Paragliding is an extreme sport whereby you ascend to a height before jumping and allowing a wide canopy (called a paraglider), similar to a parachute, glide you through the air. If Paragliding were ever to become an Olympic sport, paragliding in Cape Town would be the perfect place for participants to train and prepare as it has some fantastic locations for paragliding. The sport is often is often confused with parasailing, which involves wearing a parachute and gliding through the air while attached to a boat speeding through a body of water. If only the Olympic committee could be convinced of the viability of the sport as an official Olympic event.
Paragliding is a great way to fuel the adrenaline junkie within you. The sport is safe and fun without being boring. The adrenaline rush is no where near as sky diving but it is great for beginner adrenaline junkies who are looking to get started in extreme sports.
For your first paragliding experience, a professional tandem paraglide over the city is advised. Tandem flights involve being strapped into a harness with a professional pilot being you. The paraglider, which is laid across the ground, inflates as the wind pulls it. The paraglider will carry you off of the high ground and into the air. Tandem flights last between 15 and 30 minutes, depending on weather conditions. Landing is similar to take-off but with steps done in reverse.
When looking at paragliding companies, look for companies licensed by the South African Hang Gliding and Paragliding Association to ensure legitimacy and safety. Skywings Paragliding in Cape Town is one of the better, more reputable companies offering great packages.As with any extreme sport, with paragliding you are in danger of getting hurt. However, a certified, experienced pilot knows what conditions are optimal for flight and how to control the paraglider and flight path to minimize danger. Therefore, choosing a good reputable company is essential. Pricing for a tandem paragliding session ranges between R1150 and R1300 with optional extras such as photos and videos of your flight and transport between landings.
Lion’s Head, Signal Hill and Sir Lowry’s Pass are all popular starting positions from which to paraglide. More experienced pilots travel, to Wilderness and Hermanus, in search of a change in scenery. Landing spots are scenic and as such the coast is loaded with prime landing spots. Sea Point, Clifton beach and Camps Bay used often as landing areas or as backdrops.
Paragliding is extremely weather dependent and flights cannot proceed until optimal conditions are confirmed. If conditions aren’t optimal, both your enjoyment and safety are compromised. Therefore, you need to be flexible with location and flight time.
Once you get the hang of the sport, you can progress from tandem paragliding to being a solo pilot. This, however, requires a license. This basic pilots license can be obtained through a paragliding school, such as Paraglide South Africa (The course takes between 1 to 3 months to complete, depending on how much time you have to attend classes.
Paragliding is the most accessible extreme sport and is accessible to anyone. Whether you are in the shape of your life, struggle for breath when you climb stairs or disabled, you can paraglide. That being said, tandem paragliding isn’t the greatest sport if you are looking to improve your fitness, with most of the work being done by the wind. Solo flight is another story, as controlling the paraglider requires quite a bit of upper body strength. The biggest health benefit is not muscular but rather mental. The adrenaline rush of paragliding is a great stress reliever and confidence builder.
If you are Capetonian or simply visiting and want to see the beauty of the city first hand, why not do it with a tandem paraglide. If you’re on the fence about extreme sports or looking for some excitement in your life, take the leap with paragliding and scratch it off your bucket list.