The fabulous weather and flying conditions in South Africa means that it is a great place to learn to fly as you could complete all your required flights in a relatively short time. The exchange rate also means that it is much cheaper here than learning in Europe or North America.

For good gliding, you need one of two things: Either thermal winds or mountain ridges that force the air upward, creating lift. South Africa's coastal areas offer excellent ridges, and the country's flat interior offers great thermals on hot days.

In the right conditions, hang glider pilots can fly extermely far, simply by using air currents and thermals - The world record is just shy of 800 km! Many people think that all you do is glide down to the bottom of the mountain once you take off with a hang glider, but by using thermals you can soar for hours at a time.

Before paragliding in South Africa, you must become a temporary member of the South African Hang-Gliding and Paragliding Association (SAHPA), so for all the admin details like licensing, registration, safety, etc., contact the SAHPA at Tel: +27 (0) 12 668 1219.

Every hill or sand dune is obviously a launching site, but South Africa has quite a couple of very special and spectacular sights, like Table Mountain or the Drakensberg Mountains.

Western Cape
Lions Head, right next to Table Mountain in Cape Town, is one of the best launch sites, scenic and convenient, especially around sunset. After a short walk up a good path to the launch, the flight offers views over Cape Town and the surrounding beaches. After the flight, you can land on a grassy field next to a beachfront pub, what more could you want!?

The mountains of Porterville also offer great flying. It's a high take off with good ridge lift, but with strong thermals from the flat valley below as well, so it's a great cross-country site.

The town of Wilderness is another classic, with strong ridge lift on the dunes that face the sea. You often see whales and dolphins from the air!

* Cape Albatross HG Club (Cape Town)
Tel: +27 (0) 83 233 6955 or +27 (0) 84 469 0857
* Big Sky Hang Gliding School
Tel: +27 (0) 84 549 0939 or +27 (0) 83 230 8780

Northern Cape
The dry town of Jan Kempdorp is a favourite launch site, as the thermals are fantastic.

Mpumalanga
The Drakensberg, particularly at Bulwer and Oliviershoek, is a great spot.

* Pretoria School of Hang Gliding (Pretoria)
Tel: +27 (0) 82 902 9563
* Bambi Paragliding Club (Machadodorp)
Tel: +27 (0) 83 777 5520
* Lowveld Slope Soaring Club (Nelspruit)
Tel: +27 (0) 83 630 1588 or +27 (0) 82 687 9514
* Wright Club (Nelspruit)
Tel: +27 (0) 82 808 9673 or +27 (0) 82 809 2668

Gauteng
The Haretbeespoort Dam is one of the destinations accessible from both Gauteng and the North West, which offers awesome panoramic views while hang-gliding here.

* Free Flying Adventures (Pretoria)
Tel: +27 (0) 12 991 1970 or +27 (0) 82 902 9563
* Pretoria School of Hang Gliding (Pretoria)
Tel: +27 (0) 82 902 9563
* Thermal Riders Hang Gliding Club (Johannesburg)
Tel: +27 (0) 82 900 9095 or +27 (0) 82 892 3664

Kwazulu Natal
* Silent Wings Hangliding School (Bulwer)
Tel: 0398 320 268 or +27 (0) 82 394 2063
* Bulwer Airsports Club (Bulwer)
Tel: +27 (0) 83 639 0807 or +27 (0) 82 395 3298
* Majuba HG & PG Club (Newcastle)
Tel: +27 (0) 83 959 0253 or +27 (0) 82 807 7405

Eastern Cape
* Flight Encounters Hang gliding School
Tel: +27 (0) 83 229 2919
* Hawkwind HG & PG Club (Port Elizabeth)
Tel: +27 (0) 83 270 4931 or +27 (0) 83 270 9857
* Skywings HG & PG Club (Wilderness)
Tel: +27 (0) 82 959 8818 or +27 (0) 82 561 3573
* Wild 2 Fly (Wilderness)
Tel: +27 (0) 82 564 1452 or +27 (0) 82 777 8474
  • Hang Gliding