Swakopmund Walvis Bay Airport Hosea Koshea International Windhoek Johannesburg International Nelspruit Airport The Dam Barberton, The Lowvedt
Self Drive/Guiding Advice Porterville Cape Town George Airport Wilderness Cape Town International Bulwer Durban International Airport De Aar; Tandem, Open & declared WR Bloemfontein Airport Kimberly Airport Port Elizabeth Airport Johannesburg International Port Elizabeth


When I first decided to visit South Africa in 1999 as a Paraglider, I was in many ways a complete stranger.  I knew the flying potential that the country offered but apart from the Dam where I had seen hang gliders as a child, I had no idea who to contact or where to go.  It is not that easy when you come in from the cold,  South African or not.  Knowing that there should be flying in a certain area, or even where the area was, still didn't help if you consider that most South African sites are deserted during the week.

I went through a similar nightmare when I tried exploring the States and Portugal as an independent flyer.  The contacts were there but replies were not always as forthcoming.  Complicating matters were different license standards and requirements.  It was very difficult to equate my experience to foreign conditions and seasonal influences from abroad.  Adding to the complexity was my partner who also wanted to go.  Ending up in a spot in the middle of nowhere for the entire trip was just not a realistic possibility.

So, I decided some time ago to put a site like this together in an attempt to prevent anybody else from going through the misery of simply exploring another flying country on the internet when all you have heard are a few names.

Midweek at Bambi

I am a South African.  Born and "mostly" bred.  I have spent roughly 3/4 of my life (20+ years), at varying ages, living in different areas and traveling extensively in South Africa.  My other home is Europe where I have spent the remaining 1/4 of my life, first as a teenager and later as an adult.  As bizarre as it might seem I learnt to fly in the South Downs in England.  I currently live in the North of  South Africa.  

I therefore believe that I have a unique cultural/ flying mix that enables me to relate flying and fun in South Africa to pilots and their friends based in the UK and Europe.

I am fluent in two of the official languages and have a very good geographical, cultural and social knowledge of  South Africa.  It means I can get "stuff" done as a local.

This site is designed for foreign Paragliding / Hang-Gliding & PPG  pilots interested in visiting South Africa.  All hyper linked dots on the guide map are points of contact.  The links are to experienced and friendly pilots who run paragliding schools or paragliding clubs in South Africa and who operate and live in close proximity to flying sites.  They all offer educated and friendly advice on flying in South Africa.

Flying in South Africa

South Africa is a superb country to visit for all year round flying.  It has something to offer to all styles and types, from low airtime coastal soaring to experienced XC.

Coming from Europe, South Africa obviously offers sunshine, game viewing, sandy white beaches and a multitude of other non-flying activities.  If you are planning to do sight-seeing outside your paraglider then consider picking your flying sites in proximity to these activities.  South Africa is quite big, driving from Johannesburg to Cape Town will take around 16 hours.  It is impossible to see the whole country in a short space of time.

The Dam near Johannesburg

This site is not intended as a paragliding sites guide but rather for those who want to visit and are looking for help in planning their trip, information on joining a guided group or simply to find a few contacts as a starting point.

I hope that you will find this site useful.  If you have any suggestions and comments please feel free to contact us.

The web-site is here to help you enjoy paragliding in South Africa.

There are over a 100 official launch sites in South Africa for hanggliders and paragliders. 

Like many sites in the world some of these are sensitive to abuse.  Please do not turn up unless you have spoken to a local who has an understanding and current knowledge of the do's and don'ts.

If you are interested in a sites guide on Paragliding and Hang Gliding in South Africa then you can purchase a copy of Greg Hamerton's "Fresh Air Sites Guide".

A few practicalities:

  • SAHPA (South African Hang Gliding and Paragliding Association) require you to become a temporary member before you are allowed to fly in South Africa.  Membership is available through SAHPA and from most schools.
  • Membership does not always include site fees.
  • If you are traveling on your own or with an independent party then your own transport is a must.  Sites are far apart and are often in remote areas.  Public transport will generally not get you to the flying sites.

Please look at the section on Safety.

Fly Safe


There are many flying sites that offer relaxed and pleasant flying.  If you do not like strong thermic flying or are inexperienced then do not go to the BIG XC flying sites.

If you are a low air-time pilot or unsure of what to expect from the conditions in South Africa then I recommend that your first trip should be guided.  However, if you do wish to "go it alone" then please contact the people on the map or speak to us.  They are all very friendly and will be glad to help.

Flying in South Africa can be very different to flying in the UK and parts of Europe.

Acro at Bulwer

Some of the sites are very unforgiving and take few prisoners.  Be careful.  Know your limits and adhere to them.

Be aware that similar to the UK, qualification standards in South Africa are designed around local conditions.  In addition to the UK Club Pilot curricula, the entry level license in South Africa, called a "Basic" license requires flying in thermic conditions and rear riser steering.   Some paragliding schools also insist on B-line stalls and asymmetric (above big-ear)  training.   Do not assume that your paragliding license will put you on the same level or that the locals know what is involved in obtaining your qualification.

Use your own judgment.


The South African Hang Gliding and Paragliding Association or SAHPA is the national body that controls PG, HG & PPG in South Africa.

SAHPA currently (2011) has around 600 subscribed members.

SAHPA require all foreign pilots to become temporary members.  Membership provides you with a radio license and permission to fly.

You will need to produce your national paragliding license and flying logbook.

Find them on the web at www.sahpa.co.za for information and regulations pertaining to foreign pilots including temporary membership applications.


Paragliding Competition South Africa South African hang gliding and paragliding competitions have a structure allowing all levels of pilot to compete.  One can compete in:
  • Novice,
  • Intermediate,
  • Sports,
  • Serial and
  • Open classes

With the exception of the Novice class your classification depends on the rating of your wing.  Events therefore cater for all, from fledglings to sky-gods.

To compete you will need your flying gear including a radio, GPS, SAHPA membership and medical insurance.  If you wish your points to go to your world ranking you will also need a FAI Competition license for FAI/CIVL sanctioned events.

Competitions are held year round all over the country and vary from  FAI to "Fun Comps".


If you or your party are considering South Africa as a flying desitnation without contacts then you have one of three options available to you:


The "Fresh Air Sites Guide" by Greg Hamerton is the definitive guide book on how to get to, who to contact and what to expect from flying all the sites in South Africa.

SA schools carry stock so you can purchase a copy once here or find & buy this guide and other publications on-line from Greg at


A word of warning on this option.  Outside holiday periods, flying sites in South Africa are almost all deserted during the week.  It is likely that you will have to make a full site assessment yourself.

On the www...

Local Guiding

Go to the map, find an area you wish to visit, click and contact.  If they cannot give you what you are after then they will certainly point you in the right direction.


If you, and some friends would like to visit then consider what I propose below.  I have chosen a variety of sites in diverse locations at different times of the year for the following reasons:

  • Local knowledge in the form of experienced and responsible SAHPA qualified instructors.
  • To suit specific flying styles and levels of experience.
  • Reliability.  On average upwards of 5 flying days in a week.
  • Choice and diversity of non-flying activities.
  • Off-peak season to ensure lower airfare tariffs.


For more information contact:

Paul Penning

See you in Africa...

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