We had spent the past two weeks backpacking and exploring the cities of Leh-Ladakh, Agra and Jaipur; from the Chadar Trek in the Himalayas to Taj Mahal to City Palace, Jantar Mantar, Hawa Mahal, Amber Fort, and Jal Mahal. We had fallen in love with India’s landscapes, cityscapes, architecture and culture; and now we were about to jump into conclusions about its skies. A phenomenal paragliding opportunity had come knocking and we had let it in with excitement like little children.
It all began back at home in Kenya when my friend Irene informed me that there is tandem paragliding by SkyVentures and Zip Lining by Flying Fox in Jodhpur. Some friends do not leap at such opportunities but I am not one of them. I thrive on adventure and adrenaline rush. The riskier, the sweeter! After all, I had gained amnesia around the fear and anxiety of bungee jumping, sky diving and balloon safari.
On 1 February 2020, we arrived in Jodhpur from Jaipur after a five-hour train ride on a sleeping class coach. After a sumptuous lunch, Pilot Samarth picked us up and drove us in his Willy’s jeep to the paragliding spot. It was an hour’s ride on a rough forty-kilometre, dusty and unkempt road. Unknown to us, this same jeep would later pull us into the air once attached to a special power machine.
On arrival, the pilot and crew quickly set up the paragliding equipment after checking the speed and direction of wind. On curious villagers began to stream in and gather around us as we prepared for take off. Pilot Samarth pointed out that Irene would fly first since she weighed more than I. She put on the safety gear and signed off the disclaimer forms as the crew went through the safety checks. Meanwhile, I strategically positioned myself to capture the action-packed leap of faith. The jeep was driven to a far off distance as she ran after it, throwing them into the air. They soon disappeared to the heavens for a thirty-minute joy ride after which they safely landed at the starting point.
It was now my turn to keep the faith and take the jump. Recklessly, without reading the disclaimer clauses I signed away my life into Pilot Samarth’s hands. I squeezed my fingers as the parachute lifted off in a whirl of wind and dust after a millisecond run. Higher and higher we flew until we reached nine hundred feet above the ground.
My nerves calmed down as I drank in the stunning views of green patches and turquoise blue lakes. The lakes are estimated to be ten to fifteen feet deep. The air cruise was calm until Samarth performed roller coaster manoeuvres that sent me screaming and yelling. The cold wind hit my face as we turned in the air while I sang ‘I believe I can fly’. It was exhilarating and thrilling, a fun filled recipe for an adventure spirit. Eventually, we gradually descended and landed smoothly amidst welcoming cheer from onlookers and crew.
As we drove back to Jodhpur, we could not keep our hands off the Gopro camera that captured the action. We replayed the videos and photos we had clicked away in the chilly skies as we reviewed our experiences. Our faces were beaming with smiles and laughter at the everlasting memories that we will live to tell the world. We thanked the SkyVentures crew endlessly. It’s a flight we will never forget, it was worth the time and the money. After this lifetime experience, we looked forward to similar captivating moments while zip lining over the Mehrangarh Fort the following morning. How do you think it went down?
The zip lining rush did not disappoint either with five zip lines crisscrossing the fort above Jodhpur’s skyline. First things first, the usual paperwork to sign off followed by a short training before proceeding to ride across the lines. The zip lines are apart from each other necessitating short hikes from one to another. I ticked off one zip line after the other as I fed my eyes with beautiful views of nature and Blue City. Blue City has most buildings and houses painted in different shades of blue giving it a sky like look. Unlike paragliding, zip lining was less dramatic but still full of adventure and magical views as seen in the photos I captured during the rides.