THE WORST ADVENTURE MOTORCYCLE MISTAKES AND HOW TO AVOID THEM

The adventure motorcycle market is one of the biggest in the UK for new bike sales. But do you know the most common mistakes off-road riders make? Here’s how to avoid them

Tiger 1200 (2022) official specs, pictures, and details

AN adventure motorcycle is a big, burly and attractive beast. The prospect of taking to the trails and going off-grid for a weekend is a very alluring one indeed.

But if you’ve just ditched the one-piece leathers in favour of some textiles and want to head into the forest, the best thing you can invest in is some training. If you can’t, won’t or don’t want to do that, here are the most common adventure riding mistakes and how to avoid them.

 

Tenere-700-World-Raid-2022-Visordown-Review

How do I stay loose on an adventure motorcycle?

Tensing up while riding a bike off-road is all too easy to do. The problem is, adventure bikes are complex bits of kit, with millions of dollars of development that go into each one. Every component is designed to allow the bike to travel in the direction it needs to go. Slapping a human on top that’s as rigid as an ironing board is going to prevent the rake, trail, and suspension from working as they should.

Keep your legs bent slightly, with your knees moved away from the sides of the seat to allow for forward, lateral and vertical body movement. Try and keep your elbows slightly bent too, if your arms are stiff the bike won’t be able to track over obstacles in the road like it’s designed to.

Now let’s focus on your grip on the bars. You should only be gripping the bars with the thumb meeting your ring finger. Your first and second finger should be laying over the brake and clutch, ready to be called into use.

 

Husky-Norden-901-Visordown-Review (98).jpg

Lightly! The main mistake is that people think they need to take everything with them, when in fact all your doing is adding weight to the bike. That’s bad for fuel economy and even worse if you drop it and need to pick it up.

If your adventure is only lasting a day or so you’ll need a basic tool kit, first-aid set, puncture repair kit and something to keep you warm and dry. That’s the basics, any food, water and camping equipment should be added on top of this.

 

Honda CRF1100L Africa Twin Adventure Sports

 

Where should I be looking when riding off-road on a motorcycle?

It’s common for new riders to stare intently at the front wheel of the bike when riding off-road. The trouble is if you see something two feet in front of your wheel – it’s already too late. You’re definitely going to hit it and you can do nothing about it.

The best thing to do is look up as far down the trail as you can. Doing this not only allows you to spot obstacles but it’ll also helps you to ride quicker. Looking at the front wheel focuses your eyes on a very small area of the trail. In this situation, your inbuilt safety compass will only allow you to ride up to a certain speed. Raising up your eye-line and focussing ahead will allow your brain to let you press on more quickly – with added safety too from your increased hazard detection.

Should I sit or stand when riding an adventure motorcycle?

When the going gets tough newer riders will almost always take a seat and try to paddle through obstacles. The trouble is that sitting on the seat actually increases your centre of gravity. When standing on the pegs, your CoG is nearer the foot-pegs, sitting on the seat brings the CoG nearer to the seat.

You also have less that you can do with your body when sat down, moving forward, backward and side to side becomes much less effective.

 

Tiger-1200-2022-Visordown-review

 

When I need to sit down, how should I do it?

The only time to take a seat is when you’re on long smooth sections, with good visibility and no obstructions. It can be good to take a seat on a long ride as this helps conserve energy, saving some for the trickier sections.

One mistake people make is to sit too far back on the bike, stretching their arms out in front of them in the process. With your arms outstretched they don’t move as freely as they do when you have a slight bend at the elbow. Hit a rock or small log like this and the only place you’re going is down!

 

Pan America 1250 Special Review Visordown

 

Should I deflate my tyres for riding off-road?

No, there’s too much weight in a big adventure motorcycle. It works for light trials bikes and some enduro motorcycles but for a 220kg plus adv machine it could be a bad idea. Damage to the rims is the first risk, the second is the increased chances of getting a pinch flat or even pulling the tyre off the rim. On some occasions, releasing some pressure to get out of a sticky spot can be a good thing, deep sand or clay mud for instance, but once clear you should get the tyres back up to pressure. Likewise, an over-inflated front will tend to bounce off rocky trails and deflect the front end one way and another more quickly than a properly inflated tyre. All that makes the bike harder to control.

 

890 Adventure Visordown Review

 

Should I use the front brake off-road?

