AN EVENTFUL Easter paragliding on the Kwahu Ridge in memory of the late Ferdinand Ayim, former Special Assistant to the Minister of Tourism and Diasporan Relations, was nearly blotted by the inexperience of a French paraglider, who "stumbled" into the yawning forest beneath the Odwen Anoma cliff at Kwahu Atibie after take-off.
The 28-year-old French tourist, Alice, who dared to fly over the Nkawkaw township, dangerously veered off the take-off point and crashed into a pole with a furling flag, which was giving the direction of the wind for paragliders, before she fell freely onto the "yawning" forest beneath her in the open valley.
This was after many of her colleague paragliders from Canada, Britain, the United States, Germany and France, had repeatedly flown over Nkawkaw like vultures scavenging for carcasses.
Many of the inexperienced paragliders or 'first timers' were aided by experienced colleagues in a double-seated paraglide.
However, Alice was unlucky when she tried to do it alone and badly got trapped in the thick forest beneath the sharp Odwen Anoma cliff, a few seconds after taking off.
A fellow male paraglider, with the assistance of Fire Service and Police personnel as well as onlookers, descended into the forest with a thick nylon rope which was tied to a tree on top of the mountain.
After about one and a half hours, Alice was rescued from the forest with bruises on her hands and legs.
Gasping for breath and with a pronounced pink face, she described her accidental fall as "enjoyable".
"I like it," she said, referring to the forest below.
According to her, it was a new experience crashing into a forest, and that she enjoyed being in there.
She told DAILY GUIDE this was her first time visiting Ghana and she came with friends for this paragliding festival.
"I love Ghana!" she exclaimed.
Alice was hugged by the deputy Minister for Water Resources, Works and Housing, Mrs Cecilia Dapaah and the deputy Minister for Tourism and Diasporan Relations, Mr Joe Baidoo Ansah, who were present at the time of the incident- 4.00 pm.
The registration fee of ¢500,000 did not deter anxious foreign paragliders from 'flying' over and over again.
The session lasted for days, starting on Good Friday and ending on Easter Monday.
Each day recorded huge patronage as enthusiastic indigenes and visitors cheered the paragliders day after day.
Opening the paragliding festival, which was mainly sponsored by Pepsi Cola (Ghana) and Scorpion Travel and Tours, the Minister for Tourism and Diasporan Relations, Hon Jake Obetsebi-Lamptey said it had come to stay and it was the determination of the Ministry to have the biggest paragliding festival in Africa.
He said everything would be done to upgrade facilities at the paragliding site, so tourists could rest after flying.
Currently, there is a reception where food and drinks are sold to visitors.
The 4.5km road linking the Atibie town and the top of the Odwen Anoma cliff is in a bad state and needs to be rehabilitated to make the site more attractive and accessible.
The District Chief Executive of Kwahu South, Nana Onwona Asante gave the assurance that the link road to the starting point would be rehabilitated.
He said the assembly was taking tourism seriously since a well developed tourism sector enhanced socio-economic development.
"We have a lot of toursim sites in the district and we are planning seriously to also introduce regatta on the Kwahu side of the Volta Lake at Adawso," he stated.
The Managing Director of Pepsi Cola (Ghana), Mr Charles Nimako said initially, his outfit thought paragliding was not a good tourism venture but now realized it had a great potential to put Ghana on the tourism map.
He said Pepsi Cola would continue to offer its support to make paragliding the number one tourist attraction in the country.
A native of Kwahu suggested that Easter Monday be made the climax of the paragliding festival, where a lot of groups could come and entertain visitors as well as anybody who would like to celebrate Easter Monday on the Kwahu Mountain.