HIMALAYA INFORMATION AND ESSENTIALS
Do get your Autumn trip flights as soon as possible now!
Please do let all your contacts know about this trip as the more people we get the more fun it will be! (And more of our instructors get to go too :-)
For various reasons, we are driving from Delhi to Bir, but if you elect to fly Spice Jet to Bir, you will need to purchase additional bags at the time of booking, but then you will also need to purchase the additional kilograms to put into said bags! (You may be able to do this at the time of booking.) Driving up is usually approximately the same time door-to-door as flying.
remaining balance (non-refundable) will be due on 15th August for
autumn trips and 15th January for spring trips. If you would all be
so kind, payments can be made by bank transfer, credit card in person
Please make any bank transfers to:
Bank: Barclays Bank, High Street Lewes
Account name: Air Trips
A/c number: 90145580
Sort code: 20-49-76
We stay on the outskirts of the village of Bir, Himachal Pradesh, which is at 1430m.
We launch principally from the take-off at Billing (2440m) and the mountain range immediately behind launch extends to 4980m. If you drop back a ridge or more the peaks quickly increase to 6-7000m
For the recently qualified and/or low airtime pilot, you can expect to become a competent XC pilot, able to identify and use thermal lift to cover serious distances and then land safely in a field of your choosing, perhaps even occasionally the main landing field! Look upon out-landings as an opportunity to meet new friends and have an amazing travel experience and you won't go far wrong.
For the more experienced pilot who can already thermal well and is seeking some quality instruction in the awesome scenery and benign thermals of this classic XC paradise, we'll be aiming to improve your skills by guided XC flying every day, perhaps including some of the more dramatic high altitude routes.
Before you go, please practise forward launches in nil wind and nil wind spot landings.
As always, you must always land on your feet! If you cannot do this reliably, please practise now.
Please tie everything to your harness or flight deck. Every year we end up wandering around some field looking for someone's camera, radio or vario that they forgot to pack when they landed. Likewise please tie your wallet and phone to your person. The locals are very honest, but it can be embarrassing to report yet another lost item to the village elders.
You will have to purchase a local paragliding licence from the Sub-Divisional Magistrate on arrival. This was about GBP 10/week last year. You will be required to submit your BHPA card and a copy of your insurance, passport and visa to obtain this licence.
Collection and return from the airport (If you are on our flights.)
If you are not on our scheduled flight you can meet us in Bir - Ask for Sian Makaan (“Stain aur Chaugan chauraaha ke beech Sian ka gha”)
Accommodation is in adjoining houses set in a tea plantation beside the Temple landing field in Bir.
Rooms are mostly twin rooms. Sharing with fellow non-smokers will be arranged on arrival.
Bed and breakfast, evening meals. Lunch is not included as we aim to be flying all day.
Transport to launch and occasional retrieval from XC, though you will usually find that local buses are so cheap and quick that it's not worth being retrieved, and anyway the adventure makes it worthwhile.
You will not be allowed onto the aeroplane without a visa! If you do manage to get on a flight, you will be turned back at Delhi.
There is now an e-visa system in place, which should be sufficient for most clients on a single trip. Please see the Indian government website for details.
Otherwise, Indian visas are now being processed by a third party organisation. Please see http://www.indiavisaheadoffice.co.uk for details. It was recommended that you obtain your visa in person, but the postal system does work well if you are religious about completing the paperwork perfectly.
Visas run from the moment of issue. E-visas are issued on arrival, you just get an authorisation when you apply for them.
A TOURIST visa is required. On the application form you may be asked to say 'Places to be visited' and also may be asked for two referees in India.
If so, these should be filled in on the visa form as follows:
Places to be visited:
Dharamsala, Bir, Manali
Dream and Adventure, Friends Network, Village Chaugan, PO Bir, Tehsil Baijnath, District Kangra, 176077, Himachal Pradesh, India.
Tel: 00 91 (0) 98163 77150
Referees in India:
Everingham, Dream and Adventure, Friends Network, Village Chaugan, PO
Bir, Tehsil Baijnath, District Kangra, 176077, H.P., India
Tel: 0091 (0) 99584 24493
Budhraja, Tripsout Travels, 72 Janpath, New Delhi, 110011, India
Tel: 00 91 (0) 11 4151 9998
You must have medevac insurance and ensure that permitted activities include paragliding. You will be asked to show your insurance documents to Steve on arrival. Please provide Steve with a photocopy of your certificate.
You my wish to consider:
Insure and go, if you are only paragliding for 15 days, otherwise cheap.
See your GP NOW for current vaccination and malaria advice.
You will probably require vaccinations against Typhoid, Hepatitis A, Polio and Diphtheria.
You will probably not require malaria tablets, but check current advice, Be cautious to avoid mosquitos in Delhi and you can avoid malaria and dengue prophylaxis as these are not prevalent in the north.
It is advisable to take a small first aid kit and some water purification tablets in case you land out.
Follow usual advice of avoiding unsterilised water and ice cubes or milk products including ice cream. In reality, most milk products are pasteurised, but be careful about local produce.
You cannot (legally) obtain rupees outside of India.
Be prepared to change most, if not all, of your money at Delhi (expensive) or in Bir when the Western Union rep visits us or at the Surya Hotel (recommended.)
There are virtually no cash machines in Himachal Pradesh.
We recommend changing GBP 200 - GBP 300 for the fortnight! The rate was about 89 Rs/GBP last year.
Per client, we suggest at least Rs1000 (£11) per local staff member, more if you feel it is appropriate, which may be particularly relevant for our local flying guide(s).
During the daytime, weather is similar to an exceptional day in August at home. However, evening falls quickly, and it can be cool if a katabatic breeze occurs.
