I smile nervously at the camera as I prepare to set off at a shuffling run down the slopes of Signal Hill. The nerves always kick in right before I do something like this. I think it has something to do with the fact that while I signed up for it, subconsciously I know there is absolutely no reason to be launching myself off the side of a mountain.
But hell, life’s short right?
Signal Hill has an epic view of the Mother City and it’s the perfect launching pad for the local Paragliding operators in the city, Cape Town Tandem Paragliding included. When we arrived at 8am, the parking lot was empty, but by the time we get back up to the top, post-jump, it is already filling up – both with operators and thrill-seekers. It’s a beautiful day in the city and the perfect time to leap into the air and embrace the joys of flying.
There is not much to it. We arrive, get strapped in, get a brief instruction on how best to run (basically don’t do anything different to how you would normally run downhill) and off we go. It’s a strange feeling, comical even, as you keep running until you run out of land, or in Leani’s case, your legs continue moving even when you’re airborne. But any awkwardness in the run-up quickly makes way for exhilaration as the chute catches the wind and pulls you up into the air. I let out the obligatory ‘whoo-hoo!’ as I take in the city stretching out below me.
There are few better views than this. No better time to be alive.
I set aside the machismo for a moment to soak it all in, immersing myself in flight and allowing myself a moment to enjoy the quiet serenity of the clear, blue sky. The city is just below my feet, but I could not be further removed from that mundaneness if I tried. It’s a glorious feeling.
Perhaps sensing this, my pilot decides to “wake me up” as we soar over the Sea Point Promenade, pulling off a series of lifts and turns. The first one drops my gut, but it doesn’t take long to get used to the sensation and once I do, the whoops of joy come surging back. They cannot be contained. The sea and rocky shore come screaming up at us and then we shoot back up again. It’s a rollercoaster ride, just without the tracks or the screaming wheels. It’s awesome.
And then we are landing. The flight probably lasted about five minutes – it can last much longer, depending on the conditions – but the buzz remains. What an insane experience. Man may not be made to fly, but thankfully we never did let a lack of wings get in the way of that pesky limitation.
We are richer for it.
For more information on Cape Town Tandem Paragliding: http://www.paraglide.co.za/