Monday, July 11, 2011

Paragliding in Dug's Village July 2011

<==== Please vote on where DUG should go next!!

As the winter has moved on we have been looking at way to improve our economic outlook and diversify our economy. We have built a very sustainable agriculture business for our village over the past few years.

At a recent meeting of the elders a question was brought up, "What if our crop was hit with a drought or some other type of natural disaster? Where would our village and our budget surplus end up?" The overwhelming answer was. "In the gutter like America." We decided to investigate other sources of revenue for the village. One idea proposed, tourism. The cost of living is very low in our village and there are some very unique qualities. When my Nephew "A" the pilot was over a year of so back, he thought our landscape with the mountains at the edge of the village and prevailing winds would make for a great place for Paragliding. 

We also thought that Mountain Biking and White Water River Rafting / Kayaking would help make our village an ideal tourist destination of extreme sports fans.  The elders put me in charge of research and development. I contacted "A" as I thought he might know what direction I should look. "A" put me in touch with Kay at Peak to Peak Paragliding on Boulder Colorado.  Kay was super helpful and offered to send to of her Paragliding pilots over to help us with our research. Tim  and Kelly  arrived a few days later, they brought "A" and his mom (Sue) and dad (Ross) along. Both Sue and Ross are champion mountain bikers and thought they might help us with the Mountain Biking ideas.

The plan was for "A", Margarite, and I to fly (Paraglide) tandem with Tim and Kelly as our pilots. We wanted to get a feel for our mountain and hear from Tim and Kelly what they thought of the quality of the flying off our Mountain. All turned out great we enjoyed the flying and both Tim and Kelly thought our mountain offered some of the best fling in the world, perfect winds as well as great views. We did have one mishap, "A" got a little carried away (literally), "A" decided that Paragliding was not that much different then flying a plane and decided to do it on his own without a pilot. One thing he forgot was with good updrafts it is very tough to land. "A" flew 386 KM and ended up in Zimbabwe along the coast. Fortunately for "A" the coast is made up of huge sand dunes and "A" was able to find a soft place to land.
Getting back to our village was not that easy, but that is a whole other story. (see pictures and video below of a complete understanding of Paragliding in Botswana)

From the feedback we got from Tim and Kelly, and clearly from "A"'s flight was felt our village would make a great Paraglding destination.

Next on the agenda was testing out the White Water River Rafting and Kayaking. Though I have rafted and kayaked many times in many places in the world. Nile, New River, Snake River to name a few. I had not rafted on our village's river. Fortunately we found a volunteer that thought he could kayak on our river. Our river when it is running has many class 5 rapids, as well as very unpredictable flows. As you can see from the picture we lost our volunteer.  We decided to scratch White Water Rafting and Kayaking off our list of offerings.

Day 3 was Mountain Biking, that was very successful, "A" his folks, (Ross, and Sue), , Margarite and I biked up the same mountain we paraglide from. "A", Ross, and Sue gave the course a thumbs up.  So from our research we feel that Paragliding and Mountain biking are very viable extreme sports we can market that may help drive our village as a destination site when people visit Africa or more specific Botswana. You may have noticed the "M" on our mountain in some of the pictures and video. No it is not to remind us that it is a "M"ountain. As you may remember Michelle Obama visited Botswana a few weeks ago. She was suppose to visit our village, but was unable. We were told she spent more time with Nelson Mendela in South Africa then she expected. Yes we got bumped for Nelson. The kids in the village had erected the "M" for "M"ichelle. We are hoping one day she will come back so right now the "M" will stay and we will tell people it marks our "M"ountain. That is it from Botswana.





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