Wednesday, May 22, 2013

South Africa 4: Garden Route: Of Bloukrans Bungy and Nature's Valley

In continuation from South Africa 3: South Africa 3: The beauty that is Panorama Route.

Shallow beautiful lagoon at Nature's Valley
Having enjoyed the beautiful Panorama Route, we reached back Johannesburg pretty late around midnight. But thanks to Google Navigation on my reliable iPhone, we were directed perfectly to our guesthouse for the night. This guesthouse was very close to the airport from where we were to fly to Port Elizabeth next morning. Checking in wasn't an issue at all but we found the owner of the place to be a bit spooky. While he seemed very friendly, but there was this slight awkwardness about it. This and the almost desolate feel to the surroundings thanks to it being midnight reminded us all of those horror films where people check into a motel and are soon followed by serious misfortune. Also, we paid just 500 ZAR for a night's stay for four adults and I thought that might probably have been a bait. Anyways, we locked ourselves into the dormitory provided to us only to open the door next morning when we were to leave for the airport. Thankfully, the night passed smoothly and our fears didn't turn into reality.

Sea was so violent and the water so cold that none really went into the sea 
However, it seemed like the adventurous part of the trip had just begun for us. When we reached airport and dropped off the car, we found that our flight wasn't scheduled for departure on the big screens all over the airport. We had booked our flight 3 months in advance with 1time airlines and that airline had gone bankrupt in the meantime. Forget refunding its customers money, they didn't even care to inform us about it. So we were at the airport at 6 in the morning with all our luggage but without a flight to take us to our destination. Thankfully, there was a South African Airways flight departing to Port Elizabeth in an hour and we were able to get tickets on it. Undoubtedly, these tickets were much costlier than what we initially planned to pay. 

Nature's Valley from up top
At PE, we picked our next car which was to remain with us for the next 5 days. So our Garden route started from Port Elizabeth itself. Panorama route is basically a coastal road that connects the Eastern Cape to Western Cape via bridges over really deep river gorges. Thanks to the geography and climate of this area, a Garden drive is also combined with visits to various wineries.

Bloukrans Bridge. See the Jumping Point?
As we wanted to skydive at Plettenberg Bay today itself, so we hurriedly took N2 to take us there. We had just crossed Stormsrivier when we thought of calling the dive school to confirm our dive. However, these people told us that due to bad weather (strong winds), we wouldn't be able to skydive today. We were massively disappointed and decided to visit Nature's Valley and then decide what to do next. While on our way to Nature's Valley, we saw the bridge from which the world famous Bloukrans Bungee operates. Just looking at it and knowing that this is the 4th highest bungee jump in the world, we soon consoled ourselves that it will now replace our cancelled skydive. We knew that this operates till 4 pm and it was just 12 yet, so we decided to head first to Nature's Valley. 

This is what you walk on to reach the point (Pic provided by FaceAdrenalin)
Nature's Valley is a small holiday village at the foot of Tsitsikamma Mountains tucked between Groot River Lagoon and Indian Ocean. A short dive and swim in the lagoon was enough to freshened us up and we called up Face Adrenalin to book our bungee jump. However, bad luck hadn't yet left us and the guy on the phone refused us a jump today as they were totally booked. We tried convincing him but he just wouldn't hear us. Finally we decided to just go to the bridge and request them in person. At the booking counter, only a slight persuasion was enough and the guy there gave us a slot.

Looking at the people jumping from the viewpoint behind booking counter scared the wits out of us but the adrenalin rush of jumping was enough to ensure that I wouldn't back out. We were harnessed here only and then we were taken to the jumping point located midway under the bridge. To reach the jumping point, one has to walk on a rope bridge under the concrete bridge. I guess its made like this intentionally so that any acrophobic person thinking of backing out would back out here only and not at the jumping point. The jump followed by the pulling back up to the bridge lasted just around 5 minutes and I am still unable to put the experience in words. To compensate for that, watch the video here. 

Being pulled back after the jump
After the jump, we purchased our jump video and pictures and a few souvenirs to keep of this memorable experience. After the jump, we drove to Knysna where we would stay overnight.

Drive towards Knysna

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