Fear And Loathing At Soweto's Bungee Joint

Fear And Loathing At Soweto's Bungee Joint

The Orlando Cooling Towers in Soweto have been turned into amind-blowing vertical adventure facility and tourist attraction. RobDickens took the leap of faith.

As you stand on the edge of the abyss, your cranium is awash with both fear and loathing. Fear, because you're staring at a 40-metre freefall off a 100-metre cooling tower. Loathing, because you're seriously admonishing yourself for committing to this seemingly insane act. A rope and harness are immediately elevated to the two things in life you admire the most, perhaps even worship obsessively.

Your sense of perception is being bombarded by the duality of such a beautiful view, competing with the vertigo of standing on the edge of this drop? off which you will soon have to leap.

Stepping up to the jump platform, you get your final instructions and rally your full mental capacity in order to control your bladder. The ropes clip into the harness; a sound I have grown to love. It's time. You shuffle nervously to the edge. Your thoughts seem muffled, a tiny scream in the back of your brain. You silence it. Right now, it's laser-like focus. It has to be.

Toes on the edge. Look down 33 storeys.

3, 2, 1, jump!

Your brain explodes into a brilliant white light!

I think "plummet" is the best word. Plummet towards the planet. In the right corner of your eye you see the blue, white, black and yellow of the massive FNB mural flashing past you at a speed that seems incomprehensible. It's sublime.

Is this really happening? Am I really plummeting towards the ground at this speed?

After a few heart stopping seconds of freefalling for 40-metres (13 storeys or so), the rope finally takes! Your fall arrested; you are flung between the two towers in a giant swinging arc, 60-metres above the ground, in the middle of space between two gargantuan cooling towers.

Lowered slowly to the ground once your pendulum swing stops, you will feel pure exhilaration at the fact that you have just successfully accomplished the Orlando Towers Power Swing.

Orlando Towers

Opened in July 2008, the Orlando Towers Vertical Adventure Facility is the brainchild of Bob Woods - a rope access expert who first experienced the power and beauty of these towers when commissioned to do maintenance work. He then had the epiphany that it would be fun to let people jump off.

The Orlando Power Station was decommissioned in 1998 after decades of service, once lauded as one of the most advanced power stations in South Africa. The two cooling towers now present an incredible 100-metre vertical adventure centre and tourist location in Soweto, South Africa.

To give you an idea of the height, consider standing at the top of twin 33 storey buildings, then leaping off the one and freefalling for 13 storeys, before swinging at pace, 40 storeys above the ground between the two buildings. It's truly awe-inspiring.

Just do it!

Currently offering the Power Swing (swing between the two towers), an internal swing (freefall and swing WITHIN the one tower), and a mini-zipline (foefie slide) The adventure experiences will eventually include swinging, bungee jumping, climbing, abseiling, rap jumping, a zip line and more.

You can also just pay to just go up and check out the view or to watch your crazy mates leap off, if you aren't such an adrenaline junkie. Be warned that the external lift that goes up the side of the tower is quite an adrenaline rush in itself. If you've ever seen a cooling tower you will have noticed that they are slightly concave, which means the lift starts off leaning back towards the tower, then goes straight as you go up, but near the top it starts leaning off slightly the other way, towards the ground! Then you leave the lift and have to walk up about 10 stairs - seemingly floating in the air with see-through grating, before getting on to the jump deck.

I'd recommend the experience to everyone, both young and old, scared and not. The sense of accomplishment and incredible adrenaline rush is more than worth it. The only limits are medical, weight and age:

Under 18's must have parent/guardian present to sign consent.


The damage, besides ruined underrods, is R360. Students with a valid student card get 10% discount (R324). The Power Swing and the Internal Swing include a free certificate of completion.

More information can be found on their great website

by Rob Dickens
Take a terrifying leap of faith in Soweto at the Orlando Towers bungee spot.


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