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Adventure Dispatch: Julia Dimon Faces Fear of Heights by Gorge Swinging in Zambia
Posted on April 24, 2015

Viewing the world's largest sheet of falling water at Victoria Falls on the Zambezi, Zambia

Our Eddie Bauer adventure travel guide Julia Dimon has been around the globe a few times, with visits to 80 countries on all seven continents. Her new book, Travel Junkie: A Badass Guide to Travel, chronicles the best of the best as a global backpacker. But for her new adventure dispatch column on the Eddie Bauer blog, we asked Dimon to snapshot a few of her most memorable experiences. This adrenaline moment of interaction—with a serious rope swing—is from Livingstone, Zambia. —LYA Editor

Taking the leap in Livingstone, Zambia

Words and Images by Julia Dimon

Legs bound, stomach queasy, it was too late to chicken out. Standing on the ledge of a deep gorge, tied to ropes and harnesses, I was at the gorge swing, summoning the nerve to jump.

The gorge swing experience, offered by a locally-run company, The Zambezi Swing (www.thezambeziswing.com), is similar to bungee jumping. Adventurers are outfitted in gear, secured to a wire, and led to a platform. They free-fall 160 feet and finish with a pendulum swing over a dry gorge. Sounds crazy, but when visiting the quaint town of Livingstone, adrenaline-soaked activities are a must.

Julia Dimon seeking out adventure in Africa

An adventure hot spot located in the southern tip of Zambia, Livingstone is the place to be for thrill seekers. Named after the 19th-century colonial explorer famed for “discovering” Victoria Falls, Livingstone is emerging as the Disney World of Africa. It draws young travelers keen on testing their nerves and their bladder control.

Early-morning, I found myself at Batoka Gorge. Though the scenery was beautiful, with orange rock faces, lush trees, and a view of the Zambezi, the drop was drastic.

Emmanuel, my buff instructor, offered a quick lesson. “Bend your knees. Keep your head down, and tuck in your chin,” he said, binding my feet together with an elasticized rope. He handed me a pair of workman gloves. I slipped them on and positioned trembling hands along thick cords strapped to the front of my harness.

“It’s counterintuitive to plummet backwards off a cliff, but that’s exactly what I did.” —Julia Dimon

There was the option of going solo or tandem; falling face-first or backwards. I chose solo and, due to my extreme dislike of heights, went backwards so I couldn’t see the ground as I plummeted towards it.

My heart pounding, I inched my way closer to the edge, catching one last glimpse of the drop that awaited me. It’s counterintuitive to plummet backwards off a cliff, but that’s exactly what I did. The instructor let go and I free-fell backwards into the gorge. Speeding towards the earth, a deep sound escaped my belly. It took a few seconds to realize that the monstrous, echoing moan was coming from my own lips.

The rope sprang back and I swung on the string like a human yo-yo. Alive and well, dangling in midair, I could finally enjoy the scenery.

Finding the courage to step off that ledge was terrifying, but once the free fall is over and the swinging motion takes effect, there is an overwhelming sense of accomplishment and relief. It’s an awesome way to see the countryside…and test your own limits.

Sage advice

Check out the Eddie Bauer line of Travex adventure travel apparel Julia packs on her trips at eddiebauer.com and learn more about her latest book at traveljunkiejulia.com.

Author: - Friday, April 24th, 2015
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