After you've climbed, hiked or biked up the Himalayas, the only remaining way to up the thrill level is to leave the world's highest mountain range behind you altogether. To do that, you'll need a paraglider, and the best place to deploy it is in the Indian state of Himachal Pradesh at the town of Billing some 7,900 ft. (2,400 m) above sea level. Your destination is the tiny Tibetan settlement of Bir, nearly nine miles (14 km) away.
Bir-Billing, as flyers refer to the area, ranks among the world's Top 10 paragliding sites. Between now and early spring, several hundred seasoned flyers will swoop down between the twin towns, drawn by the near perfect conditions. Cross-country flights of up to 120 miles (200 km) are possible, soaring over the vast expanse of the Dhauladhar range, and taking in the stunning countryside of tea plantations, forests and fields. Smoke billows from tin-roofed huts, sheep can be seen grazing and you can make out trekkers trudging like ants up steep ridges. Flyers can soar to an exhilarating or, if you're a novice, terrifying 11,500 ft. (3,500 m) while competing with the Himalayan griffon vulture for the right thermal currents.
To get to Bir-Billing, head for the hill towns of Palampur or Kangra, then get a cab for the one-hour journey to Bir. You could also make the drive from the popular hill station of Manali, but the journey, at five hours, is far longer. Once in Bir, go to the local tourist office for a flying permit. Get adequate insurance as emergency infrastructure is rudimentary.
First-timers are only allowed to go with an experienced paragliding guide. Certified courses and tandem rides are available from Gurpreet Dhindsa and Jyoti Thakur, who run a paragliding school in Bir. Call (91) 9816525205 or (91) 9418112392.