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I Jumped Off a Bridge! And Other Adventures

Well it was bound to happen eventually.

While I love a good thrill, I haven’t done nearly enough adventure activities on my travels. This is mostly because they usually cost quite a bit of money. To bungee jump in Australia for example, will run you $120+. For a traveler on a budget that kind of outlay for a 30 second adrenaline rush just isn’t feasible.

In Banos, the adventure capital of Ecuador, that’s not the case. There is a whole slew of adventure sports you can attempt for bargain prices- as long as you don’t mind a bit of shadiness and a total lack of safety precautions.

So here are some of the things I got up into in the past week, in both chronological order and order of bad-assery:

Biking

One of the most popular things to do in Banos is to rent a bike and attempt the 74 (?) km waterfall circuit. It’s an easy, mostly downhill ride (as long as you don’t accidentally take a right instead of a left and push your bike up a steep hill for 40 minutes before realizing your mistake. Ahem).

Along the ride you pass some very impressive waterfalls, some very sketchy looking zip lining locations and one bridge jump that we passed up on due to rain. We didn’t make it the entire 74 km of course, but did reach the Devil’s Falls, a truly impressive jet of water pouring over a solid cliff.

White Water Rafting

The last time I went White Water Rafting, I was 13 and tagging along with my Dad and his coworkers. I was psyched to try it again, and only slightly concerned that all of the urgent sounding safety instructions were delivered in incomprehensible Spanish.

Once we were on the river it didn’t matter though- I quickly mastered the commands for “paddle!” and “stop paddling!” Our sturdy raft bounced delightfully over rocks and rapids. It was hard work, and daring too, but so so fun.

Swing Jumping

And then came the grand finale. Ever since I’d heard you could jump off the San Francisco Bridge that leads into town I wanted to try it. I mean- who wouldn’t want to jump off a bridge for $20…. right?

Still, we kept putting it of until it was finally the last day of our stay in Banos. It was now or never. My enthusiasm had pretty much evaporated by the time we got to the almost deserted bridge.

 

Actual bridge jumping operation

The operation was… basic at best. There was no sign, no list of options, not even a waiver to sign. Just two dudes and some harnesses on a bridge. Well, basic is good right? Sort of?

The scariest bit of the whole process is the prelude to the jump. You have to climb over the railing and onto a tiny metal platform. You then have to stand fully erect, inch to the edge of the platform, put your hands up over your head and jump head first. Really.

Super scary, but I like doing things that scare me (link). I wanted to go first, I knew if I saw Mike do it than I might chicken out. While I waited I spent a few minutes throwing air punches and psyching myself up. After a morning of nerves I felt strangely calm when they belted me in. I didn’t want to prolong it like I’d seen other people do. To be coaxed up and out over the ledge. I’d rather just climb up, take a breath and jump.

And that’s what I did. It happened really fast, I climbed over the railing, inched my sneakers to the edge, counted to three and WHOOSH.

holy crap

The falling was terrifying but it only lasted a second before the rope caught and I was swinging back in forth in wide arcs under the bridge, laughing my fool head off. The hard part was over and all that was left was to enjoy the view!

The problem with adventure sports is I think they might be addictive. I want to go white water rafting again, and canyoning and bungee jumping for real.

…. Although maybe I’ll save that last one for somewhere not in South America.

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20 Responses to I Jumped Off a Bridge! And Other Adventures

  1. nod 'n' smile December 21, 2011 at 1:46 PM #

    I am making a mental note to try to use the term “bad-assery” in as many conversations today as possible. 🙂

    This looks like a lot of fun. I love adventure sports despite being a pretty big wuss. Your equipment (or lack thereof) for the jump is completely insane! It’s crazy to think how much trust was placed into that little rope.

    • Steph December 22, 2011 at 2:51 PM #

      yeah, we did watch their employee go first though, to make sure it actually worked!

  2. mercedes December 21, 2011 at 1:52 PM #

    Amazing!!! I’ve always wanted to do more daredevil stuff on the road–but you are right, it is usually crazy expensive. Also, there is an 85% chance that I would die, because let’s face it: I cut my hand open tripping over a shoelace about two hours ago, and it is not even noon.

    I am glad I can live vicariously through your risk taking though! White water rafting sounds so cool!

  3. Amanda December 21, 2011 at 2:20 PM #

    NICE! That bridge jump certainly does look bad-ass!

    But you’re absolutely right about adventure sports becoming addictive – they totally are!! I blame New Zealand…

    • Steph December 22, 2011 at 2:49 PM #

      haha exactly, I fall down like once an hour, might as well do it off a bridge for once.

  4. Camels & Chocolate December 21, 2011 at 2:43 PM #

    I love your Holy Crap jumping shot! Perfect stop-action pic =)

    • Steph December 21, 2011 at 3:39 PM #

      That’s all thanks to Mike and his excellent photo skillz.

  5. Josh Aggars December 22, 2011 at 6:55 AM #

    Awesome! Hats off to you Steph. I had no problem jumping from a plane when I did it but cannot do bungee jumping for whatever reason. Something about being that close to the ground. Push me out the door at 10,000 – forget about it, easy, but get me to jump from 100 meters – no way Jose!

    Hope you guys have a great Christmas and new year. Looking forward to more excellent reads about your adventures.

    Cheers
    Josh

    • Steph December 22, 2011 at 2:43 PM #

      When I was getting ready to jump I actually thought about how sky diving seems easier- at least you get someone who knows what they are doing strapped to you.

      Merry Christmas!

  6. Alex December 22, 2011 at 11:16 AM #

    I’m not sure if I’m ready to jump off a bridge yet, to be honest. However, I am all about the whitewater rafting! Tried it in Honduras this summer for the first time and loved it. For me though it would have to be warm water… capsizing in the freezing cold has no appeal.

    • Steph December 22, 2011 at 2:39 PM #

      I’ve heard there’s good rafting in Northern Thailand too.

  7. dtravelsround December 22, 2011 at 12:58 PM #

    Oh my gosh. No way. No how. You are awesome! I don’t even know if I would go white water rafting. Me and adventure that involves anything but my two feet planted firmly on solid ground never ends well.

    • Steph December 22, 2011 at 2:36 PM #

      haha, well after your hang gliding disaster (thatw as you right?) I don’t blame you.

  8. Audrey December 26, 2011 at 9:22 AM #

    Ahhhhh!!!! I don’t know if I’d be able to jump for $20, it sounds so dodgy! Though it does look like a lot of fun 😀

    • Steph January 9, 2012 at 4:10 PM #

      Oh it was mega dodgy- ths things I do for a good story!

  9. debbie January 9, 2012 at 11:09 PM #

    if you are just looking for nice weather and the activities or amenities you like – this is a great last minute site. http://www.flytailit.com

  10. Jodi January 25, 2012 at 6:39 AM #

    This looks epic! I don’t blame you to let the employee jump first though. For that price, I’d say the adventure was beyond worth it!

  11. Nicholas G January 15, 2016 at 5:52 PM #

    I experienced poor safety practices. I just did this. I have to say it was pretty cool. However the safety practices aren’t that cool. Shortly after jumping I was hit very hard on the shoulder by a heavy plastic bottle full of sand that they simply chuck from the bridge without looking with a rope attached in order to haul the harness back up. It packed a punch falling from 60 metres of more . Zero sense of remorse or refund or acknowledgement from the manager. 10 minutes later they were blindly throwing the bottle over the bridge without checking below. Sorry to be negative, it awesome to jump it, just thought people should know.

    • Steph January 19, 2016 at 12:54 PM #

      Yikes! Yeah, the safety of this experience is entirely questionable.

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