Wilderness, South Africa
Paragliding along the Garden RouteWhile traveling through Zambia, I met a fellow adventurer who had shipped his paragliding equipment from London to Tanzania to participate in a charity fundraising launch from the summit of Kilimanjaro. While those plans were derailed due to inclement weather, he still had his gear and plans to do some launches along the Garden Route east of Cape Town -- but he needed "ballast," since he only had tandem gear. I was also headed to Cape Town, and although I have a healthy fear of heights and had never done anything remotely like paragliding, I gladly volunteered. We met up with some other paragliding folks in Wilderness (the paragliding World Cup had been held in nearby Porterville just a week before our arrival) and launched off of the Sedgefield mountainside over beautiful South African countryside. Paragliding is the most amazing experience I have ever had. Because you can stay in the air much longer than skydiving by riding the thermals, it truly is like flying. I'll never forget our first launch, and the sheer terror of running off the side of a mountain, parachute inflated, trusting the physics of it all that this wouldn't be the end. I was able to go paragliding about 5 times on that trip, and absolutely cannot wait to go again here in the States, and hopefully get my certification sometime in the near future. I wholeheartedly recommend trying it with my friends at Wallend-Air if you find yourself along the Garden Route on a breezy day.