Behind The Cliff

An adventure-sporting destination popularised by TikTok has tourists coming from all over Nepal and the world

Photo: The Cliff

After it took TikTok by storm last year as a selfie spot, The Cliff in Kushma has become a go-to destination for adventure sports. People from the far corners of Nepal as well as overseas come to this bridge over the Kali Gandaki gorge to bungee or swing jump. 

The pedestrian suspension bridge has a span of 520m and hangs 228m above the river connecting Kushma of Parbat to Balewa of Baglung. This is supposedly the second-highest bungee jump in the world, after Macau Tower in China. 

The man behind the Rs600 million enterprise, Raju Karki, is originally from Sindhupalchok and was a bungee instructor in The Last Resort at the Bhote Kosi. 

Karki lost his father when he was eight, and with his mother and sister ran a local hotel. He says, “I was an adventurous lad, and when they set up bungee near my hometown, it was just the excitement I needed," says Karki, now 40. He joined its training to be an instructor, and before long became the very first batch of Nepalis to lead the team.

He had worked for seven years as an instructor at Bhote Kosi when one day some businessmen from Kushma visited The Last Resort lobbying to turn their place into the next adventure-sporting hub in the country. Young Karki took note and filed that information in his head for future use.

Next, he lived and worked in Paris for two years where he manned the reception of an art museum Halle Saint Pierre. But it did not take long to make up his mind to return home to set up his own business. He spent a year in France, Belgium, and Switzerland learning the ropes, as it were, about bungee jumping.  

the cliff 2
Photo: Sonia Awale

Karki had visited Kushma and the gorge had always impressed him because it was wider and deeper than the Bhote Kosi. As he started planning, the first order of business was to build a suspension footbridge over Kali Gandaki. 

“Our bridge was different from typical suspension bridge because it was purpose-built for bungee jumping by adding elements like steps,” he explains.

The Cliff went into operation and offers what it calls the world’s highest swing jump, priced at Rs7,500, the same as the bungee. Sky Cycle and Sky Café cost Rs3,000 and Rs2,500 each. There are also less daring variations of swings as well as wall climbing. 

“I found that Nepalis go to Bali and elsewhere seeking these thrills and thought we could do it here in Nepal and in more exciting ways,” adds Karki.

The Cliff spreads across 3.5 hectares with 100 staff and sees 300 visitors a day. There is also an option of furnished tents and cottages for those staying overnight.

the cliff
Photo: The Cliff

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Although it is flourishing today, the launch of The Cliff coincided with the Covid-19 pandemic and saw heavy losses in the beginning.

“The lockdowns forced us to open and close repeatedly," Karki recalls. "Even then, Kushma used to be packed with people lining up for The Cliff rides."

In fact, just this one tourism enterprise has helped lift the economy of the town, with 30% of the visitors being foreigners. It has also shown how Nepal does not lack opportunities for new tourism products that create local jobs.  

The team has left the far side of The Cliff undeveloped and is planting local trees, fruits, and vegetables on the slope, supplying to its restaurant.    

The business is a model for how Nepal can benefit from increasing the consumption of locally produced electricity. The free shuttle bus to The Cliff is battery-powered.

And as far as possible, the construction material used is sourced from the locality, reducing maintenance costs. 

Karki's expansion plans include a mega trolley, a fairyland, and a conference hall. He says: “The highlight would be a swimming pool 255m above the sheer drop of the Kali Gandaki River."  

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