La Paz is a real Mecca for adventurous backpackers and the touristic centre is literally teaming with tour operators offering everything from death road biking through to 3 day mountain climbing trips. With so much on offer and so many different companies doing the offering, it’s a little bit overwhelming to begin with – but one activity really jumped out at me – paragliding!

Having always wanted to do a sky dive but never got around to organising it, paragliding seemed like a great introduction to falling out of the sky. There are a couple of people offering tandem paragliding experiences, but one company really stood out with their promotion (it seemed to be everywhere). That company was Energy Paragliding and it turned out to be a fantastic decision…

Run by experienced Paragliding pilot Huascar, Energy Paragliding provided an unbelievable experience. I felt comfortable and confident in them within minutes of us meeting – Huascar’s friendly laid back demeanour putting me completely at ease. A good thing since I was about to strap myself to one of them and go running off a cliff! We met on cold wet Friday morning on the outskirts of La Paz and joined Huascar, Luis (the driver) and my pilot Victor for the half an hour drive up to the take off point. The spot we launched from is now a popular destination for paragliders in La Paz, but it was in fact Huascar who found it and was the first to use it – which I thought was quite a cool claim to fame!

Day one
The first day (we ended up going twice for reasons that will soon become clear) was horrible – cold and wet. It turns out these are terrible conditions for paragliding, so there was a lot of waiting around while they tried to work out if it was going to be possible to fly. It was borderline, but we decided to go for it. I was due to take of first, with Kari (the beautiful blonde Texan you might have spotted in a lot of my photos) following straight after. As we were getting strapped in Huascar had emphasised the importance of my running if we were going to successfully take off. So when my pilot Victor gave me to nod, I ran as hard as I could… and it turns out my little legs had just enough juice in to send us soaring off into the grey sky. The first thing I noticed was the cold – my hands were frozen and the rain was blowing straight into my face. This obviously had a bit of a negative effect on my experience, but it was still an incredible feeling to be flying over the jagged rocks and houses below.

As we landed I swivelled round, expecting to see Kari coming into land right behind me – but she was nowhere to be seen. As it turned out they’s messed up the take off and as conditions deteriorated it became impossible to fly. This left me and Victor hiding from the biting cold winds and relentless rain under a bridge at the bottom of the mountain. For nearly an hour. By the time they rolled down to meet us in the jeep, a lot my enthusiasm for paragliding had been eaten away by the cold – but on their decent they’s decided that we were all coming back tomorrow so Kari could try again. It would be a beautiful sunny day according to the ever optimistic Huascar…

Day two…
It turns out Huascar’s weather predicting skills are spot on – Saturday morning was beautiful; warm bright sunshine, blue skies and incredible views across the mountains. As I watched Kari successfully launch off into the perfect conditions, I’ll admit I was more than a little jealous. By the time I got to the bottom I was green with envy as she raved about the wonderful experience she’d just had. It was such a good flight in fact, Huascar wanted to do it again and offered her a free second go! She was kind enough to offer it to me, but that didn’t seem right… luckily for me Huascar interjected with news that Victor was on his way and I could fly again too if I wanted. It didn’t take much consideration to be honest…

The second flight was absolutely sensational, honestly one of the best things I’ve ever done. This time everything went to plan and we both took off within a few seconds of each other. The great conditions also meant our two pilots were a little more adventurous – swooping much closer to the mountain, flying above and below each other and also managing to keep us in the air much longer. It was an unforgettable experience and I’m hugely grateful to Huascar and Victor for allowing us to go a second time.

After we were done, we went back to Huascar’s house where he burned us discs of the filming he’d done – all free of charge. The level of service we received from Energy Paragliding was way beyond what I was expecting. The whole thing cost us around 350Bs each (just over £30) which represents incredible value for money and the attentiveness and warmth shown to us by them all made the whole experience all the more enjoyable. If you’re ever in La Paz and want a safe, exciting flight over beautiful mountain scenery, contact Energy Paragliding – you won’t be disappointed.

Check out my paragliding photo gallery

Resources
www.energyparagliding.com