The mountainous town in central Ecuador offers many adventure sports opportunities. Once I was told about puenting, I knew I had to try it. Here’s what it was like to jump off a bridge.
I had wanted to try zip-lining and bungee jumping since I was in my teens. For some reason, an opportunity never presented itself until I traveled to Baños de Agua Santa in Ecuador. Located on the foothills of the Tungurahua volcano and surrounded by over 60 waterfalls, Baños is a popular destination for outdoor activities and adventure sports.
After exploring the town and its vicinity for a few days, I had one thing left to do: puenting. While different from bungee jumping (the harness is attached to your waist, not feet, and afterwards you don’t bounce, but swing from side to side), it promised a similar thrill.
I walked over to Puente San Francisco, where I saw a crew and several people waiting their turn. I watched one person do the jump and another one decide against it. Then everything happened quickly: I asked for the price ($20), someone put a harness on me, then someone else helped me up on the platform. Before I knew it, I was standing more than 330 ft (100 meters) above the Pastaza River and its cliffs.
As I looked down, I had a brief oh-my-goodness moment, but took a deep breath and was ready to jump.
Free-falling didn’t last long, but was certainly memorable. It seemed as if the ground was coming at me in slow motion, or as if I was zooming in on it with a camera lens. Despite the sensation, I was surprised at how soon I had reached my “swinging altitude.”
I held on to the equipment, enjoying the views and hoping this part wouldn’t end too soon. Gradually, the crew on the bridge extended the rope, so that I could come down to the ground. A person was waiting to get me out of the harness and give me directions back to the starting point. I couldn’t stop grinning.
As I was hiking up the hill, adrenaline still high, I became concerned with soreness in my back and groin. The impact following the fall was stronger than expected (you can see it in the video above) and I wondered if the straps had been too tight. However, I’m not sure if there’s a way to prevent any discomfort, or if loosening the harness wouldn’t create a safety concern.
I ended up sore for a few days, but if given a chance, I would jump again.
Tip: If you don’t have anyone to take photos or videos of you, you can buy a CD from the crew for $5. I didn’t know that they were capturing my jump until I was back on the street level and approached by one of the members. It’s best to ask beforehand.
Video and most photos provided by the puenting crew.
Read about my experience volunteering in Ecuador with Greenheart Travel.
About the Author (Author Profile)Pola Henderson is a travel writer and city explorer. Besides Jetting Around, her writing credits include CNN, Yahoo, Expedia, MasterCard, among others. She also runs JA Media, a boutique agency specializing in content writing and event production. Happily multicultural, Pola grew up in Krakow, lived in Chicago for 13 years, and is currently based in her soul city Paris.
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