Travel

Parahawking combines paragliding and falconry, is real thing

Exactly what it sounds like, parahawking takes paragliding and falconry and mixes them up for a strange aerial experience. For real.

You soar through the sky, have a bird of prey fly behind you, then have it land on your arm, mid-air.

Why does this exist, you might ask? Great question.

Scott Mason, who invented the… sport? claims on the parahawking website that the activity is meant to “advance the interaction between man and bird, and to provide a unique opportunity to interact with birds of prey in their own environment”. OK, Beastmaster.
 
Mason trains vultures to interact with paragliders by landing on their outstretched arms to collect a morsel of buffalo meat, then guide them to thermals -- rising air that allows paragliders to gain height and fly further. In a way, it actually has utility, aside from being ridiculous.

If you’re wondering why Mason uses vultures, well, there's an explanation there, too. Apparently, Asia’s vultures are getting closer and closer to extinction, and -- since you probably made a face hearing that the birds involved are vultures and not falcons -- grossly misunderstood creatures. In fact, these guys are Egyptian vultures, and their names are Kevin and Bob.

The Nepal-based Parahawking Project hopes to raise awareness for the animals' predicament, and even donates 1,000 rupees (around $10) for every parahawking excursion to various vulture conservation projects around Nepal.

Your joyride just got serious. And for a seriously good cause.
 
The parahawking season, based in Pokhara, Nepal, runs from around October to April. Check it out here.


Sophie-Claire Hoeller is Thrillist's über-efficient German associate travel editor, and has had frequent flyer status since she was born in a Lufthansa terminal. Follow her @Sohostyle