Anyone who has driven through Soweto — a township in Johannesburg, South Africa — has seen the Orlando Power Station. An area filled with mostly small, one-story homes, these twin towers (as they’re often called by locals) dominate the skyline. And if the colorful works of art painted on the sides weren’t enough to grab your attention, the people jumping off the top of it certainly will.
These decommissioned cooling towers from the original coal-fired power station are now a bungee-jumping destination operated by Skyflyers. Thrill-seekers take a rickety elevator up the structure, walk across a narrow bridge, take in the sweeping views of Johannesburg, then bungee jump from 33 stories up between the towers.
The towers were built in 1951, and the entire plant was shut down in 1998. For two decades the buildings remained abandoned. Today, the towers are vibrantly painted — one serves as a billboard and the other provides the backdrop for the largest mural painting in South Africa. In 2009, local company Skyflyers turned the deserted towers into an adventure facility.
Bungee jumping isn’t the only adrenaline rush offered at the Orlando Towers. From the apex, you can power swing, rap jump, and abseil, but one of the craziest experiences is the SCAD freefall, which happens inside the tower. SCAD stands for “suspended catch air device,” and this freefall happens without any attachments. The faller gets into a cage, is raised up by a winch to 230 feet (70 meters), then dropped from the platform and caught by a suspended net, feeling no impact at all. So if you’ve ever wanted to jump off a building with no adverse consequences, this is your chance.
Each activity has a different entrance fee, but bungee jumping is R480 (about USD35); if you just want to go for the view and not the jump, access to the viewing platform costs R60 (about USD5).
What to consider:
- The Orlando Towers are open year round, but the activities are subject to weather — specifically wind.
- Bungee jumpers must weigh between 35 kilograms and 115 kilograms (77 and 253 pounds, respectively).
- If you’re under 18, you need parental consent.
- The towers are open Thursday-Sunday, and each event has a different fee.
- There’s a restaurant and beer garden at the base of the towers.
- If it’s too windy to do the bungee jump, the SCAD freefall is a great alternative.
- You can get professional pictures and videos taken for a nominal fee.