There are two options for northern hemisphere paragliders at this time of year. Put on a pair of skis or head south. But with so many options, it’s hard to know where to choose. With the help of Cross Country magazine’s Ed Ewing, we select five of the bes
Where: Bright, Victoria, Australia
Why: Perfect whether you want to go cross country or just soar above the tree-clad valleys. And although we love hiking, the car accessible launch site of Mystic is great too. Add friendly locals, good wine; you get the idea.
When: October to April
Expert view: “It’s a good Red Bull X-Alps training ground when the northern hemisphere is frozen solid,” says Ewing. “As well as XC flying, the surrounding area has seen a recent surge in hike-and-fly interest. Many of the higher peaks stretch up above the treeline making landing and re-launch possible.
Where: Kerio Valley, Kenya
Why: Kenya’s Great Rift Valley is a well known wonder, attracting thousands of visitors every year. That escarpment also offers incredible flying possibilities for the adventurous, especially those seeking out and back long-distance flights.
When: December to February.
Expert view: “The Elgeyo Escarpment forms part of the western wall of Africa’s Great Rift Valley and overlooks the 80km-long Kerio Valley 1,000m below. It is a perfect flying ridge.”
Where: Wanaka, New Zealand
Why: It’s not just the flying that’s awesome in Wanaka, it’s a true adventure playground with fantastic climbing, mountain biking and kayaking on the doorstep. Treble Cone, Wanaka, on the South Island, is one of the best cross-country sites in the country, offering spectacular flights around the spectacular Mt Aspiring (3,033m).
When: January to March
Expert view: “New Zealand has fantastic flying sites and something to offer every pilot. It’s also classic Red Bull X-Alps training terrain.”
Where: Roldanillo, Colombia
Why: It’s home to fantastic flying in a great part of the world. Roldanillo is the best known site and has hosted the world championships. Typical flights see you fly along the hills, cross the valley, fly more hills, and then make your way home again.
When: December to February
Expert view: “The Cauca Valley runs from the city of Cali in the south, to Medellin 400km further north. In the lower half it is flat, cultivated, and dotted with towns and villages. The result is one of the best flying areas in South America.”
Where: Porterville, South Africa
Why: It’s perfectly positioned for big distance flights. The main launch at Dasklip Pass sets you up perfectly on a 100km west-facing escarpment from which great out-and-returns can be made with relative ease.
When: November to March.
Expert view: “This is one of the planet’s flatland nirvanas and arguably South Africa’s best known free-flying location.”
Find more ideas at Cross Country’s Travel Guide.
Photos © Kolesky / Nikon / Red Bull Content Pool, © Camilo Rozo / Red Bull Content Pool, © John Stapels / Red Bull Content Pool