It’s easy to rent a car or bicycle and to decide to drive or ride up the Garden Route to Wilderness, and while the view is ridiculously beautiful, it is the same view from the same perspective. There is nothing like going up high to see the incredible beauty that is the entirety of Wilderness from a paraglider.
Wilderness in South Africa is easily one of the most picturesque spots anywhere to visit, but despite its size, it has quite a lot to do packed into such a small spot. All a person has to do is look upward, and notice the seagulls gliding along the warm ocean breeze, and the sense of wonder will overtake you. What must they see or feel while up there? You can have the incredible opportunity while here to find that out. There is not much in the world that can rival that feeling of independence and absolute freedom like you get from paragliding. After you get that rush of adrenaline, you’ll be able to either keep it going at Cinnamon House’s gym, pool, or hiking the many hills nearby… or you can just choose to have a dip in the pool and relax on your cozy bed.
Cinnamon House is a five star boutique hotel in the heart of Wilderness, very near the beach, and surrounded by as much luxurious landscaping as your heart could ask for. Ranking at or near number one on Trip Advisor many years running, they’re the go-to spot in Wilderness, and makes a great fit for those looking to add paragliding to their adventure.
Hang gliding and parasailing are similar to paragliding but they are not the same thing, despite the terms being used interchangeably. Paragliding can have a motor, or be without a motor at all, and it consists of a free sail down. The glider doesn’t have the rigid frame or shape that hang gliders possess. Parasails are a lot like a parachute, and they’re usually guided by a speedboat or some other seagoing motorised vehicle. In Wilderness there are two places that offer a paragliding adventure:
Dolphin Paragliding offers tandem options as well as single glides, and Cloudbase has a live weather station you can check to book the best day to go. Since there is nothing better than experience to speak, you must come do it to really know what it feels like, but a video is probably the next best thing; this way you can see what it’s like and maybe alleviate any fears about heights.
Hang gliders and paragliders are also different in terms of riding and steering capabilities also. To get a good picture of hang gliding steering, think Superman. You’re face down, and strapped to a rigid kite-like frame on your back, but a paraglider allows you to sit in a swing-like harness beneath something that is both a kite and a parachute together. Paragliders only take up to 12 minutes to setup and are able to fly around 15-25mph. They are the best option for beginners because they are more easily capable of being transported by car inside a backpack. A hang-glider by virtue of that massive heavy frame needs to be strapped to the roof of a vehicle.
Paragliding is done competitively as well as for recreation since the late 19th century. These lightweight, free-flying and foot-launched aircrafts have no rigid structure which allows a feeling of freedom while soaring. The wings keep their structure through suspension lines and air pressure that enters vents in the wings, which are comprised of interconnected baffled cells. Flights tend to last about 1-2 hours and can cover tens of kilometers, but flights can last many hours without any engine and can traverse hundreds of kilometers.
Paragliding can be powered however, which has a tiny engine attached for extra distance, or a sport known as speed flying where the paragliders have shorter wings that give increases in speed. Typically they get used with skis, whereby the rider goes downhill quickly to achieve liftoff and swoops down very quickly. Gliders are inexpensive and make a great hobby for the beginning flyer to soar with ease. Just be sure wherever you plan to launch from is legal to do so.