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Paragliding at Kokol Hill (Kota Kinabalu City)

Kokol Hill Paragliding

Stop singing “I believe I can fly” because you can do it. Forget about the noisy plane that put you in an enclosed space where you can’t even fully stretch your legs. Paragliding gives you the closest experience as a bird, as there is nothing between you and the sky and cloud, so you can enjoy the breeze and a sense of freedom.

Taking off from Kokol Hill

Paraglider taking off from Kokol Hill

If you live or travel in Kota Kinabalu City (KK), the nearest place where you can try paragliding is Kokol Hill (Bukit Kokol) in Menggatal, about 40 minutes away by car from KK. It’s ok if you don’t have any paragliding gear, you can book a “pilot” to give you a tandem flight. More on this later.

Tandem paragliding at Kokol Hill

Tandem paragliding at Kokol Hill

At a height of about 800 Meters and cooling temperature of 24°C, Kokol Hill is fast becoming the favorite getaway place of KK people to escape the hot weather. Besides, Kokol Hill is one of the best spots to see sunset and panoramic view of KK.

Tandem paragliding

Tandem paragliding

The following is a 3-min video for you to see why paragliding at Kokol Hill is super fun and exciting.

Paragliding Site of Kokol Hill

After hearing many positive comments about paragliding on Kokol Hill, I contacted Richard via his Facebook on Kokol Paragliding, to arrange for a tandem flight. Richard is a very experienced paragliding tandem pilot who has worked in Nepal and Korea for 4 years. After he checked the weather and wind conditions, we set the date for the flight.

Short nature trail to paragliding site

Short nature trail to paragliding site

The take off base is not far away from the Celcom tower near Kokol Haven Resort. We parked our car near the tower and passed through a forest to the site. The forest can be misty during cool day.

Panoramic view of Kota Kinabalu City from Kokol Hill

Panoramic view of Kota Kinabalu City from Kokol Hill

After 5 minutes, I came to an open space on a ridge with breathtaking view of KK and surrounding hills. “Today’s weather is perfect! We got good wind too,” Richard said. Sometimes he needs to wait some time for the right wind.

Paragliding site of Kokol Hill

It’s Richard in front carrying 20Kg of paragliding gear

The take off base is located at 822 Meters above sea level, so the air was cooling and refreshing.

Paragliding site on Kokol Hill

Take off base of Paragliding on Kokol Hill

Usually paragliding here is started around 11am when the sun heat up the land and creates upward thermal current and wind, the forces that lift the paraglider.

Panoramic view of Kota Kinabalu City and islands from Kokol Hill

You can see Kota Kinabalu City and its nearby islands in clear day

You are good to go if your body weight is less than 120 Kg (264 lbs), the limit of tandem paraglider.

Tandem Flight

Before the flight, Richard demo some simple steps on what to do during take off, flight and landing. Guess what? To make this paragliding a bit special and crazy, both of us were wearing office attire. It’s so funny LOL.

Paragliding in office attire

Paragliding in office attire

We put on our harness and get ready to take off. Richard observed the wind direction and cycle, to time the take off.

Ready to take off

Ready to take off

After a while, he pointed at the trees far ahead and said, “See the rustling foliage over there? The wind is coming this way. Let’s get ready.”

Making the Wall to catch the wind

“Making the wall” to catch the wind

Then he shouted, “RUN!” Though the runway in front is a steep slope, I have to be brave and sprint without any hesitation, like what he told me to. After 4 or 5 steps, I was already kicking in the air. I was flying!

Office guys go paragliding

Office guys go paragliding

The ride is surprisingly steady, like a boat sailing smoothly on the calm sea. First we cruised at an average speed of 40 Kilometer/Hour along the ridge of Kokol Hill, which is part of Crocker Range Park, the largest terrestrial park of Sabah. We can see Mt. Kinabalu if we are lucky.

Lush forest of Kokol Hill

Lush forest of Kokol Hill

The vast greenery of lush forest relaxed my mind, and I didn’t feel scared at all. At some points, we were so close to the trees that I could hear the call of cicada.

Flying high on Kokol Hill

Flying high on Kokol Hill

Richard took a ride on an upward thermal current, so we soared high up to 1,000 Meters, until the birds and hill were under our feet.

