DIGITALITIS - Travels With Pixels DIGITALITIS - Travels With Pixels

Europe 2016 Paragliding Trips

Europe 2016 Paragliding Trips - Antofaya Expeditions' European paragliding trip schedule 2016

Our European Alps paragliding season schedule is here. All the trips’ details will follow. Time to start planing ahead your holidays and search for good plane ticket deals. Last euro season we were overbooked for the Southern Dolomites trip. So do not wait until the last moment to reserve your spot. Below the dates and airports:

      in airport: Venice
1-10 June – South Dolomites: Piave Valley, Italy
      out/in airport: Venice
10-19 June – Slovenia: Soca valley
      out/in airport: Venice
19-28 June – South Tyrol: Speikboden and Puster valley
      out/in airports: Innsbruck or Zurich
28 June – 7 July – Swiss Alps: Interlaken, Grindewald, Fiesch
      out airport: Zurich

Photo: Antofaya Expeditions’ European paragliding trip schedule 2016 (photos taken at the trips’ locations)

Not only flying

Not only flying - Josefina Menendez's watercolors Paragliding in the Alps, June 2015, South Tyrol, Italy

One of participants of our trips has another type of talent. Josefina paints beautiful watercolors depicting the sport she loves – paragliding. This one she painted in Pusteria valley in the South Tyrol in the high Alps of Italy where we flew last summer. Her watercolors is a great gift which will always bring great memories of days we shared together. Thank you Jose!

Photo: Josefina Menendez’s watercolors Paragliding in the Alps, June 2015, South Tyrol, Italy

The other face of the desert

The other face of the desert - Paragliding along the coastal mountains near Pabellon de Pica during 2015 flowering desert event, The Atacama Desert, Iquique, Chile

Every ten or more years the coast of the Atacama desert receives rain. Then water runs down the coastal cliffs creating new channels. Then after a month seeds dormant for many years germinate and create a colorful carpet of plants and flowers. Seeing it from above while flying my paraglider is a visual experience. It lasts for a couple of months. Then the desert wins again and landscape changes to never-ending sands and rocks for the next ten or so years. If you want to see the flowering desert from the air there is still space at our paragliding tour to Iquique, Chile this November.

Photo: Paragliding along the coastal mountains near Pabellon de Pica during 2015 flowering desert event, The Atacama Desert, Iquique, Chile

Abra del Acay

Ruta 40 toward Abra del Acay pass, Argentina

Going toward the highest road pass in the world in Argentinian Andes – Abra del Acay – at almost 5.000m. It lies along the magic Ruta 40 – the road which spans the whole Argentina along the Andes from the desert North to Patagonian South.

Photo: Ruta 40 toward Abra del Acay pass, Argentina

White with tone of cactus

White with tone of cactus - Vineyards in Calchaqui Valley near Cafayate, Argentina

Torrontes. They are from an Andean valley which is 520km (320 miles) long – unbelievable scale by any means – and surrounded by 6300m (20,000ft) peaks. Calchaqui valley – the only place they grow. White wine with fruity notes ideal for hot summer afternoons. Torrontes for me are one of the symbols of Argentina I know: the high mountains, endless horizons, and big blue skies. So when I sit down and talk about Argentina there is always a bottle of Torrontes on the table.

Photo: Vineyards in Calchaqui Valley near Cafayate, Argentina

Since 2007 – The Tribute

Since 2007 - The Tribute - History of Antofaya Expedition's paragliding trips to Iquique, Chile

Going trough old photos. Guys, without you none of it would be possible. Big compliments to all of you. I hope you had at least as much fun flying as I had running those trips for you. More trips to come!

Photo: History of Antofaya Expedition’s paragliding trips to Iquique, Chile

Photos from the 2014 Argentina paragliding road trip

Photos from the 2014 Argentina paragliding road trip

I am picking up the slack of processing of photos from our trips. This time Argentina. We flew in four distinct regions ranging from the lush rainforest to the desert. Condors flew with us, too. This year’s Argentina trip starts on 30 of November, 2015. See our Argentina photo album.

