You’ve heard of goat yoga, but for those craving something with a bit more of an edge, why not try eagle skiing?
A restaurant-slash-aviary in the French Alps is offering visitors the chance to ski down the slopes while an eagle follows them.
Les Aigles du Léman is the brainchild of falconer Jacques-Olivier Travers, who hopes that by introducing people to the white-tailed eagle, Europe’s largest bird of prey, they’ll become passionate about the animal’s reintroduction to the wild.
Travers eases the group into the activity step by step. The experience begins in the slopeside restaurant, where skiers hold a smaller buzzard on their arm to get comfortable with the animals. The next step is to go out on the slopes. However, instead of holding ski poles, the group will wear falconer’s gloves and call down hawks, buzzards, or raptors, who grab meat from their hands. The final step is to get out on the slopes and explore the French Alps while a white-tailed eagle follows along. A group leader will handle the animal, as it’s too large for novices. But everyone will get to experience the thrilling “woosh” of an eagle speeding by their skis.
If your skiing skills are not up to standard, you can opt for a snowshoeing tour of the mountain while the group leader calls in the birds for falconry displays.
While eagle-skiing looks like a lot of fun, there’s also a conservationist motive behind the activity. The conservation and breeding program at Les Aigles du Léman hopes to reintroduce the white-tailed eagles to the wild in France within five years — a place they haven’t been spotted in almost 200 years.
“This is a chance for birds born in captivity to really fly in the wild,” Travers told The Telegraph. “There’s nowhere else they can do that.”
The two-hour eagle ski or snowshoe experience costs about $130 (or €120).