Getting High in Medellin
So you’ve just landed in Medellin and want to get your bearings. Sure, you could do the free walking tour (actually you should – it’s considered a sin not too!) but to really see the city you gotta get high. No, not that kind of high – paragliding high!!
The paragliding takes place up on El Valedero near San Felix and is the place to be if you want to see Medellin how the birds see it. For a 10 minute flight the cost is 95,000 COP and 125,000 COP for 20 minutes. If you don’t have your own GoPro or similar, you can also rent one for $5 USD. The prices for flying are the same across each company so I just messaged each of them and went with the one I got the best vibe from.
If you’re pressed for time you can ask the paragliding company to arrange transport – but this comes at a hefty price. I was quoted $100 US for a round trip (pick up from hostel, drop off at El Voladero, then drop off back at the hostel after). Pretty crazy but might make more sense if you’re in a group of four to share the cost. You can also Uber it for about 30,000 COP each way.
I chose the cheapo/pilgrimage option because who wants to spend that much on transport!? The journey started from my hostel in El Poblado (Black Pine, cleanest bathrooms I’ve ever seen in a hostel!) where I walked to the Metro station just 600m up the road. Honestly, the Metro is the greatest thing in Medellin and makes getting around the city extremely easy and best of all, cheap! To head on up the mountain you’ll need to get off at Caribe station and head to the Terminal de Transporte Norte and get a bus to San Felix, just tell the bus driver you want to get off at El Voladero and you’ll be right. Theres also a bus every 20 minutes heading back the other way when you finish up. All together I spent about 12 – 15,000 COP getting there.
One thing to remember is to book ahead- you don’t need to pay a deposit or anything but it will definitely speed up the process. There was a group of guys who had been on top of the hill for an hour and a half because they just rocked up without a booking. I turned up and had just enough time to wolf down three sandwiches (despite the blatant warning not to eat too much beforehand) and before I was strapping on a very unflattering harness whilst receiving a quick brief from my Pilot, Cesar, on what I had to do.
We stood patiently on the hill strapped up and ready to go for about 10 minutes as we waited for the perfect gust of wind. We then stopped waiting patiently and unhooked from the parachute as it didn’t come – talk about suspense building! I’ve heard that sometimes you can wait for a very long time for that strong breeze so make sure you pick a good day. Eventually things picked up and before I knew it I was strapped back in.
On Cesar’s mark I did what I was told to do. RUN! RUN! RUN! RUN! RUN! I felt the parachute catch the wind and rise up, partially taking up the weight of my sandwich-filled lard arse. As we came towards the edge of the hill I felt myself begin to trip over and I was sure we were going to crash – but Cesar did his thing and we took off! If you watch the video below you can see on my face the moment in which I knew I wasn’t going to die – exhilarating!!
We then proceeded to make a series of casual turns, climbing the wind gusts higher and higher into the air. It was strangely relaxing, and at no point during the flight did I feel nervous even when Cesar did some more ‘extreme’ aerobatics.
And then there’s the view. I wont bleed on about it – just watch the video and see for yourself!
If you’re keen to see Medellin from somewhere a bit higher than the cable car, paragliding over the city is a must do! It’s also very cheap for the whole experience, a similar experience back home costs $260 AUD! You’ll also have some sweet city shots (and selfies) for the folks back home. So take my advice, send Cesar a whatsapp on +57 314 808 4445, book a flight and get HIGH in Medellin!!