Oh snap! Bungee jumper plunges into Zambezi River at Victoria Falls
The Australian survived, but tourists who assume that extreme venues in Africa are safe may be fooling themselves.
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Two: Africans of all races and nationalities revel in the credo, “Africa is not for sissies.” A tough environment engenders a corresponding toughness of character. A hike up Cape Town’s Table Mountain starts out gently, but rapidly can become death-defying, with nary a handrail in sight.Skip to next paragraph
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Three: Maintenance of facilities – such as roads, factories, power plants, and yes, bungee cords – tends to be on an ex-post-facto basis.
Langworthy’s plunge reminded me of the anecdote of a friend in Johannesburg, who took his clients on a year-end corporate junket to Victoria Falls. The last event was to be a bungee jump off the Victoria Falls bridge. All but one of the clients took the plunge. The one who didn’t jump had asked the bungee operator what would happen if the bungee cord breaks. The tour operator grinned: “We’ll replace it.”
Risk, of course, is part of the draw of African tourism. Tourists in Cape Town pay decent money to jump out of a perfectly good boat and into the Atlantic to be bumped around inside a cage by a great white shark. Animal lovers can take a walking tour through Kruger National Park, accompanied by armed game wardens, to see lions, leopards, elephants, rhinos, and buffalos up close.
It’s what you do.
Many tours, of course, are perfectly safe. My wife and I took a safari vacation at a posh resort in South Africa, located within a national game park. There was no fence to keep animals out of the lodge area, which was part of the lodge's appeal, and my wife and I signed forms promising not to sue the lodge owners if something happened to us during our stay.
What could have happened, we asked – too late. In a ranger report entitled “No Game Drive Needed,” the lodge reported that a young male lion ran through the camp, along the guest pathway, during breakfast, pursued by an older male who presumably didn’t want any competition. Running past the main lodge, and three chalets, the male caught up with his younger rival, pinned him down and was “going for the throat.” Fortunately, the younger male broke away and disappeared.
The guests presumably finished their tea without further incident.