Bridge jumping (puenting) in Baños, Ecuador

| September 23, 2013 | 60 Comments More

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.

Puente San Francisco, Baños

San Francisco Bridge, stretching more than 330 ft (100 m) over the Pastaza River

BEFORE

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.

Bridge jumping (puenting)

Ready

DURING

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.

00-00-08

Off we go!

00-00-11

Free-falling…

00-00-25

… and relax.

AFTER

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.

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Category: BLOG, On the Road

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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.

Comments (60)

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  1. avatar lorrie says:

    wow that looks scary glad their was that adventure to be experienced

  2. avatar Chum says:

    Very cool. I think I would have to close my eyes to get over the heights, which would ruin the experience :)

  3. You are a better “man” than I am!!! Congrats on daring to puent!

  4. avatar Karl says:

    F@*#ing sweet! So awesome. Great view below too. Congrats!!!!

  5. avatar Mary Anne says:

    So brave. I don’t think I could have done it. YIKES.

  6. you are MAD! I wouldnt have the courage to do it!

  7. At first I thought, Oh a harness on my waist sounds great, and then I watched the video. That first part looks like it hurt!! Though the rest looks really fun. Not sure I’d be as brave as you are!

  8. avatar Leah says:

    I had no idea the difference between puenting and bungy jumping. I think I would be a bit more comfortable with what you did. Just looking at those photos makes my stomach flip, however.

  9. Well done Pola – I don’t think I would ever have been brave enough to try this!

  10. Reading this post is as close as I will ever get to bridge jumping. I did enjoy zip lining, but that is as far as I will go in the adrenaline rush realm. Looks like a beautiful area though.

  11. avatar lola dimarco says:

    I was thinking when I watched the video that it might be painful! Glad it was worth it! Looks a littttle intimidating!

  12. puenting is just one letter away from being punting, so i’m at least relieved to see they didn’t punt you off the bridge. still probs not for us, though. more than happy to meet you at the bottom with a beer ready & waiting, though.

  13. avatar Jenna says:

    Sorry to hear that you ended up sore! You are braver than I, by the way :)

  14. HELL.NO. I have jumped out of an airplane but, for some reason, the thought of propelling myself off a perfectly good bridge just makes me want to vomit. You are one brave woman!

  15. avatar Agness says:

    Bridge jumping has been always on my list. I really wanna do this soon, but I’m not sure if it’s gonna be in Ecuador, China or somewhere in Europe! You are a brave girl, congrats!

  16. avatar Romy says:

    Crazy girl! I would be so scared.

  17. avatar Jorja Alcorn says:

    I wish I got your guts to jump off from that very high bridge. That must be a great adrenaline rush!

  18. Ziplining? Yes, we’ve enjoyed this. Bungee jumping? No way. But we’re glad you tried it for us!

  19. I can’t believe I hadn’t seen this… I need to jump off a bridge!!!

  20. avatar Linda Bibb says:

    Looks like you had fun! I couldn’t do it – my back couldn’t take it and I’m a wuss – but very impressed you could. Especially since we’ve seen that bridge!

  21. avatar Wes says:

    I love banos.So many fun things to do there.

  22. I am not an adrenaline junkie but I tried this once and I swear on my life I will never do it again. But I do understand the thrill but for people like me who are almost scared of heights, then camping or trekking will be better.

    • Hi Natascia. I think I got somewhat addicted on this trip… :) I’m thinking about more zip lining and bungee jumping, but I see how that’s not for everybody. Curious where you did your jump.

  23. avatar Katie says:

    This looks absolutely awesome and I’m so looking forward to trying it when I go to ecuador! You were very brave! And it’s great to know about the photographs and stuff too! Thank you :)

  24. avatar Trevor says:

    My wife and I just did this exact jump two weeks ago and it was by far the biggest thrill of anything we did in Banos, or anything we have ever done, including solo skydiving. Nice work!

    I think the key to this jump is to actually jump out as far as you can to increase the pendulum effect, rather than the drop and tug that you experienced. I have had lower back issues so I gave it my best “superman”, as instructed, and I didn’t have any problems. My wife, on the otherhand, was really scared and pretty much fell off the platform as you did and she had a similar experience as you.

    • Hi Trevor. I wish I’d known about the ‘superman’ technique beforehand, but it all happened so quickly… I’m glad you enjoyed yourself! As for skydiving, that’s something I’d like to try next. :) Thanks for the comment!

  25. avatar Carl says:

    Sorry to hear it hurt you. But I guess I was not the only one that was hurt after. Your jump was a lot more graceful than mine. I was sore in the chest, neck, right rib and crotch for a day or two. Day three it is getting much better. I had complained about the strap being too damn tight before jumping, especially around the eeeeppppp..mid section…BUT I did it, something 9 out of 10 people would never do!

  26. avatar NickG says:

    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 just thought people should know so they can decide

    • Hey Nick, thanks for the comment. I take it you’re talking about the same place? Luckily, there was no bottle throwing when I was there (that’s pretty outrageous, I must say). Next time I jump will be bungee, not puenting, because of how the harness works.

  27. avatar mike says:

    your all fucking mad!!!!

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