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Paragliding trips

Skylark Paragliding run a variety of trips during the year. While hard work for the instructors, it's the nearest we get to a holiday, so we usually just aim to cover costs plus pocket money. You can be sure of quality guidance and excellent value for money.

In the depths of winter we'll be in India's Western Ghats with a mixed group of qualified pilots, enjoying a tropical flying paradise.

  Forthcoming trips

Southern India. January - February 2018.

A trip for pilots at CP through to sky-god level.

Fantastic weather

Lovely people

Stunning scenery

Great food

Excellent value for money

One of the nicest places we've been flying


Building on the success of previous expeditions (by rickshaw, luxury car and hotel!) to Panchgani in India's Western Ghats since 2007, we're going again for all of January and February.

Session 1 - Very low air timers looking for fun adventure flying, perhaps learning to thermal and brushing up basic skills.

Session 2 - Intermediate pilots looking for fun adventure XC and improving those XC skills.

Session 3 - Experienced pilots looking for fun advantures and long distance flights.

For part of this year's trip we're teaming up with the best of the Indian flying schools in the area, which gives us the sites and resources to look after rusty and very low air-time pilots. So, if you've just got your CP, or are a old hand but out of practice, a couple of weeks intensive flying with excellent sites and reliable weather will kickstart your flying for the new year.

Included are:

  • Expert guidance from experienced BHPA instructors.
  • Tuition to help your thermalling, XC strategy, etc.
  • Smooth dawn soaring (wind permitting!)
  • Mid-day XC conditions (100km triangle, 160km open distance click for leonardo, so far.)
  • Evening large-scale smooth restitution.
  • Western standard  hotel or private villa (well, remember it is India so we get the best available which is pretty good!)
  • All meals, from a clean kitchen.
  • Airport pickup by quality taxi.
  • Transport to and from flying sites plus retrieves as required.
  • Tandem flights to familiarise with the area.

We will usually start a trip based at Kamshet, where we find easier sites and quiet, lake-side accomodation. Once the group has settled into the Indian lifestyle and all the flying is up to speed, we spend the second half of the trip in Panchgani, staying in a fantastic early colonial period hotel. There we find slightly more tricky take-offs and landings allowing access to world-class XC conditions.

The wide range of sites caters for everyone from new CP through to XC headbangers.

We have some luxury  jeeps exclusively for our use and have the option to go on expedition every week or two to further explore the mountains and beaches for flying sites, visit the Maharaja's palace in the former capital of Kolapur and complete the circuit by following the old road back along the coast to visit beaches much more beautiful than those of Goa. Recently we were the first to fly a couple of superb coastal sites and there are plenty more where that came from. In 2016 we were welcomed as guests of honour in a new flying venue at Saputara where some below average weather provided us still with plenty of easy and fun flying and a great experience.

Price of all this is around 1400 for a 2 week trip (based on two sharing, little extra for single rooms where available.) Discount for non-flyers.

Apart from good accommodation and amazing flying, Panchgani and Kamshet offers much over alternative Indian and other developing world destinations:

  • It's only around 3 hours along good highway by luxury taxi from the airport in Bombay.
  • There's plenty of landings, both at the top and the bottom.
  • Valleys and hills are well served by mobile phone, public transport and populated by trustworthy, english speaking people, making out-landings a joy.
  • There are no airspace problems in this area of the Ghats, unless you fly a long way north to the Pune - Bombay corridor.
  • Accidents can happen and the village has a good cottage hospital, with an orthopedic consultant. There are real hospitals and a rescue helicopter 100km away.

More about the place and what to expect...

Dave has spent the winters since 2005 flying in India's Western Ghats, setting the local distance record in 2006 at 70 km. Recognising the potential of the place, Dave ran his first trip there in Jan - Feb.. 2007, where that record fell again and again. This experience gives the Skylark team probably the best knowledge base about the area's weather and XC routes.