Some novice adventure motorcycle riders like to completely avoid the front brake, opting for the rear only. The trouble is, the rear brake is only good for slowing the bike, not stopping in an emergency. For that, only the front will do but it needs to be used with caution. Braking in a straight line with decent ABS and tyres should be fine on anything other than loose gravel, mud or wet grass. In any of those situations, you should have already noticed the danger and reduced your speed accordingly.

By Simon Hancocks

For more information and details : https://www.visordown.com/features/advanced-riding/adventure-motorcycle-riding%20tips

Inside the mind of an Adventure Bike Rider

Given the choice between wing flying over the Grand Canyon or watching a festival on the beach with locals, which would you pick? It seems the former is gaining the most traction with tourists or would be travellers than ever before.

For wing flying, read ‘motorcycle adventure riding,’ and you suddenly become part of a new survey in the adventure travel market in the Americas and Europe. The jump in market revenue, according to a study by the George Washington University on behalf of an influential travel trade association, went from $89 billion in 2009 to $263 billion in 2013. Kite surfing and paragliding are considered hard adventure; canoeing and hiking are a little softer. Motorcyclists are definitely in the tougher part of the survey.

Nick Sanders standing with his Yamaha Tracer

However, I contend the adventure bike rider is a unique and specific category. The average adventure traveller is male, around 36 years of age with a four-year degree and an average income exceeding £44,000. 48% are single; they spend an average of just under £1,000 per trip and around £280 on gear each year. Spot the differences to the people in the sport we all know? Trips start at that price but can include selling the house, and as for gear, £280 buys you a less than top of the range helmet. What about the bike?

Speaking personally, 95% of clients on my own motorcycle tours are married and are in the 50+ age range. Equally, I notice the relatively fewer independent travellers who fill the pages of ABR (both in print and online) so bravely, are similarly aged, have had to deal with some extrication from family life and, in a minority of cases, have sold everything they have to provide the income they require to do that one big, possibly ultimate, long term journey.

Motorcyclists are adventurers just by putting their leg over a bike. But when you extrapolate where some of us travel to, the dynamics involved are off the scale.

The proliferation of new models of adventure bike, an advance supported and instigated in some ways by companies such as Touratech, Kriega, Metal Mule and Adventure Bike Rider itself, has dominated the motorcycle industry of recent years. If adventure motorcycling is still the hot topic in most bikers’ minds, what exactly is inside the adventure bike rider’s head?

 

Adventure and non-adventure travellers agree climate and natural beauty are two of the most important factors when choosing a destination. This fits with how riders I know prioritise where they wish to ride. A forest scent, a mountain view and a few physicals around hairpin bends veritably puts a bit of poetry into our hearts.

There is a third consideration. Adventure travellers select activity options in a destination – the Andes, the Alps, a spin with Eagle Rider across Route 66 – whilst non-adventurers chose friends and family as their top priority. I have a hunch that the adventure bike rider cleverly chooses their family and friends from a select group of individuals, and we know who they are.

They’re assertive, headstrong, brave to the point of being courageous, foolhardy, have a dubious taste in heavy metal music whilst compulsively showing attention to detail, and are known to us all as motorcycle enthusiasts! Enjoy your riding, you impulsive people!

By AJ Daly

For more information and details : https://www.adventurebikerider.com/article/adventure-bike-rider-motivation/

The Wave below the Sleeping Rabbit

Meet the man working to save Mexico’s Punta Conejo.

The Wave below the Sleeping Rabbit
Uriel Camacho weaves through a thick one close to home. Mexico.

All photos by Ryan “Chachi” Craig

Uriel Camacho invented the sport of bodysurfing. At least, he thought he did.

This was before Salina Cruz, a town on the edge of the southern state of Oaxaca, Mexico, became an international surf destination. Before its sand-bottom pointbreaks would plaster magazines. Before the all-inclusive camps, 4×4 trucks and direct flights weighing heavy with board bags.

Camacho had no reference for wave riding of any kind 30 years ago. One day, he just kicked his way out to an empty wave and taught himself to swim. “Hola, hola, ¿cómo estás?” he shouted at the sea. “No me vayas a ahoga.” (“Hello, hello, how are you? Please don’t drown me.”)

“One day, I caught a wave,” he tells me, holding his arm straight in front of him. “I thought I was the first one to do it.”

Camacho, 44, now runs Luna Coral Soul Surf, a camp named after his two daughters. He is stocky, with a long, dark ponytail, sunbaked skin, a hook nose and deep smile lines—the result of spending nearly every day of the last 13 years as a surf guide under the brutal Oaxacan sun.

He recounts his bodysurfing story over mezcal at his dining room table. It’s dark, and I have just arrived from the airport. As soon as I get my luggage to my room, he demands that we take a shot, a celebration of the coming swell set to arrive in two days, the biggest of the summer. We clink, “¡salud!

The Wave below the Sleeping Rabbit
Camacho praises the mangroves. The proposed port would cut through this grove and alter the sand-bottomed goodness of Salina Cruz for worse.

I met Camacho a month prior in Northern California. We both attended a summit organized by the Save The Waves Coalition—an environmental nonprofit that protects surf ecosystems. “Visit anytime,” he offered, surely not expecting that I would actually take him up on it.

Camacho’s surf camp is on the backside of Punta Conejo, a right pointbreak on the edge of a sand-covered mountain that resembles a sleeping rabbit. Directly inland from Punta Conejo are mangroves, a forest of thirsty trees and visible root systems that are home to a small industry of shrimp fishermen who cast their nets along the still, windless water.

Beyond the mangroves is the city of Salina Cruz. It’s a port town of more than 80,000 with a newly finished harbor for international shipping vessels, most transporting petroleum. Mexico’s President, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, is planning to expand the project. It will gut Punta Conejo, relocate Camacho and his family, along with four surrounding communities and a number of other surf camps in the Playa Brasil area, and dredge thousands of hectares of mangroves to stage excess petroleum ships.

Camacho has a mission to stop it.

He is working with Save The Waves, Wildcoast, Union de Surfistas y Salvavidas de Salina Cruz and more conservation groups to designate Punta Conejo and the nearby Punta Chivo and Escondida as protected areas.

Flattening Salina Cruz’s most consistent wave with a sea of cement would also send the shrimp industry belly-up and dredge the delicate ecosystems surrounding the break. Just north of Playa Brasil’s long stretch of beach, the new development would destroy the breeding and hatching ground of the vulnerable leatherback and olive ridley sea turtles native to the area.

Unfortunately, Mexico has a history of ruining world-class surf spots. In the 1970s, a beachbreak version of O‘ahu’s Pipeline called Petacalco, which would have banked hundreds of millions in surf tourism dollars over the years, was destroyed. As Gerald Saunders wrote in The Surfer’s Journal: “Thanks to the underwater canyon to the south and the damming and jetty construction on the Rio Balsas a few miles to the north, there was no way the sandbars could be replenished as rapidly as the surging swell washed them away. What might have taken several more years was done literally overnight. Petacalco was gone.”

On June 2, 2024, President Andrés Manuel López Obrador is up for reelection. This means he could try to hastily move the Punta Conejo project forward before designation can be set. Hopefully, he recognizes the injustice of the project and the activists persuade him to see the wave as a valuable tourist attraction better left alone.

Están locos,” Camacho says as he shakes his head after bringing me up to speed on the issue.

The Wave below the Sleeping Rabbit
Your humble author takes one off the top at Punta Chivo.

The next morning, we pack our boards into Camacho’s black, salt-rusted SUV and drive to Punta Conejo, 10 minutes away. We bump along a dirt road, passing goats, burning trash and cacti with barbs big enough to impale a man. He shifts into four-wheel drive, and we skid along the sand to the point.

Five other trucks are already there, and surfers stand around in tank tops and boardshorts while small waves yawn down the point. It’s a shame, as part of the reason I’m down here is to report on the proposed port at the “world-class” Punta Conejo.

“No sand,” Camacho says, turning to me. It’s September, the end of the popular surf season for Oaxaca, and south wind has eroded the sandbar at Conejo. We watch a while longer and decide to check the next spot a few miles north: Punta Chivo, named because the rock at the end of the point looks like a goat.

Chivo is better. At least the pros make it look better. Their filmers hide under canopies next to the trucks capturing every wave in high definition. And the lineup of surf guides know that at 10 a.m. guests will get thirsty, so they stock coolers with water, electrolytes and beer. Today, the surf camps have their program dialed. As I wax my board for the first session, the efficiency of the whole experience is not lost on me.

Though this pampered scene isn’t the rugged bushwhacking of Gerry Lopez in the ’70s, these crowds may be the not-so-secret weapon to stopping the port expansion. The number of flights into Salina Cruz’s main airport, Bahías de Huatulco, has nearly quadrupled since 1997, from 123,000 per year to 452,000 per year. If the international surf community makes enough noise, and the Mexican government begins to see these waves as the multimillion-dollar cash registers that they are, they could halt the development.

After we surf Chivo for a few hours, Camacho and I sit in beach chairs and I crack a cold beer—it’s 10 a.m. and seems like the right thing to do. As I sip, Camacho tells me about Salina Cruz before the crowds, tourism and media.

When he was young, the points were empty. There were rumors of the odd expat surfer, but Camacho never saw them. He didn’t know the sport of surfing existed, or that those waves he learned to bodysurf would be worth millions in gringo tourism a few decades later.

The Wave below the Sleeping Rabbit
As a surfer, you stay stoked when some of the world’s best pointbreaks churn in your backyard. Camacho is no exception.

When he was 18, he took a bus four hours north to Puerto Escondido to work a factory job. There, he would learn that he did not, in fact, invent the sport of bodysurfing.

“They were doing my sport!” Camacho shouted after watching a bodysurfer glide down the face of a wave at the famed beachbreak.

While in Puerto Escondido, he also saw surfers. What a strange sport it was—swimmers, wielding foam and fiberglass, standing erect, swallowed by dark holes in the ocean, reappearing untouched, hands over their heads in rapturous wonder.

The Wave below the Sleeping Rabbit
When your surf guide’s styling out like this, you know you’re in good company.

Not long after, Camacho was at a flea market. The way he tells the story, he wasn’t looking for anything in particular. He was just strolling around when it appeared. The crowd parted and, in the distance, he saw it. He shoved his way through the masses, approached, haggled and purchased. He brought the old 7’0″ single fin back to Salina Cruz, where he and his friends would stand on the beach at Punta Conejo and trade off riding it. There, he taught himself how to surf.

In the early 2000s, more gringo surfers showed up. In 2006, the Rip Curl Search contest blew up the area to the north, Barra de la Cruz, and word of endless pointbreaks in southern Mexico got out. For a few years, surf media never named Salina Cruz in photos or video, captions just read “Mexico.” But slowly discretion slipped away. Locals advertised surf camps and made rules: If you want to surf here, you have to pay. Gringos who didn’t pay would be threatened. Photographers were charged extra.

“What do you say to people who think the ocean is for everyone?” I ask Camacho.

“We gotta do it, man,” he says. “Look at Puerto Escondido. Locals don’t own land near the beach there anymore.”

Oaxaca is one of the poorest states in Mexico, and gringo surfers with enough disposable income to travel there likely earn more in a month than most locals do in a year. And surf camps don’t keep all the money; instead, surf tourism helps prop up the community. The surf camps pay a kind of “membership fee” to the various subcommunities closest to each wave. The subcommunities then decide where the money will go—a new road, school or medical center.

After the day at Chivo, we drive back for dinner. Camacho’s wife, Linda, makes us fresh fish tacos. She wears a Pink Floyd T-shirt and is just about the nicest person I’ve ever met. On the walls of the dining room are photos of each wave at its best, along with a signed surfboard from World Surf League champion Filipe Toledo, a former guest at Luna Coral.

The Wave below the Sleeping Rabbit
Kyle Thiermann sips on one of Oaxaca’s finest cocktails.

The window begins to shake.

I put down my fork, wondering if it’s an earthquake. A minute later, it shakes again.

“The swell is here,” Camacho smiles at me. Playa Brasil, the thunderous beachbreak closeout to the north of Punta Conejo is shaking the walls. “Tomorrow, we surf Escondida.”

The Wave below the Sleeping Rabbit
Kyle boards the freight train.

Escondida is the darling of Salina Cruz. You’ve seen it in surf magazines, summer boardshort ads and Surfline swell features. It’s a hollow sand-bottom vortex, thick as it is tall. The wave is backdropped by a dramatic cliff, gold in the morning light, with cacti clutching its edges. Unlike other points in Salina Cruz, which can range from burgery to rippable, Escondida only has one speed—Ferrari on the Autobahn. Sand builds up along the cliff, and on big swells, the wave revs its engine. On its best days, Escondida has three barrel sections, the last is thickest and closes out into a shallow mortar of sand. If a surfer doesn’t make it out the doggy door, their best hope is to body slam the bottom using the least breakable part of their body.

The next morning, we drive to Escondida. Even before we reach the beach, I can smell the scent of salt and mist from exploding whitewater—swell is in the air. When we arrive, trucks sit on a thin seam of the beach between waves and jungle. I step out of the truck, and like all surfers, try to look stoic and vaguely unimpressed as the best waves I’ve seen in over a year riffle down the point. The inside section is lethal, whitewater’s sailing 15 feet high. Down the beach, a fisherman tries to wash his hands in the shoreline and whitewater rushes up and hits him at the knees, nearly sucking him out. “Hey, peligroso!” shouts one surf guide, as the fisherman scrambles back to shore, soaking wet.

Unlike the rest of us, Camacho doesn’t attempt to hide his excitement. He’s already waxing his board, so I follow. We wait for a lull, sprint paddle out and trade off barrels for the next three days.

The Wave below the Sleeping Rabbit
Escondida is the kind of wave that rattles windows, bones, boards and anything in its path.

Each night, I have no recollection of falling asleep, I simply face-plant, and then it is dawn. I guzzle black coffee, eat bananas, surf to exhaustion and do it again the next day. I buckle my entire quiver, courtesy of the third section at Escondida. My endorphins are shot, my face is sunburnt, my mind is stupid and happy. During the peak of the swell, our photographer, “Chachi,” captures Camacho standing confidently in a barrel. But amid the ecstasy of the swell, I can’t help but feel sad.

Punta Conejo is the southernmost point in Salina Cruz. Chivo is the next point up. Escondida lays just beyond. Sand migration makes each of these points work, and the expansion of the port will very likely turn all three waves into vestiges of the past. As durable as a heaving barrel can feel while crouched inside of it, its power is predicated upon a delicate symphony of billions of grains of sand moving freely across the seafloor and settling in throughout the surf season, unobstructed by cement.

On the final day of the trip, Camacho recommends we check Punta Conejo one last time. The swell has shifted sand and conditions may have improved. We drive down from Luna Coral and up Playa Brasil to the backside of Conejo. The tide is still too high, but the sandbar is better and fun waves run down the point.

“Conejo never disappoints,” says Camacho proudly.

The Wave below the Sleeping Rabbit
It’s probably about time for an ice-cold cervesa.

Before we surf, he asks if I want to get a view from the top of the sleeping rabbit. We hike for 10 minutes, digging our feet through sand and ivy. The top of Conejo is a 360-degree view of his surf camp, the wave, mangroves and shipping vessels out at sea. We can even see Chivo and Escondida.

“How did you think to reach out to Save The Waves?” I ask as we stand at the peak of the mountain.

He tells me that he learned about the group years prior, so he emailed them and they responded. Since that email, the director of Save The Waves, as well as board members, have made the trip down. Community meetings are in the works, petitions are online, a plan is being strategized, momentum is on their side. Maybe Camacho is taking on this project for the same reason he ran into the ocean when he was a child, ducking under waves, eventually gliding down the face of one with an outstretched arm; for the same reason he bought a single fin at a flea market and taught himself to surf; for the same reason he paddled out to an expert-only wave on the biggest swell of the season, sliding into shallow, sand-spitting barrels.

The Wave below the Sleeping Rabbit
Take it all in and hopefully protect it forever.

No one told him he couldn’t.

By Kyle Thiermann

For more information and details : https://www.patagonia.com/stories/the-wave-below-the-sleeping-rabbit/story-146359.html

Rock art, baboons and hiking in South Africa’s Drakensberg mountains

It’s 6am in the morning. I’m crammed into the back of a Toyota, rattling up a truly terrible unsealed road in blanket mist, about to begin one of the greatest walks of my life. The next few hours will also serve up mud, two chain ladders and, at times, a view that extends no further than the end of my arm. But in the Drakensberg mountains, special things lie in wait.

I’ve come on a hiking trip to the largest mountain range in South Africa, which can be found around four hours south of Johannesburg. It’s a grassy massif full of grand, muscular contours, almost 940sq miles of which are designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Ancient rock art decorates its caves, baboons caper in its valleys and footpaths thread over its buttresses.

On the afternoon I arrive here from the city, it feels something like deliverance. The foothills are a soft green, their slopes sketched with bracken. A herd of hartebeest appears at the roadside. Sunlight washes down onto villages of thatched rondavels (traditional round huts) and roaming hens. I drive past a ‘chameleon crossing’ sign, then weaver bird nests dangling from an acacia tree. The peaks on the horizon are tall and table-topped.

Drakensburg foothills

When I reach the Cavern Resort & Spa, a hill sanctuary where red-winged starlings swoop past tree ferns and the world’s best-exercised spaniels snooze in reception, Mike Mlangeni talks me through the following day’s trail. Mike is a hiking guide, a proud Zulu, a Liverpool fan and an early riser. “We leave at 4am,” he tells me. “When we get there, we’ll have to take a four-wheel drive transfer to the start. Bad road,” he says, fixing eye contact. “But worth it.”

This is how we come to be juddering up a track before breakfast, watching the dawn fog become thicker. We’re about to begin the Amphitheatre hike, a 7.5-mile circuit that culminates on an outlandishly beautiful escarpment. Or so I’m told. The first hour, in near-zero visibility, is slow going, and it’s not until a semi-view opens up, with rags of cloud settled in the clefts of a mighty mountainscape, that I feel my blood pumping. Then we reach the chain ladders.

“They’re simple,” says Mike, as we stand under a set of iron rungs disappearing up the rock face. “Just don’t look down.” Minutes later, we’ve negotiated both nerve-wracking ladders — around 78ft and 50ft respectively, although there’s a longer alternative route for those disinclined to climb them — and reached a grassy plateau. A malachite sunbird whizzes past, a blast of colour in the lingering mist. It’s at this point, after some 90 minutes of walking, that the sun breaks through and the scenery hurtles dizzily into focus.

We’ve reached an altitude of over 2,438m. A river is chuckling away from us across the plateau and, as we keep walking, I see that it’s flowing directly off the cliffside. My pulse quickens. A sign bolted to a rock reads ‘Tugela Falls — The Tallest Waterfall In The World — 983 metres (3,225ft)’. Seconds later, the view from the drop-off opens up and hits me physically: a dreamlike universe of plunging water, basalt precipices and miles-away mountains.

Cave paintings

The cave paintings in the Cathedral Peak area are thought to be 1,000 years old. 
PHOTOGRAPH BY TEAGAN CUNNIFFE

I walk south, dazed, rambling along the cliff edge and staring out, then turn and do the same heading north. There are butterflies at my feet and gorges in the distance. Somewhere far below, cloud-shadows are patching the valley floor. I can’t take it all in. “See,” says Mike smiling when I rejoin him. “Worth it.”

Two days later, I’m sitting under a sandstone overhang examining 1,000-year-old paintings of hunters and lions. I’ve driven further south in the range to reach the thunderously handsome area around Cathedral Peak Hotel, a resort here since 1939. I had thought, foolishly, that the Amphitheatre’s scenery wouldn’t be topped, but here the peaks are more clustered, more hewn, somehow even more thrilling in scale. Groves of flowering protea trees dot the hills and black cuckoos echo from slope to slope.

The human figures in the rock paintings, which are thought to have been created using antelope blood, are shown running with spears. “They were done by the San people,” says my guide Zweli Sithole, his sun hat floppy above his scarified cheeks. “They were here before us Zulus, but they’re long gone now.” Zweli is the perfect hiking companion, with a warm patience and a habit of singing his words. “One step at a time,” he chants softly as we make the steep ascent up to a natural arch known as Mushroom Rock. “One step at a time.”

He leads me on a 10.5-mile loop through the empty green hills. Before I set out, the route description had sounded routine, but the reality is anything but. Craggy pinnacles frame the sky while slopes and ridges ripple into the distance. On a far hillside, elands graze in the sunshine. The views seem colossal and in all directions at once: spin on your heel and every way’s a winner. Zweli points out a high mountain pass that leads into Lesotho, then crouches by a stream to show me a crunched pile of crab shell left by an otter. We finish with a swim in the natural pool beneath Doreen Falls.

We stop so often to just sit and stare that it takes us nearly seven hours to get ourselves back to the resort. My boots are dusty and my calves are sore, but I’m absolutely buzzing for the rest of the day. Drakensberg translates as ‘dragon mountains’, while the Zulu word for the range — uKhahlamba — means ‘barrier of spears’. Never, I’m left thinking, were such dramatic names more warranted.

ByBen Lerwill
Photographs ByTeagan Cunniffe
For more information and details : https://www.nationalgeographic.com/travel/article/hiking-in-south-africas-drakensberg-mountains

WHAT is the adventure film festival:-

The Adventure Film Festival is all about helping those that adventure to profit from their bliss.

The Adventure Film Festival is all about helping those that adventure to profit from their work.

The Adventure Film Festival is all about helping those that adventure to profit from their videos.

The Adventure Film Festival is all about helping those that adventure to profit from their expertise.

The Adventure Film Festival is a global online adventure film competition.

IF you have an adventure film worthy of global recognition = submit it.

IF you are an adventure film maker = build your story / build your brand; it is our job to help you build your business.

Adventure Film makers / our stars – we want to help you develop our global industry…

 

My Paragliding Experience in Cape Town

Hi everyone! Today, I’m excited to share my paragliding experience when I was in Cape Town last year (2014). This post is LONG overdue, given that I had been meaning to write it before I got engaged, married and all!

What is Paragliding?

Paragliding is an adventure sport where a person glides through the air using a wide canopy, a fabric wing that’s made up of a large number of interconnected cells. In paragliding, the pilot “takes off” from an elevated position, usually the top of a hill or mountain, then uses wind forces to help him maintain flight — sometimes even gaining altitudes! Throughout the flight, the pilot sits in a harness suspended below the wing.

Paragliding

While skydiving only lasts for a few minutes since you’re free-falling (and slowing your descent with a parachute towards the end), a skilled paraglider — relying solely on wind forces and thermals —  can stay in flight for HOURS and cover hundreds of kilometers!

Spontaneous Cape Town Visit

So last year, I was in South Africa for personal travel. PE Reader Lizette learned about my South Africa trip on Facebook and graciously offered to host me if I were to visit Cape Town. So excited to receive her invitation that I took it up right away!

I subsequently learned that Lizette is a licensed paraglider and she has licensed tandem-paraglider friends who could take me paragliding if I wanted to. Since I had never done any extreme sport before, I immediately said, “YES!!!”

Paragliding at Lion’s Head

In Cape Town, there are two popular paragliding launch spots: Signal Hill and Lion’s Head, which are 350 meters and 669 meters above sea level respectively. Lion’s Head is the more popular spot, since it allows for a longer flight and better flight scenery.

I’m lucky enough to have paraglided from Lion’s Head, not once but TWICE during my trip!

 

Signboard for Lion's Head in Cape Town

At the entrance of Lion’s Head

Celes at the foot of Lion's Head

At the foot of the mountain

 

They say that if you want something, you need to earn it. Well, that’s true in this case — before you can launch from the mountain top, you need to climb up the mountain first… and FAST, because you need to catch the wind conditions while it’s favorable for flying!

 

Lizette and Ian

Lizette and Ian, getting ready to trek up Lion’s Head

Lion's Head (Cape Town)

End destination: the mountain top!! It looks near, but it really isn’t!

 

Mid-way through the trek, I was already huffing and panting, and I was only carrying a camera. I have NO idea how Ian managed the trek with his 20-odd-kilo backpack filled with tandem paragliding equipment — and he was scaling up the mountain faster than any of us!! I guess he’s used to it since he does this all the time?

Ian and his paraglider backpack

Ian scaling the mountain like a ninja

While trekking, I could see paragliders launching off from the mountain top. That really got me excited (and nervous at the same time), as it hit me that I was going to be flying in a few minutes!

Paragliders launching off Lion's Head (Cape Town)

Paragliders launching off Lion’s Head (Cape Town)

Preparing for the Flight…

After about 15 minutes, we finally reached the launch spot!

Paragliding launch pad

Ian and team setting up the paragliding launch pad. You’re supposed to run from the top of the mat, DOWN the mountain, and “catch” the wind with your canopy, and then take off if everything goes well. It’s possible to trip, fall, and get seriously injured in the process. It’s also possible that you don’t take off at all and get caught in the bushes while running, which will leave you injured as well. (And this can be highly dangerous.)

Since paragliding is an extreme sport filled with many risks (you can get injured or die), I had to sign an indemnity form before proceeding. It’s standard protocol and it’s to indemnify Ian of any issues that might arise from the flight.

 

Paragliding indemnity form

Ian preparing the paragliding indemnity form

Paraglider Membership Card

As Ian joked, “Here’s your flight boarding pass!” 😉 And I jokingly responded I got a one-way ticket! (You can only paraglide from top down, not bottom up!)

Ian's backview, on top of Lion's Head

Ian meditating and praying before the flight… Actually I’m just joking, I think he was just assessing the wind condition to see if it was good for flying.

Celes at Lion's Head

Me before gearing up. The wind is STRONG up here!!

Paragliding: Celes, before the flight

All geared up and ready to fly!!! That’s Lizette preparing the launch mat up there!! (Thanks Lizette! 😀 )

Paragliding launch pad

View from the launch pad, before taking off

 

My Paragliding Flight

Now as for the flight itself, it’s best to show it to you in video-form. I’ve uploaded a video to YouTube comprising of my takeoff, flight highlights, as well as the *a-hem* landing. 🙂

Are you ready? Well, buckle your seat belt, and then click “Play” on the video below! Let’s get flying!! 😀

Snapshots from the Flight

Here are some shots from my flight!! 🙂

 

Celes Paragliding in Cape Town, off Lion's Head

Magnificent view of Cape Town from the sky

Celes Paragliding in Cape Town, off Lion's Head

Check out the beautiful blue skies and sea in the background!

Celes Paragliding in Cape Town, off Lion's Head

Look at me pilot the paraglider!! 😀 (And Ian’s screaming, “Save me!!!”)

Celes Paragliding in Cape Town, off Lion's Head

In case you are wondering why I was wearing purple leggings in the previous picture but jeans in this one, that’s because I changed my pants while in the air. 😀 … Just kidding, they are simply photos from two different flights!

Celes Paragliding in Cape Town, off Lion's Head

Cape Town beneath our feet!!!

Ian and Celes, at Lion's Head (Cape Town)

Ian and I before the flight

Ian and Celes, at the foot of Lion's Head (Cape Town)

A glorious shot of us after the flight. That’s Lion’s Head in the background!

 

My Thoughts of My Paragliding Experience

If you’ve watched my video above, my reactions and emotions during the flight say it all. 🙂 Throughout the flight, I was feeling pure joy and ecstasy. It was incredible looking down from my seat, seeing myself float above Earth (with Ian behind me), suspended by nothing but a canopy and a harness.

In the meantime, everyone below — cars, people, restaurant waiters, fellow paragliders, etc. — was going about their own routine, without a care in the world, without even knowing that I was up there flying and having the time of my life.

Being up in the air, flying in the glider, made me feel tiny. It made the world feel tiny, given that everything (and everyone) was just beneath my feet. It also made my problems, concerns, and thoughts seem tiny. Up there in the sky, nothing matters. All you experience is purity and serenity.

I can understand why people like Ian and Lizette would fall in love with paragliding, and I’m thankful to tandem-pilots like Ian for showing this aspect of the world to non-paragliders like me. Without them, I would never have gotten to fly at all. So, a huge thank you to Ian and Lizette for making this possible for me!

I personally think that extreme sports like paragliding or skydiving is something that all of you should try at least once in their lifetime. It’ll tingle your worldview and your senses after you do it. After all, when you’ve just spent the last few minutes of your life suspended hundreds of meters above ground and seeing the world pass you by, you can’t help but have some perspective shift in terms of how you see things, even if unconsciously.

Of course, take all safety precautions and only fly with licensed tandem pilots, and not people looking to make quick bucks. There are licensed pilots charging people for tandem flights who are not licensed tandem pilots — and having a pilot license is totally different from a tandem pilot license. Make sure to always verify and ask for tandem-pilot certifications before registering for any extreme-sport activity — not taking proper safety precautions can result in serious injury or even death!

Ticking Off Item #113 of My Bucket List

By way of my paragliding flight, I got to tick off an item off my bucket list, which is “to fly” (and I don’t mean flying by plane).

Do you have your bucket list? If not, maybe it’s time to create yours! 🙂 Read my bucket list article 101 Things To Do Before You Die.

By Celes, Personal Experience

For more information and details : https://personalexcellence.co/blog/paragliding/