Paragliding 4000ft over the immense Swiss Alps in the home of adventure: Interlaken!

Floating 4000ft above one of the most spectacular views in the world, that’s how I started my morning! Up bright and early to make one of our all time dreams come true, and what better location in the world that Interlaken! No time for nerves or second thoughts, before we knew it we were taking watching the morning sun rise above the alps from an unrivalled view point…This is one thing we will never forget! I might even go as far as to say it’s one of the best things we have ever done!

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A dream come true, another ticked off the bucket list!

It seems these days we are in the business of ticking things off our bucket list, in fact I have lost count of how many we have managed to do just this year alone. It goes to show if you put your mind to it then these dreams can come a reality.

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Paragliding is something I set my heart on many years back, it was in 2006 when I realised it was something anyone could have a go at when we were on a family holiday in Turkey. Back then I was only 15 as despite being a little cockier and maybe a little more reckless on the skateboard I was no where near as brave!

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I had never been anywhere near a climbing wall back then, let alone dangled off mountains and been balanced precariously over steep drops! There was no way I would have done it however much I wanted to! Add that to the fact a paraglider crash landed in our pool and I just figured it would be one of those things I said I’d do but never did…that was before we began our life of adventures, of saying yes and of taking leaps of faith!

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Here it was, once again I was looking up at a towering mountain over the town in which we were based. Seeing the seemingly endless stream of paragliders swooping and sailing down from its peak. I looked on with envy but this time was different, this time I knew one of those paragliders would be me!

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Booking!

One of the things I love so much about Interlaken is how you can just decide to do this crazy stuff, you can walk into Outdoor Interlaken as say “Hey, I wanna fly off that mountain, I wanna jump off that waterfall or raft down that river” and they will make it happen!

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One day after we had come back from another amazing adventure in the mountains we looked up and said, lets do it! We were up for doing it right there and then, next bus up! Unfortunately the last two spots on the last trip had been just sold, but hey, no worries, first thing next morning, lets go! That was that, it was booked with Interlaken Paragliding! Nerves, excitement, anticipation! We couldn’t wait!

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Price: 160 CHF/ £108/ $172

It’s certainly not the cheapest, but what is in Switzerland! If you want to make the most out of Interlaken unlike many other places we have been you have to save some money up! I managed to do Basel on a budget but these activities are expensive and there is no way around that! Save up and have yourself an awesome, adventurous time!

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You can also pay 40 CHF/ £27/ $42

for official videos and photos. Although we took our GoPro and compact up with us these photos are really worth the money to be honest. They capture this once in a lifetime experience and after paying over £100 another £27 feels worthwhile. I do think that given the cost they should be included, but in Interlaken that’s also just how it goes. Pretty much every activity comes with additional photos or videos to purchase. Again, for us, save up a little more and get the photos of this unforgettable experience!

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Our Flights!

 Arriving at the hut we were a little nervous and unsure of what to expect. But after a little while all our gear/ shoes were checked (you can leave your bag in a locker) we signed ourselves in and waited for everyone else to arrive! In no time we were all packed into a minibus, along with a pilot each, and off we were!

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The ride up the mountainside took around 30 minutes and was in itself quite scenic, all the way up the pilots were laughing and joking and generally making us feel at ease. To be honest from getting on the bus and speaking with them my nerves just dropped away! I was never absolutely frightened to be honest, but those little butterflies turned to complete excitement as we made our way to the launch site!

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We picked our pilots at random, I got Bruno and Shorty got Jasmine! We had our safety briefings during the bus ride and signed all the necessary forms. I had expected there to be a lot to take in, do’s and don’ts, rules and regulations, almost a lecture of what you needed to do and what you really shouldn’t do! Instead all that was reiterated was that when we were told to run, we ran until our feet were off the ground! RUN! That’s the important thing!

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Once out of the van we were paired up with our pilots for the short walk in. This was  pretty cool actually as it gave us a chance to ask any questions and generally get to know our pilots. Bruno, my guy, he had been paragliding for 25 years! Now I was feeling pretty confident!

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As we came to a clearing in the middle of nowhere, surrounded my lush hillsides and farmland we were informed we had reached the take off point! No cliffs or crazy drops insight, just a gentle slope and an amazing view! Our pilots laid out their canopies and we got kitted out. Again, no crazy gear just one full body harness with a few straps and a helmet! This was a lot less fuss than expected!

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As everything was prepared, checked and tested we waited with anticipation! Shorty’s canopy was a bright orange one right down near the front, mine, a red, white and blue one was much further back!

