Paragliding (Parapente) along the Ecuador coastline is a breathtaking experience. You get airborne by facing the steady on-shore winds and running off a cliff at full pelt. Then you can soar the coastal ridges like the marine birds do and hopefully return to the same spot you took off from. Its an unforgettable, and I’m told quite addictive, thrill.
The consistent, steady winds mean this is something you can do most days of the year, so it doesn’t take too much advanced planning. This is not a very well known sport yet, no doubt the cost of $2000-$3000 for a full rig is a bit of a barrier. That said, there are paragliding schools at several key locations in Santa Elena, Manabi and Esmeraldas and in Andean provinces offering solo and tandem paragliding activities. For locations and paragliding operators check out the list of schools below.
Each school or club, usually has a choice of two to five sites they can launch from, that are relatively close to one another. Some schools offer 2 day or 3 day tours during which they will take you to launch sites, so you can enjoy aerial views of more places.
All Year Round
There is enough wind for paragliding almost all year round, midday or early afternoon is the best time.
Prices for a tandem flight range from $30-60 per head for 10-20 minutes flight time. You don’t need any experience to do a tandem ride. But you will need a lot of nerve! It’s pretty scary the first time, being completely suspended in the air, with someone else at the controls. Bring a video camera and strap it you your chest for a birds eye view of the coastline. Some schools will take photos and video of your flight, for an additional charge ($20-30 for an edited video).
Most schools also offer courses to get you certified for solo flight will run you from $600 to $900 depending on your aptitude for the sport. You will need about 4 consecutive days, or 2-3 weekends, during which you will learn some theory including basic aerodynamics, flight techniques and regulations. Practical training will consist of 15-20 flights through which you’ll learn take off, landing, turning, ridge soaring and other critical skills. By the end of the course you’ll be considered a solo, beginner. From this point, you’re ready to join a club, buy your own rig, and start putting in the hours to grow in skill and confidence.
Related sports: Hang Gliding and Paramotor. If you’re interested in hang gliding or paragliding with propulsion, some of the schools/clubs listed below have also mentioned these sports on their websites, and may have club members engaged in the sport.
|Fly La Troncal||$25-50||La Troncal||Cañar|
|Club Parapente Chimborazo||$25-50||Riobamba||Chimborazo|
|Hosteria La Fragata de Luis||$25-50||Camarones||Esmeraldas|
|Loja Parapente Club||$25-50||Loja||Loja|
|Centro de Vuelo Libre||Puerto Lopez||Manabi|
|Centro de Vuelo Libre Quito||$25-50||Quito||Pichincha|
|Escuela de Pichincha de Parapentes||$25-50||Quito||Pichincha|
|Montani Tours||$50-100||Montanita||Santa Elena|
|Parapente Montanita||$25-50||Montanita||Santa Elena|
|Paxaros Flight School||$50-100||San Jose||Santa Elena|
|Escuela Parapente Ambato Club||Ambato||Tungurahua|
|Fly Niton Parapente||$50-100||Baños||Tungurahua|