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Go paragliding when you visit Cape Town - it's the second best thing to do here! And having headed up the largest South African owned travel agency for the last few years, I should know. Now, it had been 2 years since I last went tandem paragliding in Cape Town, and the adrenalin was building as the day for our jump drew closer. There are 2 main spots for paradliding in Cape Town - off Signal Hill or off Lion's Head - and we were doing Signal Hill.
At R950 per flight this experience is incredible value for money (far cheaper than buying a sports car for your mid-life crisis!). Navigate to book Cape Town paragliding to book your flight (or to paragliding South Africa if you want to fly somewhere else).
When I got to the top of Signal Hill the mist was swirling about and there was a group of paragliders waiting for the weather to improve. After about 10 minutes the clouds cleared and we set off. Grant strapped me in and
asked if my will was in order said to run as fast as possible - I only managed to run 2 steps before I was airborne, and we gently lifted off into the westerly breeze. We moved back and forth alongside Signal Hill, being sure to avoid the model aeroplanes and other paragliders who were doing the same thing (in fact the others all work for the same company - Fly Cape Town Paragliding), and them being up in the air made for great photographs.
We waved at the tourists looking at us from down below (yes, Signal Hill seems to be a big tourist attraction).
If there were enough thermals we would have landed on Signal Hill again, but instead we went over Seapoint to land on the Seapoint promenade.
When one thinks about it, it's a bit insane watching one's legs dangling in the air a couple hundred metres above the high rises. But my advice is not to rationalise it - just enjoy the glorious splendour of the situation - it's not often that one can soar on the thermals like an eagle. In the photo below we can see Ocean View Drive, and at the bottom right is Steep Acres Apartment Complex.
Running from right to left in the following photo is Sea Point Main Road. The grey-roofed building in between my legs is the Craigmore block of flats. The brown-roofed church across Main Road from Craigmore flats is the Sea Point Evangelical Congregational Church.
As we were coming in to land Grant maneuvered around a bit, and I could really feel the g-forces during the spins. We came in to land which involved running a bit and landing - pretty gentle. And then the euphoria kicks in.
There's a mini-industry supported by the paragliding in Cape Town - there's a pub called Harvey's down next to the Seapoint promenade, which gets a lot of paragliders popping in for a drink to celebrate a successful flight, and then there's the taxi cabs which are called to ferry the paragliders back up to their vehicles on the top of Signal Hill.
Not everybody realises that paragliding is a year-round sport in Cape Town. This flight was done in the middle of winter (July 2013), on a fairly cloudy day. In fact, in summer it is far harder to get a slot, as that's when everybody wants to go.
Written by Rob Baker
Here's a couple of spectactors who were watching the paragliding on the roof of this old house on Signal Hill.