If you look up at Lion’s Head from the beaches of Clifton and Camps Bay you might just make out a small patch of not-quite-natural green on the seaward slope of the mountain. With a pair of binoculars last week, you might even have been able to see the form of a hapless English housewife teetering on its brink.
It’s not that the relentlessly merry onset of Christmas cheer made me want to throw myself off a mountain – in fact I rather enjoy the hoo ha of the Yuletide season. But many people have hurled themselves from this very precipice and it was about time I gave it a try too. In a good way of course.
I was there under the guidance of Stef Juncker, owner of Parapax – specialists in tandem paragliding. He had met our little group at the car park at the base of the path and while we snacked on the apricots and bananas he’d provided, he briefed us on what to expect. It could hardly have been more simple. Ok so the 15 minute walk up the slope of the mountain nearly did me in (despite having joined the gym a few months ago… must remember to pop in one of these days) but the views were enjoyable. Then before I could say “Oh Little Town of Bethlehem” I was strapped into a harness and teetering on the aforementioned brink.
There was no running involved – in fact there was no time even to get nervous. We just stepped out into the air and started to fly. It was quite extraordinary. At first I dangled inelegantly, mouth agape, helpless as a kitten. Then I shifted back into my seat and well… sat back and enjoyed the view which was, quite simply, breathtaking.
There were numerous sites we could have flown… Macassar beach by Muizenberg, where you can fly alongside the seagulls and spot whales in the water below, Sir Lowry’s Pass which follows the mountain range and gives fantastic views of the peninsula stretching away to the west, even the Franschhoek valley which funnels the wind and thermals from the valley floor below, so that on most good days you can climb up to 2800ft and gain unsurpassed views of the famously beautiful winelands.
But Lion’s Head is the most popular, not least because it is the most convenient and it gives a great opportunity to see a familiar coastline from a dramatic new angle. The beaches, the pools of all the smart villas, Camps Bay High School, the new restaurant at the Roundhouse, the Twelve Apostles curving away down to Cape Point… It all seemed like Toytown at our feet with just the tips of the white horses on the waves showing the minutes passing as we circled, eagle-like, on the breeze
A moment captured in time… and then it was over as we landed in a gentle heap on the lawns in front of La Med bar. Down to earth with a bump. But what a way to get there!
To find out more about paragliding in Cape Town visit www.whatsonincapetown.com/post/tandem-paragliding