By: Adebayo Ebenezer (Mayowa Blades)
Imagine yourself strapped to a huge glider and daringly running down the cliff of a hill or mountain? Scary right? Paragliding gradually became a sport in the late ’80s. In paragliding, the pilot takes off from an elevated position, usually top of a hill or mountain, then uses wind forces to help him maintain flight, while seated in a harness suspended position below the wings.
For beginners, you will need to have a licensed tandem –paraglider who will take you through this adrenaline thrilled flight. After a short safety briefing and explanation, you will be geared up and strapped to the parachute and the instructor.
So how do you paraglide?
To paraglide, first you have to get yourself up the mountain, then you can think of launching yourself from the MT top. Standing at the edge of the mountain and looking down the world was an experience one can’t explain in just words.
Also, your weight is important since gravity and speed play important role in this initial stage because you need to catch the wind conditions while it’s favourable for flight, weighing above 85kg, you will need to get a pilot willing to take you and balance his weight with yours. The take-off could be pretty rough. But up you go, after a short run, you start flying, with the force of the wind. Looking down below the earth, seeing yourself float over hills and gorgeous landscape, you know you are flying your lifetime, admiring the mountains around you and villages beneath, gives you that thrilling experience! The world felt tiny and the sky doesn’t even seem like the limit, at this moment you envy the birds.
Where to do it
In West Africa, Ghana is the destination for paragliding and they have been doing this for more than 14 years organized by the Ghana Ministry of Tourism. Ghana been a close neighbour and also an ECOWAS country makes travelling easier. It is done twice a year-the biggest one being the Easter event and the other one to mark world tourism day on September 23rd. The pilots are foreign experts flown in from America, Switzerland and other Europeans countries.
Ghana has abundant hills and Mountains for such purpose, and the event is usually done at the Odweanoma Mountain, Kwahu.in Eastern Region of Ghana, and altitude 750m. An uplifting wind is always required for an initial lift, which makes ridges, bluffs, cliffs the best spots for such – although even where there aren’t any hills from which to get airborne, paragliders can be launched from winches on the ground.
Who can do it?
As a passenger, you don’t require much. During the launch phase, you will be asked to run a few steps at take-off and/or landing. Typically if someone can walk up and down a flight of stairs or climb a small ladder they can be a tandem passenger. Kids below 18 need permission or consent from their parents. It’s not a sport you need a lot of stamina for, you just need to have the courage and nothing more.
Should you be scared?
Nothing to be scared about, they’ve zero casualty record in the long years of running this event. Don’t forget to arrive early on your selected day and be prepared to wait a little longer if the weather is not favourable.
How to get there:
You may take a taxi to Kwahu from Accra (approximately 3 hours) or get there by public transport via the STC bus station in Accra. Then get another taxi or your same taxi to drive you up the Odweanoma Mountain.
What to bring along:
A good mood and a pair of sneakers will do. If you have a go-pro camera that will also be fine, else the pilot always comes with one and are willing to take your photographs and send it to you at a later time.
In Ghana, the paragliding flight alone will cost you about 350 GHC, that’s an equivalent of around 26,600 Naira.