Andalusia. Flying at the coast. Sierra-Soaring. Hiking. Climbing. Kiting. A bit different christmas.

 

 
It’s just before Christmas. The temperature was far above > 0 °C and we had continuous rain. Fantastic prospects for a wet Christmas eve, but luckily, we have booked months ago and were traveling to Andalusia. So, on 22nd we stood at the Memmingen Airport and were looking forward to comfy 20 °C in Spain, where people laugh at you after being asked for veggie food.

After the first night spent in Malága we took our rental car and drove towards Almuñécar. Spending Christmas at the beach seemed like a pretty good idea. On the first day we were just arriving and organizing ourselves and exploring the surrounding area. On Christmas Eve itself the wind was supposed to pick up. So, we decided to not waste another day parawaiting for less wind and took off to the Parque natural del Cabo de Gata-Níjar and the wild wild west of the desert of Tabernas. The next day the weather window opened up to paragliding at the Cerro de Itrabo. We used that opportunity before stronger winds and rainy conditions stopped the show in the evening again.

While wind and rain spread over Andalusia we hit the road again and explored the caves of Nerja, searched for ibex in the Torcal de Antequera and decelerated in the Sierra de Huma with good food and wine. Unfortunately, the Caminito del Rey was rebuilt lately so that it is now feasible for young and old from 2 to 99 years and only 10 Euro per capita – and has thus lost all its charm. In the crisp wind, the ferrata was also closed.

After relaxing three days and wandering around El Chorro, we made our way to the Sierra de Grazalema to immediately get up in the air at the NW-Lijar. There, we made up for the relaxing days by hike and flying and detoured to El Bosque after again the wind took its toll on us. On New Year an east wind set in, so that Montellano was on the plan. The next day we had west again, so we tried our luck in Teba. However, the instability of the weather let us pack our bags and we wanted to spend our last days at the sea again. Guess what, Andalusia has much more to offer than paragliding in Algodonales.

In the southernmost tip of the Iberian Peninsula, we arrived in Tarifa, enjoyed the views to Marocco and were dragged along the Strait of Gibraltar in high waves during our kitesurfing course.

We certainly will escape the wet winters in southern Bavaria and visit Andalusia someday again. The country has much to offer and is almost forcing you to take along kitesurfing stuff, your paragliding backpack, the road bike and some climbing gear. Whose priority is paragliding should probably plan the trip for the beginning of December, because weather conditions turn instable around New Year.


Cerro de Itrabo.


As we were not sure about the aerial conditions on the first day of Christmas, we drove up to the semi-official parking lot by car. The roads are small and partly only graveled, so if you spare the rental car and / or do not drive a AWD, you have to master a 15 minutes walk to get to the launching spot. On the top of the hill, you will find two launching spots. One is free, the other requires a commercial Flypark card. The joke here is that the free one is bigger and well maintained by two German expats. The commercial one is compared to that just ok.

We bumped into several flight safaris and, as far as we could tell, no locals – almost all Germans. Even a few familiar faces from the Allgäu were there. The wind blew constantly with around 12 kph from southwest and should not increase within the next hours, at least that’s what the forecast said. The launch site is spacious, so that several gliders can get ready simultaneously.

As soon as you get in the air, watch out to make some height. The next decent landing site is approximately 3.5 km away. The landscape in between is hilly, full of houses, interspersed with power lines and is really not inviting for emergency landings. Above the launching site, it is possible to climb (in the end of December hardly, in spring much better), but as soon as you find yourself below the southeastern greenhouse it’s recommended to turn towards the beach. It was difficult, at least for us, to estimate the effect of the sea breeze and depending on the need for safety, we took off to the landing site.

During the winter months the beaches are empty and only a few people are around. At sea level there also was absolutely no wind therefore no soaring on the hotel promenade. After a short dip in the sea, we unloaded our backpacks at the apartment and had a relaxed mountain run in kind of scorching heat.

Basically, it’s possible to have some decents flights in Almuñècar. Nevertheless, the area has not cut me off my feet regarding paragliding. Next time and better weather we’ll go for interior flying sites like Otívar or Almería.


Informationen.


NameCerro de Itrabo
GroupSierra de Almijara
RegionCordillera Bética
WindS, SW, W
Valley locationAlmunecar
GPS (Launching)36.775885, -3.646272
GPS (Landing)36.742986, -3.663747
Height launching site [amsl]666
Elevation [m]666
AscentYou need to follow, starting from the beach, partially graveled roads for about 7 km.
Launching siteThere are two launching spots. One is for free, one is paid. Both are grassy.
Flying cuesWatch out for the military training area/helicopter school. To enter the area, contact GRANADA APP or GRANADA/Armilla TWR.
The official landing site is quite at distance. If you don’t find any thermals or soaring is not possible fly towards the beach. Safety landings are scarce.
Landing siteLong stony beach
Wind at landing siteSea breeze


Bildergalerie.



