Friday, 1 June 2007

Paragliding in Pokhara

On our second day in Pokhara we decided to try out Paragliding, and it turned out to be one of the most thrilling things I have ever tried. The picture above was taken as we arrived to the take-off site. We were very excited!

Susanna getting ready for take-off. Apparently a small flier is teamed up with a big pilot and vice versa so Susanna got the big swiss guy you see preparing her chute in the background.

And she's off! Unfortunately I was putting on my own gear when Susanna took off, so I didn't get a picture of that, but here she is floating peacefully in the top left corner.

And here you see my first view down from the flight. It is truly a fantastic feeling running down a steep slope towards the edge and then suddenly taking off and shooting into the sky. The following pictures are all taken from the air.

Bird's view over a whole hillside.

A fantastic hill side filled with agricultural terraces.

Following another paraglider into the blue.

Passing right over another one.

Me, well into the air.

Air acrobatics.

Pretty far down. I don't know exactly how high we were, but based on the relative heights of Pokhara and the hill from which we started (and rose above) I can calculate that we must have been reaching heights of at least 600 metres.

The old hill fort at Sarangkot. When I first considered trying out paragliding I imagined it to be simply a matter of starting at some point and then slowly gliding (as the name would seem to suggest) downwards towards earth. But in fact we flew around in circles catching the air currents to rise well above the take-off point, which was considerable downhill from Sarangkot here, which we overflew.

A small village. The two dots in the courtyard in the middle are actually children playing.

If you look closely at this picture you will see a vulture in flight (approximately in the middle of the right half of the picture). There were many vultures flying around, and I had the mixed pleasure of a near-collision with one of them. It came flying straight towards us apparently without seeing us (must have been scouting the ground and not expecting humans suddenly getting in it's path). I had never thought that a vulture was capable of looking surprised, but it did look genuinely baffled when it suddenly realised it was headed straight towards us and managed to veer off about 2 metres from us. A vulture is a big bird and had it gotten entangled in the strings of our parachute the consequences could have been catastrophic. That was possibly the most frightening moment in my life. Even my Nepali pilot yelled out: "Shit, that was a close on!" with a sigh of relief.

The flight gave wonderful views down to Pokhara town, lying by the lakeside. Unfortunately it was against the sun, but I show this picture anyway. The town is on the left bank of the lake here.

Approaching the coastline. I like this swampy area in the middle of the picture. Lovely green-redish colours, although you had to be there to really see it all properly.

My last picture from the air as we approached the landing strip, which is situated between the big road and the lake roughly in the middle of the picture. You might be able to see a few parachutes lying down there already. The platforms in the water are some sort of fishing devices.

Susanna after the flight. Like me she expected a smooth glide down to earth, but didn't took too well to all the going round in circles. Poor thing!

And finally myself after the completed flight. A fantastic experience, which I can strongly recommend to anyone going to this part of the world.


traveller one said...

Esben... you are having the most fabulous experiences! What a close call with that vulture!! I can't imagine how you could "fly" and still take photos! Well done!

Esben said...

Thank you Kim! It wasn't so hard taking pictures - I did have a guy to steer the parachute for me. But yes, it was a really, really great experience, despite the near mid air collision.

NellieGwynne said...

Hi Eagersnap:
Interesting to read you have a guy to steer the parachute....not sure it's a thing for Grandmas to do, but one never knows.
Now to google Pokhara

James said...

Amazing! I have always wanted to do that.