When I planned this crazy adventure to Europe, there was one thing on my bucket list that I had to do before I left.
Skydive, bungee jump or hang glide over the Swiss Alps.
We arrived in Interlaken, a small town between Lake Brienz and Lake Thunersee in the Swiss Alps, to fulfill that mission.
I won’t even try to explain it – just look. It doesn’t even look like a real place.
We have been to so many cities in the last three weeks that Interlaken was a much needed breath of fresh air. Literally.
There are countless adventure tourism activities to do in Interlaken. That and farming are their two major industries.
Skydiving, bungee jumping, hang gliding, paragliding, canyoning, white water rafting, kayaking, glacier climbing. You name it, they have it in Interlaken.
Chelsea has been skydiving and bungee jumping before so she really wanted to do hang gliding. I contemplated my options. I could jump off a bridge head first into some rocks and have a really sick picture out of it. I could jump out of an airplane and free fall at an incredibly fast paced toward the solid ground (and have an awesome picture!). Or I could strap myself to the tiniest poles you’ve ever seen and glide down to the ground (with cool photos).
Hmm…they all sound beautiful. They all sound like they want to kill me.
At the end of the day, hang gliding ended up winning. A friend of ours went hang gliding in Interlaken two years ago and said it was a highlight of his trip so we decided to take him up on his recommendation.
It was an incredibly clear and warm day. We met up with our guides, Tobi and Peter, and headed about 45 minutes up the Alps to the jump off point.
The view from the jump off alone was worth it!
This is the point where 90% of the paragliders and hang gliders take off from in Interlaken so every 2-5 minutes, another person was jumping off. I wasn’t nervous at all heading up to the jump off or even standing there waiting. Watching all the paragliders take off helped calm any nerves that may have been there.
We also had a lot of fun joking around with our guides up there so they put as at ease, too.
I started to get nervous when my tandem glider, Peter, was teaching me how to run correctly. He would lead and I would stay about a half a step behind him. I was to hold on to him very tight, completely surrounded by metal poles, and then it was step, step, run, run, run and hope you don’t fall down the cliff.
Just before we were to do the actual takeoff, I asked Peter if I could screw it up.
“Yes, you can. But please don’t,” he said.
What he thinks I’m going to TRY to mess this up so we go flying down a cliff!?
I was most definitely going to mess it up.
But I didn’t! Next thing I knew, I was just laying there, completely strapped in and comfortable, attached to the glider with Peter.
I thought I would feel uncomfortable the entire time but it was actually the most enjoyable experience I’ve ever had doing something that could probably kill me. I felt completely secure and could not take the smile off my face.
“This is not a bad office,” I said to Peter.
“Not a bad office!? It’s the fucking best!” he exclaimed.
Peter was born and raised in Interlaken so he explained the mountains and buildings below, told me stories of growing up and ancient tales of the lands
He even let me take the wheel (reins, bar?). I was awful at it though. I couldn’t turn us at all. I guess I don’t have a future as a professional hang glider.
Chelsea’s guide Tobi told her they are in need of female hang glide instructors due to the large amount of Arab tourists that are popping up in the area. Arab women, he said, will not fly with a male instructor so they really need a female who can go with them. I think Chels may stay 😉
The flight lasted about 20 minutes. Peter said we caught a good gust of wind that kept us up there for awhile. He did a few tricks like fast turns and sideways and we even hit a few air bumps which he compared to turbulence.
The landing was a little weird. He told me to just lay that and whatever I do, do not touch the ground. What in the world does that mean!? You want me to just hit the ground face first? I don’t think so buddy.
Peter informed me that he had already done two flights that day and hundreds in his life so I really just needed to trust him.
Fine Peter. But if I die…actually, I can’t sue you cause I signed a waiver giving you my life.
We had to go really fast to land. He said this gives him more control. We got really close to the ground and then literally just hit it. I sort of went flying to the side but it didn’t hurt. I just felt like a total uncoordinated newb.
But at least I was back on solid ground!
Tobi and Peter from Bumblebee were awesome guides. They made us feel comfortable and were a lot of fun to hang out with. They gave us a card for a free beer at the bar underneath our hostel and Tobi even stopped by that night to have a beer and watch the World Cup with us. He brought along two beanie hats and stitched on Bumblebee patches right there at the table! He is originally from Arizona but has lived here in Switzerland for six years so it was awesome to hear about the town from a local.
Hang gliding was unbelievably expensive and worth every. single. penny. How many people in the world can say they hang glided over the Swiss Alps? Not many, but these girls can!!