PURA VIDA – paragliding guide to Costa Rica

It is January 22th, and I’m standing in Marisqueria in Puerto Viejo in the southeast corner of Costa Rica. Standing in line for payment and thoughts pass through my head in the rhythm of coral fishes. I do not speculate about anything, just let them pass and get lost in dark blue. This is why people go to Costa Rica – relax, calm down, allowed to spread into space. Because The Caribbean it is magical.

Right now the sun sets into the Pacific Ocean on the west side of Costa Rica and that’s on the eastern side of the Caribbean night sky doesn‘t get red no way detracts from the beauty of the gray-blue of the evening with palm trees tipped over salt levels in which the fan reflects their branches. The same water all day, we swim, splash out around and do snorkelling close between the corals, wallow around on endless sandy beaches and make a crap. I had no idea that I can do this simply things for so long time.

But now it’s dark and the lights in the restaurant illuminate plastic tables as they are filled and how they expect other people. Yeah, they cook well here, I thought.  And I hear Krzyszek is calling me. Whether they overtake and go straight to the checkout to pay. We have it all in a joint account. I apologized to the people in front of him and went after him. There were also two burly guys and it seemed to me silly to them don’t explain it. They said it is okay, then it was a moment of silence before they asked:

– Where are you from guys?

– From the Czech Republic, I replied.

-I’m from Poland, Krzyszek said

Then was a pause, and so I asked:

– And you’re from where?

– Of American States. From Minnesota, they delivered right to it.

– What are you doing here? They continued on to me.

– We are paragliders and fly in different locations in Costa Rica, I explained.

– Wow, paragliding, it’s great, it’s really great. Bomb. And do you here too you fly? In the Caribbean? Excited with Yank.

– No, no, here we have two days to let some rest from flying.

“Did you hear that?”  He turned to a friend. “Do you understand?“ Yank looked really astonished. He lined his thoughts and he continued: “So as they fly over Costa Rica on paragliders and then, when they’re tired of it, so they go relax to the Caribbean. Do you understand?” Laugh at the full round colleague: “Do you understand? Czech Republic….. Oh, My God,  where is it? That’s the American dream, right?”


Well -there is something to be true on it …


We experienced an incredible three weeks.  It does not make sense to describe all the stories off the wall and piles of fun just, because you are experiencing it yourselves on your own. I prefer to focus on the information that makes your travel and flying easier. Costa Rica is while more expensive place, but we bought a ticket for 650 USD at Air Canada, the rental car were like in Europe, Costa Rica without them I did not deal with a paraglide, diesel and rest for twenty? It depends how much you like it and how well you prefer accommodation. In stores, the majority of the food a little more expensive than at home, in restaurants pay for food 6-15 USD, which is in the normal price for accommodation we were looking more forward over the Internet because of the nice places usually quite crowded and mostly we pay around 25 USD per night with breakfast.

But the fact that nifty seafood, cold beer and quality Rum with friends who traveled with us, was hard to resist. So the budget for such an action may even wilder, but it’s worth it. In time, it is good to hit somewhere between January and March, it should be in Costa Rica nice summer.

That’s the most practical traveler issues and now I would like to describe the possibilities of paragliding. Paragliding in Costa Rica has its place, tandems are part of the tourist offer and sometimes on hills meet other local pilots. Throughout the country there are about 60 pilots, compared and European countries is not much, but the more they are somehow fine. It is said that people of Costa Rica are one of the happiest people on the planet. And among the local pilots feel it is fairly. Just Pura vida. And where have you can fly in Costa Rica?


Jaco is a tourist town with a huge bay and a long, beautiful beaches. To look into the Pacific quickly get used to, and you’ll love it, if only because of every moment beautifully plopping sun. Alternate days and it almost seems that in addition to rolling around on the beach and the seafood tasted nothing to do here. But that it is necessary to travel with a paraglide, to be more in motion.

Practically right on the Boulevard in the northern part of town after crossing route number 34 follows a dirt road leading along the ridge rising straight up on the runway at an altitude of 220 meters. Arrive there really is simple. Take-off is lava, gradually sloping, a day ahead of local pilots left her covered with gravel, so local conditions brand ideal for novice pilots. Landing strip is a huge green space directly below the start, so also quite easy. Breezes from the Pacific operates regularly and is on soaring a relatively small space, or 100 meters before the start of the regular ripping thermals, it’s easy to jump in and look around. Range to the beach is possible, but it will not be easy, it’s a plane flying into the wind. On the contrary gain height and jump over a small valley to the southeast is another option to look after the local hills.


