Andalucia is a wonderful place to get off the ground in a paraglider. This exhilarating sport has become increasingly more popular since the 80’s and now many parts of Andalucia have become a Mecca for this and other air sports.
The vast Atlantic beaches of Tarifa in the province of Cadiz have long been the number one choice for windsurfers and paragliders alike. Inland in Cadiz province is another popular paragliding venue—the breathtaking landscape of the Grazalema Natural Park. Further inland, in Granada province, the Sierra Nevada Mountains is not only home to the famous ski station in Granada, but it also offers the chance to paraglide over some of the most stunning snow capped hills in an amazingly bright blue sky. It is in this area (not for the faint-hearted) that there are some of the highest take-off points - at an altitude of 2000m. As in most of Andalucia, in the small, whitewashed village of Bubion in the Alpujarras (the southern face of the Sierra Nevada Mountain), paragliding is an all year round sport. In these privileged natural surroundings, you will be flying in good company – with native golden eagles and hawks.
Paragliding is not to be confused with hang gliding. A hang glider has a rigid wing shaped frame and can fly at higher speeds than a paraglider. Paragliding is literally flying on the air, with the help of an aerofoil canopy, designed to fly on wind and air currents.
One of the big advantages of the paraglider over the hang glider is that it is much more portable. It packs away into about the size of a large rucksack, whereas the paraglider calls for roof rack transport from site to site. The paraglide take off is a question of using your feet! Beginners start by running on gentle slopes before jumping off any cliffs. However, you should be aware that a certain level of fitness is needed for this sport. Some expert paragliders stay in the air for up to 12 hours and records are being broken all the time, with distances of up to 200 miles already recorded.
Although it cannot be denied that there is a certain element of risk in paragliding, the risks can be minimized. It is commonly accepted that teaching yourself this high flying sport is not a particularly good idea. The best way to head for the skies is to have professional instruction in a safe environment and using good equipment. Most people only dream of flying but paragliding makes this dream become reality.
Where better to realise this amazing dream than in the dramatic mountains, the stunning coastlines and Natural Parklands of Andalucia?