The laws of physics and the fascination remain unchanged. However, in Costa Rica we may paraglide differently to what you are used to at home. Paragliding, despite its recently booming popularity, still ranks as a novelty sport in Costa Rica, vibrant with a pioneering spirit.
So what does this mean for us? I consider it a great advantage! Fortunately, there are still very few rules and regulations. We just take off and fly! But then, of course, safety is the first thing: Every pilot takes meticulous care of his or her glider and there is a lot of solidarity: The old hands that have hung in skies longer than the sun are always at hand to provide advice and assistance to the fledglings.
There are two established paragliding sites with easy road access, a well maintained and spacious take-off and alternative landing sites. Both sites allow for a top landing. All of the other locations we fly at are fairly recent discoveries that allow for spectacular flights but are in some cases more demanding on the pilot’s skills. Some take-off sites are accessible with a 4×4 only. And here and there you need to walk a little distance… possibly with a horse hauling up the equipment. There are no cable cars in Costa Rica. However, we have a 4×4 at our disposal for the rugged take-off and landing sites.
On one day we may be flying up in the mountains, on a different day out over the Pacific Ocean. Sometimes we soar in a ridge lift, sometime we ride the thermals. Quite possibly, both techniques come in handy throughout the course of a single flight. The thermals can be small and hard to ride, the upside being that they are quite reliable in some places. Costa Rica is renowned for its diversity… and this certainly also holds true for its paragliding. The weather is always factor, year round: The guiding principle is that safety comes first and therefore there is also a possibility that a day may not be suitable for flying. The itinerary has been designed to take this into account and most flight sites may be revisited on a different day. We are here to fly! But let it be mentioned that we will travel to fascinating destinations that also have a lot to offer on the ground.
Every pilot flies at his or her own risk and pleasure and with his or her private equipment. Prior to taking off we will do a short briefing on the location. In Turrialba and Caldera, experienced pilots (and good friends) offer tandem flights. We use a frequency on the 2-metre radio band for the communication between pilots. Most of the radios can also handle the 70-cm frequencies. If you have a radio, please bring it along! In addition to this, I always have a few spare radios and cell phones at hand. We will always be in touch. And should the flight end at the landing site faster than anticipated: no problem! The 4×4 can pick you up for a return ride to the take-off.
In summary, big smiles, good weather and great company are all the ingredients we need for sensational flights in a tropical setting!
Click on the videos below for a first glimpse of Costa Rican skies: (links to external content on Youtube)
- Costa Rica from Above