There are very few greater feelings than running as fast as you can off the edge of a mountain with nothing more than a hang glider strapped to your back! The adrenaline, the rush of excitement, it all makes for an unforgettable experience. After skydiving in Dubai I just had to find the next extreme thing to do and to do in a place with scenery as impressive as what I had when skydiving over the palm island in Dubai!
That’s why when I went to Switzerland and to the Interlaken region, I just had to go hang gliding when I heard you could do it here and that it was one of the best places to do it! There are several companies in the Interlaken region including “Hang Gliding Interlaken” and “Bumblebee Hang Gliding” to name a couple that offer hang gliding and paragliding options. I would like to go paragliding too but of the two options, hang gliding seemed more extreme and exciting! Having researched extensively online, I decided to go with Hang Gliding Interlaken because they had many great reviews from other satisfied customers and their price was on par with the other companies in the region.
The entire hang gliding experience costs 235 CHF (about $240 USD) and lasts for around 10-25 minutes. You also have the option of getting photos and videos which are priced at 45 CHF, 75 CHF and 100 CHF depending on what you want and whether or not you just want pictures, just the videos or both! I opted to get the pictures and video so my entire flight cost 335 CHF (~340 USD).
I was going to be in the Interlaken region for a few days during the week of November 25th and had booked my hag gliding experience for November 25th at 9:00 AM, the last day I would be in the region. The 25th came and I woke up at around 6:00 AM as I normally do only to find a thick cover of fog covering the entire Interlaken valley. This did not look good! As 8:00 rolled around and the sun came up I had hoped it would burn off the fog. One minute the fog would look to be breaking up but then the next it would recover only thicker than before. At 9:00 I was met outside the AlpLodge Backpackers Hostel where I was staying by Birdman Bernie, the man who would be taking me up for the flight.
I’ll just go off on a little aside here, Bernie and his ground crew, Lina (who assisted with pre and post flight procedures) were fantastic to fly with! They are both very nice people and lots of fun always cracking jokes and trying to make the whole experience as fun and enjoyable as possible! With them, it’s not just going up to the top of the mountain and flying down and that’s it. Bernie goes the extra mile to make it as enjoyable as possible from making funny videos (if you opted for the videos) to lots of jokes and a great sense of humor! It was because of Bernie and Lina that the experience was as great as it was and I couldn’t have asked for a better time!
Ok, now back to the day. I went with Bernie for about half an hour that morning while he checked to see if it would be breaking up or not. Unfortunately he didn’t think it would so we ended up canceling the flight. I was supposed to leave Interlaken early the next morning so this was my last day to do the flight. Fortunately I had a bit of flexibility in my schedule for this trip so I decided to stay an extra day in the region and try again the next morning.
On the morning of the 26th it wasn’t looking much better. Some fog and a low cloud cover still hung over the valley. I thought for sure it would be canceled. I met Bernie again at 9:00 AM and we went out to the takeoff point to check it out. Bernie was convinced it was going to break up and said there were some holes in the cloud cover that we would be able to safely fly through so we drove up to the top of the mountain to try our luck!
We drove up the mountain as far as we could and then carried the hang gliding equipment the rest of the way to the takeoff point. Bernie was shooting some funny videos and cracking jokes the entire time! Lots of fun. We got to the take-off point from which Bernie spotted an opening in the cloud cover we could fly through to the landing site! We had to move fast though before the opening closed (if it closed). We got to work and about 10 minutes later had the glider ready and were both suited up ready to go!
Bernie has two rules of hang gliding; 1. Look good and 2. Run! You need to make sure you run really fast along side Bernie when taking off so you get enough speed and lift on the glider so you actually fly rather than just fall and crash. Armed with those two rules, some glasses and a helmet to suit rule number 1 (while looking like you are going to be shot out of a canon at the circus) and a hang glider strapped to our backs we were lined up ready to run off the edge of a mountain!
The hang glider is surprisingly light so the running part was actually really easy. Just run as fast as you can alongside Bernie for all of a few seconds and you will start flying once off the mountain! It was an unreal experience and unbelievable feeling! It is the closest you can get to flying like a bird and I actually felt kind of like a bird up there with these sort of man-made wings on my back! Flying through the air with the valley and town of interlaken far below and the snow-capped mountains of the Swiss Alps all around was unbelievable! There is no other way to describe it! I loved every minute of it. What a rush!
We flew around for around 10 minutes taking in the surroundings and enjoying the experience. Then as we got closer to landing, Bernie, at my approval, decided to do some tricks and dives to add to the excitement! maneuvering the glider we went in to a dive for a few seconds! The rush and feeling that you are free falling and going to crash is absolutely fantastic! After the dive, Bernie made some quick turns and maneuvers with the increased speed we had just built up! Getting closer to the ground we leveled out over a grass field which was the landing point. We were wearing a thick covering over our stomachs because the landing is done by landing on our stomachs.
Overall I completely loved the experience and would definitely do it again if I am ever back in Interlaken or if I am in an equally impressive location that offers hang gliding! I do have to say that I did not find hang gliding as thrilling as sky diving but they are completely different experiences in their own right and at $350 compared to $600, hang gliding is definitely a cheaper and more budget friendly thrill than skydiving and lasts a lot longer than the 5 minutes that the skydiving takes. I am constantly on the lookout for the next extreme thing I can do in a surreal location so I think the next thing to do now will be bungee jumping! I just need to find an AMAZING location to do it at just like the skydiving in Dubai or hang gliding in the Swiss Alps!
Some More Pics: