Paragliding is one of the best ways to simulate free-flying like a bird and many paragliders liken the experience to being in a state of nirvana – a feeling of pure peace, absolute freedom and complete silence aside from the wind whispering through your wing!
South Africa offers plenty of world class flyable sites with great weather, amazing thermals and phenomenal, eye-popping scenery. Like any extreme adventure sport, lessons provided by a qualified and experienced trainer are necessary for solo paragliding but, fortunately, tandem paragliding makes this awe-inspiring and rather addictive leisure activity accessible to everyone!
The paragliding wing is composed of many interconnected cells between two layers of high-performance fabric and the pilot is supported in a seated position below the wing by a harness and network of strong webbing. Paragliders used for tandem flights are specially designed to carry a tandem-trained pilot and one passenger. Takeoffs on foot are either forward or reverse launches, and towed launches are also possible. By making use of good thermal lifts or air currents, skilled paragliding pilots have been known to fly continuously for several hours, covering hundreds of kilometres and reaching altitudes of a few thousand metres.
Paragliding has a number of great advantages. The equipment, which includes a reserve parachute, is lightweight and easily portable and can be carried in a backpack to suitable launching sites. Another big bonus is that paragliding is one of the most eco-friendly aerial sports with no fuel usage or negative impact on the landscape.
So, if you are ready to soar like a bird and ride the wind-kissed skies of South Africa browse Dirty Boots’ selection of reputable paragliding operators throughout the country. Newcomers with no experience can choose from tandem flights and short introductory courses, and training sessions for the more experienced include advanced thermalling techniques and cross-country flying.
Takeoff locations around Cape Town include Lion’s Head, Signal Hill, Hermanus and Sir Lowry’s Pass. Porterville on the West Coast is also a popular paragliding location, and take to the air along the Garden Route for spectacular views of the coastline around Wilderness.
In the Eastern Cape, learn the basics of paragliding on a sand dune near Port Elizabeth. Oubos near Storms River is a prime thermic site and tandem flights launch at Lady Slipper and Maitlands.
Durban’s Bluff and Kloof Gorge offer stunning views of the rolling hills of KwaZulu-Natal and Amahaqwa or Bulwer Mountain in the Natal Midlands is famous for its first rate thermal and ridge soaring conditions.
De Aar in the Northern Cape is a world-renowned paragliding region especially in early summer, with conditions often ideal for record-breaking distance flights.
Paragliding in Gauteng offers ground school training near Hartebeespoort Dam followed up by mountain launches near Dullstroom in Mpumalanga. The Drakensberg escarpment, also in Mpumalanga, offers breathtaking paragliding sites including God’s Window and Long Tom Pass.