I have always been afraid of heights. I’m not quite phobic, but you can never make me jump off a cliff to dive into the sea or waterfalls, for example.
True, I’ve included bungee jumping and skydiving in my bucket list, but doesn’t everybody have them?
I knew that when it comes to extreme adventures involving heights, I would never be able to cross them off my list. That is, until I took The Plunge in Danao, Bohol.
The Plunge is reportedly one of the world’s highest canyon swings with a 75-meter free fall. The launch deck is situated 200 meters above the canyon floor, and the free fall takes around four seconds. It is the bestselling attraction in Danao, and the scariest as well. Not everyone who goes to Danao manages to take the Plunge.
I first went to Danao a couple of years ago as a guest of the local government unit there. Considered one of the poorest municipalities in the early 2000s, Danao has become the center for eco-adventure activities in Bohol, thanks to its adventure park formally known as E.A.T. (Eco, Educational, Extreme Adventure Tour) Danao. (Read Things to Do in Bohol: Danao Adventure Park)
As one of the guests of the LGU, I had the opportunity to try all the attractions in Danao. However, the thought of dropping off into nothingness turned my knees to jelly, so I took the zipline instead as well as the cable car. I promised myself then that next time I would visit Danao, I would conquer my fear of heights.
Early this year, I went back to Bohol on assignment for Mabuhay, the inflight magazine of Philippine Airlines (Read: Bohol—Beyond the Tarsiers). Danao was included in the itinerary, and my editor gave me strict orders to try out the Plunge. Just thinking about it made me extremely nervous. However, I knew that with or without the assignment, I had to face my fear.
It was a rainy day, so aside from a group of Australian guys, it was just us from the magazine. I watched the group take turns at the Plunge, hearing their shouts as they went down, seeing their smiles as they were pulled up. How hard could it be?
I learned that it was really, really hard. I was 100% determined to push through with it, but as I was walking towards the launch deck, I had to force myself to take one step after another. With knees shaking and butterflies in my stomach, I looked down into the river 200 meters below, and I was gripped by so much fear that it was all I could do to stop myself from screaming and bolting away.
I learned at that time how debilitating fear could be. I knew I was safe, I knew nothing would happen to me, but the thought of the free fall almost got the better of me. I put myself on auto-pilot and although my mind was screaming “I can’t! I can’t!” my feet continued walking to the edge of the launch deck.
The guy handling the rope asked me how I preferred to fall: feet or head first? I chose to fall upside down, thinking I would rather not see the ground rushing up to meet me.
When I was in position, with my feet tucked into the rope and my hands behind my head, the guy yelled, “Are you ready?”
Quivering with fear, I tried to negotiate. “No! Give me a few minutes!”
Perhaps used to people having second thoughts at that point, he then shouted, “Yes, you’re ready! Bombs away!” and with that, he released the rope, and I fell into the canyon.
I remembered nothing of those moments, except the sensation of not being able to breathe. It was the longest 4 seconds of my life.
And then, the rope went taut, and I swung hard at first, this way and that, above the canopy. Feeling extremely relieved that I was alive, I couldn’t stop myself from shouting at the top of my lungs. I don’t even remember what I was yelling about.
I spent some time swinging, and it was the best moment of all, because by that time, I realized that yes, finally, I had done it. I had conquered my fear and lived to tell the tale.
Nobody had taken a video of my fall, but the following is the canyon swing in Nepal (the highest in the world), which is a bit similar to Danao. Of course, in Danao I didn’t see anybody show as much enjoyment as the people in the video did.
Did I enjoy myself? Yes, afterwards. Would I do it again? Probably not. The minutes leading up to the fall was sheer torture. Truly, our minds can be our worst enemy!
Aside from the Plunge (P700), EAT Danao also offers the following activities:
- Caving (P350)—beginners (two hours) and intermediate (3 hours hike with more vigorous activities)
- Cable car (P250)
- Zipline (P350)
- Rappelling 60m (P600)
- Root climbing (P400)
- Kayaking/River Tubing (P300)
- Bouldering/Rock Climbing (P200)
- Village tour (P300)
- (To be launched) ATV/buggy riding (P1,600)
- (To be launched) Ultralight (P2,200)
How to go to Danao, Bohol:
From Tagbilaran: Take a tricycle to the Dau terminal and then take the ordinary bus to Danao (P85). From the Danao terminal, ride a habal-habal (motorcycle) to the Danao Adventure Park for around P30.
From Tubigon: If you’re taking the ferry to Bohol from Cebu, go to Pier 1 and take the Tubigon ride. It’s nearer Danao. From the Tubigon port, take the bus to Danao (P60) and the habal-habal (motorcycle) to the Danao Adventure Park. If there’s no direct trip, go to Sagbayan (bus) for P30, and then another bus to Danao for P30. You can also book a Cebu-Bohol ferry ticket online here.
Many thanks to Hannah Reyes for my pictures here!
To make it easier for your trip planning, book a Bohol countryside tour which will cover the Blood Compact Site, Baclayon Church, Philippine Tarsier Sanctuary, Loboc River Cruise Buffet Lunch, Bilar Manmade Forest, Chocolate Hills, and Souvenir Shopping. Rates start at $29.
How about you? If given the chance, would you also take the Plunge?
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