After jumping out of a plane in Vegas a few years ago, I think I officially overcame my fear of heights and turned into an adrenaline junkie. So when I had the option to run off a mountain and paraglide while in Pokhara, Nepal in December, it didn’t take much for me to say “yes”.
My sister, the rest of our G Adventures tour group, and I, all headed down to Open Sky Paragliding where we signed our lives away and got ready to drive up the mountain we were going to run off of. What I’ve learned doing other adventure sports like this is that it’s unlikely you’ll receive an excessive amount (or any) safety briefing before you go. Essentially we signed a waver and piled about 15-18 people into a 10 person van, to make the drive up the mountain (which I think may have been scarier than the paragliding part).
As our van drove up the mountain, we couldn’t help but notice the lack of guardrails stopping us from falling over the edge, but like I try to do in most foreign countries, I took a deep breath and trusted that these locals, who do this for their job multiple times every day, knew what they were doing.
When we arrived at the top of the mountain we were jumping off of, it wasn’t long until each of us were assigned our own experienced paraglider/partner, and were getting strapped up with our parachute. Our instructions? “When I say run, run forward and don’t look back.”
I can’t really say that I could explain what running off the edge of a mountain is like. I mean, it’s such an unnatural experience, but I think that’s what makes it so exciting. When the perfect gust of wind came, off we ran, and the minute we flew off the side, our parachute swept us up and just like that we were flying like a bird.
Extreme sports are one of those things that feel so unnatural that you really do have an out-of-body experience. As we soared high above Pokhara, caught glimpses of the city, the mountains, and Phewa Lake, you suddenly realize how peaceful it is to be that high up in the air, just floating above everyone on the ground.
So the big question… was it terrifying? To be honest, no. Once you took off from the mountain, I felt safe and at peace up in the sky. The guy who was strapped on to me took control of everything, and when you land, you literally just start to descend towards the ground and stand straight up. It’s easy!
I’d definitely recommend paragliding when visiting a place like Nepal, or really anywhere that would have a great view from above. It’s one of those experiences that you may only do once in your lifetime, but you’ll never forget it!