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. The last tour in October will include beautiful Croatia. “Best day ever!” “Best flight ever!” “Awesome, awesome tour!” were some of the comments from pilots last year.

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 the Pension Gudrun in 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 10 days and 10 nights we will swing back through Zell am See. After our last day of flying, we will all drive to Salzburg. 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 are $2400 including double room, all guiding, coaching and transportation from Salzburg and a hearty breakfast each morning. Other meals and ski lift fees are extra. Single room $300 extra. Non-flyers are welcome too, and Nick will be available for tandem flights. 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 9 years.

Keith Johnston runs the Pension Gudrun in Zell am See and has lived in Austria for 20 plus years, skiing and flying the local mountains.
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