Friday, April 03, 2015

Nirvana Tandem Paragliding Experience in Pune!

I was looking to try paragliding since a few years, but things hadn’t worked out. There were news that Paragliding can be tried at Yelagiri, but couldn’t confirm the same and couldn’t get to any organizers who claimed to offer Paragliding in and around Chennai/Bengaluru.

Recently learnt about Nirvana Adventures who are operating near Pune ( . I had a trip planned already, to try out Hot Air Balloon, so it made sense that I also try a Paragliding session in the same trip, so that money spent on flight, car, hotel etc are better leveraged. 

I called the number on Nirvana website, I was asked to drop a mail, which I did and then I was asked to contact Ravi to confirm availability. I spoke to him and he said slots are available for the date I had chosen. He said he would call/update few days prior to ride date.

As the ride date approached, there was no communication. The previous evening, only after my calling and reminding them, I got an SMS with location details. But none of these locations were listed on Google maps and I had trouble reaching the venue. Unlike the skywaltz team, Nirvana folks do not provide pickup from main road or city. I had to drive till their spot, which was a hill some 10kms from Khamshet. Similarly unlike Skywaltz, they couldn’t WhatsApp location coordinates, which would have made it easier for me to reach the venue. So compared to Skywaltz experience, Nirvana’s way of guiding us through the process felt a bit unprofessional. But then, Skywaltz charges Rs 8500 per person, Rs 16000 per couple in advance, while Nirvana only charges Rs 3000 per person for a 10 minute Tandem flight. If they had charged more they would have probably provided some more services like highway pickup, snacks etc.

Poor mobile signal made coordination worse. To reach Nirvana’s camp, I had to take Nanhe road, which wasn’t getting recognized on Google maps. Another name given- KanjanGaon, was being shown as some village 230kms from Pune somewhere near Aurangabad. With some help from local, with telephone instructions from Ravi (from Nirvana) we finally reached the spot. Last 1 kms was bad road, not very convenient for the Figo we were in. But eventually we managed to reach the spot and meet Ravi.

Ravi briefed us that we will be taking off from the elevated position, for which we had to climb. Before reaching Khamshet, I had gone to Lohgarh fort and Bhaja caves, both involving climbing hundreds of stairs. Because of this, I was in a pretty exhausted state, which sort of prevented me from enjoying paragliding session to the max. The area had many folks- mostly students of Nirvana Adventures who were undertaking courses in Paragliding.

What we had opted was a Tandem flight. A skilled Paraglider will be with us, doing all the controls and landing, while we just had to sit and enjoy the flight. For more adventurous folks, a 4 day course, which costs 18000 is recommended. This course involves 2 day classroom training and 2 day practical, boarding and lodging included. When I asked “How soon can we fly? Are we in a queue?” Ravi said “We can take off as soon as you manage to climb up”. I understand that there were no other joy riders than us. Since most of the customers are students who stay in the camp and guest joy riders are very few, probably Nirvana didn’t find a need to provide extra facilities like transportation etc. Fair enough.
We climbed up. Ravi had a few GoPros mounted on a sturdy stick and latches that can be attached to belts, so that it doesn’t fall off. They charge Rs 1000 for photos and videos taken during the flight with GoPro. Given the length of the stick it could have given nice footage and still of the flight, but again, I wasn’t keen to spend more on GoPro footage, as I had my own. I had a head mount and a 3 way mount. 3 way mount couldn’t be used as there wasn’t a safe mechanism to ensure it won’t fall off. I decided to use head mount. But after wearing helmet, head mount was difficult to use, so I wrapped it around my wrist. These photos you see in this post are still images made out of video shot using goPro. Because the camera was close to body, I couldn’t get visuals that included both me, glide and background, which was possible if I had agreed to pay for their GoPro. May be I should add some more mounts to my GoPro accessory list.

Our flight lasted for about 10-12 mins. We flew like a bird above the mountains, windmills and valleys. Being end of March, nature was not at its best, so didn’t get a very green footage. At times we were just a few meters above ground and eventually increased altitude. When we were above the windmills, I missed my DSLR. There were other students flying around, practicing their flights. It was boring to simply sit around and do nothing (Ravi did all the controls). I should join the course, learn to fly and fly the glide myself- that will be more fun. At some point in time I got some vomiting sensation, but it was controllable. I managed to contain it and didn’t have to tell Ravi to take me down. Eventually we landed nice and smooth.

I am told they're in this business of Paragliding adventure for over 14 years now. People upto 100kgs can enjoy paragliding comfortably.

As we touched down, there was no other formality. We paid and left. I asked if we’ll get any certificate- I was told we won’t get any for tandem flight, but those who complete 4 day course will get a certificate.
Para-sailing vs Para gliding:
Para sailing and Paragliding both work on same principle. But in Para-sailing, a boat pulls us around while we hang below a glider, in Paragliding, sailing is done by controlling the glide and leveraging wind power to our favor. Para-sailing is a bit cheaper (Around Rs 1000-1500 per ride) and is more easier to find. Most of the tourist destinations like Goa, Pattaya etc offer Para sailing). Para gliding needs a combination of hills, open grounds and wind and not as common as Para sailing. In Para sailing you’ll only see water all around. In Para gliding you will get to see beautiful hills, windmills, valleys and other diverse geography, depending on the location.

Read my Parasailing experience at Pattaya here.

It was a Saturday well spent...

Watch a short video of my paragliding here

Similar: Skydiving Experience * 10 Adventure activities you can try in Karnataka * Scuba diving Experience 


Tushar said...

well done - said I specially after watching Hot Air Balloon ride. The photograph is amazing and the video specially when your balloon pass above water and the balloon image on water - very interesting.
Keep traveling. You are brave.

Shrinidhi Hande said...

Thanks Tushar

Meghana Hassan said...

Seems like you had awesome fun and adventure during your Pune trip..

Shrinidhi Hande said...

Yes I did... made full use of every hour

Archana Chaurasia Kapoor said...

Fab, seems like you had a lot of fun! I get mails so often from Sanjay and Astrid. Need to jut get there and try it. :-) Thanks for sharing!

Shrinidhi Hande said...

Archana: Do try. It is relatively cheaper and simple