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Nepal is famous for its amazing treks, but are so many other adventure activities to do in this wonderful country such as paragliding. In fact, Pokhara, Nepal is one of the top five commercial tandem paragliding locations in the world! Paragliding in Pokhara is well worth a spot on your Nepal bucket list.
At the beginning of this my yearlong trip around the world, I never imagined myself jumping off a cliff into the air. I’ve never been an adrenaline junky, and I’ve always been risk-averse to activities that involved jumping off high ledges. But over this past year, I’ve grown so much confidence that the idea didn’t scare me anymore. So when the opportunity came up to go paragliding in Pokhara, I knew it would be the perfect way to commemorate how far I’d come.
This post will go over where to go paragliding in Nepal, who to go paragliding with, and everything else you need to know to go on an epic paragliding adventure. I hope it inspires you to try paragliding in Nepal, and put any concerns you have at ease.
Where to go Paragliding in Nepal
There are a few locations you can go Paragliding in Nepal, but Pokhara is the best due to its ideal conditions. Pokhara has stable thermals, convenient take-off and landing zones, the safety of a large lake below, and incredible mountain views.
Pokhara is a great place to try paragliding for the first time because there are reputable companies that have been flying in Pokhara for years, so you know you are in good hands.
Pokhara is a beautiful city in central Nepal. It’s the gateway to trekking in the Annapurna mountains but has a lot to offer itself. Pokhara is what I wanted Kathmandu to be, a symbol for all the adventure that is Nepal. The city is set against Phewna lake with the Himalaya mountain ranges in the background.
Getting to Pokhara
Pokhara has a small regional airport so you can fly there from other airports in Nepal, but I found these flights to be pricey. Instead, take the tourist bus which is well-connected throughout Nepal.
If you fly internationally into Nepal you will land in Kathmandu, the capital city. From there, you can get a bus to Pokhara which takes 6-8 hours. The road conditions are not great in Nepal so expect to be on the longer end. You can also expect to have a bumpy ride, but the views on the way are incredible. The bus stops at least three times where you can use the washroom and buy food. The buses run every day in the morning between Pokhara and Kathmandu.
Where to stay in Pokhara
Pokhara is well set-up for tourists and there is a range of accommodation options from cheap hostel beds to high-end resorts. Many of the hotels are on Lakeside, the main tourist area of Pokhara.
This area is nice to stay for convenience but can be noisy at night, as there is lively nightlife in Pokhara. If you prefer peace and quiet, stay further out from town.
I recommend Zostel Pokhara which had beautiful views of the lake, a quiet but social atmosphere, but is only a 25-minute walk into town.
Best time to go Paragliding in Pokhara
It is possible to go paragliding in Pokhara year-round as long as it’s not raining and the thermals are active. The peak season for paragliding in Nepal is the same as the normal tourist season, which is from September-November, and February-March. The fall months are the best time as the thermals develop quickly and create easy flying. I went paragliding in Nepal in November and the conditions were perfect!
The sun needs to be out long enough to heat the earth and create the thermals necessary for lift. The early morning flights tend to be shorter as the thermals haven’t developed, but are calmer if you want a less turbulent flight. By late morning, the thermals will be active which creates the best conditions for paragliding (i.e. you will be in the air longer), so this is the ideal time to get the most bang for your buck.
How Safe is Paragliding in Pokhara?
Paragliding in Pokhara is generally a safe activity. It’s probably safer than crossing the street at a busy intersection in town! There are more than 250 flights a day during peak season. In case of an accident, you have a reserve chute and a large lake for safety.
However, it is an extreme adventure sport and risks are involved. The biggest risk is during take-off and landing if there is a sudden change in wind. The event of this is highly unlikely, but to put your mind at ease go with a company that has a proven track record and company insurance. I recommend Sunrise Paragliding.
I can’t stress enough the importance of having personal travel insurance, especially if you plan to engage in adventure activities. The likelihood of something going wrong is small, but do you want to be stuck with that medical bill in a foreign country?
Put your mind at ease and get travel insurance before your trip. I recommend World Nomads. I’ve used them for years and have only had great experiences even when making a claim. They are affordable and cover a wide range of adventure activities including paragliding.
Do you need experience to go paragliding?
You don’t need to have any experience to go tandem paragliding. The pilot will do all the work so you can just sit back, relax, and enjoy the incredible views. If you are interested in trying to paraglide on your own, Sunrise Paragliding has beginner courses to learn how to be a pilot, or advanced trips if you already have some prior paragliding experience.
Who to go Paragliding with in Pokhara
There are a few companies that offer paragliding in Pokhara. I didn’t feel that it was something I should base on price so I decided to go with the most reputable company, Sunrise Paragliding. They are the first paragliding company in Nepal, with over 18 years of experience flying in Pokhara.
I can’t speak to the other companies, but I loved my experience with Sunrise. From the moment I walked into their office to inquire about paragliding they immediately made me feel at ease. The guys who run this business are top-notch and will make sure you have an incredible experience.
What is the price of Paragliding in Pokhara?
Sunrise paragliding offers three different options for tandem paragliding. The cheapest option is the “cloudbuster” which is a 20-30 minute flight (time depends on the thermals). This flight costs 8,500 NPR ($100 CAD/$75 USD). This is the flight I did.
They also have a longer flight option, the “cross-country”, which is 45-60 minutes long. This flight costs 11,500 NPR ($135 CAD/ $100 USD). These prices are current as of Feb 2019, so please check the Sunrise Paragliding website/currency conversions for the most recent prices.
Taking Photos on a Paragliding Flight
For an additional 2,000 NPR Sunrise Paragliding will take photos/videos of your flight which get transferred to you immediately after the flight. They allow you to bring your camera during the flight but discourage taking any cameras that are not a sports camera (i.e. GoPro). I only took my GoPro but ended up regretting it as I saw other people take their regular cameras, and felt it would have been fine based on my flight experience. However, taking your own camera equipment is at your own risk and they won’t cover any damage!
What to expect on a Paragliding tour with Sunrise Paragliding
You will meet at the Sunrise Paragliding office in Lakeside. From there, the group will take a 20-minute jeep ride uphill to Sarangkot viewpoint which is 2000ft above Lakeside. The views are beautiful there. The crew will begin to set up all the equipment and provide you with a briefing on what to do. Don’t worry, because the pilots do all the work. You will just sit back and they will strap you into the equipment.
In order to begin the flight the pilot needs to catch the right wind, so you will wait on the hill for a minute or so, and then the pilot will tell you to start running down. I had to do this twice because the first run didn’t catch.
Once the wind catches you will start to fly in the air and the adventure begins. Flying in the air is much less scary then I anticipated. I would go as far to say it was relaxing.
In the sky you can see three of the highest mountains in the world: Dhaulagiri, clinic Annapurna, and Manaslu (all over 8000m). The flight also has beautiful views of the Pokhara valley and surrounding villages. There are eagles flying in the air next to you which is completely surreal.
There is an option to get your pilot to do acro in the air for no extra charge. I found that just the regular flight made me a little motion sickness so I didn’t do this, but if you’re interested here’s a video of what it looks like:
Our flight lasted about 25 minutes. It ended with a glide over the beautiful lake and we returned via jeep to the Sunrise Paragliding office.
What to wear Paragliding in Pokhara
It can be chilly up in the air so I recommend wearing long pants, closed shoes, a long shirt, and a windbreaker. You can leave any personal belongings you don’t want to bring locked up in the Sunrise Paragliding office.
Why you should go Paragliding in Pokhara
Flying next to eagles with the Himalaya mountains in the backdrop is a moment I will never forget. I’m so happy my first paragliding experience was in a location as beautiful as Pokhara.
As one of the top 5 commercial tandem paragliding locations in the world, paragliding in Pokhara is a great place for beginners. The price is affordable in comparison to other parts of the world and you can feel safe knowing they have been paragliding in Pokhara for over 18 years.
Where to go after Pokhara
If you are done exploring the beautiful town of Pokhara or trekking you can take a bus to the town of Chitwan (approx. four hours away) to see the greater one-horned rhino in its natural habitat. Or if you feel like more adventure, try one of the many treks in Nepal.
I hope that this post inspired you to try Paragliding or visit Nepal. Tell me, have you gone paragliding before? What was your experience like? Let me know in the comments below!