There are some pretty cool travel bragging rights to have, but parahawking — guided by an Egyptian Vulture — over the Himalayas? That’s pretty high up there – literally! And there’s only one place in the world it can be done: The Maya Devi Village in Nepal.
While a visit to that region can be overshadowed by good ol’ Everest and Kathmandu, parahawking makes the town of Pokhara a can’t-miss spot.
Para-what, you ask? Parahawking is similar to paragliding, with two awesome additions: Kevin and Bob. The world famous, highly trained Egyptian Vultures are crucial to helping you find the best thermals (currents of warm air) so you can coast effortlessly. Plus, they’ll fly alongside you the entire journey, at some points even landing on your hands.
Aside from the approximately 20 to 3o awesome minutes in air, there’s much more to the falconry experience, namely the educational aspect. Prep time involves interacting with and learning about the birds as well as some education about the Vulture Conversation (which you’ll be playing a direct part in as a portion of your sale is donated to the organization.)
Some fun facts? Because birds of prey travel such long distances to find food, they rely on thermals to conserve their energy, which is why they’re so adept at finding the best ones. They can gain major height and distance using these alone. A not so fun fact? The last 15 years have been devastating for vultures due to a drug that’s administered to help sick livestock, but is unfortunately very poisonous for birds of prey.
This makes parahawking not just a cool adventure sport, but an amazing conservation effort.
A few last details:
- When: Parahawking season runs October through April.
- Who: Aside from a 220-pound weight limit, almost everyone can take part in this activity.
- Price: Approximately $190 (a portion of which goes to vulture conservation projects in Nepal)
- Accommodation options: For your convenience, you can also stay on-location at the charming Maya Devi Village. Accommodations consist of five bi-level Nepali-style thatched huts overlooking Lake Fewa. Prices start at $50.
Important note: Because this activity is weather dependent, try not to leave it for the last day of your trip in case your time slot needs to be rescheduled.
(Main image: Scott Mason)