Photo: Paragliding under perfect cloud streets in Cuchi Corral, La Cumbre, Cordoba, Argentina

Photographs from the 2014 Iquique tour

Photographs from the 2014 Iquique tour

Finally I found some time to go trough photos from our last November’s paragliding tour to Iquique, Chile. Thank you guys for being such great flying models. Enjoy the slideshow. This year’s tour is already in the making: November 3-10 and 10-17 of 2015. See you flying over the Atacama Desert.

Photo: Paragliding at Palo Buque, Iquique, The Atacama Desert, Chile

The Glacier Flight

The Glacier Flight - Paragliding over glaciers of Adamello range, The Alps, Italy

For a guy who lives in a desert flying over alpine glaciers is something to remember. Yesterday I had a chance to do it. The weather conditions were just right. We have chosen an unknown takeoff above Madonna di Capiglio, Italy in Brenta Dolomites and had speculate flight. During the whole flight I was thinking to myself how lucky and privilege I am to experience those vistas. I am so glad to be a cross country paragliding pilot.

I just have checked the global paragliding base and Paragliding Skyways. Apparently there is only six or so flights ever registered in the area. I guess we become accidental explorers.

Photo: Paragliding over glaciers of Adamello range, The Alps, Italy

Towards Atacama

Towards Atacama - Paragliding over the Atacama Desert featured in Sidetracked magazine, Chile

Sidetracked magazine featured my photo and story summarizing ten years of my paraglider exploration of the deserted coast north of the town of Iquique, Chile in The Atacama Desert. It is an area of spectacular beauty only a handful of pilots had a chance to experience due to extreme remoteness. Sidetracked magazine is a renown adventure and photography magazine. Each issue is a high quality photo album on its own rights. I highly recommend subscription to the magazine. My publication promotes responsible Atacama desert paragliding.

Photo: Paragliding over the Atacama Desert featured in Sidetracked magazine, Chile

Back from the land of ice

Back from the land of ice - Packrafting with icebergs in front of Glacier Andree, Northern Patagonian Ice Field, Patagonia, Chile

Six glacier tongues, never-ending pristine beach with icefields as a background, unpenetrable green jungle, flower covered meadows, hard to cross marshes, Pacific fjords, snow topped Andes, plenty of rivers and lakes, and Patagonian sun and rain. Three weeks in wilderness of one of a kind. The kind very few ever went to. The kind almost none is left on the planet. It was hard and beautiful. It was the seventh expedition I organized in western Patagonia and I already want to go back there.

Photo:Packrafting with icebergs in front of Glacier Andree, Northern Patagonian Ice Field, Patagonia, Chile

Expedition Explorers VII – START

Expedition Explorers VII - START -  Exploring icebergs of unnamed glacier HPN3 during the very first documented visit to the area, Northern Patagonian Ice Field, Patagonia, Chile

We are heading toward Patagonian wilderness. For three weeks we will explore fjords, glaciers, mountains, and rivers of the super remote regions of Northern Patagonian Ice Field. Of course we are taking with us our sturdy packrafts – without them our expedition would not be possible. We are starting this Wednesday. The first task: cross the endless marshes of Ofqui isthmus where the biggest glacier of Northern Patagonian Ice Field floats out of the Patagonian Andes. Then 35km of the pristine sand beach with huge waves of frequent Antarctic storms, then Kelly fjord, then…. Keep your fingers crossed for us. You can follow our progress at:
https://share.delorme.com/antofaya

Photo: Exploring icebergs of unnamed glacier HPN3 during the very first documented visit to the area, Northern Patagonian Ice Field, Patagonia, Chile

New Years over Patagonian Andes

New Years over Patagonian Andes - XC Paragliding over the Andes, El Bolson, Patagonia, Argentina

My New Year’s XC present on the first of January 2015. What a great day of paragliding. The conditions were just right to get high over the ranges of Patagonian Andes and jump the valleys. I was not prepared for such a blast and dressed way too thin. But the views made me forget about my frozen hands and shivering body. While I was flying my camera was working constantly so I will remember where to come back for more great flying next season. I wish myself and everybody the whole 2015 like this flight – simply awesome.

