This Island Paradise Is Perfect for Paragliding

Watch pilots soar above El Hierro in the Canary Islands, which boasts prime paragliding conditions.
By Alison Mann

There's nothing like kicking back on a beautiful island, but where do you go for vacation when you're a skilled paraglider? Pilot Veso Ovcharov may have found the answer. He explored the little-known island of El Hierro (in the Canary Islands) with fellow pilot Ondrej Prochazka and discovered that the island seemed to have been formed to produce premium paragliding. Watch the video above to see some of their adventure.

“The island is beautiful, and will give you a lot," says Ovcharov. "But you must respect it, it can take your life."

He and Prochazka had the flights of their lives and created so much hype about the perfect, near-undiscovered conditions that by the end of their trip there were 15 of the world’s top pilots trying the spot out as well.

Paragliding is best with friends
Paragliding is best with friends © Andrej Prochaska/David Gutierrez Gonzalez

The island has a unique weather system, creating a sea of clouds every day, and strong winds that allow pilots to spend an unusually long time above them, enjoying loads of acrobatic trickery while there.

“Sometimes when we are flying [elsewhere] we have a moment where we can pop up over the clouds but disappear again," Ovcharov says.

“Here we could have one hour doing acrobatics above the clouds, going up and down above the clouds. It was a really spectacular, emotional experience.”

Paragliding on El Hierro, Canary Islands
Paragliding on El Hierro © Andrej Prochaska/David Gutierrez Gonzalez

What is it about this island that makes it such a playground for paragliding? “The island is shaped like a horseshoe. From tip to tip it is [about 18.6 miles] and vertically 4,925 feet so it catches a lot of wind,” explains Ovcharov.

“The very top is like a pyramid so you can take off in any direction, even if the wind is wrong. It has a unique weather pattern. The rolling clouds make a magical effect,” he adds.

Two local pilots, Renán Andrés Morales and Joan Luis, inhabit the island Ovcharov is so passionate about. “The two local pilots say the island spoils you so much that when you leave it’s almost impossible to find better!" he says.

“It’s such a chilled out place, there are only around 8,000 inhabitants, the food is great — it’s like heaven for us.”

Cliff face El Herrio paragliding
Paragliding at El Hierro © Andrej Prochaska/David Gutierrez Gonzalez

A heaven it may be, but it is not the place to learn to fly or a stomping ground for the inexperienced. It takes an incredible amount of skill to navigate the strong winds on the island, with even the world’s best finding room to learn in the El Hierro skies.

“Two talented pilots left their wings on the cliff after a collision," Ovcharov says. "This type of thing can definitely happen.

"In another case, pilots caught the cloud and ended up being blown backwards in the rotor. Even the best pilots in the world learn something here.”

But for those with the talent and the passion for the island, we don’t think anything could stop them from going back!

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