(scroll down for video…you don’t want to miss it!)
Here is how NOT to start your first paragliding excursion:
- Be picked up from hotel a half an hour late by what you hope is an ‘official’ paragliding company.
- Be picked up NOT in a tough-looking jeep or truck or even a bus with company logo, but in a beat-up, old, unmarked Renault.
- Leave town to head to the canyon and return to town about one minute later to drop off one guy and pick up another random guy. While you wait in hot, dusty car, driver goes to corner shop to buy himself some snacks and drinks.
- Leave town again. About five minutes later car engine chokes and dies. Car has run out of gas.
- You run out of confidence.
Yes. This is how it went for me. It was a very auspicious beginning to my paragliding adventure in San Gil. I have to admit, this seemingly crazy, tape and band-aid operation wasn’t giving me the amount of confidence I wanted in the people that were about to have mi vida en sus manos.
But I wasn’t going to bail. I am sure they are some how licensed or at least trained…or just kinda know what they are doing, right? This wasn’t the U.S. They didn’t have a slick bus or truck with their logo on it and there may be fewer regulations (sometimes a good thing and sometimes bad), but they did have nice business cards and even an office. That had to mean something, right? Right??
Meanwhile back in the car with no gas, our co-pilot (and the guy who would be my tandem jump pilot) jumped out (it wasn’t far to land) and ran up the street for gas while I and the two other guys just sat in the car and spoke in Spanish. Well, they did. I just sat there (awkward whistle). They seemed quite relaxed so I tried not to worry or over think it. Oh, did I mention, I was their only passenger for the day? Five minutes later we were at a gas station, all filled up and ready to go. Vamos!
Paragliding Chicamocha Canyon
About 30 minutes later, we arrived high above Chicamocha Canyon and pulled into a dirt parking area. I was then given NO instructions as they started unloading the car and eating some snacks. Finally, the guy, who I learned was my pilot said, “Ready? Let’s go.”
We walked on a narrow path up a small hill and could then look all the way down into the brown and green-hued canyon.
Before I knew it, he was buckling me into my harness (it seemed sturdy) and telling me to ‘RUN! RUN!’ off the cliff. That was literally all the instruction I got. I didn’t even have time to think about it, let alone ask any questions (sometimes a good thing for me) and…we were flying.
Wow. It was amazing and much more relaxing and quieter than I expected. We just drifted around like a bird swooping and diving and just letting the wind and thermal air pockets carry us around the sky for about 45 minutes. We could have just hung out and had a picnic lunch up there. Figures at some point I started thinking about food.
Check out the video here:
- $85 transport included to and from the canyon (albeit a bit shaky)
- 45 minute flight high above Chicamocha Canyon
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Paragliding looks awesome, dangerous but never the less awesome! This and ski diving are two things on my list of things to do.
You didn’t look nervous or edgy in the video. Could you have paid an extra $15 and kept that very sexy helmet?
Andi of My Beautiful Adventures
AMAZING!!!!!!! What an adventure, wow!
Jill - Jack and Jill Travel The World
Oh, how amazing!! Heard that there’s climbing too in San Gil. Exciting place!
Wow! That would be incredible! Thank you so much for sharing this. I especially like the “How not to start” guide.
Looks like you had a great time. I don’t think this is for me but it did remind me of first time I ever went scuba diving. We were in Tahiti and had similar things happen – picked up in their rickety car and driven to their house! That’s where I realized the leaders only spoke French and I only spoke English. It was a little unsettling but we had a fun time and survived!
Cam @ Traveling Canu
Great video! Freaked me out right near the landing at the end, you approached that dirt road so fast!
I'm not the best at heights but I think paragliding would be a better compromise than bungy or sky-diving.
Thanks Cam! It was totally relaxing…i think probably nothing like skydiving…which i should do one day soon!!
Oh, great video! I wanna do this!!!
Thanks Gray! I definitely recommend paragliding. It's not really scary at all and so smooth, quiet and relaxing!!
HAHAHA what a great story LL!!! If I learned one thing in Colombia, its that some of the best moments come when you ask the fewest questions.
Hey thanks! I like your saying!!
HAHAH – I just commented on your Villa De Leyva post and looks like we did the same things in Colombia. I went paragliding there too just a month ago. It was amazing. I'm still constructing my blog post on it. But it was awesome!
I found Colombia to an amazing place. The scenery is beautiful and the people generally really honest and friendly. The paragliding was one exception for me unfortunately. I organized a flight through macondo hostel (great place to stay by the way) and opted for the more expensive canyon flight option. Despite being told beforehand to expect up to 60mins in the air, mine lasted only 24 mins and cost 170000cop which you have to pay in advance. And conditions were perfect…no issue with too much or too little wind. The company operates an office on the main road into town opposite the big ant statue next to the river. I’d avoid them and use another company if possible.
Thanks for the tip Andrew. I had some issues with my company too, but it all turned out okay in the end.
lol that sounds like a major adventure. I'm not sure if I myself would have dared a flight with an "official" paragliding company like that.. makes you kind of slightly worry about your safety. but maybe it's just me 🙂
Ha! Thanks for commenting Gleitschirm! I would imagine your Swiss company runs a bit smoother?! 🙂
Wow, marvelous blog format! How lengthy have you been blogging
for? you made running a blog glance easy. The overall glance of your web site is
magnificent, let alone the content material.
Very cool Lisa! What kind of camera did you use to film yourself? GoPro on a selfie stick? 🙂
Thanks Marie! Ha! This was in 2010 I think and I was using my DSLR. It has an articulating screen you can turn around to see yourself. It just gets heavy! 😉
Yes, I noticed the date on the post after I left my comment. Interestingly, I was also in San Gil, Colombia in 2010! Late March I believe.
Oh wow…how funny. Also coincidentally, a friend I met through Couchsurfing from Bogota is visiting me tomorrow in Chicago! Love our small world.