Hang gliding in Rio de Janeiro is one of those very unique once in a lifetime experiences. It gives the sensation of what I imagine it is like to fly like a bird. Also the dramatic views on the way down are pretty spectacular being surrounded by the beautiful mountains and then cruising over the beaches and crystal clear water where the sand and mountains meet the Atlantic Ocean. The runway off the mountain is located near the top of the Tijuca national park which is the largest urban forest in the world.
After filling out a few brief documents accepting all the risks of potential injury and receiving a short safety brief, we loaded up in an old truck and headed up the mountain. The actual take-off was quite simple. After putting on the harness and getting clipped in, I stood at the back of the platform with my tandem buddy and waited for his go ahead. Then we were off, sprinting down the ledge towards the end of the platform until we plunged off and waited for the air to catch us and lift us back up for the gradual descent down to the beach. On the flight down we had excellent views of Rio de Janeiro including Sugar loaf mountain, Corcovado, Copacabana, Ipanema, and even saw schools of fish swimming in the clear waters below us.
My favorite part of the simple instructions was to "run until the wind catches you" and then relax and enjoy the scenic ride down!