Photo: XC Paragliding over the Andes, El Bolson, Patagonia, Argentina

Packrafting in Hua Hum

Packrafting in Hua Hum gorge, Chile and Argentina border

A little known rafting jewel between Chile and Argentina hidden deep in Valdivian rain forest crosses the main ridge of the Andes in the lowest pass of only 600m. The river shaped a canyon of cliff walls covered in vertical green garden of ferns, moss, red arayan trees. It is hard there to concentrate on paddling trough the river rapids while all you want to do is admire the forest and crystal clear water of Hua Hum river gorge.

Photo: Packrafting in Hua Hum gorge, Chile and Argentina border

Between The Andes and the jungle

Between The Andes and the jungle - Paragliding from Loma Bola above Villa Nouges, Sierra de Aconquija, Tucuman, Argentina

The first day on the other side of the Andes above the humid yungas jungle in Argentina. Grassy takeoff of Loma Bola and lots of locals in the air welcomed me back to Tucuman. Nice soft thermals and never ending green blanket of vegetation below me is a change from the Atacama desert. Two hours in the air on the first day combined with great views of the high ranges at the back. Let’s see what Argentina holds for us.

Photo: Paragliding from Loma Bola above Villa Nouges, Sierra de Aconquija, Tucuman, Argentina

Argentina, we are coming!

Argentina, we are coming! - Argentina paragliding tour's t-shirt by Antofaya Expeditions

Everything is ready for the journey. We are starting at Tucuman’s Loma Bola. Then Famatina and then Sierras de Cordoba and Merlo. For the “happy landing” we will have bottles of the famous malbec wine and juicy steaks of bife de chorizo.

Photo: Argentina paragliding tour’s t-shirt by Antofaya Expeditions (designed by Zbyszek Dobosz)

Into the sunset at Tiliviche

Into the sunset at Tiliviche - Bert Kornyei paragliding at the mouth of the Tiliviche canyon near Pisagua with Cerro Toro at the background, The Atacama Desert, Chile

The day began with very strong winds early in the morning which kept us on the ground until afternoon. Once the sun started to lower on the horizon conditions got smoother and the Tiliviche again shoved us its beautiful colors of the desert. Whenever I fly there in the evening the photos come out just right.

Photo: Bert Kornyei paragliding at the mouth of the Tiliviche canyon near Pisagua with Cerro Toro at the background, The Atacama Desert, Chile

A day in Iquique

A day in Iquique - Paragliding over Iquique, Chile

We had a relaxing cross country flight today: high cloudbase, wind just right, some clouds, and landing on the beach.

Photo:Paragliding over Iquique, Chile

New Horizons – 205km Flight in The Atacama Desert

New Horizons - 205km Flight in The Atacama Desert - Paragliding between Caleta San Marcos and Rio Seco, The Atacama Desert, Chile

Since the very beginning of paragliding in Iquique thirty years ago the sandy beaches of the town were the goal of all cross country flights in the area. If you wanted to fly 60km you took off from Patillos, if you wanted to fly 120km you took off from Chipana, etc. And then aimed for landing in Iquique. Passing Iquique and venturing any farther was not an option. This changed last Sunday. I flew 205km from San Marcos landing near Caleta Camarones. I passed Iquique as a mere point along the route, passed Caleta Buena, passed Junin, passed Pisagua, and passed Tiliviche canyon. I believe this flight opened new horizons of what is possible in XC fling in the Atacama Desert. I am sure there will be more paraglider pilots exploring the wild desert north of Iquique to stretch their flight distance. If you embark on such a flight please consider that there is no roads, no access, no retrieve, no safe landing, no cell coverage. There is the scorching sun of the driest desert in the world and unclimbable vertical cliffs of the coastal mountains. Be ready for it, the rewards are amazing.

Photo: Paragliding between Caleta San Marcos and Rio Seco, The Atacama Desert, Chile

UP paragliders

Antofaya Expeditions sell UP paragliders

We are the representative of UP paragliders in Chile. UP is one of the world’s largest manufacturers of paragliders based in German Alps. All the wings are designed and manufactured with famous German technology. The newest glider SUMMIT XC3 become an instant hit in Europe with its unparallelled performance as it is one of the fastest EN B wings on the market. Now we are bringing those wings to Chile. As a welcome gift for our customers we are offering special low introductory tax-free prices. For more details feel free to contact me.

