Yes, you read that right and no one warned me. I only found out it happens to a lot of people after it happened to me! All I’ve ever seen are beautiful photos of people up in the sky, throwing their hands and legs in the air. Kinda like this…
Paragliding looks and feels very exciting, till you start to feel woozy and throw up on yourself and your “pilot” TWICE!
This is for sure the most embarrassing thing that has ever happened to me in my years of travel. I mean I’ve missed my flight because I was chasing jollof rice in Gambia. I’ve also been chased by a stray dog in Seychelles, harassed on the streets of Marrakech because my outfit was “inappropriate”, but nothing on earth prepared me for this.
The truth is this information is online, right there in your face, but you are not looking for it. You are more than likely to search “will I die during paragliding” or “is paragliding scary” and not “possibility of puking while paragliding”.
So let’s get to the story! I found myself at a medical tourism conference in Pamukkale, Turkey and I decided to paraglide while there.
Paragliding has been a bucket list item for me for many years. I used to be afraid of heights but after conquering my fear with a few adrenaline-pumping activities like zip lining and para sailing, I knew I was ready to paraglide.
I couldn’t pass up on this opportunity to paraglide across the Pammukale travertines. Dr. Dayo, the medical tourism practitioner I attended the conference with, had told me about his session and had only great things to say about it.
“It’s only scary when you jump off the mountain/cliff. After that, it just feels like you are floating in the air”
Floating in the air huh? Count me all the way in! I want some of that.
Immediately, I booked my session on the last day of the conference. The Turkish Healthcare Travel Council sponsored my entire trip, so coughing out $150 for this activity was not a problem!
“Ma’am paraglide $120 without photo. $150 with photo and video”- the instructor said over the phone.
“I’ll take the photo and video option. I need to capture all these epic moments”- I said.
The moments were indeed epic!
The company, around 9.00am, picked me up from my hotel. I can’t even begin to explain the rush and excitement running through my veins. I was documenting every step off the way.
Not only was I about to paraglide, I was paragliding across the Pamukkale travertines. I had visited the beautiful milky white calcium pools two days prior, so it felt good that I got to view it from another perspective! Like they say, the view is much better at the top.
The Pamukkale travertines is one of Turkey’s most prized possessions. They are natural calcium deposits and you can read all about the science behind it here
We picked up fellow paragliders along the way and drove up the mountain for take off! Everyone in the van was so excited; some on their third paragliding experience. I wondered why anyone would do this more than once. The feeling must be amazing!
As we got to the top, we were asked to change to the shoes they had provided. I was lucky; I had appropriate shoes on so I did not need to put my feet in some stinky shoes thousand’s of people might have worn.
NOMAD TIP: The ideal shoes for paragliding are definitely sneakers, espadrilles, plimsolls or anything that will not fall off your feet while gliding. Sandals are a no no!
We took turns for take off and when it was time for me to go, I could feel my heart in my mouth. I got strapped to the pilot and tried to get instructions from a Turk that could barely speak English. “No sit….No sit”- he said to me, gesticulating that I should not sit on the harness until take off. He then handed me the go pro and walked me briskly down the hill. The pilot on the other hand was behind me getting the parachute ready for take off.
A few steps later, we were up in the air and I heard “sit, sit”! It was time to sit on the harness and glide our way through the remarkably beautiful city of Pamukkale. Dr Dayo was right! It did feel like I was floating in the air. It was extremely magical and the world was literally at my feet.
I could see the ancient city of Heirapolis, the white calcium pamukkale pools and ants…well humans looking as tiny as ants. The view took my breath away. This is what bucket lists are made of (I said to myself). I was even teary eyed. Not because of emotions, but I cry when the wind gets in my eye.
It was all gravy until the pilot decided it was time to impress this African girl with his skills. He swayed to the left and swayed to the right making a “whoooshhhhh” sound. I was so ecstatic; I encouraged him to keep at it. Then I started to feel funny.
I ignored the first feeling of nausea and said to myself “There’s no way on earth I could possibly throw up at this very moment. This is literally one of the best moments of my ….” Before I could complete the sentence in my head, I BARFED! It was an uncontrollable one. I could not hold it in. I could not swallow it up. It came all OUT!
You really done want to know where it landed. But think about throwing water when you are up in the air. It goes nowhere. Hahaha.
While still trying to recover and apologize to the pilot for the first episode, the second one came right OUT! I wanted to die, literally. If the clouds could swallow people up, that very moment would have been perfect. Strangely, the pilot kept apologizing to me and asking me if I was okay (the best way he knew how, lol). I just wanted to land at that point!
He took me down and my fellow paragliders saw the entire episode. How on earth did they see it? I wanted to crawl into a cave and just stay there. It was so embarrassing. After paying for my flight and getting my photos/videos, I took a cab straight to the hotel, washed off the entire gross-ness and called my hot air balloon pilot! I was scheduled to go hot air ballooning in a couple of days and I needed to be sure I was not going to throw up there too! He assured me the flights were totally different ad hot air ballooning was way slower. After the call, I headed straight to Google!
Search words: “Barfing while Paragliding”
I was shocked to see this was actually a thing with tons of YouTube videos and articles. So so gross! People prone to motion sickness are more likely to feel queasy while paragliding. I never have motion sickness, so why did this happen to me?
When I narrated my episode to my friends some called it excitement, some called it fear, some even suggested it must have been the show-off by the pilot. Whatever it was, it was an anti-climax to an almost perfect day. My most embarrassing moment till date! However, everyone should try paragliding once in his or her lifetime! You just need to adequately prepare for potential queasiness.
NOMAD TIPS: Do not eat heavy before paragliding. This saved me from further embarrassment. All I had taken prior to my ride was water and I could not imagine throwing up my breakfast in the air.
Ensure you stay hydrated and well rested.
Try to have something with mint (candy or gum) while up in the air. Mint helps with motion sickness.
Try ginger too.
And finally do not encourage your pilot to show off his skills. Make the flight as basic as possible.
If you are certain you would not get nauseous, ditch my advice and go full throttle!