Over the Sierras
No wonder it's a world class paragliding site!
What I'm about to tell you, you may not believe but it's 100% totally true. Today, Glynn and I literally threw ourselves off a cliff and what's more, we lived to tell the tale!
The reason we came to Cordoba, other than to break the long journey to Buenos Aires, was to go paragliding. Yes, you heard me right - paragliding! Not the kind of sport you might expect someone who is afraid of heights to get excited about but when we heard that the paragliding in Cordoba is world class and affordable, we just couldn't resist.
We booked via the hostel (we're very comfortable here now by the way!) and found ourselves up nice and early to catch the 8am minibus to nearby La Cumbre. Just over 2 hours and 12 Pesos later, we were met by Christian, owner of the local Hosteling International hostel. We paid him our 220 Pesos each for the paragliding (about Â£37) but were a bit miffed as the hostel had told us it would be 200 each. Luckily we had just enough money on us to pay the extra and have enough to get back to Cordoba. 30 minutes later, our
From Here to There
Jude looks down at the landing site - it's a long way down!
'pilot' turned up and whisked us away into the countryside in his jeep.
We were the first people to arrive at the jump site and initially we thought Mariano, our pilot, would be taking us down in turn but as morning rolled into midday, more and more pilots and passengers turned up and Glynn got paired up with another instructor called Pablo. We then had to play a bit of a waiting game to ensure the wind conditions were suitable for a decent length flight. While we waited, Glynn and I relaxed in the sun, marvelling at the view of the sierras stretching our for miles before us and watching as a trio of condors rode the thermals close to our take off point.
It was 12.30 when we started to get kitted up in our harness-come-seat contraption and preparations were made to unroll the parachutes. Just as my nerves were starting to get the better of me, Mariano clipped us to the chute and told me it was time to go for it. He calmly talked me through the instructions on how to take off safely which was basically a case of run off the cliff and
El Condor Pasa
Condors ride the thermals, giving us a taste of what we're going to experience soon.
then pull into a sitting position in the harness. Run and sit. I could do that, couldn't I? Before I had time to consider the consequences of leaping off a very high cliff with nothing but a man and an parachute attached to me, we took off. It was literally a case of three steps and up, up and away.
I can't begin to tell you what it feels like to be flying - it's unlike anything I've ever experienced before. Although the take-off was a bit scary, in seconds I was sat back with nothing but the sound of the wind in my ears and a sense of freedom that was almost magical. The flight itself was so exciting, I didn't have time to feel afraid. Mariano talked me through each manoevure so that I wouldn't be surprised by any sudden updraughts and all the while I felt very safe in his hands. We spent the next 15 to 20 minutes drifting around the sky, rising and falling as we caught columns of hot and cold air and swirling around as Mariano tried to keep us flying as long as possible. Alas the wind died a little and
A small group of gliders take off before us.
we didn't have enough lift to keep going longer than that.
Coming in to land was an equally exciting experience with the ground coming towards me at a phenomenal speed. Mariano applied the chute brakes in good time and as I hit the ground, I went into ski mode as I had been instructed to, breaking my impact smoothly and safely. Looking back up at the cliff, I could see Glynn hadn't taken off yet and I hoped that his pilot would wait for the wind to pick up again so that he could have as amazing an experience as I did. I helped Mariano untangle and fold away the chute and we waited to see what would happen with Glynn.
It was about 30 mintues after I landed that Glynn finally took off for his flight. Flight conditions seemed to be very favourable and I watched in awe as Glynn and his pilot, Pablo, rose really high on a strong thermal close to the cliff. Several other gliders took off around the same time and it was beautiful to watch Glynn weaving around the sky while more experienced paragliders practised some awesome acrobatics in the air. Gradually,
The view that was waiting for us...
Glynn looked to be dropping towards the lower landing site when all of a sudden, another strong thermal picked him up and whisked him high over the take off point. Seconds later, they landed back where they started which neither of us had been expecting. I jumped in a waiting car with Mariano and a handful of other paragliders who had landed at the bottom of the cliff and we bounded up the dirt road and across the river 8 times before returning to the top.
When I saw Glynn, it was hard to say who had the biggest grin on their face - we were both buzzing with the adrenaline rush and instantly agreed to paraglide again if and when the opportunity presents itself. It might have been a bit of a dent to our already depleted budget but boy was it worth it. This was Glynn's birthday present to me (it's not actually until 25th May though) and it has to be one of the most memorable presents I have ever had. Thanks Glynn!
If you are interested in paragliding in La Cumbre, we can thoroughly recommend our two pilots:
Pablo Jaraba -
Getting ready for the big event.
Tel: 03548 15570951 , Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Mariano Baccola - Tel: 03548 15571009, Email: email@example.com, Web: www.parapentecordoba.com.ar
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