When you think of an adrenaline adventure, six metres seem rather insignificant. Take it up a notch to eight metres and for some that’s not even enough to break a sweat.
What about 11m? Paltry, when compared to the 60m freefall of the Moses Mabhida Stadium or Bloukrans’ 216m bungee jump for instance.
But still. Eight metres can be the divide stretching beyond all reason and insanity – and ended up being exactly that for me on Reunion Island.
When it came to signing up for an aquatic kloofing adventure activity, my mouth seemed to respond spontaneously, “Yes!”, answering before my brain had time to comprehend that it was about to be flung into serious survival mode.
Slipping and sliding over rivers and waterfalls, jumping off cliffs, violently created by one of the most active volcanoes on the planet.
Packing into a wetsuit and lifejacket in order to do so?
“Fun, bring it.”
“Wait, I need a crash helmet?”
“Ah, what the heck, let’s do this.”
“Just hold your body firm and float down the river,” said our Run Adventures guide, whose resemblance to a Brazilian Capoeira fighter was uncanny. Come to think of it he moved a lot like one too, with a side-to-side, fluid sway.
And so I floated off. Island style.
Until the unexpected five-metre plunge down one of the many, mini-waterfalls of Bassin la Paix happened. The two-second drop without warning made me realise how much I like the tug of gravity on my body, without the dunking sensation at the end though.
But suddenly the adrenaline was coursing and we were ready to take on whatever this wildly exciting aquatic trek had in store. Two or so waterfall-drops later and we were scampering up the rocks as our guide did a back flip off the 6m high cliff.
Similar instructions, as before, “keep your body firm”, except this time I was vertical and had to jump off the cliff allowing the soles of my feet to take the impact.
A huff and a puff and off I went.
And then we moved on to the next cliff. Suddenly, something snapped inside. The exhilaration was replaced with a gripping anxiety, imaginatively bringing to mind every possible thing that could go wrong.
There I was, holding up the pace of my fellow adventurers, but I’d hit a dead wall and some sort of point of no return. I didn’t know what to do, I’d just completed the 6m jump, what was the problem, I asked myself?
After a bit of coaxing and a lot of "you don’t need to do this" from my fellow adventurers I took the second plunge.
I hit the water with my butt instead of my feet, but thankfully I was okay. I knew immediately that I took the jump wrong because I had started to overthink it.
One. Two. Three. Off went my companions in a sort of animaniac fashion that now had them somersaulting off the 11m cliff face.
Would I do it? Could I do it?
Right there and then, I experienced a change. While normally I would force myself to push on through, hell-bent on proving I could do anything if I put my mind to it, this time instead, I suddenly realised I’d had enough.
I didn’t have anything to prove. But there was no feeling of inadequacy or failure - only accomplishment.
I watched the rest of our crew push on and enjoyed their shrieks as much as I did the exceptional views of the surrounding Piton de Neige and la fournaise, while waiting for them to climb back up as we moved along the trail.
Reunion is incredible, its adventures are what you make of it and certainly not always what you would expect from an island escape - but don’t for one minute expect to leave this island the same way you came.
What you need to know:
- You need to be a minimum of eight people
- requires basic swimming skills and good physical health
- you must be over the age of 14 years
- bring your own swimsuit, sneakers, sunscreen and water bottle - wetsuit and safety gear will be supplied
Take a look at some of the other highlights that await on the island:
Disclaimer: Selene Brophy was hosted by Destinate and Reunion Island Tourism, including flights, accommodation and meals.