Got a head for heights? Take a leap and visit this distinctive landmark in the neighborhood of Soweto. Originally a coal-fired power station, the Orlando Towers are the site of the world's first bungee jump between two cooling towers, as well as other thrilling adventure sports such as rappelling. As you walk through Soweto's Orlando township, home to some of South Africa's most infamous anti-apartheid clashes in the 20th century, it is nearly impossible to miss the two Orlando cooling towers. Since Soweto is made up almost entirely of one-story houses, the 33-story towers are in plain sight from across the township.
The Orlando Power Station was commissioned in 1942 to meet the fast-growing population and energy consumption in Johannesburg. British engineers constructed the Orlando Power Station in the adjacent city of Soweto, a process which was completed in 1955. The coal plant successfully ran until 1998, when it was decommissioned. Although the original power plant building collapsed in 2014, the power station's two cooling towers have remained upright, and they are a distinctive landmark in the city. The towers have been covered in vibrant new murals, a reflection of the cultural renaissance of Soweto itself. In 2008, local company Skyriders developed these towers into a vertical adventure facility and one of the best tourist attractions in South Africa.
Don't look down
Today, the towers are used for extreme sports such as bungee jumping, rappelling, zip-lining, pendulum swinging, and SCAD (suspended catch air device) falling. Be lifted over 300 feet in the air and walk across a narrow bridge between the two towers to enjoy gut-wrenching yet beautiful views of the township as you go. Bungee jumping is the most popular activity at the towers, and is available to jumpers between 35 kg and 115 kg. The SCAD free fall at the towers, meanwhile, is the highest on the planet. Visitors can also go paintballing and rock climbing or take a quad bike on a tour around Soweto with the Soweto Outdoor Adventures company, also based at the towers. The adventure facility is run by highly experienced professionals and all activities are dependent on the weather. Booking for larger groups is encouraged, those under 18 require the consent of a parent or guardian.
After a heart-pounding experience, unwind in Chaf Pozi, the restaurant and entertainment venue on site. The menu includes meat, vegetarian, and Halal options. The towers lie in Gauteng, the most internationally connected province in the country, and home to the O.R. Tambo International Airport, making it the ideal location for visitors. Admission fees at the towers vary depending on the activity. Enjoy a memorable experience at a unique adventure complex that will leave a towering impression on everyone who participates.