Hola amigos!! This is your buddy Anthony Perez with another sweet glimpse into how I have been passing my time here in Chile. Very recently, there was an extended break due to two holidays which gave me an ample amount of time to go out and have fun. Since it was a little too late to plan a far away trip, I chose to do something wild….go paragliding (parapente).
For any future study abroad students or anyone anywhere with the option paragliding, I would definitely recommend trying it at least once in your life. My friend and I were really nervous to do it, but paragliding revealed itself to be a really tranquil activity.
The company I went with is called “Vuelo en Parapente” (Paragliding Flight) and has fairly cheap prices compared to the other businesses I have found online. The only prices I know are those were you fly with a guide, so I am not sure if it is more expensive or cheaper to fly alone, but the if you go in a group of 4 or more friends, it is about 30.000 CLP each. My friend and I had planned to go in a big group, but everyone cancelled pretty last minute leaving only me and one other person so we ended up having to pay 35.000 CLP (about $53 USD per person).The company is located near Vespucio Norte (the last stop going north on linea 2/yellow line). After making to last stop, you only have to take bus 63 until you reach a supermarket called Santa Isabel. I assume you just walk north from there, but honeslty my friend and I got confused and the workers at the company luckily happened to find us while driving by so they picked us up.
Once we were picked up, we were driven up a section of a large hill which is private land. I did not exactly whether or not only the paragliders can use it, but I do remember them saying something about tourists coming through the area. At the foot of the hill was a small farm with a couple horses and cows. Interestingly enough, that day there were condors flying around in the sky which the workers informed us was pretty rare to see. When we reached the top, there was another truck there that had a group of men placing a baby calf into trunk bed. Turns out they were saving the calf since it was in risk of being attacked and killed by the flying condor. Plus, the men could raise the calf for milk.
After some quick introductions and advice, the workers asked “who first?” and gave us both a look. My friend and I had assumed we would go at the same time. Not sure of who to sent first, I volunteered myself. They zipped me up into a flight suit, strapped me to a similarly dressed man who had the paraglider attached to his back. I remember telling me to not go into a sitting position until I am flying and *zoooom*. Just like that we began running towards the cliff, did some hops to give us air, and within time we were in flight.
At first I was really nervous since the paraglider kept lowering us down towards the ground, but my guide was maneuvering us to soar higher. Within seconds, the nerves had left my body and soaring turned more into floating. Everything felt at peace and completely still. At one point, we were almost non-moving in the sky and just enjoying the beautiful view of Santiago and the numerous hills below. Every now and then, the guide would pull out a Go Pro on a selfie stick and snap pictures and videos. Honestly, the scariest part for me was when he handed me the selfie-stick only because I did not want to drop it and possibly pay for a repairment. Another situation was when the guide told me to shift my head and body to the left. I confusedly followed his orders and we began spiraling. I felt like I was trapped in a tornado, but one that I was in control of. We were spiraling for almost 2 minutes and I was slightly nervous because the speed was making it difficult to breathe, but we eventually stopped and returned to normal flying/floating.
The coolest part about the flight was when we noticed there was a condor flying by. The guide, really excited to see it so close, handed me the selfie-stick to try to get it on video and began following it. We were really close to the condor, but not enough to touch it or make eye contact since it had its back towards us as it was soaring away.
That was a really interesting experience that I would be more than glad to try again, but in different areas. It would be so exciting to float around in numerous different settings and landscapes.