How we learned to fly in three days – the taster paragliding course
We were longing to have a family holiday where all four of us could go and spend some time together. We quickly rejected the thought of going to some beach along the Konkan coast and chilling out – and chose to do a “taster course” in paragliding.
We had heard of paragliding activities in Kamshet which is just a few hours away from Mumbai, but never really got around to doing it all these years. We were all very excited about it, and were waiting for the weekend to arrive. Unfortunately, we found out that Rohan had football (soccer) selections over the same weekend. So he had to stay back with a friend and the rest of us three went ahead to the course.
The course is conducted by Nirvana Adventures, the oldest and the most experienced paragliding organization.
The camp site is located on the banks of the Uksan lake. You have to turn off the Mumbai-Pune old highway – NH4, at Kamshet, and then follow the small barely paved road to the camp site.
As usual, if you need to ask for directions, ask for the way to Wadivale. The route passes through some quaint villages.
After Wadivale, you start to see the lake, and you follow the road along the shore till you reach the Nirvana Adventures camp site called Native Place.
The entrance has some lovely red flowers dangling from creepers that run over the passage way. And as one enters, the tastefully designed and decorated place welcomes you.
We are assigned tents that are pitched in the garden outside
After a sumptuous buffet lunch we are given our first briefing where we are taught the basics of how the glider is constructed, and how to use it. We learn that the modern paraglider is extremely safe – in fact it is safer to fly it than drive your car in a place like Mumbai!
Then it is time to head out for some ground handling practice. We are driven to a nearby site, where we carry our respective gliders into an open space.
Then we are taught how to hook the harness to us, and the glider to the harness. Then we learn to lift the glider up – called flaring the glider – and run with the glider.
After each run, we have to collect the glider ties together into a “mushroom” and take it back to the starting point.
During the rest break, the instructors show off their skills in handling the gliders like kites
After the first day’s ground handling training, we get back to the camp and have a second theory session where we are taught the basics of controlling the glider in mid-air. We then enjoy a tasty dinner and retire early for the next morning.
On the second day, we drive to Shinde Hill, which is near Vadgaon, a few kilometers towards Pune. This is a perfect location for beginners, as it has a gradual slope, and a hill that is about 150 feet in height.
We prepare our gliders and are taught how to do “bunny hops”. We start from midway up the hill and make low flights at not more than 10-15 feet, just learning to take off, control the glider and land properly. See Shimul doing her bunny hope in the video below.
This is really exciting and I got to do 8 bunny hops. Sharmila and Shimul are much quicker, and manage to do 10 bunny hops with almost no breaks!
We pack up at around noon and head back to camp. After lunch, it is time to relax and enjoy the camp site. I walked to the lake and enjoyed the serene calm of the countryside, then walked around to admire the garden.
Saturday night dinner was special, arranged on the terrace with a barbecue and an opportunity to interact with everyone. We also managed to learn a few tricks of rope walking and juggling from Michael, a student visiting from the US. But we are quite excited about the third day, as we are due to do our first solo flights!
We wake up early the next morning, and prepare to go back to Shinde Hill.
This time, we have to trudge all the way to the top of the hill with the gliders on our backs.
After unpacking the gliders and strapping on the harness, it is time for our first solo flights! The gilder is spread out and the instructor leads us to take off from the edge of the hill!
Luckily I had carried my helmet camera, and managed to shoot in-flight. Check out the video below.
This is one of the most exciting adventures – the idea of actually flying solo was completely unexpected, and such a great experience!
We pose for a final photograph with all the students and our chief instructor. This is an experience of a lifetime for us all, and we are really looking forward to coming back for the next level course!
For more details of Nirvana Adventures, please see:
For more photographs of our experience, please see:
For more info about paragliding, check the Wikipedia page: