Flying like a bird
Paragliding is a relatively new adventure sport in Nepal. Paragliding in this Himalayan country can be a truly wonderful and fulfilling experience for the adventure-seekers. You can experience unparalleled scenic grandeur as you share airspace with Himalayan griffin vultures, eagles, kites, while floating over villages, monasteries, temples, lakes and jungles, with a fantastic view of the majestic Himalayas.
Gliding is a weather dependent sport and the flying season in Nepal commences from November through February, the best months being November and December. By virtue of its latitude and monsoonal climate, the tree line in Nepal is at an incredible 3,900 m above sea level. With conditions milder than summer alpine, these are excellent and constant atmospherics.
The topography and climate of Nepal also make it an ideal destination for all levels of pilots- subtropical conditions provide plenty of thermals and combined with the long valleys common in Nepal, they produce perfect 'cloud streets' ideal for paragliders, inviting them to fly along this "sky highway". The local microclimate, controlled by the numerous lakes in the valley, is unique, which makes it even better for the glider.
The main area for flying in Nepal is the Annapurna region, more specifically the Pokhara valley. This lakeside town is Nepal's second "city", nestled at the foot of the Annapurna Himal, the views commanded from here, of 3 of the worlds 8000m peaks, are unsurpassed. At an altitude of 800m ASL the subtropical climate means that, year round, it is short and T-shirt weather. The micro-climate of the valley makes it an ideal area for flying, with far more constant conditions than the Kathmandu valley 150 km east.
There are several sites around Phew Tal (the lake) but the most accessible is Sarangkot (1500m ASL). A view point 700m above Pokhara, it is unique in that it has a road running to the top. A short walk brings you to the only purpose built take off in the country. Cut out of the slope is a 45m by 45m clearing. With regular cycles providing easy reverse launches, you could not ask for a more picturesque site. With the lake 2000 ft below, the mountains behind, and the unlimited potential for XC and out and returns, this has quickly become the main site for the area, and many pilots have based themselves in Pokhara for the season, flying from this mountain alone.
There are various deals for the paragliding enthusiast as well as those checking this sport out for the first time. There is a three-day introductory course for beginners, as well as tandem flights (where you fly with an instructor) for the inexperienced or less brave. At 6000 ft, you sit back in your seat as your qualified pilot takes you on an unforgettable journey. The take-off point for these flights is Sarankot (1592 m), which offers prime views of Phewa Tal and the mountains at sunrise and sunset (provided the skies are clear); the landing is by the lake.