activities

View from the sky: paragliding over Mauritius

Monday April 12, 2021
Parapente dans les airs

In Mauritius, many activities allow you to connect with nature. While the island is best known for its watersports (diving, kitesurfing, snorkelling, windsurfing), for several years now it has offered outdoor activities more inspired by mountains. When it comes to discovering the most beautiful panoramas and experiencing new sensations, paragliding is the leading option – one which I had the chance to indulge in during an emotional initiation flight…

 

Paragliding: for nature and adrenaline lovers

I met Eric on the plane. As my insomnia prolonged, he had started to tell me about his island while pouring a few glasses of water for passengers. I listened in awe of his magical descriptions. “Mauritius, I will never get tired of it,” he told me with sparkling eyes. “Le Morne’s lagoon on a kite; Le Pouce on a hike. And, above all, my latest discovery: paragliding! This feeling of flying like a bird is absolutely brilliant, and the landscapes that unfold before your eyes… it’s simply extraordinary.”

When the plane prepared to land, I was forced to return to my seat. But before disembarking, Eric and I exchanged numbers. “If I don’t work next week,” he promised, “I’ll take you to explore the most beautiful places on the island!”

A week later, my phone rings: it’s Eric, suggesting that I have a drink with him that very evening in Port Louis. At the agreed time, he arrives, smiling and cheerful as usual. “The aperitif is going to be light for me. My paragliding flight this morning was postponed due to weather conditions. I’m going tomorrow morning at dawn, with my instructor Fred. A place has become available for a first flight – are you interested?”

Between my stress and excitement, I don’t know what to say. He looks at me with an amused smile: “Okay, I’m texting Fred to tell him I’ve found his buddy!”

 

Paragliding sites for all levels in Mauritius

“You know Eric, I’ve never been paragliding,” I say. “It might be complicated for me.”

“No, don’t worry! Tomorrow, we’ll take off from Montagne Longue. It’s an easy site and quite close to here: the perfect spot for a paragliding baptism!”

Already immersed in his future flight, Eric tells me about Montagne Longue, as well as all the other paragliding spots in Mauritius. One of the most accessible spots (only about a 10-minute walk), Montagne Longue is located near the capital, Port Louis, at an altitude of 130 metres. The island’s other launch site for beginners is Quatre Soeurs, in the east. From the village, a few minutes’ walk will take you to the take-off area, this time at an altitude of 145 metres. The result is a magnificent view of the lagoon, cane fields and mangroves.

Higher and therefore more difficult to access, other spots are reserved for experienced paragliders (including Eric). The Tourelle du Tamarin, the Corps de Garde and, chiefly, the iconic Mauritian mountains of Pieter Both, Le Pouce and Le Morne Brabant are among the favorite spots for veterans.

One surmounted by a round rock that seems to balance on its top, the other shaped like a thumb, Pieter Both and Le Pouce are easily recognisable, Eric tells me. Accessible from Moka, a village in the centre of the island, they rise to an altitude of 820 and 810 metres respectively. Following take-off, he continues, a breathtaking view from Coin de Mire in the far north to Le Morne in the southwest awaits: a 360-degree panorama over the whole of Mauritius.

After such descriptions, I cannot refuse this unexpected invitation to introduce myself to the joys of paragliding. So, the next morning, I find myself embarking on my debut experience!

 

Initiation: a tandem flight at Montagne Longue

 

Waking at dawn, I hurriedly prepare. By the time it’s 5:30am, Eric is waiting outside my door. The sky is clear and the weather looks perfect for a great adventure! Jovial and enthusiastic, Eric tries to lighten the mood by stressing Fred’s professionalism. “He is Mr. Security. You’ll see – you’ll feel total confidence!”

After 20 minutes’ drive, we arrive at the starting point. Fred is already waiting. A few quick introductions later, we’re on our way to the take-off area. As a beginner, I’m lucky: it’s Fred who carries all the gear. Ten pounds less on your back counts for a lot on this walk!

During the ascent, I take deep breaths to release the stress that is starting to mount. Once at the top, I listen carefully to Eric’s advice as Fred concentrates on preparing the equipment. He unfolds the wing, sets it in the right direction, harnesses me to the harness, and does all the safety checks. Then come Fred’s instructions for our two-seater take-off: “I’ll put the wing in the right direction to inflate. Then we’ll start running together and take off smoothly. Everything will be alright.”

Indeed, the take-off of the paraglider goes exactly as Fred tells me. Suddenly my stress turns to dazzlement and wonder. Port Louis at sunrise, the lagoon and, in the distance, the ocean: I feel like I’m floating above this magical spectacle. During the whole flight, I am intoxicated by this combination of new sensations.

Upon landing, Eric’s gaze falls on me: “Did you like it?” My smile is a sufficient answer. “I think you’re ready for Le Morne then!” At that point, I have only one thought in my mind: when will my next flight be?

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Avatar Written with love by Laura

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