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Hang Gliding and Paragliding in Lanzarote

Hang Gliding and Paragliding in Lanzarote

When Winter starts to take hold of the rest of Europe Lanzarote is the place to hang glide and paraglide. Lanzarote makes up one of the Canary Islands and is a far south as you can go and still be in Europe. In Winter the air mass in Lanzarote changes bringing clear air, light winds and good thermic conditions. Although Lanzarote is a small island and therfore the flying sites are close to the sea this does not have a detrimental effect on the formation of thermals.

Winter time flying in almost any other European country means getting seriously cold. On average the air temperature lowers one degree centigrade per one hundred metres you go up. Taking off in seven degree weather then going up eight hundred metres means the air temperature will be zero, this is without taking into account wind chill. These sort of conditions mean that most pilots have to store away their hang gliders and wait for warmer weather. That is unless you get yourself over to Lanzarote.

Lanzarote hang gliding and paragliding season

Summer in Lanzarote brings trade winds and hazy weather, not good for flying. Autumn in Lanzarote starts in September when there is a notable change in the weather. The air clears and the Winter winds die away. It gets cooler at night and thermals start to form in the day. The flying season has begun. Reliable flying conditions start around October when the air is getting much colder at night and the temperature gradient is much larger. Thermals are now steady with larger cores.

Hang gliding sites in Lanzarote

The wind direction and strength dictates where the best flying can be found on any given day. The best known site is the Famara ridge run, after that Mala, El Cuchillo, La Asomada, Orzola area, Playa Quemada (paragliding only), Femes (paragliders only), plus some other little flown areas.

Famara ridge run

Wind coming from the North to North North West means Lanzarote´s most famous flight of the ridge run is on. Local pilots will take off in winds up to forty kilometres per hour from the lower Teguise take off. This hill is very rounded so there is little turbulence. You can set up next to where you park you car and take off is thirty metres away. You can also top land on this hill with a large bomb out area right in front. Walk up takes fifteen minutes.

The higher ridge run take off is locally known as ´Chimidas´. Normally this is a guaranteed go up take off spot. Top landing near this take off is very dangerous as there are severe rotors. Landings from the high Teguise take off can be made about 300 metres in front just on the other side of the road, at the lower take off or in the lower take off bomb out field. All of these landing areas are pretty easy with wind socks marking the wind direction.

Flying the ridge run from both Teguise take offs.

If you fly from the lower Teguise off you have about a kilometer to fly until you go past the higher take off. Going up from here is not as sure a thing as the higher take off but there is an added bonus of being able to land back by your car plus the extra challenge. Thermals cycle through here so timing can be the order of the day. On other days with a good North West wind hitting the ridge directly going up only means flying in a straight line. Normally you will gain height in the next couple of turns in the ridge then fly over the electric pylon, across a flatter ridge, across a gap then onto the same part of the ridge as the higher take off. Once here the flying gets much easier. Just be careful when crossing the ridge back that takes you on to the main cliffs behind Famara beach. If the wind is in the North there can be some rotor on this so do not go to far into the valley, get as much height as you can then fly out and onto the main cliffs. The Las Nieves church is about the limit of how far up the valley you should, then turn back and keep gaining height. Once you max out your height fly out, around and on to the main cliffs.

When you get on the main cliffs the air becomes super smooth and your vario will just keep smoothly beeping as the up drafts take you to cloud base. Now its just smooth gliding all the way to Orzola at the Northern tip of Lanzarote. Stand by for amazing views and truly stunning scenery. You will be able to see the sea on both sides of the island. As you approach Orzola you will see the island of La Graciosa. On good days you can glide over to the island right across the sea and back to regain height. The only thing to be careful of is the wind shifting to the east. If this happens you will lose all lift and be forced to make a bottom landing. Certain sections of the ridge run have limited landing options and a very tough carry out.

On the right day the Lanzarote or Famara ridge run is an easy and amazing flight, ne of the most scenic in Europe.

With the wind in the right direction and flying with a guide to show you the way this is an easy and very rewarding flying route that could be carried out even by relatively inexperienced pilots.

Hang gliding in Mala

Getting there-

Mala is on the Eastern coast of Lanzarote just before Arrieta. This site favours a North Easterly wind. To find the Mala take off takes a little bit of doing and some off road driving. You do not need a four wheel drive car but the road is a little bumpy so just take it slow and easy.