Around and around – flying over Jako is simple, pleasant, but a local affair. If local will take care of the runway, probably will soon be charged.

Contact your local school: Xavi Escalera, +506 8345 5703, flybextandem@gmail.com


When the bad weather in Costa Rica, and also it is necessary to become the beginning of January, so pilots will be sent to one place – at Dominical. It’s a flight terrain in the southeast of the country, well-shielded high ridge Mountains National Park Chirripó. This gives Dominical truly unique microclimate and flies here though on the east or north side of Costa Rica Duje and rain. As an airfield serving Long Beach Dominical or small football field just ahead. It depends if you want a beer after landing in local pubs even before you bring the famous soup “sopa de mariscos”, or shrimp in butter and garlic, or if you want to stress landing on a small, tree-lined grassy field. But when you will be around until you are 100 meters below and you’ll be happy even in this small field, because the beaches nedoletíte and hang into the jungle among monkeys and snakes you want to be.

The range on the runway but even more cowgirl. That’s if you really reading this description and you rely on the routes from Google Maps. I do not know where comrades made a mistake, but these maps provide truly beautiful and dramatic experiences, but without achieving the planned goals. On the runway do you get two possible ways.

The first route is very long and technically demanding. Of the number 243 road leading from San Isidro to Dominical turn to gravel in the middle of the map and start to drive. Therefore, only the hardcore people with higher car drivers 4 x 4 can rich it. With a normal car to drop it, get you into a trap from which you cannot get out on your own. Want to lend a rope from local residents, is the earliest ever find someone and then release the same energy, ingenuity and patience as you would like them to make broth from a single when you have in your backyard. The second route is shorter and we can say that the only proper. If you know when and where to turn. In principle, it comes on top arcade don’t go on smaller ways, even though it looks on the map and take the sharp concrete way to the top of the ridge. Looking back on the left you will see far sharper path leading somewhere up in the jungle, and after that you definitely want to go even with four-wheel drive. And this is the one for which you have to ride, leads one to the transmitter and around him on the runway. When you move it, you realize that it is not so terrible, and it was probably some kind of optical illusion or unnecessary stress passengers. Runway is hidden behind two huge concrete fountains where there is no water and locked by a high fence. Key from the fence has Roger – A local administrator of this area. Stretch the crack between the iron and the concrete goes only to those who doesn’t like a good food and drink. The parachute is there but it does not fit, so in the context of social conventions call Roger and he would arrange it. Of course, each service has its price, the runway is paid, 4,000 or 30,000 Colon Colon for a group of eight or more people. The whole fun is to prepare for the construction of a hotel and restaurant, it is likely that over time this description becomes irrelevant, because up to lead a well-marked and rutted path.

Precisely because it is a building plot is grassy runway, ideally straight without any inclination and it’s always complications. If you do not paraglide completely under control, lax rushes and hop on the edges down, there’s a fair chance that you will appreciate the help athletes with a machete, which help you for a small bribe chisel out of the jungle back to our world. The inclination is large, dense vegetation, so that the soft, the chance of serious injury, thus relatively low.

Flying is easy to Dominical, a combination of sloping and thermal flying everywhere you look, the option is here somewhere fly away, but everything is limited by landing in the jungle. And so it comes to flying on a beautiful large, but the sides rather limited space. When you add to that but the Pacific with sunset, so you absorb Dominical and forgive him, even the jungle. An interesting option is to fly over the beach to Dominical and soaring still a long mountainous edge separating the two beaches. By the way, this place is also a lot, which can land and from which they can launch. From the height goes well seen. To what extent is this place piles used and who is the owner – hard to say. Car is available, but rather unkempt. And Roger would prefer to have asked, even though it is a nice guy, it’s not what they wanted to present.

Roger Phone: +506 8533 4849


A simple start, although only 100 meters high but it 2.3 kilometers long edge clear, steady wind ideal for the beginner years, commercial tandem flights and endless embankment – this is the starting point of the Caldera. Access to the starting point is quite simple, since local tandem pilot and really likable guy Jean Cloode make  this place really nice. Nemaclys – that’s the name of this area with a view, restaurants, parking and a grassy slope to the simplest takeoff and landing top too. A bit special is its lower part, which is to end little changed in the short straights, but it certainly gives a chance to those who would start wrong and needed to be something to stop it. Also, it is definitely stable place for top landing, that he INTERCEPT behind the right side of the runway, over which the vertical wind component does not show much. Attention is needed to pay for the canopy overshoot, which tries to adjust the airflow from beneath the edges Cliff. When the canopy to brake too early, of course, falls without a lift back to earth. Strong flow is on the edge of the cliff and rehearse the routine starts to cross here is risky for local pilots and a little incomprehensible. It can be morning train to Long Beach under Caldera, which is also safe and easy to be useful with the landing surface.

