Look up at Signal Hill or Lion’s Head on a breathless day and you will no doubt see the serene arcs of colourful paragliders as they gently spiral down to the beaches below, born gracefully on the thermals that keep them aloft. What you don’t hear are the shouts of glee and thumping heartbeats that accompany this extreme sightseeing venture.
While I don’t routinely make a habit of adrenaline-inducing sports, the temptation to tick a Cape Town must-do off my bucket list proved irresistible, so I signed up with Fly Cape Town Paragliding online and drove up to Signal Hill where I met the team stationed at the parking lot.
How Does a Tandem Paraglide Work?
There’s not much too it, making it perfect for nearly anyone with a little daredevil inside. After a quick introduction to Martin, my world-champion pilot for the jump, I signed a few forms and was quickly strapped into my harness and clipped into my helmet. Martin indicated towards the netted area that dropped off into the blue abyss below and told me that all we needed to do, once strapped together, was run off the edge! Before I could give it a second thought, off we began to trot, the butterflies in my stomach morphing into fully-fledged flapping birds. As we leapt off the precipice I squeezed my eyes shut, expecting to feel us drop but instead, my still-running feet lifted off the ground as we were swept up by the warm air.
A Weightless Wonder
Martin’s relaxed demeanour and clear enjoyment eased my shaking nerves as the world shrank away; and I relaxed back into my comfy pouch, my feet dangling before the toy-like houses of Sea Point beneath me. The sensation was surprisingly serene and the perfect conditions meant that we hovered quietly in place for a while – long enough to drink in the 180-degree views of the magnificent coastline and hazy blue ocean.
After taking a few shots himself, Martin handed me the GoPro camera, mounted on a selfie stick and invited me to take videos and pics of our decent. I grasped the camera just as Martin launched into some serious aerobatics, causing us to loop and spiral in great whooshing arcs as we made our way down while I whooped (and maybe shrieked) with what was mostly delight.
As we neared the ground, Martin instructed me to extend my legs for the landing, just opposite Winchester Mansions, which proved to be soft and effortless, the ground crew ready to catch our deflated parachute as we touched the lawn.
My heart still beating my chest with adrenaline, I convinced my jelly legs, still unsure about their place back on terra firma, to march me off to the awaiting vehicle. The team conveyed us back up to our starting point via a scenic drive that wound us through Camps Bay and up the other side of the Mountain.
While I wish the flight could’ve lasted a bit longer, the fantastic footage captured by our shared GoPro shoot means I’ll have memories to treasure for a life-time; though I doubt it will take me that long to return for another round of aerobatic antics.
NB Points for Paragliding in Cape Town
1. Bookings cannot be guaranteed: The wind is unpredictable and will dictate whether the team decide to fly and flights will be suspended for the day if the team feel that wind speeds are too severe. In this case, they’ll phone you to reschedule. While they do try to make sure to do so at least an hour in advance, this cannot be guaranteed. Generally, the morning slots are a better bet.
2. How much does it cost? R1400 per person, with an extra R250 if you’d like a video and pics. You get these on an SD card upon landing.
3. How to pay? The Fly Cape Town team prefer cash payments. However, if you’d like to pay beforehand, you can arrange to transfer funds via EFT or PayPal.
4. How long does it take? While the flight itself can be anything from five to fifteen minutes long, the whole excursion generally takes about an hour, including the drive back up to the starting point.
5. What should I wear? Closed shoes and comfortable clothing. Make sure that you apply sunscreen as the prep, flight and landing means you’ll be exposed to sun.
Book Your Tandem Paraglide with Fly Cape Town here. Alternatively, call Jason on +27 82 851 7119.
Blog post by: Tarah Darge