Some might see paragliding as simply the scary act of throwing oneself off a cliff attached only to a contraption of wires and wings. But there is more to it.
Here, Hunter Marrian, Kenya’s only Fédération Aéronautique Internationale record-holder, gives us some tips on what to do – and what not to do!
How did you become an FAI record-holder?
We got two world records in one flight. We got two world records in one flight. This was by flying a total of 212km – out and return – in a tandem paraglider, on a route that we declared before we took off.
Sticking to a declared route is tricky, as you don’t know what the winds will be like. Finding a willing passenger took some time.
The flight was going to take over nine hours, most of which would be spent turning in circles within thermals, so I needed someone with a strong stomach.
Evans Kerich, a local boda boda driver from Iten, turned out to be the man for the job.
It took us four attempts. On one, we landed only 10 km short after flying for eight hours because the wind died on us. It wasn’t as easy as we’d hoped, and we had a couple of close calls towards the end. But on the fifth attempt we did it.
Did you get a Guinness World Record for that?
No, because I wasn’t balancing chickens on my head.
Where’s the best place in Kenya to paraglide?
Kerio Valley, in the Rift Valley, is by far the best place in Kenya. The site currently holds six world records, and is well known in the paragliding circuit as a place to munch kilometres. Other good places are Kijabe, Mt Ololokwe and the Ndoto Mountains in northern Kenya.
When is the best time of the year to paraglide?
The few months after the rains are the best. So December and January, and again in June and July. But it very much depends where in the country you’re flying.
What are the best conditions for paragliding?
We usually hope for blue skies and small white puffy clouds. But it depends on what you’re after. Too much wind is never good, but if you want to fly cross-country, you need thermals to get you high enough.
What advice would you give novices?
Take it slow. Paragliding is extremely good fun and addictive, but it can get nasty. Get some good safe kit and get properly trained. Once you’ve done that, you can fly anywhere in the world.
Hunter Marrian runs Paraglide Kenya, which offers tandem jumps on the Borana Conservancy on the slopes of Mt Kenya. To book a jump, visit www. borana.co.ke
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