Traveling is one of the best ways to broaden your mind. Not only do you get to meet new people and explore new scenic vistas, but as a paraglider you have a front row seat to some of the most amazing views on Earth. Heres a few of the best paragliding destinations for keeping your head in the clouds.
1. Chamonix, French Alps
The Cham is one of the worlds mountain flying meccas, and for good reason. The high peaks and pristine glaciers of the French Alps offer a captivating backdrop for dozens of unspoiled alpine villages and hamlets dotting the landscape. Paragliders launching near Chamonix also get a birds eye view of Mont Blanc, the highest peak in Europe, towering over the landscape at 4,810 meters. Mont Blanc is also one of the turnpoints in the gruelling Red Bull X-Alps adventure race (which Ill be competing in next July). Fliers with a little extra time can check out the birthplace of paragliding at the picturesque town of Mieussy, a mere 50 kilometres to the west as the crow or glider flies.
2. Kaminaki, Crete
The island of Crete is the birthplace of perhaps the oldest story involving man and flight: the myth of Icarus. Now the Greek island is a haven for paragliders who enjoy its stunning panoramas of mountains and gorges all while competing with eagles for views of the sparkling Aegean. A sip of tsikoudia, the traditional Cretan drink, tastes particularly good after a day spent soaring over the scenic plateau of Lassithi.
3. Danyang, South Korea
This scenic hideaway offers some of the best mountain and valley flying in East Asia. Located roughly a two-and-a-half hour drive from Seoul Airport, Danyang County is home to the scenic Namhan River as well as the Eight Views of Danyang a collection of natural sites that includes the famous Three Peak Island. Of course, the best view is always from the sky, and paragliders get to take it all in from the launch point at the peak of Mount Yangbangsan.
4. Crown Terrace, Otago, New Zealand
If youre looking for scenic beauty, you cant go wrong with the country used as the backdrop for The Lord of the Rings movies. Crown Terrace offers excellent ridge soaring with heavy thermals and great mountain-to-valley views with an altitude limit of around 900 meters. Weather in Crown Terrace can go from balmy to downright scary in a matter of minutes, so knowing how to read the signs is crucial.
5. Lima, Peru
The area in and around Lima remains one of the most versatile paragliding hotspots of South America. The crisp sands and azure waters of Costa Verde and Miraflores offer a good mix of urban and beach flying, while height-addicts can choose from any of the 37 peaks in Peru rated 6,000 meters or higher. For history buffs, there are also routes that soar over some of the oldest temples in the Western Hemisphere, including the 4,000-year-old Huaca El Paraiso just northwest of town.
6. Cape Town, South Africa
Wed be remiss to leave out one of South Africas best destinations for flying. Cape Town offers a little bit of everything, from mountain flying at Table Mountain National Park to the beautiful vineyards of the Constantia Valley. Launch sites from Lions Head and Signal Hill offer fliers stunning views of both city and coast all while gliding over the scenic waterfront of Camps Bay at the foot of the Twelve Apostles mountain range. If you go, be sure you drop in at Fly Cape Town Paragliding and say hello!