A dream to fly in the mountains...
This summer at our mountain retreat in East Tirol a young man from France with a very special passion came to visit, a passion that also lots of our guests enjoyed. When I think about the Austrian Alps, I picture people who hike, mountain bike, run up and down steep hills or swim in pristine lakes. But when you lift your gaze, the sky it is often spotted with colourful wings sailing effortlessly cross the horizon. They call it Paragliding. Paragliders can be seen dancing and swinging in the sky near Lienz in East Tirol, just half an hour drive from MoaAlm Mountain Retreat. I often looked up and thought, “I’d like to do that.” Anything that involves flying, climbing and heights is mostly my thing. Was I scared? A little. Was I excited to see the Hohe Tauern National Park and the surrounding valleys from a birds perspective? Definitely. So, this friendly French man took me on a flight.
A quick ride up the cable car to the end station and we are almost ready to fly. Ascending the mountain, I could already see people playing in the wind. First the pilots prepare the gliders, check the lines and double checking the equipment. After the equipment is ready, there are a few minutes to guide the newbies through the experience, enough to fade any worries away and reassure everyone. Once I was clipped into the harness, my pilot told me to start running at the count of three and resist the pulling back of the paraglide. “Three, two, one” – Take off is propelled by a few steps and we’re in the air before I know it.
Paragliding is the closest we humans can come to experiencing the sensation of flying like a bird. It harnesses the wind and allows pilots to manoeuvre in every direction, even upwards, like my pilot said, it is wise to follow the birds because they know where the warm winds and thermals are. Being non motorised and foot-launched with an inflatable wing, the experience is so different than an airplane or a hot air balloon.
Most people come to East Tirol for the ski slopes in the winter and walking trails in Summer, but there’s so much more. This experience really opened my eyes and honestly, the harness feels like sitting in a kid’s booster chair, which as an adult I loved!
Using air currents and shifting their own body weight, paragliders can fly to heights of 7,000 meters with their paragliding sails. You can't beat the views and the solitude is incredibly peaceful. Paragliding pilots start on the ground with their parachutes already deployed, and the wind takes them up into the sky. They have no frame, and the wing is an elliptical-shaped parachute that folds up to the size of a backpack when it's not being used. These features make paragliders considerably lighter and more convenient to transport.
Do you ever dream to fly and make lazy circles in the sky like a seagull or a Golden Eagle? In dream analysis, flying is a sign of good things to come. With paragliding this dream is suddenly so close, after only a few steps you can float freely through the air, enjoying a boundless sense of freedom. You will experience the most spectacular views of the Hohe Tauern, the Dolomites, the surrounding mountains and the Lienz Valley. These views let you forget all negative thoughts and concentrate fully on the moment, the breeze on your face, your eyes wandering into the distance. A unique highlight experience on your holiday in Austria.
In case this inspires you to give paragliding a go yourself, here are my practical tips for you: Warm clothing is the only thing you need to worry about before your flight. Even in warm weather, it gets a bit chilly as you fly. The pilots bring a camera and take photos and videos while flying. The only thing that really worried me while flying was dropping my camera.
I enjoyed my flight with AirTime Austria who are based in Lienz and I would highly recommend flying with them if you have the opportunity. At MoaAlm Mountain Retreat, a few of our guests that were taking part in our Hike and Yoga holiday also spent a day with the team from AirTime Austria and loved the experience.
Let’s go fly!
Blog Post by Becca, Yoga teacher, photographer and plant based cook at MoaAlm Mountain Retreat.