Paragliding in Colombia
The beep of a car’s horn indicated my ride had arrived. Having booked a paragliding trip through my hostel I had no idea what the company itself would be like. I was hoping at the very least that safety would be a top priority. After all, when you’re floating high above the ground you want to be sure you’re securely strapped in! The minibus waiting for me wasn’t so reassuring. It was quite old, but it was when I got in, sat back and the seat-back collapsed that I had to laugh. Hopefully they take better care of their equipment than they do their vehicles!
A few stops and a few extra passengers later we took the half hour drive from San Gil to a hilltop above the town of Curití. There we had a brief introduction to our tandem pilots, were told the teenage helpers would assist us in sitting down on takeoff and that was it! Simple! No instructions needed! Despite my previous reservations the staff were professional and obviously knew what they were doing. Even so, I was glad I wasn’t the first to take off. Instead I relaxed on the grassy bank, bathing in the sun and watching other para-gliders soar above.
Soon my turn was up, helmet on and harness strapping me to my tandem pilot. I was expecting to take a death-defying run off the edge of a cliff but the wind just caught the parachute and pulls you up. The harness creates a seat so once you’re up in the air it’s quite a peaceful experience. Soaring high above tobacco fields and forests I could see for miles around. No noise, just the breeze on my face and the sun on my skin. Amazing, but not the extreme adventure sport thrill I was expecting. I obviously spoke (in my head) too soon as the next thing I know we’re jolted left, then right, and then spiraling down seemingly to a crash landing in the trees below, before being pulled up at what felt like the last second. As we return to soaring tranquilly I finally start breathing again and the pilot laughs at me. “Again?” he asks. “Si!” I reply, a grin across my face.
Soon my time was up, although truthfully I’m not sure my stomach could have taken more than the 15 minutes of roller-coaster in the sky. I’m told to keep my feet up and a bumpy landing later I’m sat on terra firma, no longer a paragliding virgin and sure I’ll be returning for more one day.