CAPE TOWN – My dear globetrotters,
you probably know the feeling. When you are on vacation, you can feel this certain kind of freedom. You live for the moment and give yourself up to various (and sometimes maybe a bit reckless) adventures. Just like we did it in southern Africa.
Granted, 2 weeks camping in Botswana were the greatest adventure of this trip. Whereas the half week before and the other half later in Cape Town appeared like a wellness trip. What could we do to change this from the very start? Of course, look for an adventurous kick off for our holiday. Nothing seemed to be more obvious in the city of Table Mountain than tandem paragliding.
It is January 10th, the day after our arrival (Come on, why acclimate? We are globetrotters.) Calltime for my travel mate Christian and me is 11:00 at the parking lot at Signal Hill. From its top we will fly down over Camps Bay. We meet with the team from Cape Town Tandem Paragliding. The parking lot is, as expected, not situated at the summit. So we walk up to a point where the slope is covered with non-skid tarpaulin. The Tarpaulin of Death how acrophobians would probably call it.
Several people are more or less impatiently waiting with their tandem partners. Some seem to be trembling in excitement. I must admit, I am surprisingly calm. At this moment, an approximately 50-year-old mini height lady is about to jump. Honestly, no offense, but if she can do it…
Meanwhile, I get my flight equipment adjusted. Such a from-the-butt-slobbering board, all the metal rings and security laces feel pretty awkward. Frikkie, my tandem partner – of course, a man of the brand extreme athlete with surfer appeal – explains to me, that the only thing I need to do on the slope is run. A few helpers will keep the chute to the ground. When everything is in place, they will let it go. Then, I shall run. Really. Run. I shall not stop. Just run. Frikkie will take care of the rest. “Run”, it echoes in my head. “Run. Run.”
The little lady does not really take this advice very serious and it looks a bit funny how she lets herself fall into the seat, what almost forces her tandem partner, who persistently keeps running, to his knees. Right then, “Run. Run. Run”. I could make a song of it in my head.
However, everything turns out completely different. First, the wind drifts into an unfavorable direction. Next, drizzle gets in the way. I start feeling like a circus horse. 3 times I am saddled off and on again.
The paraglide pros decide to go where the wind blows best: to the top of the mountain. Alright, we do a little more butt trimming and walk uphill. Once at the top, first thing I notice is that there is no runway.
Christian, who will fly right before me is already getting in position with his tandem partner Igor. For some reason, the helpers suddenly let go of the chute. Yes, undoubtadly there is enough wind up here and it does not matter that there is no runway. The men are dragged back at full tilt over rocks and stones. It is not only fun you see in their faces in this certain moment. However, we fly with professionals and after a few seconds Igor has everything under control and they leisurely soar towards the bay.
I still feel no fear, maybe a bit of excitement. That is, because I stand bent forward to a ledge, held by the hand of a rather lightweight of a young man, who smiles at me with confidence. I look down to see at which rock I would probably get stuck in case I fall. Ah, but I’m tied to Frikkie, nothing can happen to me. And yet, in this very moment the chute is left to itself and blows up in the wind. A short jolt and we fly.
Holy mother of paragliding, this is beautiful. Why haven’t I tried this before? With view onto the Table Mountain, we gently soar towards the sea. Halfway I ask Frikkie to get weaving, so he pulls the strings and we fly a few loops. Yeeha – lots of fun!
After 20 minutes the ride is unfortunately already over. For the landing process I have nothing else to consider, but (and Frikkie tells me more than once) “Just stay on your feet, simply stay on your feet.” Again the words loop in my head “…on the feet, just stand on your feet” … yes well.
Certain things just don’t fall in ones lab, but Evelyn falls onto the ground, that’s for sure. The landing could have been more elegant, but in that case the video wouldn’t be as much fun for you.
After all, I do recommend: if you ever get to Cape Town, go paragliding!