Hang gliding in Rio de Janeiro isn’t only for the adrenaline seekers. It’s for the nervous train wrecks as well. Let me explain.
Years back before I moved to Rio de Janeiro, I came here for the first time on a visit. During that first trip, I, along with my brothers and co-founders of Jinga Experience, decided to go hang gliding. See, my brothers are thrill seekers, more so than I am, the type to look down a 45 foot precipice with water below and say,
Evan – You think it’s deep enough to jump?
Nick – …ummm, yeah, yea I think so. Just make sure you bend your legs after impact.
Ev – OK, let’s do it!
Me – Hey, uhhh, guys… can we hang on a sec here, maybe rethink this.
Who knows that feeling? Sweaty palms, heart in your ear drum, feel like death is creeping in, and this is a horrible bad idea. Yeah, I can relate.
Back to hang gliding! It was 8 in the morning and I got dragged out of bed to go because,“man it’s going to be awesome!!”.
Now, you don’t need to wait for the actual hang gliding for the adrenaline to start rampaging through you. It’s the way up too. You meet the hang gliding team at the base of the mountain, Pedra Bonita, get in the back of a buggy with all the equipment, and proceed to fly up the small winding roads of the mountain side at a solid 300 miles per hour. Type of speed that makes your cheeks flap in the wind, and your hands go white because you are clutching on the side railing so hard…of course the brothers and the hang gliding team have smiles on their faces and are waving their arms crazily in the air, but I digress!
Once at the top, you get paired with your professional hang glider, you strap into your harness and his wings, and of course double and triple checking everything is legalzinho (ok to go). Once that is done, the instructions will come. This was pretty much the only direction we received, before and or after the whole experience, and I quote (translating),
Hang glider – “Ok, what you’re going to want to do is…run off the cliff”.
Me- Ummm huh? Can you repeat that please.
Hang glider – “Yup, the last thing you want to do is go too slow, you need momentum, you need to run off the cliff”.
Me – Well I hate to break it to you sir, the last thing I want to do is run full speed off a mountain.
I would have preferred to approach this whole hang gliding, launching myself off a mountain with nothing but air for thousands of feet, like entering a steaming hot hot tub; slipping each limb in slowly, testing to see if I liked it, then going a bit further.
Ok though! Directions received, heart rate jacked! I was the third and final one to go, my brother Evan being the first. As I told myself this was going to be a once in a life experience I saw Evan take the plunge, as usual there was little hesitation with him. Thing is though….he went straight down. Out of sight. Was nice knowing you twin! … But then he rose like a soaring hawk. Majestic. Nick went second, everything smooth. Then me. My turn. Boom, booom, booom. My heart pounding, vision getting blurry, hearing all but gone, shouldn’t have had those caipirinhas last night, am I really doing this?…Am I seeing a thumbs up from the hang glider (aka time to go)? Is that my thumbs up in front of me?? …1…2…3…my feet are moving, moving fast, i’m off!!
A couple loud expletives, and I don’t know, maybe a second or two of blacking out in pure horror, I found my panic subdued. It wasn’t a downward spiral to a gloomy fate like I had built up in my head, it was relaxing. One hundred percent enjoyable. I was floating. I felt like a butterfly… I mean a hawk, yeah a hawk, way more badass. A hawk overlooking the most picturesque city in the world. All of Rio is in your sight, within your reach! After 15 minutes in the air, and a smooth landing on a nice fluffy white sanded beach, I was begging for more. I craved more, because “man that WAS awesome!!”.
Hang gliding really is a must here in Rio de Janeiro, and an unbelievable experience. It can be scary at first, it can be adrenaline pumping, but it is safe, unexpectedly relaxing, and something that will stay with you forever. You will even get some nice snapshots and video of the whole process to take home with you.
Simply put, if you are an adrenaline junky, this is right up your alley. And if you’re not an adrenaline junky, like me, it still is. Trust me. Trust the Jinga Experience. Don’t put hang gliding off for the second trip, do it now!