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Paragliding in Argentina – A Photo Essay

The last few days of 2009 were at hand, and after almost two weeks lazing around in the beautiful Mendoza, Argentina, I needed something to get the blood pumping.  I first tried a zip-lining excursion with a friend and we both agreed that it failed to give the adequate rush we were looking for.  Thus, we set our sights higher (and peer-pressured Pete into joining us).

We set our sights 1,300 meters higher. Never before had the three of us tried paragliding, and it seemed like a perfect way to send 2009 out with a bang.

And hopefully not a splat!

Pete and I rode in the back of a shallow pick-up truck to the top of the mountain.  We held on for dear life as we were constantly jostled on the bumpy road, the driver whipped around every tight corner.  At that point, we figured that if we could survive the drive up the mountain, we could survive jumping off of it.

 

The sight of this bag gave us some comfort.  That initial comfort didn’t last long however, as we saw one guy chicken out at the last minute, and also remarkably watched one single jumper fall from the sky.  As we were waiting for our turn, we heard a course of people shouting “Mira, mira!” (Look, look!)  We ran out from under the shade in time to see one lone jumper falling straight down, her emergency shute deployed but obviously not working.  Others tried to contact her on the radio to no avail. When she disappeared behind a mountain, the guides turned to us, shoulders shrugging, and said: “Okay.  Your turn now!”

 

Getting the equipment ready for a jump.

 

Pete deep in thought… “This isn’t so bad, right?”

 

Relaxed and ready to go! Pete was the first to be airborne.  It happened so suddenly – the tandem jumper would just begin to yell “Corre, corre!” (Run, run!) when the wind was perfect. There is no weirder feeling then to be running towards the edge of a mountain, knowing that soon there would be no ground beneath your feet.

 

And, he’s off!! My heart stopped for a brief moment when Pete ran off the side and dipped below the mountain and out of my sight.  Soon, the thermals lifted him up and within view.  I could breath again.

 

And this is me, seconds later. Note that my “extremely-thrilled” face and my “so-scared-I-think-I-pooped-my-pants” face is pretty much the same, only I can tell the difference.  I won’t tell you which one this is.

 

More of Pete in the air.  The beautiful city of Mendoza is in the background.

 

 

I was on the ground first, waiting for Pete as he circled above, preparing for his landing.

 

On the ground and heading back to our hostel, this was our best attempt at our “we’re-superheroes-that-just-ran-off-a-damn-mountain” face.  It obviously needs some work.

38 Comments (Add Yours)

  1. Oh you and your daring feats! I bet the view was spectacular and the adrenaline rush was on but it is something that is not for the faint of heart. Glad you had a good experience but I think I’ll watch from the ground.
    Debbie – European Travelista recently posted..Montmartre a retreat in Paris

  2. How cool! We’d definitely want to do this given the chance. I bet the view was even more amazing in person.
    jill- Jack and Jill Travel The World recently posted..Eating ‘Hormigas Culonas’ – Colombian Ants With A Large Arse

  3. Looks like you had a blast guys! Nothing like the feeling of the wind blowing in your face and your feet not touching the ground!
    Dave and Deb recently posted..Feynan Eco Lodge- A Quiet Retreat in Jordan

  4. Very brave…and very cool. I’m a bit of a wimp when it comes to heights but you’ve inspired me to give it a try. Cheers!

  5. This looks so awesome! I don’t know if I would have the guts to do it though…I’m so afraid of heights!
    Sheryll recently posted..An Offer I Can’t Refuse

  6. Wow we all look so incredible handsome on that last picture….hopefully we can practise soon together on our Superheroes face after new adventures in los Paises Bajos.

  7. Oh my goodness, haha, I could NEVER do this! Sounds exhilarating though. What happened to the girl with the emergency parachute that didn’t work???
    Andrea recently posted..Mercado del Puerto- Montevideo’s Meat Market

  8. Holy crap! What happened to that lady, did they find her??? You guys are brave. If I saw someone crash right before my own takeoff I might have taken it for a sign. You earned those superhero faces.
    Kim recently posted..8 Months Until Our RTW!

  9. Amazing photos. I want to do this so badly. Thinking when I get back to Argentina this year I’m going for it.

    • Mendoza was a great spot to do it. But so is La Cumbre – I think they’ve hosted some world championships there before (although, I think the mountain in Mendoza was higher).

  10. Glad you got to try this! I love paragliding- hoping to pass the proficiency for my P2 pilot rating sometime super soon!
    Mark Powers recently posted..What Do You Listen To While Writing

  11. This looks like sooo much fun… Not sure I could do it, though. But what a great thing to try.
    Theodora recently posted..Travels with a Ten Year Old

  12. Looks fun, guys! How long were you in the air?
    Sophie recently posted..Lamenting lost love in the Azores

  13. YEAH!!! i knew i was in for a treat when i read your line, “I first tried a zip-lining excursion with a friend and we both agreed that it failed to give the adequate rush we were looking for.” wtf?! seriously? you’re a badass! :D this is amazing- LOVE how you did it as a play by play. takes me right there (well, as much as is possible!). do you remember the company name or how much it cost?
    Lorna – the roamantics recently posted..Life and Travel Lessons from Mom

    • I’m trying to convince Dalene to jump out of the plane next. Neither of us have skydived, but I’m game if she is… She keeps saying no (for now, bwah-haha).

      In regards to cost it was around $50 and you are up from 25-35 minutes. I was up for 35 min, Dalene for 25 minutes (I got lucky with better thermals). In regards to the company, let us get back to you (we’ll send you an email). We have it somewhere ;)

  14. Very cool! I would love to do this. Did you feel a bit of safety doing tandem?

    Have you seen the guys that have the flying suits? They jump off of some pretty high mountains and just dive off the face – then their “wing suit” fills up with air and they are flying.
    Don Faust recently posted..Island Eating- Dinner with Top Chef Contestant Tiffany Derry

    • Hey Don, I felt safe the whole time being tandem. I have seen the flying suits, they are INSANE!! I don’t know if I would tandem for this though ;)

      • I don’t think you CAN tandem for the flying suits. I’ve only seen one-person jumps, and it’s not a thing tourism guides do, as far as I know. I think it’s a small collection of thrill seekers who are connected to this extreme sport.
        Don Faust recently posted..Photo Friday- Schloss Rochlitz

        • Yeah, I’ve only seen solo jumps as well. I was just jokin’ around with the tandem stuff for that craziness. I have seen some pretty cool videos of it, but unfortunately I’ve also seen some go very wrong. It’s a risky extreme sport. Thanks for the comments Don!

  15. It’s crazy how you’re just sitting there, isn’t it? We went paragliding in Colombia and had a great time. Probably wouldn’t have done it, though, if we had seen what you saw first. You guys are brave souls!
    Tran recently posted..5 Tips for Traveling Without a Guidebook

  16. I seriously can’t believe you jumped off the mountain after that woman just dropped like a rock! What the heck DOES happen if your back-up gear fails? Other than certain death, of course.
    Christy @ Technosyncratic recently posted..Saying Farewell to Mayhem

    • Good question. And one I chose not to think about at the time. And looking back, I can’t believe we did it either, actually. I try not to think about it too much now, or I’d never sleep at night… :)

  17. You guys look so happy, so exhilarated!

    Even despite what you witnessed. Talk about going for the gusto. Admire you!
    Nomadic Chick recently posted..Summer Lovin’ Had Me a Blast Summer Lovin’ Happened So Fast

  18. Wow, it looks really exciting! I doubt I would have done it though :P
    Angela recently posted..A trip- a photo – Saint Peter’s Basilica- the Cupola- Rome

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