A “MUST-DO”: Paragliding in Interlaken! I tried it out!
I, Elli, a student from Berlin, am sitting excitedly at the breakfast table of my Hostel. I just did something really crazy: I booked a Paragliding Tandem flight in Interlaken! I am spending a few days here with my parents. Of course I had already seen pictures of the Swiss Alps back home in Berlin, but never did I think I would be taking off of one. Never, not even in my dreams!
Here we go! My paragliding adventure is starting!
I meet my pilot David in the center of Interlaken at 10:30 sharp. The local has been paragliding for 12 years already and has been working for Skywings Paragliding as a tandem paragliding pilot since 2012. He seems nice and like all his teammates, he seems to be a good and experienced pilot. Reassuring indeed!
Scenic bus ride to take off
“All aboard please!” instructs Corinna, the friendly driver. She too has been working for Skywings Paragliding for many years already and has driven many a nervous passenger up the mountain.
The minibus takes us towards Beatenberg, where there are several take off sites. During the ride, the pilots inform us about the basics and tell us some exciting details about Interlaken and the Jungfrau region. Along the winding road, we pass grazing cows and goats, while below us the blue Lake Thun glistens in the sunlight. How idyllic it is here – I almost feel like the Swiss Heidi – taking off!
A SAFE PARAGLIDING FLIGHT REQUIRES HIGHLY QUALIFIED PILOTS AND APPROPRIATE EQUIPMENT
According to the pilots, we have perfect conditions to take off at the highest launch site, Hohwald at 1500m above sea level. Nothing stands in the way of my paragliding adventure! David lays out his glider and helps me put on the passenger harness. A helmet has to be worn as well. After all, paragliding is still an extreme sport and appropriate equipment is indispensable. For this reason, all pilots go through the strict training of the SHV (Swiss Hanggliding Association) and have to pass several exams to get a license for tandem flights.
THERMALS, SNOWY PEAKS AND A STEEP SPIRAL ABOVE INTERLAKEN
My nerves are shot. We’re about to take off! David stands behind me and starts counting: “One, two, three….run!” Everything happens so fast, I hardly realize that we are already in the air. It’s amazing, I’m flying! But I don’t have time to take a deep breath just yet, because the tops of the trees up ahead are getting suspiciously close, aren’t they? But before I can say anything to David, we suddenly gain altitude and start circling like an eagle. We’ve caught a thermal, warm, rising air that helps us thermal up. What a view – in the background I see the imposing white peaks of the Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau, further on the turquoise blue Lake Brienz, below me Lake Thun and behind it the Bernese Alps – Wow!
After a little more than 20 minutes of flight time we fly over Interlaken. The houses are still very small below me. “Do you like roller coasters?” David asks me. I answer in the affirmative and already find myself in a steep spiral that makes my pulse race. Acro maneuvers are for those who have good nerves and definitely a strong stomach. We take it easy again and slowly descend over the city.
SOLID GROUND UNDER OUR FEET ONCE AGAIN
Now we are above the Höhematte, a green field in the middle of Interlaken with a fantastic view of the famous Jungfraujoch. One or two more turns, then David starts the final approach. We land softly and I have solid ground under my feet again. I still can’t believe it. David pulls a tablet out of his backpack and shows me the beautiful pictures he took of our flight. If I want to buy them? Of course, because I want to keep this unique experience present for a long time coming! I highly recommend such a paragliding adventure to everyone who wants to fly like a bird once in a lifetime – it’s a bit crazy, but also incredibly beautiful!