"Three, two, one, fly..." are typically the last words heard before one goes soaring out of a plane or from the top of a bridge, free-falling towards the earth's surface at speeds that would guarantee a traffic violation if driven in a car. There's just something about that feeling — the feeling of having your stomach stuck in your throat — that makes so many adrenaline junkies crave more.
Since bungee jumping pioneer AJ Hackett opened the first commercial jump in New Zealand 30 years ago, adventure companies around the world have made this extreme sport accessible to the general public. Now, only 40 years after the very first bungee jump was performed off the Clifton Suspension Bridge in England, you no longer need to be savvy on the weight capacity and elasticity of ropes to attain the feeling of free-falling. These commercial jumps have made it possible for any average person off the streets to experience the feeling of falling some-700 feet from a concrete tower in China, diving into the glacial waters of New Zealand, or soaring through a desert canyon in Arizona. Here are the 20 best bungee jumping destinations in the world.
20 Kawarau Bridge, Queenstown, New Zealand
Let's start where bungee jumping, too, began: the Kawarau Gorge Suspension Bridge. In 1986, Kiwi AJ Hackett jumped off of Auckland's Greenhithe Bridge with only a homemade rubber cord to catch him. The jump launched him into a lifelong obsession with bungee jumping, which eventually led Hackett to open up the first commercial bungee jump in New Zealand, off the Kawarau Bridge. Locally known as the "birthplace of bungee jumping," the Kawarau Bridge jump is a 43-meter drop over the Kawarau River in the Otago region of New Zealand's South Island. Today, AJ Hackett is no longer just a name, but a franchise, with commercial bungee jumps throughout New Zealand, Australia, China, Russia, France, and Singapore.
19 Macau Tower, Macau, China
From the "original bungee jump" to the tallest bungee jump. China's Macau Tower is a convention and entertainment center as well as a mecca for bungee jumping, of course. At 338 meters tall, the needle-like building has 63 floors. The jump itself is 233 meters, making it a Guinness World Record holder for the highest commercial bungee jump on earth. Another brainchild of AJ Hackett, the Macau Tower jump differs from others because it utilizes a "second generation bungee cord," which employs a sphere shape so that body weight is evenly distributed throughout the jump. Jumping parallel to a tower can be scary, but Hackett has developed special guide cables to ensure that no jumper swings and goes splat.
18 Europabrücke Bridge, Innsbruck, Austria
Any view of the Alps is guaranteed to impress, but not many get to take in the view from upside down. Austria's Europabrücke Bridge, also known as the "Europe Bridge," is a 777-meter-long bridge — the longest footbridge in the world — with several traffic lanes on top and a bungee cord hanging below. As if jumping off a bridge isn't scary enough, this bungee station is right on the motorway, with the chaotic sound of traffic whizzing by in the background (good luck calming your thoughts before this one, jumpers!). But while the roadside jumping platform isn't particularly scenic itself, this inverted view of the Alps is unmatched. The Rupert Hirner Bungy sends you soaring at 100 kilometers per hour for five seconds before the bungee cord whips you back up.
17 Verzasca Dam, Ticino, Switzerland
Keen to jump from a dam in the dark? If so, Switzerland's Verzasca Dam might fulfill your bungee fantasy. It's famous for being the location of James Bond's bungee jump in the movie "Golden Eye," which was voted the best movie stunt of all time in 2002. The jump from Verzasca Dam — also known as the Contra Dam — starts from 220 meters high and ends just over the Verzasca river, which is said to be the purest river on earth. You probably wouldn't notice, however, the crystal-clear waters below during this popular night jump.
16 Ponte Colossus, Italy
At 152 meters high, the Ponte Colossus bridge certainly isn't the highest bungee jump in the world — although it has been nicknamed "Colossus" for its colossal size — but it is a scenic jump, nonetheless, over a canyon full of lush vegetation, in the heart of the Biellese Alps. The views of the vast valley below enhance the 500-foot drop, allowing for speeds of more than 100 kilometers per hour, with a freefall of 4.5 seconds. It's also one of the oldest fixed objects to jump from (commercially, anyway), according to TripAdvisor.