This area has the benefit of reliable weather making for pleasant thermic flying just about every day and long XC flying available in very high, powerful conditions every few days (remember - you don't have to fly in the peak of the day!) Apart from world class paragliding, we have the pleasure of staying in Panchgani, a beautiful old British hill station where us Brit's can still escape the heat and mayhem of lowland coastal India. To experience real India, you just have to bottom land and drop into a relaxed, rural culture unchanged for centuries. Being India, such bottom landing adventures always include friendly english speaking locals, tea, snacks and the fun of one of the best public transport systems in the world to bring you home. We have our own cars, but local transport usually works out faster and more fun.

Panchgani is the public school capital of India and so attracts plenty of money but few tourists. As such it has the benefits wealth brings, such as good communications, hospitals, and shops that sell Swiss chocolate.

Accommodation will be in a modernised luxury establishment from the colonial era, frequented by rich Bollywood stars. We can also expect to rub shoulders with some of the world's top pilots and traveling eccentrics!

We'll fly to Bombay for around 400 and jump in a luxury taxi to Kamshet or Panchgani asap. Bombay is a delight to be savoured on the way home having become accustomed to India more gently! Once housed, we'll spend the mornings flying at Harrison's Folly and hopefully climb out to great heights above the table-lands. A previous year's mission was to follow the road the 100km to Adam's tea shop on the beach. No-one made it, but several times the sea was sighted. Much bigger flights are possible in other directions and many days we made triangles of up to 100 km, but the lure of fresh fish usually won out!

If you're back from XC in time, we fly the evening session from beside the Ravine Hotel. It's normally reliable, gentle, magic lift over a large area giving plenty of chilled out airtime and the opportunity for acro practice for those that way inclined. Sometimes we still get good thermals in the evening; how about take off from 1200m at 5pm, climb in 1 m/s for absolutely ages up to 4000 m and glide gently down for sunset...

Apart from the flying, the local fascinations are endless. I usually rent an India Enfield 350 motorbike for peanuts and have lots of fun breaking down all over the place and making friends with village mechanics! Just below Panchgani there's a huge lake with some nice places for swimming (no crocs here!) Trekking is popular, and Andre, the French-Canadian resident flyer, knows some great routes often encompassing truly ancient ruins from a different time. Andre also tells me of great climbing, from the local nursery cliffs to some epic long routes a few km away. There's even an 18 hole golf course, cut out of the jungle, left behind by the British. The Horse Wallas can rent you anything from a mule to an impressive Arab steed for some horsing about, Indian style. If you're in need of a party, Goa is only a sleeper bus away. Anyway, this is India, on the odd day it's not flyable it's impossible to get bored.

Please contact us to discuss or book.


 
 
 

 

Damian came last time and sent us this when he got home:


Hi Dave, I hope you are well, just a quick mail to say thank you to yourself & Chris (as well as all the guys at Indus paragliding) for an amazing experience I had in India in January. I really don't think I could have asked for anything better, what I feel I achieved over the trip far out weighed my initail perceptions of what I would achieve. I know you asked me to have a think if there was anything you could have done to improve the experience, but really, no I dont think there is. I know it was not a CPC course & yes I dont have my CPC yet, but to be given the freedom to just get up there and have a little play around in the air, with the knowledge of having two very experienced proffesionals looking over me (even if at times you were looking up at me!) was a very liberating experience. This was my third paragliding trip, (EPC at the Dune Du Pyla, part complete CPC in the French Alps) but I must say that in terms of flying advancement - was the best! I really do think that I finally began to get a proper 'feel' for the environment I was flying in. The knowledge & experience passed on to me by the both of you, has been greatly recieved & not a day passes when I dont look back through my pictures & video clips of a truly wonderful trip - money definitely well spent! My dear mother keeps reminding me that I could do with 'getting my kitchen & bathroom sorted out' but then, she's never been paragliding, so what the *** does she know?
Once again thank you both for an excellent trip, I'll definitely be wanting to come & fly with you again. Take it easy fella, look after yourself & I'll catch up with you soon. Happy flying, Damian.

And his rather good video here.