Starting area is subject to fees, you pay somewhere around 3,000 Colony, it seems that too by the way the owners fall in love with this area. And what concerns the possibility of cross-country, so that after viewing the surrounding countryside about simply letting someone else. Because somehow not on what and where it is not. Grading to get to 300 meters above the edge and it will have to suffice. But it does not change the fact that for a long Cliff  can pretty flown and at least a little in the air to ventilate. Hot on the black beach in the afternoon after the landing time will surely force the lock picks to quickly pack up and get out to some of the restaurants nearby El Roble. Cold beer and light seafood come in handy.

Maybe, if you think about it now, and know that Costa Rica is the driver allowed 0.5 per mille of alcohol. So two ounces are still at a standstill. That is if your body normally breaks down alcohol.

Suitable conditions for Jean Clooda call tel: +506 8819 3211, as per weather not only that Caldera will go too, but did not reach the runway, it will simply locked gate.

San Miguel

At first glance inconspicuous strange place, not particularly unkempt, but when it starts in the morning, giving experienced pilots a chance to look at one flight day just above several national parks, including the iconic Arenal volcano and lake of the same name. It flies in the east flowing mountain rib pulled into the landscape in front of the hill. Pick thermals and send it to the mountains of the National Park Juan Castro Blanco is the first challenge. And then it will be up to you.

Transmitter above the town of San Miguel is a fundamental point of reference when you want to find to start the commons. Costa Rican classics – straight face as if ready for a building and move straight to the slope. The front would start here too hurry. And then it’s about grading and waiting for the right thermal. But what is a gimmick, it’s landing on the football field just below the hill and hotel accommodation in Los Galitos, tel. +506 2476 0405, which is right next to the playground. He did not so much a hotel, but rather a beautiful garden with small houses for visitors, a swimming pool and a beautiful wooden hall with a fireplace, terrace and kitchen. Ideal for an evening party. Popular prices, friendly atmosphere, huge possibilities. Local would love to tap football, assist fire and tell you where to buy meat and vegetables. Just sign ideal. So maybe you might not like when you dance at the box battery and thus after the late-night off the fuse. But in the morning in their pub again with Costa Rican peace and friendliness prepares breakfast with a smile and waving for the road.

In San Miguel Unfortunately, I got up after my car was stolen some chachar parachute. New Ozzi 2 new Chogori Ultrino, RS Ultrino new tab. The elder Dudka and seat XAlps i Vítek came from Poland. Pity, but the mood in the team is still excellent, so it’s better to pass it. With the equipment I might better motivate some of the pilots on the flight to Arenal. The potential we had. Circumstances did not permit us but also to wait for optimum wind and so we just went on. But if you’re used to fly XC trails and at this time do it. It’s definitely not for everyone and certainly it will be interesting.


So if you emit from San Jose to the Caribbean, give yourself at least an hour forum, because the traffic in San Jose is rough, slow, plodding. It then fits somewhere on the way to stop and stretch elytra. The opportunity for flying, in an easterly direction from San Jose but unfortunately not much. But when you go from Cartago on the road number 230 and right at the foot 3 000 m volcano Turrialba, 12 kilometers before eponymous town, you will be on your left pass a restaurant with a tap on La Pastora, which incidentally leads to the summit of this volcano, 100 meters behind her, then the left-hand stop at a small buffet and you’re facing him with grass take-off sleeves. It is easy to find.

Traffic on this flight terrain provides local tandem pilot Julio tel. +506 6034 9433 and very happy and truly professional you through the local conditions and possibilities. It is also about the fact that nobody needs and problems if it landed anywhere you thought would trouble sooner or later probably were. Of Costa relationship to take private property so to speak more seriously than we’re used to from our country. Just follow the boundaries of land or pre-arranged space for takeoff and landing – it is the foundation of long-term sustainability of such sports among which include paragliding. That’s not only in Costa Rica and they have.

The starting is great, grassy, ​​super in all directions. Thus, besides towards the root wastewater treatment h. Such bit smelly five meter pool at the bottom side of the runway. So there is not to be wind or bow out there to land on landing at the start. That would be a bit uncomfortable. Landing on top but otherwise is quite simple, we can say that the ideal for his training. Well, it’s also far more practical than the land down under at the start of the last visible field house.

There are barbed wires between the box and then it takes a bit before someone comes to you. The quad. There goes after private tractors rutted road in the fields of local farmers. From the start, turn right and after 300 meters again right to the gates of the entire agricultural land. Pass the round building that looks like a horse training. There are cows. Flying under Turrialba is a nice slope on a large extended rib, before it can fly for regular thermals, flocks of birds of prey circling her like his show. Local conditions so they want that flight is almost always only cloud base during the day instead of the pitch, rather declining. And so low that it covers the entire runway and goes away.

Rivas – Alex’s start

This start we had at the very end of the event because apparently it’s the best, most mountainous and aesthetically interesting, what Costa Rica offers pilots. Too bad I still have not found the guy who had a few days in my garage looking for a backpack with a large sign El Speedo and wondering who would it could shoot him and if he considers that someone had at least 200 Dolce. My parachute therefore still not found, so just imagine where you would be here everywhere could fly. And says Alex – it’s easy to Panama. If you go to there? So if you wanted a bit more respectable XC flying, so here it looks very promising. Rivas is a village near the town of San Isidro de El General. Either you go down the road of Dominical number 243, or you can go from San Jose on the road number 2, Costa Rican part of the legendary Panamericana. And when you get off the mountain passages back down into the valley, you are in San Isidro. Even from a distance in front of him, before Rivas village, you can see the slopes from which it could be done. Best you do when you call directly Alex tel .: +506 8345 5135, lives below the take-off, if you will have free time, I like you in the cabins at your house – it’s really a magical place that I would hostel or hotel down in San Isidro certainly not change. And when it comes, you morning seamlessly exported to start showing you what to do and enthusiastically with you fly. It’s a nice guy, I am afraid only of its beautiful garden because of its relaxed attitude and disposition of land will soon have several cabins to build more.

On Alex’s runway leads the way for ATV – Calle Tirra. Incidentally, this is the same path that takes you from the starting point of two kilometers of gravel in turn leads to the Panamerican. The first runway is natural mountain zebra, grass and applicable to the southwest wind. Above it is a special built a watchtower rather prospect, round glass, comfortable seating inside – incredible views. Alex happy. Joy but also makes other pilots, while on the second start made by an excavator in a lava slope painstakingly weigh belts grassy carpets. This is directly to the south flow. Cumulus jumping regularly before noon, there is no reason not to jump to that already a little earlier than we’re used to with us.

But what is a bit more challenging it is to hit the landing, so if you decide to hang out around the chimney. One little difficult landing strip is relatively rugged terrain just above small football pitch and the second – more confident, more is on the soccer field at the bottom of Rivas. I do not know why, but the football fields in the vicinity of Rivas suspicious lot. Maybe it will be also the fact that in this village a cosmic rich people are buying up huge land and build there his hacienda. Well, those are small private airport, whether they have to get. That is logical, right? I’m writing this because even on these surfaces can land safely. According to Alex after nobody will shoot anybody. So he wanted to try, right?

Dominical is to fly over from Alex’s launch apparently real, it needs a high base and regularly tease. Well, like everywhere else you want from the mountains grovel through a long valley to the other hills on the other side.

Well, that’s sort of everything, anything else we have less than three weeks be passing missed, perhaps because we have tested the far more than we originally expected, perhaps because the other two remaining launches are just a short drive from San Jose and there I really did not want to wind up in traffic jams.

I wanted you to descriptions of Costa Rica flying terrains also describe my feeling of this country, maybe I hit you in your thoughts and maybe plans for next January or February. My thoughts are after this event are embalmed in bias  solution, and it is not Costa Rican.  liked their approach of Costa and PURA VIDA, I hope all of us who are this year’s El Speedo expedition went as long as it lasts.

If you would like to explore with us on another adventure expedition, you can be certain that it is already preparing for the next event – this time the direction of Asia. And it looks to exotic southern Vietnam. If you are interested in a two weeks time, so watch our website www.elspeedo.cz there and I’ll be informed. Or send e-mail or call directly. Travel and flying belong together …

Have a beautiful day

Dalibor Carbol

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