UP website: www.up-paragliders.com

Argentina – Flying with Condors

Argentina - Flying With Condors, Paragliding Tour, 3 - 16 December 2014

We are going to Argentina – the land of big mountains and never-ending steppe. The land of warm people, great wine, and gauchos on their horses. This two week trip will take us from rainforest to desert. We will fly famous flying sites like Loma Bola in Tucuman, ridge soar with Andean condors at a little jewel of Famatina, look for convergence flying at the home of paragliding world champions at La Cumbre, and go cross country at Paragliding World Cup site Mina Clavero. And between flying we will stay in beautiful countryside guesthouses, eat grilled Argentinian beef, visit vineyards, ride horses, and splash in thermal waters. Condors as your wing-men guaranteed. Join us. All the details here.

Photo: Paragliding from Cuchi Corral above Cerro Uritorco, La Cumbre, Sierras de Cordoba, Argentina

Summer in The Alps

Summer in The Alps - Wildkogel paragliding takeoff in Pinzgau with the main range of the Alps in front, Austria

The Alps of Europe welcomed us with sun and some rain. And when the weather was good we flew as much as possible. The mountains there are big and the landscape amazing. Annie who flew with us said “It changed my flying. It is a different level of things”. I cannot agree more. The Alps changed my flying years ago, too. Have a look at the photo gallery from our 2014 tours to Slovenia and Austria.

Photo: Wildkogel paragliding takeoff in Pinzgau with the main range of the Alps in front, Austria

Dolomites under my feet

Dolomites under my feet - Paragliding above the Dolomites during a long cross country flight in South Tyrol, Italy

When I am in Europe, while checking the flying weather forecast first I check the weather for the location I am at and then I always click my “secret” button bookmarked “Pustertal”. And if the weather is good for Pustertal I drop everything and go. Even if it means driving 1000 miles. I just go. I have never had a flight there which would not leave my jaw hanging below my knees. The mountains are huge and wild, the air is big, the beauty is amazing, and when the place turns on the flying is otherworldly. And if you do it right, there is a dessert at the end of a long day in the air – the Dolomites. And seeing those mountains from the cold air 4000m above the ground is like … hard to explain … Try it for yourself.

Photo: Paragliding above the Dolomites during a long cross country flight in South Tyrol, Italy

Smiling faces

Smiling faces - Smiling faces of participants of the Austria and Slovenia paragliding tours 2014 organized by Antofaya Expeditions

The most rewarding part of the job is when pilots land with wide smiles across their faces and start to share their flying stories. Guys and gals, I am so happy to show you all those wonderful places I am so fortunate to fly at. Thank you for your continuous support and see you in the air.

Photo: Smiling faces of participants of the Austria and Slovenia paragliding tours 2014 organized by Antofaya Expeditions

Epic weekend in Eastern Alps

Epic weekend in Eastern Alps - Your host - Jarek Wieczorek - taking off with his paraglider from Speikboden, South Tyrol / Alto Adige, The Alps, Italy

Four thousand registered flights during a single weekend! Almost a thousand flights over 100km. Eighty over 200km. And two world record beating triangle flights over 300km! Paragliding went crazy last weekend in the Eastern Alps. The cloud base was at 4500m / 15.000ft and you could takeoff as early as 9am for a twelve hour flight. I was lucky to take part in this flying bonanza. The otherworldly views of the Alps from up there will stay long with me. The lesson I learned: If you are going to spend any time flying your paraglider over 4000m / 13.000ft you better have good winter goretex gloves with you because it is way below freezing up there even with scorching summer heat in the valleys.

Please see more photos from this paragliding weekend in the Alps.

Photo by Boga: Your host – Jarek Wieczorek – taking off with his paraglider from Speikboden, South Tyrol / Alto Adige, The Alps, Italy

Patagonia 2014 Photo Story Part 1

Patagonia 2014 Photo Story Part 1 - Packrafting at Lago Guillermo, Aisen, Patagonia, Chile

This year we were lucky to experience beauty of remote glaciers of Northern Patagonian Ice Field. When I look at the photos I took during that trip one moment always comes back to me. It is the evening when we were paddling between icebergs along sky tall cliffs of Lago Guillermo and more than a dozen of Andean condors were circling above us in seemingly motionless dance. Later that evening I found out that there is a big colony of these majestic birds high on those cliffs. Well … just another day in the land of my love. Please see the photo story from this expedition here.

