If imitating a Mother City bird is your thing, how about a paraglider flight from Signal Hill with the Atlantic seaboard as backdrop? With heart in my mouth, I did just that…
You’re standing on the Lion’s rump high above Sea Point, clipped up to your pilot with the paraglider laid out behind you. ‘Run!’ shouts the pilot as a gust lifts the glider. Flat out, you bound down the mountainside runway… then suddenly you’re airborne and the great bird above you banks sharply to the left along the slope, scratching for lift.
The tandem paraglider ahead of you is fast losing altitude, sinking on a foefie-slide run down to Sea Point, so you continue sailing back and forth along the slope, eking what lift you can find. Rocks and fynbos soar past at dizzying speed and, when a crash seems inevitable, you both heel your bodies hard over and the bird swings in a graceful, 180° turn, back along the face.
Eventually you bank away and venture down the slope, gliding towards Three Anchor Bay, peering straight down at the houses and traffic of High Level Road. Just when you’ve resigned yourself to a premature landing, you fly slap into a big-cored thermal and the variometer squeaks as you rocket skyward in tight circles, the column of hot air propelling you up and up.
Twenty minutes later, two pairs of feet touch lightly down on the promenade lawn beside the cocktail drinkers at Winchester Mansions. ‘Lightly’, because it is many hours before your soaring mind allows you back to earth. By then the horizon is scarlet, the last fliers are floating in like dusky phantoms… and your ice-cold lager on the Winchester terrace tastes like nectar of the gods.
A number of outfits offer tandem paragliding in Cape Town, including: