KATHMANDU, Nov 11: Paragliding, an adventurous sport, has been flourishing as a commercial tourist attraction in Nepal. In Kathmandu, it is becoming popular in recent times.
During this tourist season, Deurali Bhanjyang of Shankarapur Municipality in Kathmandu seems crowded. Until some time ago, people only thought of going to Pokhara, 200 kilometers away from Kathmandu, for paragliding.
Shankarapur Paragliding Pvt Ltd started paragliding inside the valley three years ago from Deurali Bhanjyang. One can experience an aerial view of the capital Kathmandu city from the place it conducts its gliders.
After receiving Air Operator Certificate from the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal four years ago, the company started paragliding flights, targeting the high potential of tourism in the capital city.
Deurali Bhanjyang, at the height of 2,100 meters from the sea level and just 40 kilometers from Thamel in Kathmandu, is the jumping-off point for gliders.
One can experience the aerial view of Melamchi and Indrawati River along with view of mountains nearby the capital city during the flight.
According to Sharan Adhikari, operation head of Shankharapur Paragliding, Kathmandu can be the center of attraction for paragliding if the Pokhara international airport comes into operation.
“Once the Pokhara international airport is built, it will automatically impact paragliding of Pokhara because fly zone is dangerous for paragliding,” Adhikari said: “This can benefit Kathmandu.”
“Though Kathmandu is not as famous as Pokhara for such adventurous activities, it can still give adventure lovers a thrilling experience of paragliding,” Adhikari said, adding that it will also enhance Kathmandu’s tourism.
According to the company, locals of Deurali Bhanjyang are delighted with the beginning of paragliding in their area. “Since our project started here, locals have supported us as we have helped improve the infrastructure of the area,” Adhikari said: “Due to our paragliding packages, locals get good business on homestay and hotels.” All the four commercial paragliding pilots of the company are locals from the municipality.
However, paragliding business in Kathmandu has to face many challenges. Talking to Republica, Adhikari said: “Pokhara itself is a challenge for us. Our group is new in the field of paragliding. People ask - why paraglide in Kathmandu? And we have to persuade them to do it here.”
When Republica asked the same question to Adhikari -- “Why to paraglide in Kathmandu?” he answered: “To save time. For those who come to Nepal just to experience paragliding and for those who don’t have enough time to go out of valley, we give them a good alternative. Their time and money are saved.”
Kathmandu has the only international airport in the country at the moment. If Kathmandu could offer such adventurous activities it could boost the tourism of Kathmandu.
According to Adhikari, mostly Chinese tourists come for paragliding. However, the number of domestic tourists is higher than foreign tourists.
“Though the 2015 earthquake hit the flow of passengers for some time, this year we have received the most number of passengers since our establishment,” Adhikari said.
A total of 350-400 passengers flew from Shankarapur in 2016, and the number is likely to go up in 2017.
Shankharapur is currently flying 12 passengers daily, charging Rs 11,000 to foreigners and Rs 6,500 to Nepalis.