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After only 10 minutes the group to the left of us who had arrived slightly earlier were ready to take off! It was cool to see how they did it before it was our turn, I think that settled the nerves even more! The take off at this point was still something of an unknown. I had thought the running was so important because you just ran with the canopy on the ground behind you! I was wrong, it was much more controlled!

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As each one floated off around the mountain it was our turn! Shorty first as I waited patiently a few rows behind! His bright orange canopy was thrust into the sky and filled with air! His pilot looked up and checked it, pulling the cords and moving it from side to side. Check done and the shout of RUN rang loudly around the mountain top! Off they went, into the distance! What a strange thought to know that was my husband!

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As our turn approached the wind dropped and we had to wait, by this time Shorty was around the corner and out of sight. Here I was, about to run off a mountain! The wind picked up and no sooner had I seen the wind sock rise I heard the shout of RUN once again…this time for me!

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I only took about 2 or 3 steps, much less than Shorty, and my feet were off the ground. What a strange sensation to just be lifted off your feet like that! Bruno then told me to sit back into the harness, which is surprisingly comfortable! My heart began to pound as I looked down! The gentle slope dropped away dramatically to reveal 4000ft of air below! What a thrill!

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At first I was pumped full of adrenaline after the take off, hardly believing what I had done and more still what laid before me…and underneath me! The sheer scale of the place just came into so much clearer focus than it did on the ground. The posters around town advertising the paragliding said “find out why birds sing”…well now  we really understood what they meant!

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As the morning sun rose over the mountains the view was simply stunning, hard to put into words, and photos, well they can never do it justice! We floated through the air with grace, feeling the wind currents from the mountainous cliff sides below lifting us as we glided over Interlaken. Not often am I lost for words, but I don’t think I had seen a more wonderful, beautiful and jaw dropping sight than that from up here.

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Time seemed to stand still, the flight might have only been 15 minutes long but I felt like we were up there for hours, in fact, I feel as though part of me will always be up there! There was just so much detail to take in, the rows of traditional wooden houses below, the meandering azure rivers, the twin deep blue lakes and of course the gigantic glistening peak of Jungfrau…if ever there way a place to go Paragliding, this was it!

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The wind whistled though the canopy as we rounded Harder Klum and spotted the landing below. By this point any lingering nerves had blown away into the wind we sailed upon. But now came time for some more adrenaline! Not content with just a leisurely ride down to the town centre Bruno asked me if he could do some tricks…tell me when you have had enough he said…I never did!

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Pulling me from one direction to another, diving and swooping my head was all over the place! The G’s we pulled absolutely rocked me! At one point it felt like we were almost upside down…but I loved it! I expected a few swings here and there as it looked from the ground, instead this was like the most intense rollercoaster I’d ever been on! What a fun way to round off what had been the experience of a life time.

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Coming into land I had barely got my breath back, no instructions needed as he brought it down with a soft and slow landing! And there it was, in the heart of the alps, a dream had come true! As Shorty came over I was speechless, the beauty we had just witnessed was almost too much to take in. The world really is such a stunning place and to see it from this perspective was such a treat.

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Whether that was with adrenaline, being spun around or just sheer bliss I don’t know, but my head was still in the clouds for the rest of the day! What an amazing experience! If you get the chance…do it!

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Tips!

Book the day before or even on the day if you can, the weather is very interchangeable in Interlaken and when it’s cloudy the paragliding is cancelled. The closer you book to your flight the better you can predict the weather!

Wear good shoes! You will need to do a bit of running to get going so trainers are idea, no flip flops, high heels etc!

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Take a camera but make sure it has a lanyard! Phones, wallets and anything that could potentially fall will need to be put in your instructors bag safely away. We took a compact and a GoPro with lanyards attached to our wrists, they also as a back up clipped the lanyard to the harnesses!

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Relax and enjoy it! It’s really not all that scary at all, in fact it’s pretty chilled out! Take a few deep breaths, keep running and then sit back and take in the view! Your pilot will only do tricks if you want them to!
We can’t wait to get another chance to do this again now! (as well as skydiving and bungee next!)

We have since been and done some more paragliding, this time over in Turkey, check it our here:

Have you ever been paragliding!

Check out our video below too!

Paragliding off Babadag Mountain and landing on the stunning Blue Lagoon Beach, Turkey!
We also nipped over to Liechtenstein whilst there!

More adventures in Switzerland:

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SWITZERLAND

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Nicola Hilditch-Short

Nic is one half of the Roaming Renegades, a passionate traveller, climber, adventurer, photographer and artist who has a B.A in Fine Art and M.A in Design & Art Direction.