Stunning view from the sky

Stunning view from the sky

During the flight, all passengers will naturally open their arms like bird spreading its wing. It must be feel like dreaming.

Flying on top of Kokol Hill

Flying on top of Kokol Hill

Fun with paragliding

Now I can fly

Next we turned to west and headed to Menggatal town. In clear day, you can see Labuan island at the left and Kuala Abai (Kota Belud) at the right, that’s more than half of Sabah’s west coastline.

View of Kota Kinabalu City

View of Kota Kinabalu City

In normal life, the space around us is so confined, and we are like living in a “2D” world. It’s an amazing feeling to be able to see and feel how big our world is from the sky.

paragliding view

This is the view you only can see in paragliding

My favorite view is KK city and islands of Tunku Abdul Rahman Park in South China Sea. My hometown is such a beautiful city.

Paragliding is awesome!

Paragliding is awesome!

My paragliding was getting near the end when we approached Menggatal town. As we were descending, everything seemed to move faster. We flied over villages, plantations, houses, and finally landed safely on the field next to Menggatal Community Hall (Dewan Masyarakat Menggatal).

Flying on top of Menggatal town

Flying on top of Menggatal town

This 6-KM journey took about 20 minutes, but it felt like an hour. FYI, paraglider can fly over 300 KM under the most ideal condition.

The Fees

The fee of tandem flight is RM250 for Malaysian and RM350 (≈US$87) for non-Malaysian. Add RM50 (≈US$12.50) if you want photos and video. They can pick you up at Menggatal town. If you want them to fetch you at hotel or other locations, the transport fee is RM100 (≈US$25).

Group photo before paragliding

Group photo before paragliding

They also do sunset flight for RM500 (≈US$125) (after 5pm, only if conditions allow). You also can bring your friend to fly together next to you (a great idea for coming Valentine’s Day?).

Booking

For safety, you must hire only certified tandem pilots. The following is a list of professional paragliders whom you can trust.

Paragliding

Stop dreaming and imaging about flying. Try it at least once.

1. Richard Tan

(APPI International pilot No: 10474)
Mobile Phone: +60 16-6725124
Facebook: Kokol Paragliding
WeChat: giant_xtr

2. Cliff Man

Mobile Phone: +60 16-8471255

3. Chris Lammert

Mobile Phone: +60 13-8645606
E-mail: chrislammert@hotmail.com
Website: borneogl.blogspot.com
Facebook: Chris Exotic Sports

Paragliding fun

Happy Flying! Remember to apply sunblock lotion because you will be closer to sun

Soar High and See the World like an Eagle. Enjoy the Freedom like a Bird. This is Paragliding.

Photos taken in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia Borneo

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Paragliding in Sabah

Paragliding

Paragliding has started in Sabah for quite some years but only recent years it becomes a popular sport. Last month I visited a paragliding team in Lohan, a location between Ranau town and Poring (about 2-hour drive from Kota Kinabalu).

paragliding site in Lohan
paragliding site in Lohan
The Lohan paragliding site on the hill offers a beautiful view of Kinabalu Park and Liwagu valley.

paragliding site in Lohan
>> Click Here to see more photos of Paragliding
At the right is the view of Lohan Village (Kampung Lohan). Mejar (trainer) is standing at the take-off point of paragliding.

paragliding solo flight
There were a few paragliders there by the time we reached the site in the morning.

paragliding solo flight
paragliding solo flight
It was windy on the hill. Armed with a wedge-shaped and the specially designed chute, the parachute had no problem gathering wind power. The pilot can go as far as 100 KM in a single flight!

paragliding solo flight
Then the paragliders ran and took off one by one. FYI, they didn’t jump off from a cliff (That one is base-jumping ok). There is a 45 degree slope in front, which is the best angle for running to take off. Other factors that make a good paragliding site include wind condition and topography in that area. Most are able to take off within 10 Meters of running distance, easier than flying a kite isn’t it?

paragliding solo flight
Depending on the wind and their skill, some paragliders can stay high in the air for a long time. It looks so fun and free!

paragliding
paragliding
paragliding
>> Click Here to see more photos of Paragliding
However, I sweated when I saw a few of them almost ram into trees, tall building and other things.

paragliding spot landing
They practiced Spot Landing in the morning to prepare for Paragliding Accuracy World Cup (PGAWC), an aviation sport. It is very hard to land on a bull-eye only a few Meters wide. When you are up in the air, it’s also hard to tell if you are ascending or descending. That’s why they have a beeping device on the helmet that can tell if they are gliding up or down.

preparation for tandem flight
Above: Preparation for tandem flight

Don’t worry if you don’t know how to paraglide. You can join their tandem flight. The fee ranges from RM80 to RM200 per ride. In fact there is no standard rate.

They say afternoon time is more suitable for tandem flight, because the thermal air allows them to soar high, and they offer me a free ride. At first I was excited, but I didn’t feel safe anymore, when I saw one of them made hard landing into the shrubs. Anyway, my worry is needless, b’coz only the experienced trainers can provide tandem flight.

briefing for tandem flight
Above: briefing before tandem flight. Just a few simple instructions to follow. Nothing complicated.

tandem flight
Ready to glide… The wind was so strong that the parachute can drag you away.

tandem flight takes off
tandem flight
Above: tandem flight taking off!

tandem flight landing
tandem flight landing
Above: tandem flight landing.
They “passengers” looked so happy that they drove up to the hill and did a few more rounds again.

Finally it’s my turn for tandem flight. The most scary part is the take-off moment. I was at the front and was asked to run down the slope during take off. Chris the trainer was shouting behind me, “RUN! Murphy RUN!!!!” I ran hard and fast, as if a tiger was chasing behind me. Then I felt that my feet were off the ground. Yay! I was flying!

tandem flight
>> Click Here to see more photos of Paragliding
Then Chris said “Sit In!”, which meant I could retract my feet and sat in the tandem seat. I can enjoy the flight and take photos now.

paragliding
The feeling was great. I was a few hundreds feet up in the sky and everything looks so small on the ground. If I’m not mistaken, you can soar as high as a thousand feet. Wow.. I heard that some of them had tried paragliding from the peak of Mt. Kinabalu. The view must be magnificent.

tandem flight
Above: Lohan Village under my feet
>> Click Here to see more photos of Paragliding

ant people at paragliding site
Above: at the left is the take-off point of Lohan paragliding site. Can you see the “Ant” people on the hill? So tiny… Actually they have at least 3 take-off points in Lohan.

paragliding
paragliding
>> Click Here to see more photos of Paragliding

You may watch the 2-minute video below to see the solo and tandem flight paragliding in Lohan:

Click Here to watch wider video

Want to Join?

There are a few paragliding groups in Sabah, and each group have their own paragliding site. If you love this sport, you can take a training and buy the paragliding kit, starting from RM5,000 (second-hand chute starts from RM3,000). The complete new set of paragliding gear is over RM15,000. Below are some contact of the groups:

  1. Ranau (Lohan)
    – Mejar Haznain Ngamil (Mobile/Cell Phone: +60 19-8608700) or
    – Evelina Sitem (Mobile/Cell Phone: +60 10-5347375)
    GPS of Take Off Base: 5.994177, 116.691589
    E-mail: flyhighconsultsb@gmail.com
, captnine09@yahoo.com
    Website: www.borneoparagliders.com
    Facebook: BorneoParagliders, KotaKinabalu.Paraglider
  2. Menggatal (Kokol Hill)
    GPS of Take Off Base: 6.013375, 116.206892
    Facebook: Kokol-Paragliding
    Mobile/Cell Phone: +60 16-6715124
    Read my blog about paragliding at Kokol Hill
  3. Tamparuli (Ruhiang Hill)
    GPS of Take Off Base: 6.135533, 116.278918
    – Mr. Bruce (Mobile/Cell Phone: +60 14-9894108)
    Facebook: SabahParaglidingAssociation

The paragliding training takes about a month or less. Below is the course outline:

  1. Get an instructor to learn about aeronautics and basic knowledge
  2. Learn Kiting: trainee opens the parachute using air to lift himself off the ground a few feet, to get a feel of hovering and to learn basic manoeuvring techniques. This training is carried out in windy area such as beach or elevated places.
  3. Trainee will then fly tandem with the instructor. Once they are confident, they can take the glide alone

Photos taken in Lohan, Sabah, Malaysia Borneo

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