By Narayan Dhungana
GODAVARI, Feb 21: The adventure sports lovers residing in the Kathmandu valley and as well as domestic and foreign tourists who visit the valley can now experience the recreational and competitive adventure sport Paragliding in Godavari of Lalitpur district.
Paragliding is operated in Chapakharka, 15 kilometers drive from the capital city. From Godavari one has to drive uphill for a distance of nearly five kilometers on gravel road through forest toward take off view point 2000ft above the valley.
One can enjoy paragliding flight lasting 15 minutes up to 30 minutes depending on their choice. However, the flight can get longer and sometimes not be feasible depending on wind speed.
Paragliding from Chapakharka is a unique experience. The tandem flight will offer the glider with eagle’s eye view of the Kathmandu valley and the city and experience the breathtaking panorama view of various mountain peaks including Ganesh and Gauri Shanker peaks.
Paragliding was first started from Sarangkot of Pokhara 15 years ago. Although Pokhara valley has remained as the main area for paragliding, the sport has now been expanded to various districts, including in Chapakharka.
Senior manager of Nepal Tourism Board, Lila Bahadur Baniya said the operation of paragliding sports at Chapakharka is an important dimension for promoting tourism in the Kathmandu valley. The government has set the target of welcoming more than two million tourists next year. Year 2020 will be taken as Visit Nepal 2020, a year committed to tourism industry of Nepal with vision of making a reasonable brand picture of Nepal as travel and vacationer destination.
Paragliding in Chapakharka started from December-end, 2018. Three hundred paragliding flights have been conducted so far since it was opened. Kathmandu Paragliding and Hand-gliding Pvt Ltd has been operating the paragliding at Chapakharka.
“Although Chapakharka is an important place for sight-seeing and paragliding, tourism business here has not flourished as per expectation due to lack of adequate publicity,” said Niraj Panta, director of Paragliding and Hand-gliding.
Former government minister and Kathmandu Mayor Keshav Sthapit had taken the initiatives to operate paragliding in the valley by setting up the organization in 2007.
After many hurdles of on and off, it has now been brought into operation at an investment of more than Rs 30 million by a Korean national Chyang Jing Khwan and Nepali investors Narayan Aryal, Binod Shah, Kumar Ghimire and Trip Concern.
It has the capacity of operating 25 paragliding flights a day. It has six gliders.
The gliding takes place from 2,100 meters above Godavari and the landing takes place at Rachantar at an altitude of 1,600 meters. The paragliding is held from a higher altitude here than in Pokhara, which is 1592m.
Around two to five paragliding flights are now being made every day in the preliminary phase. Sometime, they even made 20 flights a day.
Although a Nepali has to spend Rs 8,000 for one paragliding flight including all costs like transport, photo, video. One can now paraglide at Rs 6,500 as promotional discount has been offered.
However, a foreigner has to pay Rs 11,300 for it.
Another paragliding is also in operation at Shankharapur near the Kathmandu Valley.
There are now around 200 paragliding pilots and 65 paragliding companies in Nepal.
Pilot Boby Raut, who is conducting paragliding flights for the past eight years, said that every area has its own specialties, adding that Godavari has become the important destination to view green forest, Kathmandu Valley and the snow-clad mountains.