Mt Olympus, Greece
The idea of flying in Greece came to us, as after watching “Touch” by French paragliding expert Jean-Baptiste Camdelier. While we are nowhere near as professional as he is, seeing him soar over the Caldera in Santorini inspired us organise a paragliding trip to Greece.
We first contacted some European friends because Greece is not a destination that comes to mind when you think paragliding. It turns out that it is an undiscovered gem with experienced paragliders from all over Europe making an annual pilgrimage to Greece, to enjoy flying in warm weather with good thermalling and spectacular scenery.
Based on their recommendations, we contacted Stelios Makrovasilis of Olympic Wings. Stelios runs a very professional guiding business, which was established in 1995 and located at the foot of Mt Olympus.
Stelios is a fully qualified fully qualified FAI paragliding instructor, a certified APPI master instructor and member of it’s pedagogical committee. With his partner Claudia and daughter Katarina, Stelios organised the perfect tour for us. Claudia took care of our accommodation and she was very helpful with all the information prior to our arrival in Greece, for our eight-day tour.
The flying involved multiple sites for thermic and soaring and, depending on the daily conditions, there was potential for significant cross country flights. Most of the sites are located at the foot of the lower part of Mt Olympus, and Stelios’ local knowledge enabled us to fly every day. His daughter Katarina acted as our driver, which was very useful from the point of view of retrieves.
Our accommodation was at the Hotel Olympic, which was close to the beach and with its own pool, completing what was an exceptional package from Olympic Wings. The team would organise for us the best sites to fly every day, with Stelios providing the site briefing and Katarina the retrieval. In the evening, their local knowledge allowed them to select traditional dinners at various local tavernas restaurants for the whole group.
Press play to watch our Mt Olympus video, in Greece:
After our tour with Olympic Wings, we continued our trek through Greece with our next flight in Delphi. The local paragliding group in Delphi was very responsive to our requests, allowing us exceptional evening flights over the Greek ruins.
Lefkada in the South of Greece is another paragliding paradise that we still have yet to explore.
We continued our trip boarding the ferry to Santorini in the footpaths of Jean Baptiste Chandelier. Santorini’s Caldera provides exceptional flying opportunities in the right weather. There is no paragliding school on the island, however we were able to connect with three local pilots.
There are three main launch areas – two on the Caldera and one inland. While the inland site is suitable for all levels, the Caldera presents significant challenges and require the skills of an advanced pilot and local knowledge – landing areas are very limited, with only one beach providing safe landing. We cannot emphasise the importance of flying with a local pilot.
Press play to watch Calin’s video of Santorini, Greece: