What is the quintessential adrenaline rush exactly? For some it’s free-falling out of an airplane into endless sky while for others it’s diving into the deep depths of the ocean into waters teeming with eager sharks. The essential ingredient of any adventure trip is most definitely adrenaline, no matter what form it comes in. For those less willing to leap out of a perfectly good airplane, paragliding is a great alternative; a sort of slow-motion jump from a mountain top or towering hill that offers a similar experience to a free fall with the chance to take it all in at a slower pace.
Bazaruto Archipelago, Mozambique
Mozambique’s Bazaruto Archipelago is just 16 kilometers off the coast, one of the most remote places along the east coast of Africa and also one of the most beautiful with alabaster beaches and water like glass. It’s here where paragliders will find the ultimate in options; simply scale the massive dune, choose any launching point, and coast through the clouds through sun and along the sea. One of the most popular facets of this unparalleled paragliding location is the lack of obstacles: many people don’t bother with helmets or even shoes because there’s simply nothing to hit, making it a great place for novices to practice and for the more experienced to try more daring stunts. Condition are most dependable between May and October and low tide is ideal: paragliders can cost to the ocean and land along the beach.
Wengen, Canton of Bern, Switzerland
Valleys, vistas, and waterfalls make the base village of Wengen, Canton of Bern, Switzerland, an incredible, year-round destination for paragliding, hang gliding, and sky diving. Originally renowned for world=class hiking and skiing, Wengen has become a paramount European destination for heart-pumping, mountain-scaling adventures. Wengen gives way to the Lauterbrunnen Valley, known as the Valley of Waterfalls, where more than 70 waterfalls plummet down sky-scraping cliffs in an area with more than 11,000 feet between base camp and the Jungfrau summit–higher even than Mount Everest’s 10,000-foot elevation from base camp. For some paragliders, that’s reason enough to book a trip. Soar past immense alpine meadows, lush green valleys, snow capped chalets, and 19th century timber houses back into base camp and start over again or try out some equally blood-pumping activities like canyoneering (traversing canyons using various techniques like climbing and swimming) or river rafting.
Babadag Mountain is the place to be when planning any adventure sports in Fethiye, Turkey. It’s known as a Mecca for paragliders and other sky surfers: it towers over 5,900 feet and offers sublime views of the mountains and surrounding areas. That first view from the top can definitely induce some queasy feelings if you’ve never paraglided from that kind of height–everything below appears absolutely minuscule. Outfitters provide all necessary equipment, a jeep ride up the steep mountain, and a tandem jump that lasts over 20 minutes soaring over white sand beaches, lush green forest, and cobalt water before landing directly on Belcekiz Beach. Any adrenaline junkie will love the elevation here and the ease of the jump but be sure to watch out for fog which comes in regularly–it can turn a fantastic jump lethal.
Point of the Mountain, Utah, USA
For those less willing to paraglide from heights pushing into thousands of feet, Utah’s Point of the Mountain near Salt Lake City is great place to languidly fly from the top of the mountain to escape gravity and take in the surrounding scenery, whether on short flight or a longer haul adventure, the conditions are legendary; winds are consistently smooth, offering the greatest potential for both paragliding and hang gliding. Point of the Mountain is ideal for beginners, with several professional paragliding companies offering lessons, tandem flights, and tours, and advanced instruction. If you’re just a beginner wanting to take to the skies, Point of the Mountain is perfect. Beginner tandem flights can start as low as just five feet and range up to 2,000 feet, offering a level of comfort for just about anyone.
Valle de Bravo, Mexico
El Penon in Valle de Bravo, Mexico is one of the most famous sites for flying in the world, offering consistent conditions that can lead up to four hours flying every day. the inland thermal site is situated on the boundary of a strong network of ancient, inactive volcanoes enveloped by lush hills and blanketed in temperate, emerald forest. From December through March, these elements combine, providing incredible thermal soaring conditions within an area that perfectly compliments the lifestyle and flying schedule. Launching from El Penon is at more than 7,000 feet and the glide is easy given good conditions without too much wind. The access road is ideal for driving up, making it a cinch to arrive at the top and onsite amenities ensure you’re primed and ready to go before take off.
Anyone who’s been paragliding in India maintains that Kamshet, just 110 kilometers from Mumbai in the Western Ghats, is a paradise for sky launches and an ideal destination for adventure-seekers looking for a major rush. Avoiding monsoon season–typically from June through October–paragliders can head to Kamshet during the summer season between March and May for ideal conditions and temperatures. From the launch points of either east or west Tower Hill, gliders can experience some breathtaking scenes, including tiny villages dotting the entire mountain expanse. There are several guesthouses in the area accommodating paragliders in the immediate vicinity wanting to spend their entire time flying, with either tandem lessons and solo flying or strictly tandem flights. Outfitters also offer transport to Tower Hill each day. In thermal seasons, depending on conditions, launches can be extended, cross-country flights with incredible views and panoramas of the entire region.
Danyang, South Korea
Undescribable freedom ensues when defying gravity in Danyang, South Korea. Heading to the take-off points of either Mount Dusan or Mountan Yangbangsan, gliders enjoy a facility that’s well designed and only a two-hour drive from Seoul. If coming in from Seoul, booking a jump is easy and includes transportation from the city, equipment, tandem jumps, and extended lessons if desired (if you’re planning on the approach independently, there’s a direct bus to Danyang from the East Seoul Bus Terminal). Beginners generally always fly from Mount Yangbangsan which is near the downtown area and the site for standard training prior to departure. The views from this jump point are incredible and feature the Manhangang River below and the city spread out before you while mountains pass alongside. International and national competitions happen at this location, proving it’s better than any other paragliding point in the country.
Castelluccio, Umbria, Italy
The Apennines Mountains are a range in Italy comprised of a network of smaller chains spanning more than 1,100 kilometers along the peninsular length of Italy. They’re beautiful, home to countless lovely towns and villages, and offer one of the best spots in Europe for paragliding. The highest village in the Apennines Mountains is Castelluccio, most notable for vibrant valleys that begin showing off their blooms in early spring and through the summer months. It’s these kinds of scenes paired with alpine heights that have attracted numerous hang gliding and para gliding schools to establish themselves in the vicinity. The thermals here are extremely smooth and the air perfectly calm most of the year creating good conditions for first-time flyers while experienced pilots enjoy the challenges offered by heading to the summit of Monte Vettore and flying a different, more challenging route.
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