Freelance writer with a BA double majoring in Literature and Australian History who loves finding random places of social or historical treasure whilst travelling around visiting festivals, markets and quaint cafes with my husband and baby
Published March 26th 2016
The day I jumped off a cliff & paraglided over the Himalayas
Amazing views of the Himalayas as you glide through the air
One of the best things I've ever done in my life was to go paragliding in Nepal. It was also something I never thought I'd do.
It was one of those occasions that you warn yourself about. We met up with some friends in the Nepalese town of Pokhara and after a couple of drinks, I was talked into going paragliding the next day. Of course, the next morning reminded me that I didn't really have the nerve for it, but it was too late to back out.
The view of little Nepalese villages from high up in the air
So around 9am I found myself in the back of an old 4WD taking the 30 minute drive out of town and up into the mountains. The road winds around through the picturesque Nepalese countryside until it becomes too steep to drive. At that time we all disembarked and starting a walk up the mountainside. I have never boasted to be much of a trekker, but the trail wasn't too bad, apart from the fact that you're literally on the side of a mountain. One side of the path is steep mountainside straight up, the other side is just as steep straight down. I would not let the walk deter me from paragliding though, it really isn't that arduous on the body. Besides, you can't go anywhere in Nepal without driving or walking on perilous mountainsides.
Once at the top the experience of Blue Sky Paragliding becomes obvious. Each person has an instructor as a buddy who they jump with. The instructors all look as though they've spent their whole life doing extreme sports and are the ultimate in cool.
If you're wondering by now what paragliding actually is, and why anyone would do it, here's the detail. It's like parachuting, but the parachute is rectangular instead of circular, and instead of jumping out of a plane, you jump off a cliff. By now part of me was wondering why any sane person would jump off perfectly stable ground into the air. You trust to fate that the wind gusts off the side of the mountain pick up your paraglider and send you sailing into the air. But the instructors know the area, and know what they're doing, and clearly don't want to meet an untimely end, so you have to trust them. And trust them I did.
With an instructor strapped against your back, you both take 3 or 4 steps and run straight off the cliff. The wind immediately takes you up and fills the paragliding chute, and lifts you straight into the air. Once there, you realise what it's all for.
You're paragliding gracefully through the air over the Himalayas. Never again will you have such a magical moment. The peace and harmony, the cool chill in the air and the amazing serenity of the moment. Paragliding is slow, unlike parachuting where you fall through the air. With paragliding you glide gracefully around on the wind gusts. You're up there for an hour and it feels like just a few minutes. The instructor controls where you glide and makes sure you stay on track, all you need to is relax and take in the magic of the moment. Gliding over villages and scenic countryside, you spot little children playing, animals grazing and snow capped mountains.
My husband hitting the ground running in his landing - much more gracefully than myself!
It was after about 45 minutes of peaceful contemplation that it dawned on me that I would have to land. Landing requires the instructor guiding the paraglider towards the landing field and you literally hit the ground running for about 50m until you slow down to a seated position with the instructor taking the weight. It was suddenly obvious to me that I look less than graceful running, and my companions were all in the process of also landing, so I could either look really cool, or fall on my face in an unceremonious mess. Luckily I managed something in between and my landing went off without a hitch. Small children scramble to unhook your paragliding ropes and start packing the chute away. I'm told they get paid about $5 a day for this, which is a decent income in this area. They are very good at what they do and take pride in it.
As I sat on the grass waiting for my husband to land, I decided that paragliding over the Himalayas in Nepal was something I will never forget. In fact, the whole Nepalese experience was straight out of a travel novel and absolutely lifechanging.
Blue Sky Paragliding can be found in Pokhara near the lakeside area. At the time we did it, the cost for each person was $160 for an hour. At a place where accommodation is less than $10 a night, this is a huge cost, but I would highly recommend doing it.
The town of Pokhara itself is fantastic. It's a jumping point for so many activities such as mountain climbing, hiking, canoeing and being quite a large town in the area, is the perfect spot to spend a few days. I highly recommend it for any traveller through Nepal.
The amazing laidback town of Pokhara - where we spent a fantastic couple of days