Overlook Pokhara

Adventure Issue 216 Nov, 2019
Text by Regina Jiang

Have you ever seen a city like this before, having a birds’ eye view of it all for over thirty minutes? In that very moment, soaring into the sky, I finally understood why paragliding is a must for everyone who comes to Pokhara.

Pokhara, at over 800 meters above sea level, has become a mecca for paragliders in recent years. With some excellent natural landscapes, such as serene Phewa Lake, towering Mt Fishtail and continuous Mt Annapurna, it’s a perfect fit. Many visitors go to Pokhara for paragliding, both pilots and enthusiasts from all over the world, and before coming here, many of my friends both in and out of Nepal also suggested that I go paragliding, going so far as to say “You will regret it for the rest of your life if you don’t do it in Pokhara."

Maybe it was fate, because right after I arrived in Pokhara, I coincidentally came to know Krishna Adhikari, an experienced paragliding pilot, as well as the director of Fly Nirvana Paragliding P. Ltd, a company that has been around for more than seven years and has many excellent pilots. After a brief conversation, Krishna and I hit it off and decided to glide if the weather was good the next day. Gliding requires the right natural conditions, such as the strength of the wind, the day’s temperature, as well as the right visibility, which affect the takeoff and landing. For instance, low visibility reduces the gliding experience.

Fortunately, the sky was clear. After enjoying a quiet morning of coffee by Phewa Lake, the paragliding company sent a car to pick me up. The view along the road should also not be missed; as the car went uphill, the scenery below gradually shrank and the horizon widened. Fresh air jostled into my lungs, making me feel happy. A pilot asked me if I was nervous before getting off the bus. I denied it with a look of excitement. He explained that in order to ensure their customers have a good experience, they will repeatedly confirm the mood and physical condition of the tourists before taking off.

Sarangkot hill, our departure place, where many gliding enthusiasts and companies take off from, is about 1,400 meters above sea level. Look at Sarangkot from Phewa Lake and the sky is full of gliders. Krishna was my pilot and he kept talking to ease my nerves, as he prepared the harness. Before paragliding, the tourists themselves need to get fully ready: the company provides the gliding equipment, such as harness, helmet, and glider. In addition to this, the shoes worn should fit snugly and it is better to wear long-sleeved clothes to prevent the low air temperature above from affecting the gliding experience. Some people wear sunglasses to prevent the sun from dazzling the eyes too much.

The take-off took place on a hillside with a wide view of the city of Pokhara. When all your gear is ready, the first thing to do is to wait. When Krishna felt the right wind, he would beckon me to run. After just a few steps running forward, the feeling of weightlessness is sudden. At this time, adjust to the appropriate position to sit, and then you can enjoy the pleasure of it. At the first second when I flew, the only thing I felt is never-ending happiness. All the annoyances are left behind, on the ground. You can feel the most primitive freedom.

The view I saw while paragliding is quite different from anything I’d experienced before. I’d been to the Shanghai World Financial Center, a skyscraper over 400 meters tall, to go sightseeing. Long lines of tourists were jostling to get into the building, and after entering it, the number of red floors rose slightly above the cramped elevator, and the air was oppressive before reaching the sightseeing floor. The view there was amazing also, but lacked something. However, the scenery here is in close contact with nature. From takeoff to landing, nature is always around, the warm sun, the mountains and lakes. As the pilot adjusted, the view became more complete. We could see the whole downtown of Pokhara, the airport, Himalayas, and of course, the dark green Phewa Lake. The feeling in the air, in addition to excitement, is more of marvel, being awed at the beauty of Pokhara.

While gliding, there were many enthusiasts nearby, not only double paragliding but also single ones. According to Krishna, in the beginning, paragliding was introduced to Nepal by some foreign tourists, and after so many years of development the gliding industry in Nepal, especially in Pokhara, is now booming day by day. Taking into consideration affecting factors, like flight vectors, the currently scheduled gliding time is 10:30 am to 3:30 pm, so a pilot usually goes up twice a day.

After more than 30 minutes of air flight, the excitement gradually faded, but I felt the unbelievable power of the Creator more clearly. The verdant view is a wonder, particularly when seen by people who are addicted to urban life. No wonder Pokhara is hailed as a hiker's paradise.

We landed at Khapaudi on the lake: with Krishna in control of the paraglider, we gradually flew in the direction of Phewa Lake, which like a fine emerald, lies quietly to the west of Pokhara. Looking down at that moment, I could clearly see my own reflection in the lake. The reflection seemed to be an access, making the unreal feeling of flying become real gradually.

When landing, be careful not to bend your legs. A girl next to me warned me about this with her own example: she bent her legs before landing and subsequently sat down on the ground, despite which, her face was still flushed with excitement. Our landing was smooth. In the moment of approach, feet straight to touch the ground, and then follow the inertia to take two or three steps, then land steadily.

After landing, I had no discomfort except for a slight sense of dizziness. The other tourists who took off at the same time looked different. Some excitedly chattered about their flight experiences, while others clutched their water glasses with a pale face. After resting for a moment, we headed back to the office to view photos and videos shot with sports cameras.

Until the night, I could still feel the freedom of flying with my feet off the ground. Different from single paragliding, double paragliding requires the corporation and communication between the pilot and the custumer. Whether you feel good or bad, just tell the pilot and he will help you. Compared with bungee and skydiving, paragliding is less intimidating for people who are not innate adventurers, but the experience feeling is little short of them.
Are you feeling the stress of life and work? Then come to Pokhara and let yourself soar, leaving your worries behind on the ground.