Life & Work
Heart in mouth, take a leap at SaganaThursday September 27 2012
The screams and grunts from men and women as they plummet towards the brown river, be it out of fear or excitement, can be heard for miles. The sound echoes across the environs of the Savage Wilderness Camp along the banks of Tana River.
Mugambi Mutegi was no exception to the effect of bungee jumping. Trying to live out his bucket list, he went up the 177 steps to get to the 60 metre jump over Tana River.
“Halfway up the steps, I was trying to figure out why I was doing it,” he says. Bungee jumping cannot be described as a conventional sport, rather an unforgettable life experience.
After the jump, he has no plans to ever repeat the jump. “The experience was definitely a memorable one.”
Practiced across the globe, especially in Europe, bungee has been gaining prominence locally. An adventurer by heart, Andreas Reblin brought bungee jumping to Kenya nearly a decade ago.
Already involved in adventure tourism working as a guide for white water rafting and other expeditions, he decided to bring in something that was new and unique to Kenya.
Using his savings, he set up Bungee Walla, which has been home for bungee in Kenya. Located in Sagana, on the banks of Tana River, 95 kilometres from Nairobi, the venue offers a picturesque view of the lush green environs.
To Andreas, this was his way of expanding adventure tourism in Kenya and the location was perfect to capture the attention of those in the area for white water rafting provided at the Savages’ campsite.
“I was hoping that the people who come for white water rafting are brave enough to face the bungee and vice versa,” he says.
The task of promoting it, he admits, was an uphill one.
“The first three years were so slow that I almost gave up,” he says. “To top it, the local travel agents were not willing to promote it.”
Today, the numbers have increased. For international tourists it’s a refreshing and familiar sport.
“Most of them, especially Europeans, have done it. There are those who try it again because it’s a bit cheaper than most other places and in a scenic location, not off a crane in a parking lot!” says Andreas.
The joy of bungee is that it does not require prior training just you and a whole bag full of adrenaline. The steps lead to a cage where the jumper has a safety cord tied to their leg and is taken through the safety instructions given.
“They tell you what to do, not to touch the cord and such things,” says Mugambi. To him, the decision to jump was the most difficult part.
Once you leave the platform, there is a moment that one does not feel anything before the free fall. The free fall is followed by the recoil from the rope, which flings you back up, “it is unexpected and frankly terrifying,” describes Mugambi.
You are then lowered to the river bank, where the cord and harness are taken off to prepare for the next jumper.
“The screaming is definitely not for the fun of it, or to impress those on the ground, it is just the only thing you can do to counter what is going on inside,” says Mugambi.
Though perceived as a high risk the 60 metres jump is quite safe.
Andreas says someone playing football, playing tennis and even golf has a much higher risk of injury than in bungee jumping.
The safety instructions must be followed to the letter to prevent injury or death. You sign a liability waiver form before taking the jump. Age is not a factor for those who want to take the leap; it’s more of a psychological standpoint.
You are only as old as you feel, is the motto. Andreas recalls a scenario where he had an 85-year-old gentleman jump with him and having an enjoyable time, “as we jumped, the man’s 45-year-old son almost had a heart attack just watching his father.”
Children, however, need to come in with their parents who will need to consent. The weight limit, however, locks out those below fourteen as you need to be at least 40 kilograms. Pregnant women are advised against jumping.