Photo: Packrafting at Lago Guillermo, Aisen, Patagonia, Chile

Calendar 2014

Calendar 2014 - 2014 Polish Paragliding Association calendar including Jarek's two photos from Iquique, Chile

Every year Polish Paragliding Association publishes its beautiful wall calendar which is send to all members. This year two of my photos were included – for months of May and July. So for two months in more than a thousand offices and homes of pilots there are going to be displayed posters of Iquique’s panorama and Mystic Dunes flying. It is great promotion for the free flying in the Atacama Desert.

Photo: 2014 Polish Paragliding Association calendar including Jarek’s two photos from Iquique, Chile

Marbella

Marbella - Paragliding above Marbella resort town near Mantencillo, the Pacific coast of central Chile

Since Christmas I have been constantly on the road going from the barren Atacama desert to the lush green Patagonia. On the way I stopped at the central coast of Chile to do some ridge seaside soaring. Being a thermal XC pilot I haven’t done ridge soaring for years and at the beginning flying felt suspiciously smooth – like something was about to happen. Well, nothing happened and we had two days of the New Year’s full of easy beach flying.

Photo: Paragliding above Marbella resort town near Mantencillo, the Pacific coast of central Chile

‘da Baker

'da Baker - Rapids of Rio Baker near confluence with Rio Nef, Patagonia, Aisen, Chile

The greatest river of Patagonia. Electric turquoise so clear that you can see pebbles at the bottom. Full of salmon and trout that big that fishing here is a dream of every fly fisherman in the world. Waves which can swallow rafts in a second. Lambs grazing at the banks. Fed by melting snow and ice of the Ice Fields makes its way trough canyons and valleys before it reaches Pacific Ocean at the fiords between the Patagonian Andes. The river in danger of disappearing. I see turquoise, galloping horses, snow caped mountains, fish jumping up the rapids, cabins, infinite waterfalls, wooden boats, and gauchos sipping mate. For some in offices of New York and Madrid it is an obscure geographical name from encyclopedia and billion dollars resource extraction investment opportunity. Which side are you on? Will you take your grandson on a float on this mighty river in this land at the end of the world? Or all what will be left are stories of times long gone and old photo books from grandpa’s closet?

Photo: Rapids of Rio Baker near confluence with Rio Nef, Patagonia, Aisen, Chile

The curse, the blessing

The curse, the blessing - Packrafting on lake Gillermo in front of glacier Pared Norte, Northern Patagonian Ice Field, Patagonia Chile

It is a curse, it is a blessing, it is an addiction, it is a berry. Once you try it you will be coming back to Patagonia forever. So consider yourself warned before you pick up a calafate fruit from its thorny bush and put it in your mouth. Nobody warned me. So I find myself again wet, tired, hungry, and mesmerized in front of big walls of ice between wild peaks of Patagonian Andes. Is it curable? I do not know but I am way beyond point of addiction when it can be cured.

Photo: Packrafting on lake Gillermo in front of glacier Pared Norte, Northern Patagonian Ice Field, Patagonia, Chile

Urban Daddy gets his wings at Antofaya Expeditions

Urban Daddy gets his wings at Antofaya Expeditions - Paragliding over The Atacama Desert, Chile

Urban Daddy wings our Atacama Desert adventure: “An off-the-grid, cross-country paragliding journey. You’re basically living out the sequel to Lawrence of Arabia. You know, the one set in northern Chile, where Lawrence says to hell with trudging across colossal sand dunes, straps on a state-of-the-art personal flying contraption and soars over them instead. Hmm… maybe it was direct-to-VHS. Anyway, that’s you…”

Full story here.

Photo: Paragliding over The Atacama Desert, Chile

Direction South – new flights in Chilean Norte Grande

Direction South - new flights in Chilean Norte Grande - Paraglider pilot's view while flying along The Atacama Desert coast in Northern Chile, Punta Arenas north of Tocopilla, Chile

Traditionally all longer XC flights in northern Chile are made in Northern direction. It is due winds which blow always more or less from the south and turn even more south as the day progress due to the Coriolis force. During few days with northern winds usually flying is not good at all. But this November was very unusual. For more than a week a very unusual strong center of low pressure set of the coast of southern Norte Grande and changed traditional weathern patterns of the area. This resulted in very high cloud base (1300m), light northern winds, and cloud streets over the coastal range.

