We’re climbing higher and higher into the green hills of Medellin, Colombia. My heart is beginning to race. When Dan asks me if I’m alright, I casually say, “Oh, yeah, I’m just a bit carsick.” LIES. We are about to go jump off a cliff, and I am FREAKING OUT.
Colombia is an adventure sports paradise, and paragliding was one of the things that we (read: Dan) really wanted to try. Plus, it’s much cheaper than in the States. I guess Colombians are a bit smarter than we are and don’t want to pay oodles of money to have the shit scared out of them. I had tried paragliding before in the Alps (on skis) and had survived, so I thought I would be fine. Silly me.
By the time we reached Zona de Vuelo, I couldn’t believe how high above the city we were. My thoughts at this time were tending towards, “Maybe there’s a nice burro that can take me back down,” as my eyes began to search the hill for willing donkeys. After being momentarily distracted by some of the biggest fake boobs I have ever seen (apparently, plastic surgery is huge in Medellin, and I mean HUGE!), we paid $40 each and met our guides.
We all climbed up a hill to the take off spot, which was pretty much a pleasant little field… surrounded by some not so pleasant drop offs. Hmm, is it too late to run away? I was then strapped into a parachute with my guide attached behind me. Yup, too late.
We were instructed to run towards the drop off, letting our parachute catch air behind us so we could start flying. Sure, no sweat. Dan took off first, and within seconds, he was really really reallly high. Omg. Do you think he’ll notice if there’s another paraglider in the sky or not? Will he believe me if I just say we came back early?
But before I knew it, my guide was telling me to run towards the edge, as well. I was afraid my legs weren’t going to move, but I didn’t have to worry for long because after about three seconds my feet were off the ground. And all of a sudden, I was flying!
I could lie and say that as soon as we were up there, it was relaxing and beautiful and I wasn’t scared at all, but anybody who knows me would know that was a boldfaced lie. I. Was. Terrified. Thank goodness my guide couldn’t see my face, or we probs would’ve aborted after six seconds.
My 30 minutes in the air went something like this (in half Spanish/half English, but I’ll spare you the ridiculousness and just leave it all in ingles.)
Guide: Are you okay?
Me: Oh, yes! [NO! I am flying 3,000 feet in the air. Held up by A CLOTH DIAPER. And WIND. Does that sound safe to you?]
Guide: See those birds? We are going to climb to them!
Me: What? Um, birds? I’m fine where we are. We shouldn’t bother them.
Guide: We will climb to them!
Me: [Cries silently.]
Guide: Relax! Take photos! (For some idiotic reason, I was the one delegated to hold the camera.)
Me: Okay. [Holds arm out and quickly presses the shutter button several times, not even looking where I’m aiming so I can quickly grab the hand straps again.]
Guide: No, really. Relax! Take more photos!
Me: Uh, sure. [Does exact same thing I did before.]
The sport is really cool, with the paraglider completely depending on the thermal winds in the area to ascend or descend through the air. Crazy! And scary! Gee, I sound like such a wuss from this entry.
Though I was pretty scared for most of it, I definitely relaxed towards the end (really!) and would even do it again. It is an amazing experience, especially to see the massive city of Medellin from a different perspective. Only next time I’ll be taking a Valium beforehand.
To get to Zona de Vuelo, take the bus towards San Felix from Medellin’s Northern bus terminal. Our guides were awesome, some of the first to introduce the sport of paragliding to Colombia, and I would highly recommend the company.
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I didn’t do it while in Medellin, maybe because it seemed absolutely frightening – so kudos to you!
Thanks! I definitely didn’t appear very brave, but I’m glad I did it!
I admire that you went through with the jump! I probably would have chickened out.
I was THIS close. But then we started running, and it was a little bit too late!
How cool! That does take courage though. I would never do bungee jumping or skydiving, but I have thought about paragliding… not so sure after reading your account 🙂 Maybe it’s scarier than I thought 🙂
Haha, oh no! My goal wasn’t to discourage people from doing it, but rather to show people that if I can do it, then anyone can! I don’t think you could possibly be as much of a sissy as I was. Go for it!
I think you might be wrong 🙂 I’m a huge chicken 🙂 But it did sound like fun despite the scaryness of it all.
What an awesome place to do this!!!!! Great pics!
Cool! I did it in San Gill, Colombia and it was awesome.
Awesome. I didn’t make it to San Gil, but I heard it’s a fun area. I hope you were braver than I was!
Looks like so much fun! This is something I’ve wanted to do for a while. I think that now that I’m living in a new country I’ll finally muster up the courage to let the air currents lift me up off my feet! 😀
Awesome, let me know how it goes! I do think they have it in South Korea… fighting! And be prepared for a LOT more Angry Birds. Haha.
in medellin now, where do you go to do this???
Hi Joe, lucky you! Check out the bottom of the article – “To get to Zona de Vuelo, take the bus towards San Felix from Medellin’s Northern bus terminal.” The website is zonadevuelo.com. Have fun!
WOW! I am heading to Medellin in a few weeks and I think this is a MUST-DO for me. I tried to go paragliding once before in the Tetons and it was going to cost $350!
I think I will be equally terrified as you, but I am often blindly driven by excitement.
Thanks for the great post and happy travels!
Awesome, Lacy! I think you’ll enjoy it, even if you’re a wuss like me. I can’t believe how expensive it is in the Tetons — Medellin is a much better choice!
How much does it cost now in Colombia?
Hey Adriana! I’m not sure — haven’t been back recently. I’m sure you could check their website though. Have fun!
Daring ha…Paragliding in Nepal can be adventurous and magical in height of giant Himalayas.
I bet it would be, but I’m sure I’d be terrified!
You are much braver that I am. My husband plans to take the jump,I’m wondering how I’m going to get down. Yikes! Very funny post.
Haha. I’m not brave, Jen — but thank you! How did your husband like it? Did you enjoy the views at least?
Oh wow, I should do this..now that I have said I will never skydive or bungee jump..no way, but this.. I can do
Well done for taking the leap of faith..(pun intended)
Ha! Good luck, Caroline!
Great experience Susan! I also did paragliding in Medellin and it was fabulous! I was very scare about the idea of being in the air, but after some minutes I was able to enjoy the journey. I want to come back to Colombia and visit other spots to do paragliding again! I share with you an article I found that shows the best places to do it in Colombia: https://colombiabybus.co/destinations/best-paragliding-spots-colombia/
Hey Susan, your narrative here is super entertaining. So much more interesting than most strictly-facts travel blogs.
Did you land back at the same place you took off? Looks like it from the photo.
And just for readers’ info, the cost these days (mid-2018) is 130,000 COP, which is about $45 USD, so not much more than is was for you.