Thomas de Dorlodot is one of the world's top adventure paraglider pilots. We asked the athlete to share his most memorable trips.
From all the adventures I have experienced in my life, it seems almost impossible to choose my very best one. I have been through the skies with my paraglider for the last six years, traveling through incredible landscapes, each different and unique in their own ways. It has been a very intense ride. My love for the unknown and search for new challenges has brought my team and I to some of the most beautiful places on earth. Here are some of my best memories.
Flying Machu Picchu - February 2009
It wasn’t easy to sneak my paraglider into the park and avoid the guards while searching for a take-off spot, but somehow, I finally managed to fly away from the terrace above the sacred city. I soared above the ancient ruins; the view was breathtaking. I could not believe I was flying over what the Incas have created thousands of years ago. The adrenaline was palpable. I landed 25 minutes later in a valley and thought I was out of trouble. But the local police along with their angry-looking dogs ran after me, and I got arrested. They kept me in the local jail for a day and released me once they realized my intentions were harmless.
Crossing New Zealand’s South Island - February 2013
Ferdinand Van Schelven and I took 26 days to cross New Zealand’s South Island Red Bull X-Alps style, just hiking and flying. We traveled in total autonomy and covered more than 800km. It was wild and pure. Equipped with our flying gear, our sleeping bags, a fishing rod and some dry food, we had only the very basics to survive this challenge. But what awaited us was more than we could have wish for: countless of trees, high mountains, glaciers and rivers. I even believe the set of Lord of the Rings was not big enough to show the greatness of the landscape.
Overall, we were carrying around 23kg each. We made 100km+ flights, caught some huge trout and probably had one of our best adventures ever.
The Karakoram - July 2012
I flew and hiked 340km of the Karakoram, crossing some of the biggest glaciers on earth with my friends Ramon Morillas and Simon Elias. We traveled 25 days, slept in caves, climbed virgin peaks and flew an altitude of more than 7,000m. I soared above the Baltoro glacier all the way to the second highest mountain on earth, K2. The view at 7,300m was by far the most impressive I have ever seen in my life. It felt priceless. I spent the last four summers flying in Pakistan – it has become my second home.
SEARCH Africa - Winter 2012
My friend Horacio Llorens and I crossed Africa from Egypt to South Africa. We travelled ten different countries in only four months with our production team. On the way, we opened-up some incredible spots. I will never forget our flights over the Pyramids in Sudan, the active volcano in Tanzania, Victoria falls in Zambia, the Okavango delta in Botswana... We discovered the local culture and had tons of mis-adventures on the way. It was a life-changing experience.
Crossing the Pyrenees - August 2013
My last adventure took me to the Pyrenees. I left from Hondarribia, Spain on the Atlantic coast, all the way to Cap de Creus 440 km away on the Mediterranean coast. I travelled alone for 13 days with my legs and glider as my only transport. I carried 17kg (flying gear included). I tried to take only essentials with me. The hardest part was to deal with the solitude. After a few days, without even noticing, I began to talk to myself out loud just to feel less alone. However, being self-sufficient is always great, because no matter where you are or what you are doing, it is important to count on yourself. I also came to the conclusion that travelling light is right! That is a new philosophy I try to apply in my everyday life: Focus on the essential!