Paragliding Festival [Kwahu-Atibie]

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Pictured are three of the seven pilots in attendance at this years festival. Left to right: Chuck Smith (USA), IIea lamina (Romania), Balke Pelton (USA)

Paragliding during the Easter Festival in Kwahu-Atibie has been a tradition for the past 12 years and a growing attraction amongst locals and foreigners. It was initiated in April of 2005 by the Ministry of Tourism. Currently, there are about seven pilots of various nationalities who run the celebration. Four of the pilots are from the U.S.A, the others are from Japan, Romania and Ghana.

The day definitely did not pan out as we expected, but it was an adventure nonetheless. We departed the International Student Hostel around 4:40am to visit the Easter festival in Kwahu-Atibie. A few of us planned on shopping rather than paragliding, others were absolutely set on paragliding (it would only cost them 250 cedis). We heard such great things about the festival. We were told that there would be a ton of things to do, and a lot to see. Upon arrival, we were all shocked. It was nothing like an ordinary festival; in fact, it wasn’t even a festival, it was basically just paragliding. There were no vendors or shops in sight. Thankfully, a few small tables were set up for visitors to purchase food, because our wait was long and tiresome. Those of us who had decided against paragliding were forced to sit in the crowd until our group finished paragliding. Though it was exciting to watch people paraglide off the mountain, the wait was brutal.

 

Long story short, we all sat for 8 hours hoping that one of our group members would finally have the chance to paraglide. They were within the 20’s on the list, but there were only 5 pilots. Each person would paraglide for about 20-30 minutes each, land at a designated area and ride the bus back up the mountain with the pilots. It was a long process, which was obvious when the hours started to fly by. Despite sitting there for hours, we remained optimistic because one of our members was number 18 on the list. However, as 3pm approached, we were informed that there were about 50 people who had pre-registered for the event! This meant that people in the California group were actually around number 70 on the list! Despite being informed of this, we decided to wait it out. Fortunately, around 4pm one of our group members was called to pair up with a pilot. She was able to put on all of the gear while the person in front of her prepared for takeoff.

Unfortunately, just as she was getting ready to go, a huge fog covered the mountain and the entire operation was shut down for the rest of the day! So, we waited 8 hours for nothing. No one in our group was actually able to paraglide. Maybe it was meant to be? Despite this, though, we were able to turn the day around. We decided to spend about an hour in town, to see what activities were going on. It was like a huge block party! The

streets were filled with music, dancing, food, a concert, and so much more to experience. All I can say is that it was definitely worth it!

******For the people who plan to attend the paragliding festival: make sure that you register ahead of time. No one from the International Student Hostel, even outside of the California group, were able to paraglide because of the number of people who signed up! Also, the festival doesn’t begin until about 5pm, don’t expect to see a day festival! If you aren’t paragliding, do not go unless you will be there for the night festival.*********

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