I personally take merino wool thermals, a duvet coat and several 'travel' shirts and zip-off trousers.
Don't forget a sun hat.
Very good gloves and tea bag style hand warmers are a must for trip two.
Our contact in the UK for the duration of the trip is Diana on 01825 723765.
Steve's Indian contact number will be advised on the Telegram group as soon as we get there.
There are one or two internet cafes left in Bir, but nowadays 4G mobile data is readily available in the populated areas.
Check your baggage allowance both ways, it may well differ.
Do NOT pack anything with a battery into your checked in luggage or it will get held up. Likewise if it even looks like a power bank or similar.
There are international limits on the size of Lithium batteries which may be carried on an aircraft. Many drone batteries and some powerbanks exceed this limit.
Do NOT pack anything with a blade, including a multi-tool, into your hand luggage or it will get confiscated.
Remember that it may be cheaper to buy some things there rather than pay excess baggage charges – clothes and toiletries are very cheap in India.
You must have:
Glider & harness!
Reserve parachute – repacked recently
Vario – bring enough batteries because Indian batteries are poor. I recommend solar or rechargeables.
2m radio – Radios with heavy chargers don't charge due to low supply voltage – overcome by a cheap 12V switch mode charger. Ideally don't buy a cheap Chinese radio as they have proven inconsistent.
GPS, mounted so that you can see it in flight.
Head torch and spare batteries.
If you have an open harness you will want a flying suit or at least warm trousers.
Helmet, gloves and boots. I suggest both thick and thin gloves. Do bring a spare pair as local gloves are not normally windproof.
Compass – spherical so that it works at all angles and mounted so that you can see it at all times. Check your flight deck does not have magnetic closures. (Unbelievable!)
A tree/rock self-recovery kit: 30m+ of 4-8mm (preferably dyneema) line, dyneema sling(s), Grivel Scream belay plate or similar (the old Nemo was good but is now discontinued) unless you are happy to Italian hitch descend on a 5mm rope, a carabiner or two, optionally one or two climbing wires &/or cams, perhaps a meter or so of accessory cord. The thinner rope is a single use only thing – I use dinghy control line at about £25 for 30m. You really do need a specialised descender to use this, eg the Scream. (Also Google 'Personal escape rope systems')
Tracker – At the very least a PLB, available from any chandlers or hired. You may also wish to bring an InReach but be aware that these are currently illegal in India. SPOT no longer work in India, courtesy of one V. Putin.
Flymaster and similar GSM based trackers are only slightly better than useless in the mountains.
PLBs can also be hired from www.aerosafe.co.uk. Stupidly they wanted the PLB to have been put into the hold luggage on the homebound flight in 2022. This was wrong, but India...
Mobile phone (unlocked!) with local SIM – Best to get SIMS from the Airtel booth in Delhi airport as soon as you got off the plane and do get them activated before leaving Delhi. Phones are very cheap in India. Airtel eSIMs can take a long time to get activated, stick with physical SIMs.
BHPA card with at least Club pilot rating shown, or remind me to bring a student training record book for you. Do not forget this!
Travel documents: passport with visa, insurance & photocopy, flight tickets, vaccination certificate.
Personal first aid kit, including Sam splint and compression & triangular bandages.
At least 4 old style passport photos.
(hire/purchase can be arranged for most of the above)
There have been issues recently with GPS-enabled varios being seized by airport security because they don't understand what they are and think they are satcoms devices. This appears to have been sorted by the time we got there in 2023, but nonetheless, I again plan to pack and dress like a tourist to minimise the likelihood of being hassled. E.g. putting the glider into a suitcase rather than a glider bag. Not wearing 'outdoors' clothing etc. Maybe dressing like a cricket fan... ;0)
Other useful items:
IPPI card (from BHPA)
Driving license for motorbike hire.
5 photocopies of passport and visa. (E-visa copies will have to be obtained in Bir.)
Clothing (hot in day & can be cool at night. Can be very cold at altitude)
Four-gang extension lead with a continental style plug on the end (single plug can be bought/fitted in India)
Sunglasses and a spare pair.
Flight deck, enabling you to carry rigid items such as billy cans etc.
Lightweight waterproof jacket. Also waterproof trousers if you expect to motorcycle or hike on the rest day
Mosquito repellent body spray/cream/roll on.
Electric mozzie coil (These are now usually available in Bir.)
Camera & charger.
Folding walking poles.
Chemical 'tea bag' hand warmers or electric gloves for trip 2 and for keen trip one pilots.
Camelbak type water container
For the chaps, a Pee Tube external catheter system and spare condoms or similar. For the ladies, a SheWee or nappies.
the optional vol bivouac(s):
Ensure you can fit all the kit in your harness before the trip(s). The sleeping bag is traditionally put in place of back protector and do use a flight deck or additional lap bag for hard stuff like pans. Never put rigid things in the back of your harness. I have a six litre or so shoulder bag adapted to be worn as a lap bag; it is almost unnoticeable in flight.
Sleeping bag – not too lightweight, say to 0 degrees or so. e.g. GBP 30 – here. Down bags are more compact, but also more expensive. I have a lightweight down bag and a separate lightweight down quilt. Half bags are also worth considering.
Lightweight inflatable camping mat. e.g. GBP 26 - here
Small mess tins, cutlery and a camping stove, perhaps a woodgas type. Screw on gas cylinders are now available locally
favourite sachet camping food. (No beef!! Really no beef!) A range
of mild vegetable curry sachet meals are available locally in Bir
Additionally, for the spring trip rest day, if you plan visiting the back country you may want to bring:
Serious waterproof trousers or salopettes.
Touring Skis etc.
Remember, most non-flying stuff can be purchased in Bir and a limited range of flying stuff is now available there.