|Frequently Asked Questions|
Since Parahawking is a new kind of activity that most people have never
heard, I have compiled a list of questions that we often get asked.
What exactly is Parahawking?
Parahawking is a fusion between Falconry and Paragliding. Falconry is a huntung sport where birds of prey are trained to hunt prey. Parahawking is different, our birds of prey are trained to fly with Paragliders and to guide them to the thermals. Parahawking also gives you a unique opportunity to interact with birds of prey in their own environment..
How does it work?
Birds of prey have a natural instinct to conserve energy wherever and whenever possible. During a flight, a bird will burn more energy than it would if it was just sitting in a tree, this means it has to eat to replace the used energy. Sometimes birds will travel long distances to find food. To conserve energy whilst flying, birds of prey use thermals. Thermals are rising currents of warm air that are created by the sun heating the ground. Birds can gain height and travel long distances without flapping their wings by using thermals. Paragliders also use thermals when they are flying and will often use wild birds to guide them to where the thermals are. Our trained birds are no different, they will find the thermals in order to stay aloft and conserve energy whilst flying. We as paragliders harness their ability to conserve energy by following them as we fly.
Our birds need to be rewarded for guiding us into the thermals. During the flight the passenger will place small morsels of meat onto his gloved hand, the birds will come and gently land on the hand to take the food, and then gracefully fly away to find the next thermal. A perfect symbiotic relationship.
Can anybody do it?
Almost. All Paraglider wings have an upper and lower weight range, when the upper weight range is exceeded, it can make the glider difficult to fly in some situatons and conditions. Our weight limit for passengers is 100kg. The only other requirement is that you are able to run a few steps for the take off and landing. You do not have to be a qualified pilot, you will be a passenger attached to a qualified tandem pilot.
When can I do it?
In Nepal, the Parahawking season runs from around the middle of October through to the around mid April April. We cannot guarantee a fixed date on when we will start and finish, this depends on a number of factors, as explained in detail here:
As we approach Spring, the wild Egyptian Vultures and other birds of prey in our flying area start to breed. They can become very territorial so out of respect for the wild birds, we choose to not fly our birds and not disturb them at this time.
2. Typically all our birds start to moult in April, ie begin the process of replacing their feathers. This process can take up to 6 months. It's important that to complete a successful moult with good strong healthy feathers, we feed them a higher than normal nutritious diet. You may not notice but our birds are always in perfect feather condition throughout the entire year, this is why.
3. The weather starts to change in April, the regular afternoon pre monsoon storms means we can't fly as often as we would need to maintain the birds fitness. We would not want to force our birds to fly if they are not fit enough so it's best to just stop completely.
4. By the end of September, the birds have finished moulting, the rainy season is almost over and the wild birds are no longer breeding. We can then begin the training process to get our bird fit and ready for the flying season. We normally start slowly, building the birds fitness and stamina, this can take 3-4 weeks before we feel they are ready to fly with the Paragliders for a 20-30 min flight.
Where can I do it?
You can do Parahawking in Pokhara, Nepal only.
How does it help Vulture Conservation?
Asia's vultures are in serious decline, in the last 15 years the numbers have dropped by a staggering 99.9% which equates to a loss of approx 40 million birds. This catastrophic decline is due to a veterinary drug called Diclofenac. This anti inflammatory drug is routinely administered to sick and dying livestock including cows and buffalo and has proven to be very effective in reducing pain and suffering. However, when the animal dies with Diclofenac still in it's system, the vultures that feed from the animal carcass will ingest remnants of the drug which is poisonous to them and kills them within 24 hours.
Vultures are important in our society, they play a vital role in our ecosystem by cleaning up all of the dead animals that would otherwise be left to rot. Millions of tonnes of animal carcasses are disposed of each year across Asia, which if not cleaned up, would pose a real risk to human health. Asia's vultures are declining faster than the Dodo and could be extinct in the next 5-10 years, unfortunately not enough people know about the problem. Vultures are considered to be quite unsavory creatures because of this, these prehistoric looking birds are difficult to empathize with. We want to change that!
Parahawking provides a unique opportunity to see vultures in a different light, to understand about the importance of them in our society and to learn about their behavior in the wild. Parahawking is our mission to raise more public awareness to the plight of Asia's vultures and in doing so halt the decline and prevent their extinction.
We support vital Vulture conservation projects in Nepal, We donate approx 1000 rupees from every Parahawking flight to Vulture conservations projects. We have recently been appointed Patrons of the Ghochowk Vulture Restaurant project.
For more detailed information go to:
Vulture Rescue - www.vulturerescue.org
Himalayan Raptor Rescue - www.himalayanraptorrescue.org
Why is this different from normal paragliding?
Ask yourself, when was the last time you marveled at the image of a bird of prey in flight? You probably had your feet firmly on the ground whilst gazing up at the bird in the sky. Parahawking gives you the unique opportunity to interact with these birds and see the world through their eyes while you share the sky with them. Paragliding is an exciting adventure activity on own but this takes Paragliding to a whole different dimension.
How do I book?
You should book your Parahawking activity directly with via this website.
How much does it cost?
A Tandem Parahawking Tandem Experience costs: £125
How long does the flight last?
Parahawking flights are not based on time in the air but the overall experience of sharing the sky with a trained bird of prey. The weather can determine the length of the flight as can many other factors, especially when working with birds. We make no guarantees about flight times however we always try our best to stay in the air for around 20 to 30 minutes.
Can I take a Parahawking course?
We do not currently offer Parahawking courses. If you're not a pilot and you want to learn to paraglide then there is no better place to learn to fly than in Nepal. Blue Sky Paragliding - www.blue-sky-paragliding.com - offer 15 day beginner courses. If you want to learn more about the birds then you can take a Falconry lesson with us. You can do a 2 hour session. See the Falconry tab for more details and prices.
What birds do you use?
We use Egyptian Vultures for Parahawking in Nepal.
Where do the birds come from?
In Nepal, all of our birds are rescue birds. This means that our birds came to us because they were found injured, orphaned or sometimes kept as pets in small cages. As part of the Himalayan Raptor Rescue - www.himalayanraptorrescue.org - project, we rescue many birds each year which we can successfully rehabilitate and return to the wild. Birds that are brought to us when they are very young have to reared by us which means they become imprinted on humans. This makes it very difficult to return these birds back to the wild. These are the birds we train for Parahawking. Parahawking is an award winning project, it was voted Best Enrichment Behaviour by the International Association of Avian Trainers and Educators (IAATE) in 2011
Is it dangerous?
Paragliding and Parahawking is an adventure activity but it is not dangerous. We use only the best pilots for Parahawking. All of our pilots are internationally licensed and insured.
What do I need to bring?
All you need to bring are a pair of training shoes or boots and a sweatshirt or jacket depending on the time of year.
Can I take a camera?
Yes, you can bring your own camera or we can take inflight pictures and movies from our onboard cameras, at a small additional cost.
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