It’s only in the past few years that adventure sports in and around the city are catching on as great weekend options. While it’s still going to be some time before it’s considered a must-do for every traveller, India’s first skydiving experience is a welcome addition to the list.
Barely a few weeks old, the jump from 8,500 ft up in the sky has been set up as a seasonal attraction at the nearby Aamby Valley City, Lonavla. Till February, experts from Art Of Extreme — an international group that’s trained the likes of Hrithik Roshan, Farhan Akhtar and Abhay Deol for Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara (2011) — will take adrenalin junkies through the thrilling sport. So we dropped by, literally, to try it out.
The crew greets you the way families meet at Indian weddings — with bear hugs, giant smiles and lots of friendly banter. Signing waivers and listening to a plane entry and exit brief takes about 15 minutes. Wearing an overall and strapping on a harness takes another five.
The instructor, Jose, is a charming, friendly Spaniard. While entering the plane, he introduces you to your photographer, Andres, quickly practices the entry and exit positions and suddenly, you’re all crammed into a small place, ready to take off.
Learning to fly
The flight is a rather long one — around half an hour. Jose tells you there’s another plane being planned. It’s a bigger one that goes higher and in less than half the time. Ask him if he ever gets tired of doing this,and he says he’s done over 6,000 jumps in his career. When you’re finally ready to take the plunge, feet on a ledge outside, hands crossed and neck stretched back to lean on his dependable shoulders, Jose pushes you out without warning. That’s a good thing, because sky fall at 120 kmph is even more thrilling when you aren’t entirely ready for it.
It lasts for all of 15 seconds, which are mostly a blur. You can’t see much below you. There are too many clouds. The wind is blowing furiously, so you struggle to push your hands outwards to feel like a bird. That’s only until Jose taps you to fold your arms again so he can deploy the parachute. As you inch towards the ground, much slower now, you’re screaming because you can understand perfectly why he does this for a living.
Back on the ground, you’re still shaking with excitement as you take your gear off and a golf cart ferries you back to the terminal. And then you exit the same way you entered — with a big smile and bigger hug from the crew.
Other thrills to try
Zorbing: Try the land or water zorbing options at Della Adventure Park, Lonavla. Prices start at Rs 500 for 200 ft.
For details, call the Mumbai office at 6745 1400.
Night parasailing: Cruising above the Queen’s Neckace is a whole new experience at night. Visit H20, Chowpatty for night parasailing, at Rs 2,500 for singles and Rs 3,500 for tandem trips.
Call 2367 7546.
Rafting: Cover a distance of 12 km in three hours on the Kundalika River, on a weekend trip to Kolad. Organised by Jungle Lore for Rs 3,850 per head (all inclusive for two nights and one day).
Call 2430 6658.
Kayaking: Master the art of flat water kayaking with Nature Trails, on a trip to the backwaters of the Koyna Dam. You can also try motorboat rides there.
Call 6655 7777 for details.
Waterfall rapelling: For eight months a year (barring the monsoon), V Adventure organises this activity down deep and shallow waterfalls. For beginners, the drop is about 100 metres. Prices start at Rs 600.
Call 94223 23274 for details.