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paragliding & hang gliding

© Jennifer Stern© Jennifer SternWell, there are very few places that don't have sky, but southern Africa has lots of it - and very good quality it is, too. The awesome thermals that rise In the hot interior have contributed to many record-breaking distance flights, particularly in Namibia and South Africa’s Northern Cape. But, of course, this flat, hot area doesn't have much in the way of relief. Porterville, near Cape Town, has the advantage of a great cliff launch as well as excellent thermals – definitely the best of both worlds.

There's loads of excellent ridge soar and some fantastically scenic flying near the coast. In Cape Town, local pilots regularly launch off Lion's Head in the evening, literally flying into the sunset to land at one of the more popular beachfront pubs. Further up the coast, near the Garden Route town of Wilderness, convenient launch sites offer scenic flights over the sea, often seeing whales and dolphins. A 5km ridge soar from a 50m dune is quite common - no kidding. And, of course, the high-lying areas of the Western and Eastern Cape, the Drakensberg and Mpumalanga offer spectacular mountain scenery.

There is reasonable flying on the outskirts of Johannesburg near Hartbeespoort Dam, with a cable car to the launch site. But it’s not easy flying – sandwiched between the air space of a number of medium-sized airfields and Johannesburg International Airport.

The South African Hang and Paragliding Association (SAHPA) oversees all activities, and almost every launch site is controlled by an affiliated club.

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