Paragliding in Nepal
The sport of Paragliding involves taking off from hilltops using a kind of modified parachute and harnessig thermals and wind currents to stay aloft and even fly cross country. Paragliders are based on parachutes, in that they are made of fabric and can be tucked into a bag and allow slow or controlled descent. However paragliders are designed to also act as gliders and their aerofoil shape gives them lift and so they will also travel much further forward than parachutes in similar flying conditions. 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 attached to the glider on a special harness, and the pilot will do all the flying, while you do all the enjoying of scenery. If you are an experienced and certified paraglider pilot, you have the option of bringing your own glider and flying, or you can rent a glider and fly solo. Pokhara has a number of ‘house thermals’ and makes for great flying.
Flying paragliders is probably the closest we will ever get to unpowered flight, and is a stunning way to see mountain scenery.
1. Where can I go Paragliding?
Most day trip 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 for people who already know how
to fly, as well as non-flyers , and these trips are often custom made and take you to most 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 half hour to about 40 minutes of actual flying 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. You may have to wait as sometimes a flyer
take off, does their flight, and then the pilot and the glider have to drive back up the hill to take off with
you. Cross country trips and tours will allow for longer flight, sometimes lasting many hours.
4. How safe is it?
Paragliders take safety quite seriously, as flying carries the obvious danger of crashing/falling.
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?
Between June to about mid September Nepal grets its annual Monson rains, it’s the rainy season
with wet and sometimes windy weather so flying stops in that season. Other than that, flights occur
throughout the year with pre summer being the best time for thermal flights, and post monsoon
being the best in terms of clear mountain views.
6. Can I learn how to Paraglide?
A number of companies run training course out of Pokhara, with beginners certification courses
lasting for about five days and costing in the region of 500 Euros. This includes equipment and
training, but does not include accommodation and food while in Pokhara (dinner and breakfast
not included). Courses for pilots after beginners course range from 3 to 5 days and cover ground
including aerobatic flying.