Paragliding is a surprisingly popular thing to do in Pokhara, partly because the nearby Himalayas give the area a constant light wind and partly also because if you make it to this corner of the world odds are you’re the adventurous type who’d give it a go. And since I’ve done far crazier things in my life, signing up for a half hour of paragliding sounded like fun!
All geared up and ready to go. It goes without saying that this is a tandem flight and I’m more just dead weight for the Nepali professional who’s really doing the work… I think there was a point in my life where being strapped to a random guy and flying around in the sky was a strange prospect, but my life has evolved into a funny kind of normal I guess. Plus anyway it turns out paragliding is actually quite comfortable because the thing on my back turns into a nice little seat, so you’re sitting the whole time actually.
Our guide getting the parachute all ready. This was actually by far easier to do than skydiving or bungy jumping because when you’re in front of the parachute all you have to do is start walking and then running down the hill (a slow run because you can’t bend your knees much due to the harness) and far before the edge the wind picks you up into the air. Yee-haw!
To be honest I didn’t take too many pictures because, well this sounds a little silly but I am getting old(er) and guess I am more comfortable getting my adrenaline rushes on the ground. No really, you obviously are secure but you don’t quite feel so sitting in the little seat, or at least snug enough to feel okay holding onto the straps with only one hand for awhile. (My Nepali paraglider kept telling me it was okay to let go with both, but the little voice in me saying he’s a liar and my holding onto something was important never got subdued.) So hey, I guess my point is while I enjoyed it I didn’t enjoy it enough to take more than a few pictures!
The view over the hill we launched from- the tall Himalayas are behind but were obscured by the midday haze. This picture was taken right after we caught a thermal by the way which made me happy as I wanted to paraglide primarily to experience riding one up like the eagles do. The verdict on the thermals is it’s amazing to get so high but the slight jerk to get onto one is certainly a touch surprising (I put away my camera immediately) and while it’s easier to be comfortable sailing downwards with a parachute going up is certainly a bit strange!
But hey, it was fun and I recommend it if you get the chance. I don’t think many people would agree, but gliding over the mountains particularly close to the treetops was particularly fun and surreal for me.
At the end of all this, we landed by the lake-
Obviously this isn’t me landing but someone else- you get the idea though, and yes you do land standing. I will also warn anyone considering doing this that your stomach does get a little queasy from the experience (some people actually got sick after, mine just felt funny) so probably not best to eat much before.
Hey, a small price to pay for soaring with the birds!