Tuesday, 1 March 2016

Costa Rica Paragliding 1

After one night in San Jose, we were picked up by our guide, Nick Crane. It's been awesome to have all the logistics of getting to launch and getting picked up at landing figured out for us. Not to mention having someone experienced and knowledgable to give us site briefings and give us a bit of instruction and paragliding tips. 

For the first couple nights we stayed near Caldera at a place that is away from the main town and located in a beautiful quiet area. It was built as a B&B for paragliding pilots but, unfortunately, the owner (Grampa Ninja) passed away recently and the home and property is in a state of flux and will likely be sold in the near future. 
View from the upper balcony.
Morning tea and relaxing with a book.
Main floor pool. Saw toads and iguanas in the area.
In another "it's a small world" example, we arrived at the launch site in Jaco on the first day and heard someone say, "Shelley & Andrew?" It was Jeff Alzner and his girlfriend, Alison. Jeff is a climbing friend who was with us on several of our Himalayan climbing expeditions. Alison is also a paragliding pilot. 
Alison, me, Jeff, Andrew
Our first two flying days were at Jaco. I found it a bit challenging in that it was a ridge soaring site but also provided some thermals. The wind conditions weren't really strong and it was difficult to stay up. Everyone was really "scratching" along the ridge. I like to stay a bit further away from terrain but did manage to get some good lift on one of my flights (at one point was up higher than anyone else) and stayed up for 20 minutes. Andrew was better, and probably more daring and confident, and he managed a couple 40 minute flights. The rest were 5-15 minute flights.

Having said all that, we certainly couldn't complain about the views!
Looking out toward the ocean and the town of Jaco.

The road up to launch.
The launch is the grey gravelled area just below the vehicles.
View of the lovely big landing zone.
Andrew in the air. 
Andrew lining up his approach for landing 
Yesterday was forecasted to be a good flying day at Caldera, known for its great ridge soaring. We waited several hours but things never really came around and eventually we all just launched, got in a couple turns and landed on the beach for a 2-5 minute ride. Again, the view was great and thankfully there was shade and a nice restaurant at the launch site!

The Caldera launch site.
And in a non-paragliding activity, we stopped at the "Crocodile Bridge" where there are always lots of crocs lazing on the bank and in the river. We counted seven on land and at least 11 that we could see in the water. 

We've now moved a couple hours further south to Dominical and hoping to get some good flights in here over the next few days. 

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