Nepal is home to some of the world’s most magnificent and breath taking scenery, being home to the largest mountain range on the planet – the Himalayas. Many take to the mountains for climbing expeditions, experiencing the rugged and treacherous high altitude conditions first-hand. Many just like to take in the pure marvel of the world’s largest rock formation by viewing them from the cities below.
However, one way to truly experience the beauty of the Himalayan Mountains is by air. The Nepalese region of Pokhara has an amazing secret; it is home to some of the world’s best paragliding schools and hosts what can arguably be considered as the most desirable paragliding location imaginable.
Take to the skies in Pokhara
Paragliding is an activity that offers experiences like no other. The best thing about it is that anyone can learn how to fly! The flying schools in Pokhara offer a wide range of courses, ranging from one off tandem flights to beginner courses to full pilot courses. Upon completing the full pilot courses, students will be given a paragliding pilots licence, which they can then transfer to other countries.
Pokhara has several schools that offer unrivalled paragliding experiences to people of all sorts of abilities, ages and physical strengths, whether you are already a fully qualified pilot, or whether you want to try it for the first time. Those new to the sport will be able to take a tandem flight with an experienced pilot. Your instructor will fix you to his / her harness and position you in the front. You will be attached to the parachute, which will be laid out on a grass slope behind you. Your instructor will then tell you to run quickly down the slope. You will then take off into the air and start your flight; your instructor will steer the paraglider into thermals (patches of warm air) to gain height.
Become a pilot
For people that want to train to ride solo, Pokhara is the perfect place to do so. You can enrol in courses that vary in length but that all have the same aim – to provide you with a pilot licence so that you can fly on your own. Your course will involve a lot of theory, such as meteorology, flight theory, piloting skills and learning air laws and traffic control. You will then be taught aspects of flying such as detecting thermals, controlling the aircraft and taking off and landing skills. You will be able to practice on mild slopes, progressing to the steeper ones once you are ready.
Paragliding is very dependent on the right weather conditions. It needs to be mild, with little outlook of rain, and contain the right cloud formations and thermals that make flying possible. This means that flying can often not be guaranteed until the day – or even hour – of a booking. However, Pokhara’s climate makes it a great place for flying for around half of the year. The region has a sub-tropical climate, but its elevation and altitude of 1,000 metres above sea level, keeps the temperatures moderate. The area does receive a high amount of rainfall in the summer months, which are not good conditions for flying, but during winter time (around November to March) Pokhara presents ideal conditions for paragliding.
The town, nestled well into the edge of the Himalayan Mountain Range, provides amazing views of the mountains. Three of the world’s tallest mountains lie within 30 km; Dhaulagiri, Annapurna I and Manaslu.
Pokhara – Nepal’s paragliding capital – is widely considered by extreme sporting enthusiasts as one of the best places to fly in the world due to its unique scenery, and unbeatable cross-country flying routes. It is also one of the best regions in which to learn to fly as it offers a near-on guarantee in terms of flying conditions, as well as offering a range of ideal teaching sites. On the outskirts of Pokhara, there are many gentle open green slopes that offer students ideal starting flights – and then progression flights catering for a variety of levels. Pokhara’s ideal conditions can offer the experienced paraglider flights of over two hours and regularly covering distances of 50 km. A paragliding adventure in Nepal might not be as obvious-a-choice for a break as a Carribean holiday, but guaranteed it will be just as enjoyable. Just make sure you bring your camera!
Finally, Nepal is home to a unique activity that you will struggle to find anywhere else in the world; parahawking is a new sport that mixes of paragliding with falconry. Participants of parahawking can expect to interact with hawks in the sky, getting within touching distance of these magnificant birds of prey. For more information, visit www.parahawking.com.