The sport of Paragliding involves taking off from hilltops using a kind of modified parachute and harnessing thermals and wind currents to stay aloft and even fly cross country. Basic design of paraglider is based on parachute. However paragliders are designed to also act as gliders and their aerofoil shape gives them lift. Paragliders travels much further forward than parachutes in similar flying condition. Also, parachutes are designed to be deployed while falling through the air, paragliders must be raised and catching air before you leave the ground!
In Nepal, the mecca for paragliding is Pokhara where several commercial outfits run day trips and longer cross country trips. As a client, you will be taken aloft on what is called a tandem paraglider, where you and a pilot will be attached to the glider on a special harness. The pilot takes control of the glider from behind so that the passenger has the full frontal view. If you are an experienced and certified paraglider , you have the option of bringing your own glider . Pokhara has a number of ‘house thermals’ and makes for great flying experience.
We have complied some of the frequently asked questions regarding paragliding in Nepal.
1. Where can I go Paragliding?
Most day trips are run out of Pokhara city as its surroundings offer some of the best flying conditions and sites within Nepal. Paragliding operators will also run longer trips on special request. These trips are often custom made and take you to the parts of Nepal where conditions allow safe and fun flights.
2. What will it cost me?
A day trip would cost around 70 Euro and longer trips would be about anything from 500 to 900 Euros for trips of 4 to 10 days. Check with your operator to see what prices include and does not include.
3. How long will a trip take?
A typical day trip will involve about 30 to about 40 minutes of actual flying. But you should set aside at least two hours as getting to the site, briefing, equipment check and fitting takes time. Normally, you would leave in the morning, drive by jeep up to take-off site and take off according to your turn. Cross country trips and tours will allow for longer flight, sometimes lasting many hours.
4. How safe is it?
Paragliders take safety quite seriously. Commercial trips taking non flyers up on tandem flights stay well within safety margins and equipment used is never compromised on. It’s your pilots well being as well as yours on the line when flying, and no pilot will compromise on his safety – and certainly not yours. Most day flights take off from Sarangkot hill near Pokhara. This area allows great views, predictable flying conditions, is flown very regularly by most pilots and flights take off from a controlled take off area on a grassy slope and land near the lake. Flying safety in Pokhara is as good as in any good commercial flying area of the world.
5. When is a good season?
Paragliding can be enjoyed throughout the year except the brief rainy season (July-Aug). Pre summer & post monsoon are the best seasons for thermal flights.
6. Do I need a prior experience or training in paragliding?
No, you don’t . If you are not a licensed paraglider, you will be taken on a tandem gliding, which means a pilot will accompany you and fly the glider. All you need to do is – sit back, relax and enjoy the ride!!!
7. Will I get sick during the flight?
If you are prone to motion sickness, there is a slight possibility of you getting sick during the flight. Normally, the actual gliding time is not more than 45 mins and the flight is so exhilerating, you will not have time to ‘get sick’. But in case you do, you can let the pilot know about it and he/ she will try to land it at a shorter duration. Make sure that you eat and drink right the night before.
Following are some of the licensed paragliding companies operating from Pokhara: