Does the perfect day actually exist? If it did, what would it even look like and what would you do with it? I’ve come to find that there are many “perfect” days in our lives, but they come in all different shapes and sizes, and we only realize their greatness at the end. This particular day happened to be one where I had my head in the clouds, literally… paragliding in Rio de Janeiro.
To set the scene a little bit, I was staying in the Bamboo Rio hostel in Copacabana, Rio de Janeiro. They offered guided tours of the city, adventure sports outings and things like that, and being a solo female I decided to go the more expensive route and book everything the night before so I didn’t take a wrong step when traipsing around Rio.
Hang Gliding In Rio de Janeiro
I was planning out my last day in the city and had my heart set on nothing more than my one splurge of the trip: hang gliding! Yes, the one where you jump off a cliff dangling from what looks like a green paper airplane. I researched different companies and in the end went with the one the hostel already had a partnership with: Rio Centro de Voo Livre in Sao Conrado. The guy working reception contacted them for me and arranged a taxi to take me there in the morning.
Once at the flight school, I realized that Sao Conrado is the name of a beach and the neighborhood behind it, just like the famous Copacabana and Ipanema, and it made me happy to at least be geographically aware of where I could possibly die. But I didn’t think of that for more than a second, there was too much excitement going on as the front lawn of the school was buzzing with people.Once at the flight school I realized Sao Conrado is the name of a beach and the neighborhood behind it... it made me happy to at least be geographically aware of where I could possibly die. #paragliding #brazil #travel #bucketlist… Click To Tweet
A woman greeted me in expectation, saying my instructor was on his way and handed me some forms. She was professional but very chill and tried to get me to change my mind and do paragliding (the one with the parachute) instead of the hang gliding. I thought it was a marketing ploy and brushed it off as I had my heart set on “the bird” for some time now and nothing was going to change my mind.
Paragliding In Rio de Janeiro
Once my instructor, Luis, got there, he tried to change my mind too! And I finally began to listen: this was apparently THE best weather day they had had in 2 years!!! Every condition that existed was perfect – the wind speed, direction and temperature, the barometric pressure, zero cloud cover, the flow of southerly and northerly breezes, the ratio of moisture to salt in the ocean, the amount of sand in your shoe – I’m exaggerating but they soon convinced me to change my plans! I also knew that it was almost too good to be true because they were persuading me to choose a cheaper option!
So, details settled, we drive up to the platform and get in line to jump, which is really more like walking. But off a cliff into the air. The guy in front of us spread out his chute on the ground behind him like you’re supposed to and as he moved forward, something went wrong and he disappeared over the edge! 10 people ran after him and pulled him back up, broken wrist and twisted ankle thanks to the tree that caught him.
The whole thing took 40 minutes and my instructor came over to me after being one of the first on the scene. He told me that because the conditions were so good that day, many inexperienced jumpers were trying to log hours on their learners permits and this man was one of them. He said there were about 5 times as many people in the sky than on a normal day so extra caution had to be taken. We pause for a moment of reflection.
“We’re next! You ready?”
The people behind me were leaving, no longer wanting to take their jump because of the horrifying scene just minutes earlier, and all eyes were on me. I said, “Lets do this thing!” and we strapped in. The contraption is like a double seat that you lean back into once in the air with the instructor behind you and your arms and legs free. We walked forward and suddenly I was no longer walking but floating!
Thus commences one of the most thrilling things I’ve ever experienced. We soar near the cliffs, over the ocean, over the city of Rio. It was quiet enough to talk to one another and Luis let me take the reins and steer the parachute in circles high above the beach.
We weaved in and out of the tall jungle hills Rio is famous for and saw legitimately breathtaking views. All in all, a good ride on a normal day lasts 15 minutes at the most. But on perfect once-in-a-lifetime days like this, we were up in the sky for 70 minutes!!
Apparently the parachute is easier to maneuver and you can climb the wind to get up higher, instead of coast downward the whole time in the hang glider. I was so beyond thankful for my instructor Luis and his recommendation. The only reason we landed was because he had other time commitments and couldn’t be on one jump all day.
What are the odds I only had 2 days in Rio and could only do this activity on this very day that just so happened to be perfect? I’m not sure but call me lucky, blessed or crazy, because the stars were definitely aligned. It was a rare time in life when something sounded too good to be true, but actually turned out not only to be true and real, but thrilling, unforgettable and truly awe-some!
One final thought, if you’re going to do this, there are a ton of companies that take flights off the same platform. Some of them are extremely cheap due to zero insurance and inexperienced instructors. So choose wisely and have the time of your life!
The Paragliding company I used was RCVL – Rio Centro de Voo Livre.
Prices For Paragliding in Rio de Janeiro vary but RCVL charge;
Paragliding: $118 USD (490 Brazilian Reals)
Hang-gliding: $130 USD (540 Brazilian Reals)
- Licensed instructor
- Disc or memory stick of go-pro photos and videos during the entire flight
- Transport from the beach to the ramp on the mountain
- Mandatory insurance
Have you been paragliding in Rio de Janeiro yourself or would you like to? Share your own experiences and opinions in the comments section below!
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