Just like a dream, I was recently invited by Swiss Tourism, Maison de Voyage and Rock-On Holidays by Thomas Cook India to experience Switzerland in a unique way. While enough has been said and written about the romantic / family vacations of Switzerland our idea was to leave out all the famous / touristy activities and instead explore this country through a new lens i.e. through the eyes and activities of a single budget traveler. Hence our itinerary included all kinds of adventure sports, walks and many new experiences that people normally don’t associate with Switzerland.
Stunning views from Beatenberg
After exploring Interlaken and around on electric bikes (you can read that post here – Flying around Interlaken on two wheels), for day 2 we wanted to explore more of nature i.e. the surrounding Jungfrau region, the Lakes and the famous peaks, more of Interlaken, etc. Our host Annie from Interlaken Tourism suggested that we try paragliding over Interlaken with AlpineAir and experience the natural beauty and nature, just like an eagle gliding in the sky.
We were all pretty excited with the idea as none of us had done paragliding before and were keen to experience it in the beautiful Jungfrau region. But as I learnt that for paragliding there are 2 important factors that need to be in your favor – visibility and wind. Sadly both were playing games with us and we kept oscillating between will we or wont we. Thankfully all natural factors, though not the best, in the end did align and we went to try our hands at paragliding.
Our host for the day, Roger picked us up and our instructors, and then set off to the village of Beatenberg. We had opted for the “Top Flight Interlaken” option which included taking off from Beatenberg, flying for 10 – 20 minutes and then landing in the centre of Interlaken i.e. Höhematte. The uphill drive to Beatenberg took us about 15 – 20 minutes and we saw beautiful views of the countryside with each bend or turn in the road. During the drive we were also introduced to our instructors and in a random lottery, picked our partner for the day. My partner was Alain, a local from Interlaken who had been paragliding for over 15 years. (yes, I checked ;)).
The downhill walk for take off, Beatenberg
Upon reaching our destination we left Roger and the car and walked downhill (for about 5 minutes) to reach the spot from where we would start our flight. I also took this opportunity to click some pictures of the gorgeous panorama on all sides and envied the locals living in this village who wake up to this view every single day.
Alian making preparations for the flight
Anyways, a short walk later we were on the spot from which we would fly and Alain started making preparations for our flight. Just to give a perspective, this spot was 800 meters above Interlaken and that’s quite high (especially when you look below). At that point along with excitement a little nervousness also started making its way in my mind, but I still decided to go ahead. And I am glad that I did. Now all instructors have a camera and they click pictures before the flight, during and after. Alain gave me the required gear to wear, double checked that everything was in order, clicked our pic and then we were all set to be the first to take off. Alain told me to run when he gave the instructions and to keep running till he asks to stop. And I had to literally run off a cliff into the valley below. Well, I did start when he said to, but somewhere in between I guess there was a moment of indecision in which I stopped and slipped on the wet mud. Thereby crash landing both of us. Thankfully we were not off the cliff yet.
My instructor for the flight, Alain
So we got up, re-spread the gear and then ran again. This time there were no mistakes and we successfully jumped off the cliff. Immediately after jumping we sat on the seat gear and then it was like I had always been flying. Till date I just can’t find a word that defines what I felt like during the flight. It was like just flying / gliding above a toy town and a river, with the beautiful snow-covered Alpine peaks of the Jungfrau mountains in front of me, the pristine azure waters of Lake Thun on the right and the wind buzzing in my ears and blowing through my hair. For close to 15 minutes I truly felt what an eagle must feel like when it glides up above in the sky and scans the land below.I guess, exhilarating is as close as I can come to define it. And I feel that everyone has to try their hand at paragliding, at least once in the lifetime, to actually understand what I mean and why I am unable to express my thoughts / experiences in words.
I am flying :)
Stunning views all around, Interlaken
Toy town of Interlaken and River below
A quick flight later we started circling over Interlaken and then landed right in the centre of the city. This time it was a perfect landing. I then saw the pics that Alain had taken during the flight and decided to buy them as memories and evidence :) While I loved this flight, I only hoped it had been longer.
Paragliding and Landing over Interlaken, Switzerland
Overall we had an awesome and safe flight with AlpineAir and truly recommend it to everyone who is planning a trip to Interlaken. Also super thanks AlpineAir, Annie and Alain for making my first paragliding flight such a memorable one.
Tips for the Trip -
- Choice of a partner / travel group for any kind of adventure sports is very important as there is always an element of danger involved. Hence always select a partner with care and after sound due diligence.
- AlpineAir has numerous paragliding and other adventure sports options in Interlaken and you can check out on their website here.
- For any paragliding flights I suggest, please don’t eat a heavy meal before the flight, always wear a wind-cheater or a jacket, tight sunglasses and closed shoes. I didn’t take sunglasses and kept squinting in all my pics due to the wind in my eyes.
- Paragliding can be done at any age and Roger told us that his 5-year-old son has done it too.
- The instructors take pictures and videos during the flight and after landing you have an option to buy these pics and videos at a small price.