On both weekends we flew south from San Marcos toward Tocopilla. Although I know very well the stretch between San Marcos and Chipana flying there was totally different than previously since locations of thermals were very different and the rotors zones you normally avoid in that case were the places to fly at. The deep and colorful Chipana bowl (traditional rotor) was the area of the highest and strongest climbs. After Chipana comes Rio Loa canyon with usual for this place canyon suck extending for over 15km. Weather at the Loa litoral is always govern by the canyon. Every time I fly there regardless of the general wind pattern the Loa winds are exactly the same. It does not matter where the general wind comes from south, north, west – at Loa it always blows toward the canyon. The wind there changes like in a Swiss machine – exactly above the river it turns 180 degrees. Crossing Punta Arenas (the most dreaded rotor for pilots flying north from Tocopilla) was uneventful – again no rotor because of the northern wind.

That day we had very high cloud base of 1300m (the highest I ever experienced in the Northe Grande). This allowed us to cross all the points by flying above them, as opposed to going around them. Not only it is faster but also much safer since the rotors were avoided all together and the altitude loss was minimal. Approaching Tocopilla tunnel I had to remind myself that I am at work and all my clients already landed. So I left the mountains toward the ocean pretending the never ending cloud street of beautiful cumulus clouds leading south does not exist. Anyway it was 87km – probably the longest flight in the southern direction made in Northern Chile. All my clients I guided that day made their personal bests. It was a flying day to remember.

I hope those new flights will contribute to developing the XC paragliding zone in Northern Chile and will rise local and foreign pilots appetite for interesting flights. The desert has so much more to offer than Alto Hospicio to Cavancha sled ride.

More photos here.

Photo: Paraglider pilot’s view while flying along The Atacama Desert coast in Northern Chile, Punta Arenas north of Tocopilla, Chile

Evening Session

Evening Session - Paragliding over the Desert Plateau south of Iquique, The Chilean Coastal Range, The Atacama Desert, Chile

Takeoff 18:00hrs. Landing 20:30hrs – half hour after sunset with strong thermals still kicking. High cloudbase over the Atacama plateau with beautiful orange light for aerial photos. Desert views to remember. Perfect Monday to start a flying week.

Photo: Paragliding over the Desert Plateau south of Iquique, The Chilean Coastal Range, The Atacama Desert, Chile

Still blowing from north

Still blowing from north - The Coastal Range between San Marcos and Tocopilla, The Atacama Desert, Chile

If last weekend in San Marcos was very unusual this weekend in San Marcos was very unusually great. Similar unusual conditions with northern wind, high cloudbase, and abundant lift. Everybody in my group made their personal XC records! I flew up to the Tocopilla tunnel when I had to remind myself that I am at work and have to land. It is the longest flight in Chile going South.

Photo: The Coastal Range between San Marcos and Tocopilla, The Atacama Desert, Chile

Into The Desert

Into The Desert - Paragliding over mountain dunes near Cementerio 2 south of Iquique, the Atacama Desert, Chile

Yet another spectacular day of flying in the Atacama. This season is nothing but great. I am so fortunate to have this place in my backyard.

Photo: Paragliding at the mouth of Tiliviche canyon, The Atacama Desert, Chile

Tiliviche

Tiliviche - Paragliding at the mouth of Tiliviche canyon, The Atacama Desert, Chile

Just some fun flying with the setting sun at Tiliviche Canyon followed with The Vulture Ridge soaring until dark. It is a lovely location at the the deserted coast 60 miles north of Iquique. I think it is the nicest and the most inspiring place to fly in northern Chile.

Photo: Paragliding at the mouth of Tiliviche canyon, The Atacama Desert, Chile

Iquique in reverse – the marvelous

Iquique in reverse - the marvelous - Paragliding south of Iquique above Punta San Marcos, The Atacama Desert, Chile

I wonder what more miracles will the weather serve us in Iquique this season. So far it is the best season I remember with almost every day bringing excellent flying conditions. Today was not only superb but very very unusual. It was a rare day when you can fly far south. It happens here in the desert as often as rain in the Atacama. So we flown south from San Marcos past Chipana, past Loa, and almost to Punta Arenas and then back to Loa. It was something never attempted before. Not only that. It was unusually high cloud base – almost 1300m. This is higher than the permanent Atacama inversion. Today I had a chance to see spectacular desert panoramas as never before. Definitely a day for a record flight. It does not meter that I had to land early. Smiling faces and excited stories of participants of the trip made up for given up miles. Iquique and the desert at its best!

