Paragliding, is a relatively new adventure sport in Nepal, and little information is available in tourist guidebooks. Paragliding is available in tourist guidebooks.
Paragliding in this Himalayan country can be a truly wonderful and fulfilling experience for the adventure seekers. You can experience unparalleled scenic grandeur as your share airspace with Himalayan griffin vultures, kites and eagles while floating over villages, monasteries, temples, lakes & jungles, with fantastic views 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 October to December. By virtue of its latitude and monsoon climate, the tree line in Nepal is at an incredible 3900m 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 Para gliders, 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 Himalayas is made up of a series of lesser mountains increasing in size, before the Greater Himalayas, with its majestic snow – clad peaks, dominate the sky. The range that is now offered for paragliding is the Mahabharat range, south of these giants. Most flights are out of Pokhara, the beautiful lakeside town at the foot of the Annapurna Himal.
The take off points for these flights is Sarangkot (1592m), which offers prime views of Phewa lake and the mountains at sunrise and sunset the landing is by the lake. No previous experience is required as qualified pilots provide a short briefing before launching.
Paragliding in Nepal amongst the grandest scenery on earth is an inspiring experience. Float over mystery shrouded monasteries, ancient places, beautiful turquoise lakes, raging Himalayan rivers, exotic jungles and villages forgotten by time.
Best time to Fly:
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 micro climate, controlled by the numerous lakes in the valley, is unique, which makes it even better for the glider.
The 98/99 season saw 88 out of 90 days flyable, while the 99/00 season went one better, when we were in the air 89 days out of 90. It would be hard to find anywhere else with such friendly and constant conditions.
The best months for flying are November, December and January. Cloud base varies between 2000m and 2700m. Come February the extremely short and hardly noticeable winter is over and the ground is very dry, the air hazy. Gone are the mild conditions of the previous 3 months. By March and April there is a mountain wind, coming off the big peaks and some days causes strong valley winds. Indeed you can windsurf in April on Phewa Tal, the biggest lake in the Pokhara valley. The heavy air is just waiting for the monsoon and the intermittent storms in April and May are only a forerunner for the spectacular break in the weather come early June.
Where do we fly? 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 Phewa 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 an abundance of other sites around the valley but all need to be walked up. With names such as Dikie Danda, Devi Falls, Poomdi and Matepani, all can be connected by air from Sarangkot.
Different types of flying deals-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.