Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Will we go bivvying ? And if so what do I need to bring?
A: Hopefully yes ! It is a great way to truly experience the wild majesty of the Himalaya, and then have a beautiful and empty new launch site, all there and waiting, the next morning. However, certain skills are needed for bivouac flying, and the most important is TOP LANDING. It is important pilots do not force top landing since they are a more dangerous than bottom landings as you are further from help, and your ability will influence the likelihood of us going bivvying. It is nice to bring a minimum of a sleeping bag and dehydrated bivvy food for one full day, but actually suitable local food is easy to find in Bir, and a paraglider is a very warm thing to sleep in should you ever need to. So
Q: I don't want to bivvy out, but want an overnight adventure?
A: Easy! We know good bottom landing with nearby accommodation for the night, and a take off only a short trek away in the morning. There will also be horses to carry your bag if you wish.
Q: Where can I stay in Bir? Is it included in the price?
A: Accommodation is not included in the Safari price, but it is pre-reserved at the Colonel's Resort where we are based. You will need to pay this, but should you wish to stay somewhere less salubrious that is fine,and we will try to help you organise this.
Q: How do I get there?
A. Bir is located in the district of Kangra in the State of Himachal Pradesh in Northern India.
Closest International airports are Delhi (11hrs by car) and Amritsar (5hrs by car). The nearest national airfields are Dharamshala (DHM <2hrs by car) or Kullu (4hrs by car).
The normal route depending on luggage, budget and how much of India you want to experience at the beginning of your trip, tends to be arrive Delhi and catch a connecting flight with either Spice jet or air India to Dharamshala and taking a taxi from there.
Other national transfer options involve either a 10 bus to Bir from Kashmir Gate in Delhi, or a fast train from Delhi to Pathankot (6hrs car) followed by and a slow train from Pathankot (12hrs) to Bir road (10mins by car).
If you are not taking the internal flight, then Amritsar is the shorter and less tiring option.
If you take the internal flight on the way in, an interesting option can be to take one of the alternative routes as part of your return journey.
Once you are booked, we can help with arranging any of these.
Q: Do I need experience?
One of the great aspects of our tight guiding ratios is that it is not important what experience you have. We have loads and we will help tailor the tour so you gain the most you can. You do need a national licence or equivalent and the minimum requirement is basic thermalling skills and reasonable canopy control.
For instance: In 2011 we had our old client and friend, Gavin McClurg return for a tour with John. Their amazing week’s flying included an out-and-return vol-bivouac to the mountains above Manali, with a night spent at 3500 metres. The following tour we were joined by actor Dominic West, star of The Wire, who also opted for 1:1. Before he arrived his longest flight was 15 minutes, getting 200 feet above the grassy slopes of Wiltshire. On his second day flying with Jim, he spent three hours in the air, covering 30km at heights of up to 3400m.
Q. Are the Himalaya very dangerous?
A. Although the size of the mountains is intimidating, the Bir front ridge of the Himalaya are much less prone to the tricky valley winds found in the Alps...so much so that they hardly exist!. The front ridge is also predominantly covered in beautiful trees up to 3000m, which increases security immensely if you wish to scratch along close to see the wildlife and amazing forest canopy from the sky. we know a fair few vulture roosts, and even a bathing pool!!
Of course, medical and rescue facilities are much less available and that needs to be taken into consideration when carrying out your own risk assessment of any flying conditions.
Q: What wing should I bring?
A: On the front ridge anything from a beginner wing to a 2 liner. If you want to go over the back, bring something you are very comfortable on, and if you want to make the most of it and sometimes get in close to the rockfaces, a C or less is probably ideal.
John end Eddie have both flown Deltas and Rush's for the last 6 seasons, and are currently flying a Delta and Alpina 3.
Q: What about insurance?
A: Insurance is necessary. This is not just for your and our peace of mind, it is necessary for the local licence. It should include rescue and medical repatriation.
Q: What else is needed for the local licence?
A: Insurance as above, a national licence or IPPI card, passport photos and photocopies of passport and visa. Photos and photocopies can easily be arranged in Bir
Q: Will I learn new techniques?
A: Even the most experienced pilots will learn something significant from flying with our guides who combined have over 100 years (!) paragliding, many of them within the Himalayan range. Sharing that knowledge is one of our great loves helping ensure a safer experience, one that we can all enjoy again in future years.
Q: Is there a likely itinerary?
Each itinerary is bespoke to what the guide and client believe is possible and wanted. By agreement this can change at any time however a typical itinerary is below:-
Each tour will start and finish in Bir and last ten days. There will be seven full days of air to air fly-guiding (experience has shown that everyone, clients and guides, gets worn out by ten days on the trot, which is what the weather usually allows). On the remaining 3 days we may well offer additional full guidance or certainly our assessment of the days possibilities. For the first tour our suggested flying itinerary , which is of course very flexible, is as follows:
Day 1: Out and return flight from Billing to acclimatise, test equipment and assess skills.
Day 2: Fly 45km to Dharamshala along the main Dhauladhar range and stay the night at Sky Pie in Bhagsu.
Day 3: Walk up to Magic View take off (1 hour) and fly back to Bir.
Day 4: Over the back into the high mountains above the Barot valley (1:1 and 2:1 only) and then on to the catered camp at 360.
Day 5: 360 camp back to top land at Billing for a chai, then down to Bir via Big Face if wished for.
Day 6: Billing to Mandi (45km), a beautiful low route giving a unique glimpse into Himalayan village life. Taxi back to Bir.
Day 7: Tailor-made to suit pilots’ requirements. Anything from a local bivi to a 100km XC along the Dhauladhar range from Dharamshala to Mandi, or over the back and across the big stuff to Manali.
Q. Isn't it very expensive?
A. Compared to the cost of flying in your usual areas, when you cost in missed working hours, fuel and retrieves, stress to the family, and then take into account the quality of the flying and the actual experiences gained - no it's really not!
Q. Great - I'm booked! What do I need to do to prepare?
A. There is more information on our preparation tab but The first thing to do is get in touch so we can ensure you have a space...
If you still have questions email us directly on eddiecolfox at Hotmail.co.uk or contact us using the form below: