If you’re looking for an awesome new hobby, we’d like to suggest the breathtaking sport of of Parahawking. Combining the thrill of paragliding with the majesty of falconry, birds of prey are trained to fly with paragliders and even guide them to thermal columns - which are instinctively sought out by birds to help them stay aloft and conserve energy.
The sport was developed in 2001 by British falconer Scott Mason in Pokhara, Nepal, a location beloved by paragliders for its bowl-shaped valley and by birders because it’s home to many raptor species.
If you fly with Scott Mason, vultures wing directly alongside, leading the way to the best air currents—and, if you’re game, eating treats straight from your hands. The idea to combine paragliding and hawking (dubbed “parahawking”) was sparked when Mason was watching paragliders look to the flight paths of native vultures, hawks and kites to extend their aerial experiences. Birds instinctively seek updrafts, called thermals, to stay aloft and conserve energy while flying; these same thermals push paragliders higher, making the joyride last much, much longer. To Mason, the strategy is simple: “Our vultures lead the way. We follow.”
Mason is based in Pokhara where he trains and flies with birds of prey for The Parahawking Project. Parahawking only uses rescued birds, never birds taken from the wild. It began Kevin and Bob, two rescued Egyptian vultures unable to be released back into the wild. Mason trained them to fly alongside paragliders by using treats as an incentive. A portion of the proceeds from each Parahawking ride is donated to vulture conservation projects in Nepal.
Visit Cool Hunting to learn more about the thrilling sport of Parahawking.
Animals with jobs! The kindred bond between man and beast! This is just too cool! It fascinates me that there is this thing that vultures are naturally just better at, and instead of trying to replace or ignore them, this guy has gone ‘yeah cool, let’s help each other out, you’re totally better at finding sweet air currents than I am’.