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.
Levante in Algodonales.
One day before New Year’s Eve, we had a delicious breakfast in Algodonales and made our way to the Levante launching on foot. You have to follow a wide trail that leads up the hill with a relaxed slope. In the morning, we could still observe a single pilot in the eastern flanks of the Lijar, who was circling with a couple of vultures. After that the air got inspite of the cloudless sunshine suspiciously calm. The hiking trail is nice and the view down the valley amazing. After a short detour we arrived and the ridge, from where you have to follow the gravel road to reach Levante.
At the launching already a couple of flight safaris and a handful solopilots were parawaiting. Nobody was in the air. In the valley a thick inversion was visible and individual tests showed that thermalling was not a big option today. After a short break, we made our way between all the other pilots and launched from SE. Not much to get there being directly within the inversion, so we aimed to land somewhere close to Algodonales. The officiale landing site is a large brown field – surrounded by many other fallow fields.
From Levante it is possible to launch both to SE and S / SSW. Both sites are super easy, but after a few days of rain, they were very muddy. We did not visit Poniente, but there it should be possible to launch towards West. Algodonales is a charming little town, but it give a strange image with its winter decoration in bright tanktop-weather. Having a mountainbike around would make this region a dream.
|Group||Sierra de Lijar|
|Wind||O, SO + SW, W|
|GPS (Launching)||36.898523, -5.393455|
|GPS (Landing)||36.893345, -5.366982|
|Height launching site [amsl]||1030|
|Ascent||Start at the church in Algodonales. Head north and cross the city. At the end of the town you will find a nice trail which leads up to the graveled road on the ridge. Follow the road.|
|Launching site||Big launching sites with graveled underground. The SW / W launching site ends in a 2 m cliff and is slightly muddy after rainy days.|
|Landing site||Big brown lot and enough emergency landing sites.|
|Wind at landing site||In wintern no significant wind.|