More photos here.

Photo: Paragliding south of Iquique above Punta San Marcos, The Atacama Desert, Chile

Virgin Patagonia

Virgin Patagonia - Iceberg calved from San Rafael glacier, Northern Patagonian Ice Field, Aisen, Chile

When busy city life gets on my nerves I turn on my photo gallery. It calms me down and serves as a therapy. It is a proof that out there there is a world which makes me happy. Where life is simpler and landscape is gorgeous. No stress, no rush, and every morning you have your breakfast with a view no money can buy. Try it. Dim the lights and watch the photos from our last summer Expedition Explorers V to virgin Patagonia:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/69723152@N03/sets/72157636642358245/

Photo: Iceberg calved from San Rafael glacier, Northern Patagonian Ice Field, Aisen, Chile

Epic in Iquique

pa217510

I was always drawn to the desert north of Iquique, to its remoteness. I flew there at many desolate places. But I always wanted to make the big flight. And then the forecast for yesterday was very promising so we gave it a try. We took off from Alto Hospicio heading north. High above Marinero Desconosido we said good bye to the safety of the city of Iquique and we continued farther north. What followed was one of the most unforgettable flights of years of my paragliding in the Atacama Desert.

The views were beyond spectacular. Deep canyons. Vertical cliffs crashing into Pacific. Dry meandering rivers. High rock faces. Unbelievable colors. Hardly any place to land and no roads or access for miles. Absolute solitude and wilderness. A really epic flight. The desert at its best. After four and a half hours of flying we climbed in the last thermal and went on the final glade across the big bay of Camarones. We landed together at the beach of Caleta Camarones. 123.47km in a straight line from Alto Hospicio. It is a new open distance record of Alto Hospicio.

More photos here.
My flight track is here.

Photo: Paragliding across the bay of Camarones, The Atacama Desert, Chile

Pinzgau Walk

Pinzgau Walk -  Paragliding along the main spine of the Alps in Grossglockner area, Pinzgau valley, Austria

Looking back at my paragliding season in Europe I cannot forget excellent flying in Pinzgau, Austria. The flying, the landscape, the logistic are all so different there to what I am used to. You get to the takeoff by a cable car designed by Porsche. The takeoff is an enormous green meadow at over 2000m (6,500ft). Thermals are sparse but wide and strong. Altitude gains are big. And the views over the main spine of the Alps are amazing. You can almost touch Grossglockner 3798m (12,461ft) and fly over its glaciers. Flying in high alpine environment of sharp snowy peaks with steep rock walls and deep valleys is my favorite type of European adventure.

More photos of paragliding in Pinzgau here.

Photo: Paragliding along the main spine of the Alps in Grossglockner area, Pinzgau valley, Austria

Patagonia the Beautiful

Every time I am looking at my photos from my Patagonian packrafting expeditions my hart skips a beat. You must know this feeling when you want you eat more than it is possible of a great meal because you are not sure if it will be there for you next day. Patagonia is so beautiful that I am afraid if such a beauty and treasure can last in today’s crazy world. I am afraid that it will disappear.

So if you cannot come to this unbelievable land please enjoy Patagonia thru photos from my February/March 2013 Expedition Explorers. We immersed in this virgin land for 40 days. The trip took us from a tiny fjord village of Caleta Tortel thru Fjordo Pulpo, Fjordo Julian, HPN3 glacier and Valle Acodado, across Bahia Kelly and San Quintin glacier to Istmo Ofqui and Laguna San Rafael. Our Alpacka packrafts did not let us down. I am stunned how durable those little boats are.

Life on such a trip has different dimension than a day of urban life. A simpler dimension. And things like dry bed, hot tea, shelter and worthy boat are simple things which make you feel happy. We as humans were design to cross forests, climb mountains, and hike across plains. And those things make us fulfilled. I learned it in Patagonia. Give it a try. It does not matter that the backpack is heavy and your feet are wet.

