A return to Pokhara and paragliding over Sarangkot

Pokhara Travel Blog

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1st day after trekking, I had a couple of things I wanted to tick off in Pokhara before  moving on - walking up the World Peace Pogoda to get the much publicised view over Phewa Lake with the Annapurna range in the background, and paragliding over Sarangkot.  Both ideally needing a clear day to get the best views.  Instead another murky day with very poor visibility.  Fortunately nice and warm in Pokhara itself so lazed about the tourist drag and watched the world go by planning next steps of the trip.  Booked a bus to Gorkha as my next destination and immediately regretted it getting cold feet about Maoist terrorists, as marked in my Rough Guide as a hotbed of activity.

  With current troubles at border, decided against taking unnecessary risks making myself a target.  Instead wrote off the $4 and booked a bus to return to Kathmandu.

Last day in Pokhara and time to try paragliding. Having picked out my company from the massive choice now available in Pokhara, turned up early in the morning to make sure that the Maoist strike had been called off and therefore not needed to climb the 2 hours and 800 metres up to Sarangkot before flight.  Thankfully, the strike was off and I could turn up again later with a lift up the hill.  3 tourists booked for my flight time, sharing the jeep with 2 60ish women from Miami, who were not only paragliding with me, but going white water rafting the day after.

  I hope I will be in 30 years time !!  I was going to be flying with Hachi, a Korean, which gave me added confidence because all the pictures in the office were of tandem flights featuring him. 

A bumpy, dusty road up to Sarangkot and we were dropped off and ready to go.  As the only one of the 3 of us paying an hour (as opposed to 30 minutes), 90 Euros instead of 60, I was 1st.  Worryingly basic instructions.  "When I tell you to run, run as fast as you can down the slope", and "Sit as soon as we take off", we were set.  Actually nothing to worry about, I was strapped in to a giant baby seat and to Hachi.  When he said run, I got about 5 steps before the tension in the parachute prevented any further forward momentum and straining against the drag, we were immediately in the air and nowhere near where the slope became cliff.

  Quickly soaring 800 metres over Pokhara and rising.  Sadly the clouds prevented the views of the mountains, but flying around looking down on other gliders and hawks (parahawking is another activity to do where you feed hawks whilst paragaliding, but means that the hawks are always close by a paraglider ready for feeding) still exhilarating.  The altometer on my shoulder reading we were rising 4 metres per second and soon above the clouds at 2200m looking down at tiny Pokhara at 800m.  Hachi in complete control and able to enjoy circling around looking down the valley before we slowly dropped down through the clouds - thankfully nothing on the other side as complete white out drifting through.  (Clouds actually smell of the steam that comes off an iron).  Headed towards Phewa lake seemingly drifting down to land when Hachi unexpectedly handed me the controls.
  Sudden panic mode, but quite assured that nothing would happen even if I lost grip on the controls.  Nervously steered us around for 5 minutes practising slow turns before happy to give the controls back.  Hachi pointed out another glider in a nose dive below us.  Absolutely crazy.....before he asked whether I wanted to do it.  On his verbal assurance that he had done it many times before we were quickly spinning down to the lake below.  Better than anything at Alton Towers, the parachute was between us and the ground.  Tried to take a photo, but the g-force of the spin prevented my hand moving any of the 6 inches towards where my camera was tied.  Lasted about 10 seconds before Hachi safely stablised us.  Rising in altitude again, we repeated the spin 1 more time before we came down for a surprisingly comfortable landing on our feet.  Shame about the views, but the flight itself surpassed expectations.  Returned to our pick up wanting to do it again, just will have to wait until after the slightly nauseous feeling from spinning.

Met up with Dave and Nina for the evening, who had recruited a new lad (Ian from Seattle).  Had a nice last night in Pokhara which may be our last together.  Nina gave me some Slovenian homework in case we see each other again in Kathmandu or Jaipur.  Dave tried to talk me in to Everest trekking, but think my 10 days to ABC is enough for this trip.  Nina left and the boys had 1 more night in the Busy Bee before farewells.  Time to move on.

Pokhara is a pretty party town.  Shame I didn't get to see its best views, but a great place to unwind before and after the many treks it provides as a transport hub to. 




mountaingirl says:
What a cool experience!
Posted on: Sep 11, 2011
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photo by: Makkattack