Paragliding in Nepal with a Griffon Vulture

by Steve the paraglider pilot
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If there's one thing about paragliding that will stick in my mind forever, it was having a

10 foot (3m) wingspan Griffon vulture
flying in perfect synchronisation with me......

...about two feet off my wingtip, whilst going round and round together in a thermal, rising upwards over the foothills of the Himalayas in Nepal.

Photo courtesy of Steve on the Web
The massive bird was using the vortex created by my wingtip for an extra bit of lift, just like geese do when flying in a V formation.

He stared down at me - totally benign - no aggression, looking at me, then the wing and then back at me - with a sort of pitying expression on his face.

I'm sure he was thinking 'Bloody amateur!!!'

After a few more circuits in this thermal we were pretty high and he glided off into the distance, the majestic king of the skies. I felt totally in awe of him.

Awesome is a pretty good word to describe paragliding in Nepal.

I'd arrived in Pokhara, the main tourist town in the Annapurna region, a few days before and had been flying everyday since then from the local site of Sarangkot. It's a wonderful place, beside Phewa Lake, with views of the mountains - all 22,000 feet (7000m) or higher.

Good thermals and almost guaranteed flyingall through the winter months, from November to February.

However, one evening, talking with Rajesh, a local Nepali pilot, we decided we should visit Shanti Maidan, a village a few miles outside Pokhara, and base ourselves there for flying from a nearby hilltop with a perfect takeoff area.

Photo courtesy of Steve on the Web

So the next day we drove there and established ourselves in the local guesthouse.

The flying was excellent - very reliable thermals took us up about 3000 feet (1000m) above take off, where the view of the mountains in the distance made you realise just how small and insignificant man really is.

But what goes up must come down - and when we did, we landed back on the same hilltop, to be met by many children from the area, all happy smiling kids, curious about everything.

The Nepalese are the most genuinely kind, generous and honest people you will ever meet.

My all too short stay was the most tremendous fun and it was a trulyworthwhile experience to go there. On top of that, it's a good value holiday - everything is extremely well priced in Nepal.

Photo courtesy of Steve on the Web
I'd thoroughly recommend it to all paraglider pilots - I'm going again for Christmas and New Year, to fly in the Nepal Open Paragliding Championship... Fancy coming with me?

If you wanna go with Steve? Email Steve or check out his cool site at http://members.tripod.co.uk/paragliding

Why not get a friend interested - send them a free paragliding postcard


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