On my bucket list, hang gliding in Rio de Janeiro has always been an essential item. I once watched a video of a girl who had gone hang gliding there and instantly knew that I wanted to try it, too. I’ve gone skydiving twice and was terrified but hang gliding seemed less scary. I don’t like falling and since, when you go hang gliding, you run along a ramp, I felt that it would be more enjoyable than jumping out of a plane.
Plus, the view of Rio would be amazing.
So of course, when I got the chance to travel to Rio de Janeiro in July, I arranged a date with a hang gliding instructor. I was lucky because the day we had chosen was the first day in a while where the winds were good for hang gliding. And for the rest of the week, I didn’t see any gliders either so I guess it was the only day where it was possible at all.
A guy came and picked me up at my hostel and brought me to Sao Conrado. It’s Rio de Janeiro’s richest neighbourhood and all hang gliders land on the beach. Right next to it, you can find the world’s largest hang gliding school, where I had to become a member so I would be allowed to use the ramp.
Since it was the largest hang gliding school and the busiest ramp in the world, there were lots of people up there, waiting to jump. I used the time to watch them and to enjoy the view from up there.
To be honest, I would have been quite happy staying up there and going down by car. The ramp was a lot shorter than I had thought and it didn’t help that Ricardo, my intructor and hang gliding partner, told me that whatever I did, I had to make sure I ran and didn’t get slower towards the end.
I’m sorry but there is something unnatural about running off a cliff. My instincts tell me that it’s not good for my health and I believe that survival instincts are good.
Ricardo told me to look towards the horizon. It helped but I was still nervous as hell. Then, we got the command to ran and that’s what we did.
I am proud to say that I did not slow down even though I expected to die any moment. But guess what? Our glider took off and we made it. Can you see the relief on my face?
Hang gliding was an amazing experience that I wouldn’t want to miss. The view from up there was stunning. The ride wasn’t as smooth as I had expected but knowing that Ricardo had jumped down from that ramp thousands of times helped. He knew what he was doing.
Eventually, the ride ended. We must have been up in the air for ten minutes but it felt shorter and longer at the same time. I was sure that we had been up there for an eternity and yet, when we made our way towards the beach, time had passed far too quickly.
It was time to get nervous again. High above the city, I couldn’t feel the speed. When we got closer to the ground and I watched buildings pass by, I realised we were incredibly fast. And we were only a few meters above the ground. If we didn’t slow down, and it didn’t look like we were going to, we would crash horribly.
I started running long before we reached the ground. It’s hard to estimate how much distance is left!
And then, Ricardo did a really cool move and pulled up the glider so we came to an almost instant stop on the beach. No running, no stumbling, no crash. Just a smooth landing.
I still can’t believe I had the courage to jump off a ramp in Rio de Janeiro. I’m glad I did because it was one of those once-in-a-lifetime experiences that I can’t enough of. And I highly recommend it to everyone who comes to Rio de Janeiro.
Make it happen:
I recommend Ricardo from Delta Flight. He’s a very experienced pilot and he’ll make sure that you have a great experience. You can contact him through his website and you should keep in contact through What’s App, so he can let you know about wind conditions. They might not always be favourable so it’s possible you can’t fly on your chosen day but have to push it back a couple of days.