Bungee jumping is probably the easiest adventure sport in the entire world. Basically, you attach one end of a long, measured rubber band to yourself, secure the other end to a fixed object, and then throw yourself off a bridge, tower, dam, or other tall structure. After that, gravity does all of the work while your heart nearly beats out of your chest.
The only way to truly understand the adrenaline rush of a bungee jump is to do it yourself. It is one of the most visceral and immediate thrills that any adventure traveler can experience, and fortunately, there plenty of places to give it a try all across the globe. Many of these locations offer spectacular views and amazing settings, not that you'll notice much while plummeting through the air. Chances are you'll have your eyes squeezed tightly shut throughout much of the experience.
If you've made up your mind that you're ready to give bungee jumping a try, either in the U.S. or abroad, here are our top picks for places to take the plunge.
(Disclaimer: You should only try this activity at established bungee locations where safety precautions are in place. While there are few deaths or injuries attributed to the sport each year, it can still be quite dangerous.)
The Kawarau Bridge in New Zealand
Bungee pioneers AJ Hackett and Henry van Asch launched both themselves off the Kawarau Bridge in New Zealand back in 1988, and in the process, claim to have started this international phenomenon that came to be known as bungee jumping.
Today, bungee fans still flock to the bridge in Queenstown to take the leap that supposedly started it all. There are even options to jump tandem if you have a like-minded travel companion, but if your friends don't want join in, they can watch everything while standing on the nearby observation deck. You might also be able to watch jumpers while riding in a jet boat on the river below, getting your own palms sweaty simply by watching others.
The Victoria Falls Bridge in Zimbabwe
At about 365 feet in height, the Victoria Falls Bridge in Zimbabwe is not the highest bungee jump in the world, but it's one of the most beautiful. After all, there are few other places on the planet where you can actually dive headfirst through a rainbow.
This jump sends adrenaline junkies plummeting off the bridge toward the Zambezi River below. As you drop, the stunning views of the Batoka Gorge surround you, with the amazing Victoria Falls providing a dramatic backdrop. Dubbed the "smoke that thunders," the falls are one of the largest and most spectacular on the planet, so keep your eyes open on the way down.
The Macau Tower in China
Billed as the world's highest bungee jump, the leap from the top of the Macau Tower in China provides astonishing views of the city. During this journey down, jumpers free fall from a platform that's located about 764 feet above the city streets, plummeting for about four to five seconds at extreme speeds before coming to a gentle stop about 100 feet above the ground. From there, a guided cable lowers jumpers into a specially designed airbag that provides a safe and soft end to the brief, but oh-so exciting, adventure. The very brave can even bungee jump at night if they want to experience this impressive fall in a completely different way.
The Royal Gorge Bridge in Colorado
Colorado is home to one of the highest bridge bungee jumps in the entire world. Looking down from the top of the Royal Gorge in Cañon City, the river seems like just a tiny ribbon far below. It is a sight terrifying enough to make anyone weak in the knees, although the fall – which lasts approximately 15 seconds –– is equal parts scary and fun.
At the moment, bungee jumping is banned from the bridge, except during an annual event called the Go Fast Games, which are held for just three days each year. If you want to add this iconic bungee destination to your adventure resume, you'll have to do it during the festival.
The Bloukrans Bridge in South Africa
At more than 700 feet in height, the Bloukrans Bridge in South Africa is an intimidating sight to behold. This bungee destination can be found north of Cape Town and approximately 25 kilometers east of Plettenberg Bay. Face Adrenalin has been running this operation since 1997 and it is still one to the top places to jump on the entire African continent. Open year round, this is a safe, smooth jump that that provides a massive rush of energy, then slowly and gently lowers you down.
And when you're finished on the bungee, be sure to head over to Tsitsikamma National Park to go ziplining through the jungle too.
The Navajo Bridge in Arizona
The Navajo Bridge is located near the North Rim of the Grand Canyon and provides a jump site that is about 470 feet in height. Arizona permits bungee jumping from bridges throughout the state but this is one of the more memorable falls. Jumpers are surrounded by towering sandstone walls that run vertically along side them as they plummet downward, making this a memorable drop indeed.
There are several operators who offer bungee jumps from the bridge, and depending upon who you sign up with, you can also take a refreshing dip in the river afterwards at no extra charge. This is a good way to cool down following such a wild ride. Considering how much your heart will be racing, soaking in the cool waters below will likely be a welcome respite.
The Rio Grande Bridge in New Mexico
The Rio Grande Bridge or the "Gorge Bridge" to locals, is north of Taos, New Mexico, and a favorite stop for visitors to the area or those just passing through on their way to Santa Fe. The structure, which stands 565 feet above the river makes such a great photo op that it has found its way into several movies and television shows.
This particular bungee jump is a popular one in the U.S. because it is the highest active jump in the entire country. Bungee Expeditions provides jumping operations at the Navajo Bridge, Rio Grande Bridge, and numerous other locations around the southwest and western United States, making them one of the most trusted and experienced companies in the industry. The BE team has been operated in the area for more than 25 years, so if you're ready to give bungee jumping a try, they are probably worth checking out.
Verzasca Dam in Switzerland
With its 720+ foot plunge, the Verzasca Dam in Switzerland makes a pretty impressive place to bungee jump. In fact, the place was made famous when James Bond made the leap himself in the film Goldeneye and since then thousands have followed in his wake. A company called Trekking Team AG will let you recreate that iconic leap, sending you plummeting down the face of this massive structure. Best of all, you can jump facing forwards, backwards, or even at night if you have the nerve.
The Last Resort in Nepal
The Last Resort is a place that mixes adrenaline-fueled adventures seamlessly with luxurious relaxation. Located not far from the border with Tibet along the Bhote Kosi River in Nepal, the resort also happens to be home to the tallest suspension bridge in the Himalaya. From there, travelers can take a stunning 525-foot bungee jump, plummeting headlong towards a raging whitewater river below while a tropical gorge rises up all around them. And when it's all over, the can recuperate in the resort's plunge pool or spa, while sipping a cocktail.
Europabrücke Bridge in Austria
Austria's Europabrücke Bridge sits on the border with Italy and rises nearly 630 feet into the air. That, of course, makes it the perfect spot for bungee jumping as the Alps make for a dramatic backdrop. Jumping takes place nearly every weekend, with the location found not far from Innsbruck, making it a convenient stop for adrenaline junkies looking to get their fix. To find out more, visit the bungee station's official website.