Sunday, February 28, 2010

Flying over Pokhara.

The day after returning from the Poon Hill trek, I boarded a jeep with a couple of Russians and drove up to the viewpoint of Sarangkot. A little while later, we strapped ourselves in to a huge fabric wing, and leaped off over the Pokhara valley.

It has been my dream for a few years now to experience flying, and lucky for me, Nepal turned out to be a great place to try it. The weather on that morning was sunny and clear, with excellent visibility of the snow-covered peaks looming off in the distance.

Preparations at Sarangkot, with the Annapurnas in the background.

Wearing my harness was like wearing a turtle shell. It consisted of a little cupped seat that I could lean back into during flight, and was attached to my guide's harness as well as to the wing.

Getting strapped in to my harness/seat.

The launch was the most exciting part. When Rajik, my guide, had lifted the wing up from the ground, he yelled to me "Go! Run!" and we began moving towards the edge of the cliff. Then all of a sudden - whoosh - the ground dropped from beneath me, and I could only see my feet dangling above the valley, 1000 meters below.

Yes, the views were grand and all, but for all I cared, we could have been flying over a dump. It was exhilarating enough simply to be in the air, not to mention sailing at eye level with hawks and other large birds. The ride was smooth, with Rajik behind me doing all the work. Our maximum altitude was 2000 meters.

Taken while paragliding. Lift-off point far below. See the mountains floating on the clouds?
Rajik's knowledge of the English language seemed confined to paragliding-related words. One time I tried making conversation, but he replied only with a terse "No talk. I'm busy adjust thermal current." The other sentence he said was, "When I in Moscow and cannot fly, I become like crazy!"

Rajik and me, flying over Pokhara.
Here's a video made during flight. Ignore the fact that I look like a giddy 12-year-old, and check out that view!

After 45 minutes of being in the air, my stomach began to churn, which meant that I had to reluctantly turn down Rajik's proposition for "acrobatics". Around that time, we began our descent. Ten feet off the ground, I got out of my harness/seat so that I'd land standing up, but I fell over anyway. Even so, the landing was surprisingly gentle.

Next up, hang-gliding? Or learning how to paraglide solo?

1 comment:

Pieter said...

Damn, Faye! I wanted to go paragliding in Pokhara, but unfortunately I did not have the funds after all my travels in January... :-( Must have been great!