When I booked my ticket for Nepal, I had no fixed itinerary in mind (as usual). I only had a week; aside from Kathmandu, I didn’t know where to go.
Sure, I’d always wanted to go on the Everest Base Camp Trek, but I didn’t have the budget nor the time. In deciding what else to do, I asked my readers, and one suggestion was very popular: go paragliding in Pokhara.
I had initially said no; flights are usually expensive. I remember being pilot for a day in Malaysia, and my friend who paid for it spent $400 for just 45 minutes of flying time.
When I did my research, though, I realized how inexpensive Nepal can be. A 30-minute paragliding flight would only set me back around $85, including the transportation. It wasn’t so out of my budget, and photos I’ve seen online are incredible. I decided to go, and boy, was I glad to do so!
Pokhara is a beautiful lake town around six hours from Kathmandu by bus ($6 one way). Take the window seat on the driver’s side (right side of the bus) when you go to Pokhara so you can see the Himalayas. I remember waking up on the bus, looking out of the window, and exclaiming “Oh my God” at the view.
Imagine seeing green mountains, and much further away, set amidst the clear blue sky, are ranges edged in white. I never even thought of taking out my camera; I just stared and stared at the Himalayas, completely awed at the beauty that I could see outside my window.
Paragliding in Pokhara is very popular; there are a lot of paragliding companies there that you can choose from (don’t ask for mine because I had a negative experience with them). Rates are standard at 7,500 Nepalese Rupees, and if you want photo and video documentation, you can add NPR 1,700. (Note: USD$1 = 100 NPR)
There are basically four flights a day: two in the morning at 9 and 11, and two in the afternoon. Flights take off in Sarangkot, a village around 30 minutes from Pokhara town.
I arrived in Sarangkot at 5am to catch the sunrise, then I waited 4 hours for the paragliding pilots to arrive. I didn’t mind waiting; I had a Kindle, and besides, who would mind, with this view (below) in front of you?
When my pilot arrived (a guy from Pune, India), he asked another person to lay out the paraglider, making sure that the wings are fully unfurled and the lines are not tangled. I was then strapped to the harness, with him strapped as well behind me.
We waited for a while for the wind, and when my pilot said “Run!” I ran and jumped off the cliff.
The feeling was indescribable. There I was flying hundreds of meters above ground, with Lake Phewa to my right and the Himalayan Ranges to my left. There were a lot of huge hawks flying with us; one even came so close I thought it would smack into our paraglider.
My pilot, a veteran in the business, told me I shouldn’t worry. He had a parachute in case something went wrong. Actually, at that time, I didn’t mind dying; I was in the midst of such beauty that if I had died there, I wouldn’t have any regrets about my life.
My pilot and I rode the wind in Pokhara, turning this way and that, going up and down. All around us were other paragliders and a number of birds of prey. The town and the lake below were so far away that everything looked so beautiful and peaceful. However, I couldn’t take my eyes off the Himalayas; if ever one needs proof of a Greater Being, I saw it right there in the majesty of those mountains.
All too soon, the flight was over. The pilot brought us down to the lake, and a 4×4 brought us back to town. It was a short ride, but days later, I still felt the high of that experience.
One tip: don’t eat a lot two hours before your flight. Depending on the wind, you may get nauseous. I saw some people throwing up when they landed.
I highly recommend paragliding in Pokhara if you’re going to Nepal. My words and photos don’t do justice to how beautiful this experience is!
Have you gone paragliding? Will you do it again? I certainly would!