the European invaders. Very well preserved, the buildings were constructed using the “ashlar technique”, where the regularly cut stones would be fit together without the use of mortar.

Travel Firsts – Bungee Jumping in Africa

Travel Firsts – Bungee Jumping in Africa

So, you wanna go bungee jumping, eh? The world is your playground, especially in Africa. Let’s start with the classics…


  • The Bloukrans River Bridge is approximately 216 meters high, making this a 160 meters jump, plenty of meters to get most of your adrenaline going (if not, you need to go see a doctor when you are back in your country). According to the Guiness Book of World Record, this is the highest bungee jump in the world. The 216 meters walkway to the jumping spots allows ample views of the beautiful surrounding and gives you some time to walk back if you change your mind and decide there are other experiences out there for you to try before this one. Face Adrenaline (http://www.faceadrenalin.com/aboutus.asp) is probably the best company choice to help you with setting up your adrenaline-filled day: they pride a 100 % safety record. The Victoria Falls Bridge on the Zambezi River, on the border between Zambia and Zimbabwe,  remains one of the popular spots for bungee jumping in Africa. You are all probably remembering the recent accident , when Erin Langworthy’s cord snapped after the rebound, but also remember that there are statistically very few such incidents per number of jumps (apparently, there are only 22 officially recorded deaths from such accidents). With this jump, you glide towards the Batoka Gorge, with its grade 5 rapids. It’s a 111 meters dive down, but if you have counted all of them, you have gone a little too far. You can use Shearwater (http://www.shearwatervictoriafalls.com/bungi/default.asp), an adventure company in Zimbabwe that has an office in Victoria Falls town as well. The basic jump is $120, but you can add different features to your jump, such as jumping in tandem with your loved one ($190) or have your jump filmed on DVD to show to your grandchildren (or maybe not…) for an additional $50. Here is something you should remember: the bridge is in the no man’s land between Zambia and Zimbabwe, which means that the border guards will issue a special pass just for your jump. Take about an hour before your schedule time for the jump to make sure you have the time to go through all the formalities.

And move onto the less obvious choices:

  • Kenya has started to develop a limited bungee jumping industry about 10 years ago, when a 60-meters crane was installed on the Tania River, about 100 km north of Nairobi. While an interesting experience if you are in the area, it doesn’t have the spectacular feeling of becoming one with the nature, like you would in the classics, nor the spectacular sensation of the gorge.

  • The Nile High Bungee in Uganda is a smaller, 44 meters jump, so this is better for less enthusiastic jumpers. The smaller height is well-compensated by the rapids of the Nile at this point. One amazing experience: you can actually choose to touch the water (the rope will pull you back just in time). ADRIFT (http://adrift.ug/) is a company in Uganda that operates a number of adventure trips on the Nile, including this bungee jumping feat.

Bottom line

Whether you are into bungee jumping or this is the first time you are doing it, many of the African locations will benefit you because of the extraordinary, raw nature that surrounds the jump spot. The companies that handle this are professional and have been organizing bungee jumping tours for years, so you will not have any bad surprises.