I'm not an adrenaline-junkie, but I also am not one to turn down adventure. When I was presented with the opportunity to paraglide in Oman, I was hesitant: my ideal Sunday morning doesn't exactly include jumping off a cliff, but then I thought of what an amazing Instagram opportunity this could be, and I agreed. Here's what happened.
1. Planning my Instagram
Six Senses Zighy Bay is located on the beautiful Musandam Peninsula in Oman. The hotel sits right on the Gulf, and is surrounded by mountains. Before I arrived, I'd only seen photos of the resort, but I knew that there were many Instagram-worthy moments to come. I knew I would be paragliding into the resort, so I spent much of the two hour car-ride from Dubai daydreaming about how to perfectly capture the moment. After all, this is not the first time I've literally gone to great heights for a photo op, but I felt a bit more uneasy about flying over a mountain range than I did about a gentle zipline ride across the Dubai fountain.
The road to the top of the mountain is long and winding, and even though I had the opportunity to turn back and just head straight to the resort, the fear-factor didn't fully hit me until we got to the top. I got out of the car and was introduced to a team of three guys, who would set me up for my paraglide. My driver could tell I was nervous. Before he got back into the car to leave me, he asked me if I was sure he could leave. I gulped and said yes, I was sure, even though I wasn't at all.
The guys began to help me get geared up. First, I stepped into a harness, which they then adjusted to fit around my legs and waist. A helmet was placed on my head. You fly with another person-- a pilot, they called him-- which is great because if I was jumping off a cliff, I was definitely not doing it alone. You jump, I jump, right? I was then attached to my pilot using a very confusing series of wires and strings.
I have no idea what any of them attached to, but when they finished hooking me up, I was standing about 20 feet from the edge of a cliff and ready to fly. I was given instructions: run off the cliff. While certainly straightforward, that's a phrase that no one ever hopes to hear. But, as it seemed like my only option at the time, I ran.
3. Taking Flight
We were off the ground before I got to the edge, as the wind had caught the sail and lifted us. The pilot expertly steered us away from the mountains, and as soon as I felt steady enough to take out my phone, it was game-on. I was Snapchatting, taking selfies, and trying to capture the gorgeous blue sea below me. Still, I was really, really high off the ground, and a little bit too close to the rocky mountains than made me comfortable.
"Can we go down now?" I asked my pilot after about 1 minute in the air. Apparently it doesn't work like that. A few minutes later we began our descent, and again the pilot screamed instructions in my ear. "Keep running when we land!" For an airborne activity, paragliding involves a lot more sprinting than one might imagine.
The landing, like the ride itself, was smooth and pleasant. I actually didn't even realize how nervous I was up in the air until I hit the ground and saw my Fitbit light up. The device, which tracks my steps and my heart rate, revealed that my heart was beating at a whopping 119 beats per minute, a number I only usually see when I'm on the treadmill.
Am I glad I did it? Definitely. It was a unique experience, an amazing photo op, and the best way to get to a hotel that I've ever heard of. Plus, when you get to land here, you forget all the fear pretty quickly.