A very common topic of discussion whenever a group of pilots gather together is
“What makes for a nice paragliding holiday”?
Some opinions we’ve gathered range from: consistent flying; nice scenery; varied and interesting flying sights; the opportunity to improve your flying skills; a knowledgeable guide that can maximise your flying time; not too expensive; and a good flying community.
We found all this and more, at a destination that is fairly unknown to Australian pilots – Tenerife, Canary Islands. While it is a very well-known spot for winter flying for European pilots, Tenerife is not that well known among the Australian flying community. One of the reasons might be that the best season is between October until March, which is also the best flying season in Australia.
We decided to go and explore it on our way back from our customary fly-and-ski trip to Canada in January. After 21 days of superb skiing and flying conditions in Panorama, we stopped for two weeks of flying in warmer conditions. And we were curious about Tenerife’s famous flights off El Teide volcano.
As we usually do when visiting a new destination, we booked a local company to provide accommodation and guiding, to maximise our time on the Island.
We expected mostly coastal soaring, somewhat similar to Bali. However, to our surprise, we found most of the flights were actually in thermic conditions and in the lee of the volcano. The El Teide volcano rises to over 3,700 metres in altitude, and creates a specific environment allowing for very consistent conditions and flying every day. Sure, we had a couple of sights where we went ridge soaring, but most of the flights were in excellent thermic conditions – virtually every flight was with a group of pilots and flying in between 30 minutes and 3 hours.
Our accommodation was booked in a small hotel in the central part of Adje. Each morning Henry Wilder, our guide, would pick us up from the hotel at 10.15. Breakfast was included with the accommodation and the hotel had an exceptional restaurant at very reasonable prices too. A typical dinner for two, with sangria included, averaged at around 30 Euros.
“Our local guru Henry has been running a paragliding business on the Island for the past nine years and, at the time of our arrival he had recorded 99 flying days out of 100 for the season. He maintained this record during our trip, with morning and afternoon flights every day during our two week stay.”
Now to the flying – all that we can say, is that the flying exceptional.
The two launches that we were regarding as ‘home’ sites were situated just above the small town of Adje within a 10 minutes drive – Los Pinos and Ifonche. The launch was an altitude of 700 to 900 metres with a comfortable 7km glide to the beach. The topography of the Volcano in Tenerife creates well defined ridges and spines that radiate from the volcano towards the coastline. Each one of these spines creates very consistent, smooth, large, and easy to find thermals, generating very easy conditions for cross-country flying and an exceptional opportunity for beginner pilots to practice their skills.
Landings are usually on the beach and 99% of the beaches that we landed on had food, drinks, and toilet facilities, within 50 metres of the landing area.
On several days, Henry found an opportunity to launch us off the volcano at over 2000 metres altitude, in perfectly smooth air. Once with a trade mark Tenerife flight launching above the clouds, with landing on the beach.
We have videos of most launches and landing on our YouTube channel. See further below…
- Destination: Tenerife/Canary Islands
- How to get there: Tenerife has two airports providing easy access with most flights connecting from Gatwick London or Madrid airports.
- Currency – Euros, with prices much cheaper than Spain, due to the subsidies provided by the Spanish Government.
- Accommodation – full range of accommodation, going from apartments for rent, to 2-5 Star hotels. Note: our accommodation provided by the tour organiser was adequate – but a warning, it can be noisy due to the hotel being mostly booked by paragliding groups.
- Guiding services – we recommend Henry Wilder and Simonetta Rizzardi from Para42 www.para42.com. You can book one day (or 100) with them.
- Season – The best time of the year to book, is anywhere between October and March. Best conditions are during December, January and February.
- A good source of information about launch sites in the Canary Islands is via Paragliding Earth: https://paraglidingearth.com/pgearth/index.php?region=807