The Simplest Way to Fly
    Category: Luxury & Lifestyle By : Anton Muhajir Read : 1691 Date : Saturday, October 12, 2013 - 07:59:34

    Sean White / Design Pics / Corbis

    Among Bali's many attractions is paragliding. A coastal area about seven miles from Nusa Dua is considered the best place for paragliding while August is seen as the best month, when skies are generally clear and winds blow at a constant 15 to 20 km per hour. The credo of paragliders is that it is the simplest way to make humans fly. “We can fly even if we have no wings,” says Rizky Widyantara, one of Bali Paragliders master paragliders.

    Malaysian policeman Ismail came to Bali on holiday specifically to paraglide over Bali, along with 20 fellow Malaysian paragliders. Ismail was amazed at the spectacular scenery that he saw as he flew earlier in the day. “In Malaysia, we cannot paraglide while enjoying the high seas as we do in Bali,” he said. “The view might be ordinary if seen from the ground, but once we are flying, it becomes much more beautiful.” Bali's beauty attracts paragliders from across Asia, with visiting paragliders coming from places such as Australia, China and Japan.

    This cliff in the southern tip of Bali near the Nikko Bali hotel has become a favorite location for paragliding. The cliff's height is about 60 meters, which makes it an ideal starting point, and up to 50 paragliders can be seen taking off from the cliff in one day. 

    For paragliders, the activity can be divided into two categories, professional and amateur. While becoming a solo paraglider takes a certain amount of training and time, most tourists opt for tandem paragliding, which can be done with minimal training that fits into a holiday schedule. The tandem rider is essentially strapped to a professional paraglider who controls the parachute.

    The first paraglider in Bali was EXO Fly, set up by Frenchman Bernard Fode in 1991 (the French were some of the earliest pioneers of paragliding). A longtime resident of Bali, Bernard unfortunately died while traveling in Nepal in 2011. The other two operators in Bali are Bali Paragliders and Fly Bali.

    Each operator has a specialty: Fly Bali focuses on beginner paragliders and tandem riding, while Bali Paragliders is generally for more advanced paragliders. Bali Paragliders, for example, does not provide training for beginners.

    In Bali there are about 40 active paragliders, along with three instructors and five tandem masters. The total number of registered paragliders in Indonesia is around 1,000. Paragliding differs from hang gliding in that hang gliding uses a rigid wing for flying, while paragliding uses a specialized parachute known as an airfoil.

    Paragliding can be a relatively expensive hobby. The initial cost to purchase the equipment, such as a parachute, harness, reserve parachute, and flight computer can hit Rp 25 million to Rp 40 million. The next expense is the flying courses to qualify as a solo paraglider. To get a license, paragliders can select from three courses. A two-day course runs $250, a four-day course is $450, and a seven-day course $800. Due to the expense and time commitment, only a dedicated few bother to become fully licensed paragliders.