15 The Nevis, Queenstown, New Zealand
The Kiwi team behind The Nevis — another New Zealand jump — must like to keep their clientele in suspense. This jump requires a ride in a four-wheel-drive bus, then a cable car to get to the platform, altogether taking 45 minutes. It's no secret that New Zealand is a world leader in adventure sports — especially in bungee jumping, which originated here — and this is the tallest bungee in the country, standing 134 meters above the raging water of Queenstown's Nevis River. This drop clocks in at a whopping 8.4 seconds, and jumpers can go as fast as 128 kilometers per hour, according to Everything Queenstown. Only true adrenaline junkies dare this plunge, which is mere miles away from the iconic Kawarau Bridge bungee jump, both developed by AJ Hackett.
14 Longqing Gorge Bungee, China
About 50 miles from Beijing City, China's Longqing Gorge is known for the distinctive elevator used to get from the bottom to the top of the dam — it's in the belly of an artificial dragon. From the 58-meter-high platform that extends from a cliff, jumpers can admire the vast landscape below, dotted with grottos, waterfalls, and temples, before they soar into the grand abyss. You'll fall parallel with towering rock walls on either side, plummeting toward the vivid green waters of the Gorge below before bouncing safely back up. The Longqing Gorge is a thrill-seekers paradise, too, with rock climbing, abseiling, and other offerings for extreme sports enthusiasts.
13 Royal Gorge Suspension Bridge, Colorado, USA
Within a 360-acre amusement park in Cañon City, Colorado, this bridge prides itself on being America's highest suspension bridge. Some visitors choose to bravely walk across the narrow, exposed pathway, overlooking the breathtaking gorge below, while others who desire something a bit more stimulating choose to jump from the bridge into the canyon. Running from either side of the canyon walls, the Royal Gorge Suspension Bridge sits nearly 1,000 feet above the Arkansas River, a mecca in itself for white water rafting, and stretches 1,270 feet across, according to Colorado.com. And if this bungee jump doesn't satisfy your thirst for adventure, the park also offers ziplining, skydiving, and the Royal Push Skycoaster, too.
12 Victoria Falls Bridge, Livingstone, Zambia/Zimbabwe
Ever had nightmares about jumping into crocodile-infested waters? Well, the Victoria Falls Bridge is helping to make those (bad) dreams come true. Here, jumpers who fancy it can plummet 111 meters from the Victoria Falls Bridge and get unnervingly close to the croc-infested Zambezi River below before being retracted — hopefully!— back to safety. If it isn't the crocs that draw crowds of adventure seekers, it's surely the prospect of saying they bungee jumped in two countries at once. The bridge itself marks the border between Zimbabwe and Zambia. In fact, it's so directly on the border that jumpers need to carry their passports to the platform, says bungee administrator Zambezi Safari & Travel Company.
11 Danube Tower, Vienna, Austria
At 252 meters, the Danube Tower in Vienna is the tallest structure in Austria and also one of the 75 tallest towers in the world. Leaping from this soaring pinnacle will give you unmatched views of the Danube River running below. Locally known as the "concrete needle," the Danube Tower features a rotating café with an impressive view of the skyline, as well as a bungee deck for the bold.
10 Bloukrans Bridge, Western Cape, South Africa
South Africa's Bloukrans Bridge is allegedly the highest natural and commercial bungee site in the world, according to CNN. While it is surrounded by the tranquil beauty of the South African wilderness, as bungee company Face Adrenalin puts it: "there's nothing tranquil about throwing yourself more than 200 meters down towards the river below." The good news is that there shouldn't be any whip lash-inducing bounce back here because Face Adrenalin employs pendulum technology and full-body harnesses to guarantee as comfortable a ride as one could have while plunging towards the earth at nauseating speeds.
9 Rio Grande Bridge, New Mexico, USA
Stretching over the Rio Grande river gorge, this bridge in Taos, New Mexico, is the highest jump in the United States. Lonely Planet calls its height "vertigo inducing," even from the completely safe viewing platform. While its primary purpose is to carry Highway 64 across the raging waterway, this adrenaline-pumping bungee jump facilitated by Bungee Expeditions might be the runner-up. Towering 565 feet above the water, the Rio Grande Bridge is the seventh highest bridge in the United States. Taking the leap of faith here will guarantee you a one-of-a-kind view of the vast and barren plateau below.
8 Bungy Niouc Adventure Park, Switzerland
The 190-meter bungee jump at Bungy Niouc provides panoramic views of the picturesque Swiss Alps. This Adventure Park has been specifically designed to give visitors the thrill of a lifetime, offering a giant swing and zipline, too. Its jumping platform is perched perfectly on the 200-meter-long so-called "Spiderbridge" overlooking the val d'Anniviers (alpine valley) and providing a breathtaking view of the snow-capped Matterhorn ahead. According to the Adventure Park's website, this bungee jump is allegedly the highest from a suspended bridge in all of Europe.
