Paragliding in Tenerife

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Flying over Tenerife

Unbelievably I’m scared of heights, froze climbing Sydney Harbour Bridge, had a meltdown at Go Ape  and can’t even make it to the top diving board of a swimming pool.

You’d think that paragliding might not be high on my wish list of things to do.  However, watching the paragliders soar over head in the electric blue skies on a recent visit to Tenerife, I suddenly had the urge to also glide over the stunning scenery with the wind in my hair and sun on my face.

Enminube (appropriately meaning “in my cloud”) offers tandem sky dives in various locations throughout Tenerife depending on the wind.  My jump took me from the edge of Tenerife’s iconic Mount Teide, dropping down 2200 metres (one of the highest vertical drops in Europe) over La Orotava Valley to the Northern resort of Puerta de la Cruz below.  Anyone can undertake a jump depending on weight, with a minimum weight of 30 kilos to a maximum of 130 kilos.  A brave pensioner celebrating her 75th birthday and an 8 year old boy have both taken the plunge with Enminube, all you need is a head for heights and to be able to run as fast as you can in order to take off.

running for a lift off

running for a lift off

Once you’ve psyched yourself up for the ride of your life the most nerve racking thing is watching the makeshift windsock, never has a piece of red and white striped plastic attached to a stick had such significance.  Paragliding is driven not by the laws of man but by the laws of nature depending on wind forces and thermals with launching and landing done into the wind.  Thankfully, once the wind direction obliged we were all set to take off.  The pilots have all their kit stored into rucksacks, carried on their backs, looking like sherpas about to climb Everest.

Once in position, all they need to do is remove hats and harnesses from the rucksack, lay out their wing on the mountain side, inflate it over their heads like a kite, attach you and your harness to them, check that no shoelaces are undone and then ask you to run as fast as you possibly can.  Not as easy as it sounds with my pilot considerably taller than me.   Before you know it, you’re running on air and have literally stepped into the sky! We immediately drop right, heading towards a green cluster of pines, I sit back in the harness as comfortable as an arm chair and exclaim “this is amazing” about a dozen times.

larking about and showing I haven't a worry in the world

larking about and showing I haven’t a worry in the world

I felt on top of the world, literally and figuratively, I felt like James Bond, I wanted the 30 minute flight to go on forever.

There were 6 of us flying that morning, all taking of in quick succession.  When not wondering at the views below and the world reduced to legolike proportions, I sat admiring my fellow gliders.  I rather fancied the rasta coloured kite of one of them but my pilot claimed that our more boring burgundy and white one was significantly more elegant.

The flight was a wonderful way of discovering Tenerife from a different perspective.  It was helpful that my pilot spoke excellent English, pointing out the Hotel Botanico where just a few hours earlier I’d been breakfasting by the pool, the historic Iberostar Grand Hotel Mencey, the first hotel on the island and Lago Martianez, a complex of seawater pools designed by legendary Cesar Manrique.

and a safe landing

and a safe landing

We flew over lush green banana plantations and over the sea but all too soon it was back down to earth with a somewhat unglamorous landing in a carpark.  To be honest, this was the part that I was most worried about but surprised myself with a text book landing.  Landing is not difficult, coming in at such a gentle speed that all you need to do is lift yourself up from a seated position to a standing position and the next thing you know is your feet are on tarmac and all around you are happy holiday makers relieved that you haven’t crash landed into their cars.

Paragliding really is the closest that humans can get to flying like a bird.   At all times I felt perfectly safe, the feeling of free-flying like nothing I have ever experienced.   If you have enough courage, you should try it at least one.   Go on take the plunge,

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