To get to the take off you will need to take a right slip road the main raod heading towards Arrieta. The slip road is a good 4 km before the Arrieta. You will know it becuase at the bottom is a small roundabout with a left turn that goes under the road. Take this left and you will come to another small roundabout, go straight on here and up onto a dirt track. At top turn left, this will bring you back along side the main road until you approach a bridge going over the road. Turn right at the bridge and head up the side of the valley. Follow this way all the way to the top as it follows the side of the valley. At the top you will see an abandoned house with a parking area. Park in the parking area. The hang glider and paraglider take off area is across the damn.

Flying Mala

Once you have carried you kit across and damn and set up the take off is just in front. It is a little shallow so in light winds hang gliders will need a strong run. The local wind direction will dictate your tactics of how best to gain height. Normally the best left is found on the higher ridge to the left. Gain some height on the take off ridge then work you way over to the main ridge. In the corner between the take off ridge and main ridge there is a little gully which seems to throw off small and powerful thermals regularly. This site can be really nice and thermic but the first 100 metres of height gain can be crucial. Once above the top of the main ridge you just need to hunt out a good thermal and take it back into the valley behind. On a good day this valley has all the best thermals. Some great flights can be had both by going over the back cross country or by pushing out in front and jumping from cloud to cloud. A world famous pilot made it all the way to the huge volcano about 8 km in front and back.

Landing in Mala

Top landing in Mala can be a bit tricky as the air flow is not very laminar. On your landing approach the wind speed can drop when you get below about 5 metres from landing. Some pilots make the big mistake of pushing out when the air speed drop and they all of a sudden seem to speed up. This is a big mistake as you will stall. The best technique is to come in with a little extra speed so that when you hit the wind sheer you still have enough speed to keep flying. If you decide to top land you will still have to carry all of you kit back across the damn. The other option is the bottom landing area. This is a much easier landing option. The field is very big and there is a wind sock. The area has easy car access.

Paragliders in Mala have no real problems top landing as the glider stays in the faster cleaner air all the way to the pilot being on the ground. Just watch out for the wind speeding up.

After the ridge run site Mala is easily the next most popular flying site in Lanzarote. The thermals can be really nice with plenty of cross country options.

Hang gliding and paragliding in El Cuchillo

El Cuchillo works with a NNE wind to NE wind. It is a small ridge located on the west coast near Tinajo. To find this site you will need to get to the town of El Cuchillo then do a little off road driving. There are two set up areas. This site can be very thermic and bumpy. The site has some great cross country options. One pilot took off from here and landed in Fuerteventura.

You take off here and fly across the ridge in ridge left until you find a nice thermal. Your thermalling skills will come in very handy here. One thermal can easily take you to cloudbase and off and a long and exciting cross country flight.

Landing in El Cuchillo

The El Cuchillo ridge produces a strong rotor. If you decide to land behind the ridge make sure you go well back. Most pilots thinking about landing behind the ridge make sure they have at least 100 metres of height over take off before gliding back to the landing area. This is usually market by a small tassel and is about one kilometer behind take off. Bottom landing at El Cuchillo is not a problem and there is plenty of room just dont go too far out in front as the farmers fields soon begin.

Flying La Asomada

This site is used when the winds turn East to South East. It is a small ridge about 5km inland from Puerto Calero. If anyone is flying you will see them from a distance. You can top land this site without too much of a problem, just dont go too far back as you will land in the area where grapes are grown. The grapes are not a problem but the small semicircular wall around them are. On a good day you can gain height on the main ridge then hop back to the much higher mountain behind. From this mountain you can hop from mountain to mountain North all the way to Tias. If the flying conditions are not very good there is plenty of room to bottom land at La Asomada just make sure you do not leave the hill too low as there are electric cables to get over.

Paragliding in Lanzarote

There are a lot more sites on Lanzarote for Paraglider pilots as they can be more flexible with take off and landing areas.

Rental accommodation in Lanzarote

Visiting hang glider and paraglider pilots need somewhere to stay. The best place to stay is in Famara, this is where the best flying sites are. You will be able to see pilots flying the ridge run and El Cuchillo if you rent a bungalow in Famara. Famara also has the added bonus of a fantastic sandy beach. One scenario for a perfect flying day if you come with your family could be the following: You take your family to the beach and spend the morning with them. In the afternoon you leave them having fun on the beach and head off to the Famara ridge run take off area. You spend a few great hours flying the ridge run then as the day ends you swop down over the beach and make a perfect landing on the beach to the applause of your family. Then its sunset drinks on the terrace of you Famara bungalow overlooking the beach. The end to a perfect day.

Lanzarote is a great flying destination to suit all levels of pilot. There is still plenty to do if flying conditions are not available plus you can bring the family and give them a great winter break.