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 books 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 take 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 only10 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 and 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.
El Bosque nearby Algodonales.
On the one hand, after two days in Algodonales everything has already been seen and of course we wanted to check out other flying areas in the region. On the other hand, the west wind was picking up too strong to fly Poniente. Thus we made our way to El Bosque, where it is due to topographic circumstances still possible to fly whereas elsewhere stronger winds are observed.
From the foot of the hill, El Bosque does not look like the thing of the year, but we still wanted to give it a try and headed for the launching spot by car. There is a lower launching site, which should be used with sufficient thermals as it could be difficult to reach the official landing site. To get to the upper lauching spot you need to leave the car on the road and hike 250 meters through the forest. At the top, condensation clouds formed next to us and above our heads a closed cloud cover rushed along. At the site itself, there was almost no wind at all. So we waited until it picked up. In the meantime we got overrun by a horde of safari pilots, who began to practice their launches.
After 2 pm the wind finally increased so we hit the air. After some time we were surrounded by dozens of wings and startet the flee upwards. In between, you could circle with vultures en masse and soar calmly back and forth the ridge. Two hours later we got cold and headed for landing. There again Pépé waited with landing beers and we started to hike back to the car.
It itched behind my ears to make it for another flight, so Alex to the car while I launched again. The flight instructor, who was still packing up, expected it to get dark not earlier than in around 45 minutes, so no worries. The wind was still great for soaring and along with another pilot I enjoyed the empty airspace. Then suddenly I got hit by a drop of water. The next second, I saw towards southwest and noticed a wall of rain, which pulled in our direction. The other pilot did not seem to notice, so after warning him, we rushed towards the landing site.
The end of story was that within 5 minutes the rain had increased pretty much and I got pretty wet still being in the air and pretty soaked while packing my gear. Presumably I have been surprised by special weather conditions, where during the day the air temperature was close to but above the dew point and after the sun set, dropped below – the result came down from the sky in buckets.
|Group||Sierra de Grazalema|
|Valley location||El Bosque|
|GPS (Launching)||36.753872, -5.489534|
|GPS (Landing)||36.741306, -5.513573|
|Height launching site [amsl]||720|
|Ascent||Firstly, starting from the landing site you need to head towards El Bosque. From there follow the road towards Grazalema. In the first left curve you need to turn in to the woods and follow a trail. After 30 minutes you reach the graveled road, which will lead to the launching sites.|
|Launching site||Natural lauching site with grass and stones in between. Beginner-friendly.|
|Landing site||Huge landing site, which is at a significant distance from the launching spot.|
|Wind at landing site||In winter no significant wind.|