Kartenmaterial zum Nachhiken.


 

Loma del Gato.

 

 
On our arrival day we stopped at Loma del Gato in the afternoon and were welcomed by moderate 20 kph. As already mentioned, it is only around 400 mtrs above sea level which again is around 3.5 km far away. That didn’t make us feel comfortable for a first flight. Anyhow, two German pilots, who were pretty sure about their abilities, arrived and one of them even tried his luck. After he and his new C-glider was shoved back and forth, both gentlemen gave up and left the field.

This launching site is apparently video-monitored and charged. A flycard has to be paid somewhere in some hotel. We’d prefer to drive / hike the short way to Cerro de Itrabo…At the site you’ll find a mat, which however is poorly secured so it might get in your way while launching. There is enough space for around one and a half paraglider and you have to be careful at windy conditions. At the upper part of the launching spot some power lines are crossing above your head, which could potentially be dangerous.


Informationen.


NameLoma del Gato
GroupSierra de Almijara
RegionCordillera Bética
WindS, SO
Valley locationAlmunecar
GPS (Launching)36.765880, -3.658016
GPS (Landing)36.742986, -3.663747
Height launching site [amsl]431
Elevation [m]431
AscentSimilar to the Cerro de Itrabo
Launching sitePrivate charged launching site. There is a mat, which is not well attached to the ground. Watch out for power line above the launching pad.
Flying cuesWatch out for the military training area/helicopter school. To enter the area, contact GRANADA APP or GRANADA/Armilla TWR.
The official landing site is quite at distance. If you don’t find any thermals or soaring is not possible fly towards the beach. Safety landings are scarce.
Landing siteLong stony beach
Wind at landing siteSea breeze


Bildergalerie.


 

Loma del Pinos.

 

 
As the wind was too strong in the height, we wanted to take a look at an ominous DHV launching spot in the city itself. We found the place by following the coordinates, but without two present pilots the launching itself would have stayed a vague assumption. A local laid out his glider on the road, after which he descended the approx. 55 to 60 degrees steep slope. There he stood on a wooden plank with a size of 1 square meter. The wind was not stable and the man tried his luck. His glider, however, was unlucky and covered an adjacent tree.

The wind was coming from all directions and we rejected the possibility of a decent launching, since not only that a proper site was missing, but also the flora was barely allowing to jump straight forwards without dangling in a tree. Out of pity, we helped the guy to pull out his glider from the tree and he tried again. Vain. And again. Vain. Then we sneaked away from the scene. Before that another German pilot came along and commented “This is natural selection, because only good pilots will launch here.” and implied that he was one of the latter. This is Bill. Bill knows that this launching spot is shit and the business case of risk vs. a 100 meters slip is negative. But Bill is under pressure, because he finally came here only for one reason and has not yet been in the air today. Don’t be like Bill, get a bottle of vine and enjoy the sunset.


Informationen.


NameLoma los Pinos
GroupSierra de Almijara
RegionCordillera Bética
WindSO
Valley locationAlmunecar
GPS (Launching) 36.737650, -3.674474
GPS (Landing) 36.735417, -3.671427
Height launching site [amsl]111
Elevation [m]111
Ascent/.
Launching siteJust forget it.
Flying cues/.
Landing siteLong stony beach
Wind at landing siteSea breeze


Bildergalerie.


 

Carachuna.

 

 
Carachuna is located east of Almuñécar and is a typical soaring edge for east wind conditions. The accress is not quite easy, you have to follow a graveled road, which turns on the west side of the tunnel. Once you have found the direction and parked the car in front a barrier, you have to hike a couple of steps until a stunning view over sheer endless greenhouse rooftops opens up. That’s where our tomatoes come from in winter. The launching site itself is great, the edge not too long, but enough for a bit of fun. However, we were hit by > 40 kph wind, happy to be able to keep ourselves up on our feet. Again, you have to land on the beach and cross the main road during the flight, so better be cautious than forbearing. Keep off the cliff to the west.


Informationen.


NameCarachuna
GroupSierra de Almijara
RegionCordillera Bética
WindO, SO
Valley locationLa Chucha
GPS (Launching)36.699835, -3.464169
GPS (Landing)36.696524, -3.461184
Height launching site [amsl]180
Elevation [m]180
AscentThere is a limited possibility to find a trail, just watch out for a good road crossing.
Launching siteMeadow
Flying cuesWatch the main road
Landing siteLong stony beach
Wind at landing siteSea breeze


Bildergalerie.