Jumping off the 24 metre-high bridge in Mostar, Bosnia, without a doubt one of the craziest things I’ve ever done
Standing on the edge of the bridge, looking at the fast-flowing river 24 metres below, I couldn’t help but think I had made a serious mistake.
I could hear Igor, my diving master, giving me some last-minute instruction on how to make the perfect jump, but his words were drowned out by the blood thumping in my ears.
All I could think about was “do not fuck this up, do NOT fuck this up”, while the dozens of tourists who were all clamouring to take my photo were probably thinking the opposite; “I really hope he fucks this up.”
As soon as I jumped off the bridge I knew I had done it wrong.
I wanted to enjoy it, to feel the adrenaline pumping through my veins, but with the river hurtling towards me at a startling rate and my arms and legs all over the place, all I could think was, “this is going to hurt.”
Somehow, at the last second, I managed to pull my arms and legs in, grab my balls, and make myself pencil-thin as I speared the water.
As I broke the surface, the first thing I did was look back to the bridge; it was huge!
However, I had just completed a successful jump and been inducted into the Mostari Diving Club’s Hall of Fame, an honour that only 750 people around the world can claim.
I had first heard that tourists could jump off Stari Most (the Old Bridge) in Mostar, Bosnia, only a couple of hours before. At a restaurant right on the banks of the Neretva River, I had the perfect view of the bridge. Even though it was undoubtedly beautiful, it was also one of the most imposing I have ever seen.
With a rich history dating back to 1557, the bridge was infamously and devastatingly destroyed by Croat forces during the Croat-Bosniak War in 1993. Being a symbol for the town and for the whole of Bosnia, as soon as the war was over there were meticulous plans to rebuild it exactly the same as it was before the war, right down to the smallest detail. The bridge was eventually reopened again in 2004, and ever since it has been luring travellers from all over the world, not just because of its beauty, but because of its tradition – diving.
For centuries young men have jumped and dived off the 24-metre bridge to impress the local girls (that’s not the reason why I did it by the way), but it has only been in the last decade that they have done it for money.
Tourists all pitch in a few Bosnian mark or euros and one of the local divers puts on a bit of a show, eventually wowing the crowd with a death-defying dive. In a stunning setting such as Mostar, you can see why travellers flock from the four corners of the world just to see this spectacle.
As I was having lunch I saw a crowd gathering on the bridge. After a few minutes, a small guy came to the front, climbed over the railings and launched himself into the air. I couldn’t believe it. The guy had cojones. This was something I had to do; I had a feeling that this was an after-dinner story I could dine out on for years to come.
Once I got to the bridge, I started talking to a couple of the local divers at the Mostari Diving Club to find out some more information. What they usually do is jump for the tourists, but every now and then a foreigner comes along who is stupid enough to want to jump themselves. So, for 25 euros, the majority of which goes on the maintenance of the bridge, you get the opportunity to join the 24-metre club. How can you say no to that?
They say that only the most skilled and best trained should jump, and that certainly wasn’t me. Therefore, it was Igor’s job to make sure that, at the very least, I didn’t kill myself or break my arms.
After jumping off a 3ft bench a handful of times to prove I could do it, I asked Igor if I had a good technique and if I was ready to jump off the bridge; he said I jumped like a horse, that I would never be ready to jump off the bridge, but if I still wanted to do it then now was the time.
Luckily for me health and safety wasn’t an issue here. Though saying that, people have died in the past, and the day before I jumped a guy had to be rushed to hospital with two suspected broken arms; there was a serious element of danger here, and after hearing that particular story I was bricking it.
So, that’s how I found myself standing on the edge of the bridge, heart pounding, staring at the abyss below. I knew I only had one shot at this thing.
After I had successfully completed my jump, Igor came running down to the river to meet me; “You are no horse! You are like gazelle leaping into the air!” I felt pumped up, elated, and I wanted to do it again. It was such an amazing experience, and in nearly ten years only about 750 foreigners have jumped off Stari Most, so it’s a pretty unique thing to do. Forget the Mile High Club, how many people can claim they’ve joined the 24 metre-high club in Bosnia?
Jumping from Stari Most (the Old Bridge) in Mostar, Bosnia, costs 25 euros per person. Oh and be warned: don’t try this at home! I only jumped with the professional supervision of someone who does this day in day out. Do you try this without any guidance! You can find out more about Mostar and what you can do there at Lonely Planet!
Would you ever be as stupid as me and jump off the bridge at Mostar? What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever done? Let me know in the comments below!
Like this post? Then make sure you Pin it!