Spring and late September and early October are both perfect times for a paragliding tour of the alps of Austria and nearby Slovenia, and the Dolomites of Italy. Spring conditions tend to be a bit stronger with the best XC potential. By September the crowds of summer have passed, but the thermals remain. The legendary thermals of the Dolomites become flyable for us mere mortals. While there are hundreds of paragliding sites within our circle we have chosen some of the best, most scenic and unique sites for our tour. This year we will add more time in France and Switzerland, as well as topping off the season with flying in Turkey. “Best day ever!” “Best flight ever!” “Awesome, awesome tour!” were some of the comments from pilots the last 3 years.

We will meet in Salzburg, Austria, the start of the X-Alps competition, home of Mozart and the setting for The Sound of Music. You can either fly to Salzburg or fly to Munich, Germany and take the 2 1/2 hour train to Salzburg. Options the first day include some sightseeing in the historic town and/or a glass off flight at the Geisberg, start of the X-Alps race. Then it’s an easy hour drive to Zell am See.

Zell am See will be our base for 3 nights, where we’ll stay at the base of the Schmittenhöhe, a classic ski mountain in the winter with access to great paragliding. A 62 passenger Porsche design cable car will zip us to launch, about 4000 feet above the valley, with the storybook town and lake below. The launch has access to both an east-west valley system and the north-south valley route. Heading west we follow the route where Chrigal Maurer had his longest flight of the last X-Alps competition. It is a simple XC route where even less experienced pilots can clock up spectacularly long flights. The thermals in September are not as radical as those in spring and early summer, so we will experience smoother flying conditions. There is an afternoon glass off site just west of the lake at Zell am See called Ginsberg, that provides beautiful views of the Pinzgau valley and into Bavaria. Within an hour of Zell am See is the wonderfully situated launch above Werfenweng, with a 3000 foot gain up the gondola and spectacular 360 degree views over the Dachstein range, reminiscent of the Dolomites. Kössen, an hour to the west has a gondola that takes us up about 4000 feet overlooking Bavaria and the Austrian Tirol. Other nearby options depending on weather and wind are the Zillertal, Kitzbühel and Dachstein areas, all an easy drive from our base.

Next we will swing southeast driving over the most magnificent mountain pass in the alps, the Gross Glocknerstrasse. It’s about a 3 hour trip into Slovenia, for several days in the spectacular beauty of the Julian Alps. Our tour continues to the Italian foothills where we will fly Meduno, a great spot with easy open top landing. Then via Venice where we'll soak in the atmosphere of this fascinating floating city before continuing on to the wonderful flying around Bassano del Grappa, Italy. From there it is a short drive to the heart of the Dolomites where we will be flying in the most picturesque and awe-inspiring mountains in the world! We plan to fly in the Sella group, and Sassolungo and around the queen of the Dolomites the magnificent Marmolada! Our exact itinerary is flexible to catch the best local flying conditions.

After our last day of flying, we will all drive to Salzburg or Geneva. If you are flying out of Munich we can take you to the train station, or we can help you book a hotel in Salzburg that evening if you chose to spend the evening in Salzburg. Fees include double room, all guiding, coaching and transportation from Salzburg or Geneva and a hearty breakfast each morning. Other meals and ski lift fees are extra. Single room $300 extra. Come join us for the paragliding trip of a lifetime!

Nick Crane is an advanced paragliding instructor and tandem instructor and has lead paragliding tours to 4 continents for the past 11 years.

Tour dates and Prices:

June 6-15 Austria, Slovenia, Italy 10 days 9 nights, emphasis on cross country flying $2400
We meet in Salzburg and will follow the best flying conditions.

Sept 6-17 Austria, Slovenia, Italy and Croatia! 12 days 11 nights $2600
We meet in Salzburg and will visit some of the most beautiful areas in western Europe. We will be flexible to allow for the best flying conditions, allowing time to visit some of the abundant cultural treasures along the way.

Sept 19-30 Switzerland, France and the Coupe Icare! 12 days, 11 nights $2600
We will meet in Geneva and fly in Switzerland and France, including 4 days at the Coupe Icare. We had some great flights last year near Interlaken in Grindelwald and Murren, as well as Annecy, Saint Hillare and Chamonix. At the Coupe Icare last year many pilots flew with the hot air balloons in the early morning! It's and amazing festival of free flight, part circus, part trade show, and totally entertaining! We also have the option of slipping down to the Italian side of the eastern Alps if the weather is better there.

October 5-14 Turkey, Pamulkkale, Oludeniz 10 days, 9 nights $2200
We will start and finish in Izmir, a beautiful town on the coast, and an easy flight from Istanbul. I strongly suggest spending a few days in Istanbul either on the way or after the tour. Pamulkkale is an amazing site, combining ancient Roman, Greek and Byzantine ruins with a magnificent ridge of Travertine terraces, white calcite rock formations that seem to flow down the mountain. We will stay at a spa close to the flying site. Next is Oludeniz and Babadag, one of the most famous paragliding sites in the world. We will stay near the beach and fly Babadag, 6500 feet (1980 meters) above the Mediterranean!

In all of our European tours we may miss flying one or two days a trip due to weather. And while our emphasis is paragliding, there is ample time to explore the cultural richness around every bend. We have been swimming in the Soça River in Slovenia and the beaches of Croatia, sampled Grappa in Italy, hiked around Dubrovnik where part of "Game of Thrones" is filmed. We have visited some of the gems of Europe, with time in Salzburg, Venice and Ljubljana. Small groups allow us more flexibility and mobility to follow the best weather conditions rather than standard tours with fixed locations. Come join us!

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