Expert: Why you need to migrate this winter

Andy Pag soaring above the Annapurnas with a bird of prey.
© Myriam Thomachot

Paraglider pilot and globetrotter Andy Pag explains the allure of following the adventure seasons.

I love a white Christmas, but I prefer T-shirt weather. Coming to Nepal means I have both. The Annapurna range looms above the town of Pokhara, reaching over 7,000m and glistening white in the clear winter sky, while I walk around in flip-flops in the valley floor at a mere 700m, a lot closer to the equator than most people think.

I'm one of many paraglider pilots that come here for several months in the winter, following the weather in a year-round migration pattern that takes in the best flying sites. We're an unwieldy gaggle whose flying expertise also includes finding the airline with the best rates on excess baggage.

Andy Pag by the Annapurnas
Tandem flying with tourists earns spending money. © Andy Pag

This is my third winter in Nepal. The crisp air allows the sunlight to build strong thermals, and the mountain terrain is a stunning and humbling playground around which we fly our fabric wings.

During spring, it's hard to resist the calling of the Alps, and in the summer, Woodrat Mountain in Oregon makes up the other point of my triangular migration.

I don't like the name but I have to admit I'm a 'para-bum'. The phrase is copied from the surfers that chase the big waves from the California coast to Oahu or Bali at this time of year.

But every outdoor sport that depends on the weather has its 'bums' that surf the seasons around the world. The yachties have recently sailed from the Canaries to the Caribbean for winter, while trekkers are starting to gather in the valleys of Chile to hike and climb the Andes, and Europe's kiteboarders and windsurfers are travelling south from Tarifa in Spain to Morocco's most southern city, Dahkla.

Andy Pag by the Annapurnas
Andy in front of the Annapurna mountain range. © Andy Pag

Privileged as this lifestyle might sound, it takes an obsessive dedication to your sport to put up with the discomforts of the frugal living that goes with it.

Working as an instructor or guide in any sport is never very well paid, but living out of vehicles, and travelling to countries with favourable exchange rates like Nepal, means that even a little cash can be converted into weeks or months enjoying the sport you love in the best environments the planet has to offer.

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