In the James Bond film Goldeneye, the opening scene begins with James Bond bungy jumping off an enormously large dam in the USSR to break into the Arkhangelsk chemical weapons facility. As is the case with many movies, the reality is much different. This massive dam, officially known as the Contra Dam (Verzasca Dam unofficially), is actually located in the city of Ticino, Switzerland. Thankfully for me, I didn’t have to become a British Secret Agent to jump off this magnificent structure. It can actually be done by anyone, assuming you are the right age, in good health, and willing to pay the 255 CHF (~$250-$300 USD).
While on a road trip of Switzerland with my friend Michael, I mentioned to him that I really wanted to do the jump, as I had recently become a huge advocate of jumping off things. He was overly gracious to take me there, and without him I would never have been able to check this off my bucket list.
The jump is the 3rd highest bungy jump (2nd highest active) in the world; a staggering 220 meters (722 ft). It’s hard to put into words how high it really is, but when watching from afar, the jumpers look like dots surrounded by an enormous white canvas.
I had done many jumps prior to this, with the Nevis Jump in New Zealand, the 14th highest jump in the world at 134m (440 ft), being by far the scariest. That was until I stepped to the edge and looked into the rocky abyss that awaited me. From that height, it truly is nerve racking, and it caused my butt-cheeks to clench up a bit. By no means was I going to back out though, as I know I would have regretted it, and regretted wasting 255 CHF. So I spread my arms, and executed a beautiful swan dive, which sent me plummeting towards earth. As soon as I left the tiny platform, I tried to give a “WOOOOO,” but instead of sounding cool, the noise that came out sounded like a dying giraffe or bad flatulence.
I don’t know how long the free fall was, as it went by in an instant, but it was an amazing experience, with the wind rushing by me as gravity launched me towards a pile of jagged rocks below. As expected though, the oversized rubber band did its job, and kept me from certain death.
The jump itself is actually pretty hard on your body. Being suspended upside down, along with the extreme acceleration and deceleration really puts a strain on you, hence the health and age requirements. After a few bounces though, I was able to right myself and actually look around at the beauty of the area and the sheer enormity of the dam. It was truly a site to behold, and one that I was grateful to have the privilege to enjoy.
Note - The jump performed in the Goldeneye movie was voted the best movie stunt of all time in a 2002 Sky Movies poll, and set a record for the highest bungy jump off a fixed structure.
If you are serious about attempting this jump, here is the website.
A few words of wisdom. Parking there can be an absolute nightmare, so just be aware of that. Also, making a reservation is a good idea, but it is not required. I made a reservation assuming that they operated a well oiled machine. I arrived there around 1:15 as recommended for my 1:30 reservation. Upon my arrival, I found out that anyone can show up, sign up, and get in line. On average, it takes about five minutes per jumper for them to get strapped in, jump, get reeled in, and unstrapped. So the ~20-25 jumpers in front of me delayed my jump until 3:30 pm. I was not happy, but there wasn't much I could do about it.
Additionally, they do offer video footage options, as I'm sure you saw. These options include video (60 CHF), photo (40 CHF), or both (90 CHF). On the day of my jump, this service wasn't working, so the GoPro (50 CHF) was the only available option. If you are hoping to bring your own GoPro, this is not allowed, as one poor individual found out, as he was denied the use of his.
Safe travels my friends,