7 Taupo Bungy, Lake Taupo, New Zealand
Leave it to the Kiwis to throw you off a bridge and dunk you into frigid waters for a thrill. In the North Island of New Zealand, the folks at Taupo Bungy take jumpers' weights into account when calculating how deep to dip them into the Waikato River below. It's New Zealand's highest water-touch bungee jump — because, yes, there are multiple — at 47 meters high. Upon walking the cantilever platform protruding from a cliff, jumpers can decide whether to fall backwards, dubbed the "leap of faith," fall back-to-back with a partner, or the old-fashioned way: by the ankles.
6 The Last Resort, Tatopani, Nepal
Forget the Alps! Bungee jump in the shadow of the Himalayas at Nepal's Last Resort instead. The 160-meter leap heads straight for the wild waters of the Bhote Kosi below. This adrenaline-packed resort three hours from Kathmandu hosts a slew of adventure sports, including canyoning and canyon swinging, high ropes, and white water rafting. According to its website, you can also come just to relax (but who would want that?!). At The Last Resort, you can jump and be charitable at the same time, because a part of the proceeds from every jump go toward the development of local infrastructure and other local projects.
5 Sky Breakers, Helsinki, Finland
This 150-meter jump —Finland's highest — is performed only once per year in Kaivopuisto Park as part of a larger annual, action-packed event. Participants of the summertime Sky Breakers event can choose from a gamut of daring and potentially dangerous activities, including (but not limited to) freefalls onto floating platforms, pub bungee (for boozing, that is), snowboard bungee, and hot air balloon jumps. During the freefall of this jump, people go as fast as 120 kilometers per hour, then get snapped back at up to 80 kilometers per hour. You might then ask: are these Finns crazy? Maybe, since they've been lighting themselves on fire and falling from helicopters since 1989.
4 Ponte de Ponsonnas, France
The Ponte de Ponsonnas, also known as the Ponsonnas Bridge, is situated in Grenoble, in Southeastern France, where the river Drac joins the Isère, the Xtreme Spots website says. The 103-meter-high bridge is surrounded by wilderness on all sides, lying right at the foot of the French Alps. The no-frills jump at Ponte de Ponsonnas is simple: just an arched road bridge, a rubber bungee cord, and a five-second freefall into the immense, peaceful wilderness. Of course, this tranquil scene couldn't stay silent for long with all the screaming inevitably provoked by a 62-mile-per-hour fall.
3 Navajo Bridge, Marble Canyon, Arizona
The Navajo Bridge is actually not just one bridge, but two identical steel-arch bridges — one old and one new — that cross the Colorado River in northern Arizona. This pair of iconic bridges connects the North and South Rims of the famed Grand Canyon, too, and while it wouldn't necessarily be the Grand Canyon that you would be soaring through on this bungee jump, the red walls of Marble Canyon are about as close as you can get. Here, you can jump from the historic Navajo Bridge toward the river that cut through the Grand Canyon eons ago.
2 Old Colorado River Bridge, Costa Rica
From the America's Colorado River to Costa Rica's, the Old Colorado River Bridge bungee jump is perhaps the most tropical on the list. In fact, Tropical Bungee is the name of the company that has been facilitating these jumps since 1991. Located 40 miles from San Jose, many tourists stop here for a quick dive on their way to the Pacific Coast, says the Go Visit Costa Rica website. This old bridge is now closed to traffic, so jumpers can maintain their zen, if possible, with only the sounds of wildlife and the serene, lush surroundings. As they say in Costa Rica, "Pura Vida!"
1 Volcano Bungee, Pucon, Chile
Perhaps the most unique and adventurous fall of all, this Chilean company will fly you 10,000 feet up in a helicopter, then drop you above hot, melting lava for 375 feet. Volcano Bungee aims to give you an up-close-and-personal view of the fiery landscape below, suspending you 700 feet from the active Villarrica volcano. After the freefall, participants must continue hanging by the bungee cord, dangling 350 below the helicopter, while they fly you back to the airport — a feat almost as bold as the jump itself. The volcano jump was allegedly set up as a stunt for MTV long ago, Metro.co.uk reported, but has since been made into a real tourist attraction.