Movie: Slideshow of packrafting in Patagonia during Expedition Explorers V, Northern Patagonian Ice Field, Aisen, Chile. (http://www.vimeo.com/73016799)

Iquique Paragliding Adventure 2013

Iquique Paragliding Adventure 2013 - Paragliding over mountain Mystic Dunes, Iquique, The Atacama Desert, Chile

As the desert flying season approaches I am preparing another paragliding adventure for this November. It is going to be our sixth flying trip in Iquique, Chile. We will visit desert flying sites nobody else go – flying sites of spectacular beauty and great XC potential. And above all the flying weather is guaranteed. Seriously. We fly every day for the whole day over the vast Atacama desert. That is the chance to score more flying hours than for the rest of the year. Come and try yourself. To learn more about the trip and sign up visit the trip page.

Photo: Paragliding over mountain Mystic Dunes, Iquique, The Atacama Desert, Chile

Fly There

Fly There - Paragliding over Gruppo di Fanis range, The Dolomites, South Tyrol, Italy

Everybody at the takeoff was telling me to fly there, to fly there if I have a chance, wherever I fly today remember to fly there, and fly there when the sun is setting, just go there. I must admit it was not easy. It started with a two hours hike to the takeoff. A breakfast of cheese and schinkenspeck. Switchy winds during the launch. Then seven hour XC flight along spines of the South Tyrol Alps and then the sun started to set.

Every pilot has flights he always remembers: the first time your feet leave the ground, your first thermal flight when you get above a takeoff, the first long cross country… and then there is the first time the wingtip of your glider touches the vertical limestone walls of the Dolomites.

A mini-photo gallery here.

Photo: Paragliding over Gruppo di Fanis range, The Dolomites, South Tyrol, Italy

Desert longing

Desert longing - Paragliding cliffs of Tiliviche canyon 200km north of Iquique, The Atacama Desert, Chile

It has been many months since I left my desert home. I miss the endless horizon, the browns, yellows, and pinks of the desert mountains. I miss it even more because I just have finished working on a gallery of photos from Iquique flying season. I miss getting up in the morning and going flying – no parawaiting, no hours of studying weather forecast. In Iquique it is always flyable. It works like a Swiss watch. The new Iquique gallery is here. Enjoy.

Photo: Paragliding cliffs of Tiliviche canyon 200km north of Iquique, The Atacama Desert, Chile

The other side of glass

The other side of glass - Your host Jaroslaw Wieczorek flying his Aircross USport2 paraglider over large inter-mountain valley of Zywiec basin in Beskid Mountains, Poland. Photo by Kinga Konieczny.

They say that shoemakers are always the worst shod. I have been taking travel and adventure photos for 20 years now but you can hardly find any photo of me. So it was a great surprise for me when I got this gift from Kinga Konieczny. It is a selection of aerial photos of me flying my wing. Now I can self-indulge in vanity by changing my computer’s wallpaper.

Photo by Kinga Konieczny: Your host Jaroslaw Wieczorek flying his Aircross USport2 paraglider over large inter-mountain valley of Zywiec basin in Beskid Mountains, Poland

Why do I do it?

Why do I do it? - What I see when I fly, South Bohinj range, Julian Alps, Slovenia

I do it for the views. I am a male who likes to look at nice things. And what I see from up there cannot be compared to anything or even remotely substituted with anything. So I go flying and I take my camera with me. Afterwards I show it to those who have never experienced cold air high above snowy rocky peaks. And then, I hope, they will understand.

Photo: What I see when I fly, South Bohinj range, Julian Alps, Slovenia

European XC season is open!

European XC season is open! - Flying over Kobala looking West toward Kobarid and Italy, Soca Valley, Julian Alps, Slovenia

Spring came late to the Alps this year and winter left lots of snow in the mountains. So when the spring sun heats alpine valleys there is plenty of color and temperature contrast to make thermals strong. For me the first longer XC flight this spring was along the classic Slovenia-Italy route. Starting from Kobala and flying to Gemona along the Stol range and back. Almost 100km. I am waiting for more.

There is more photos from the last weekend in Slovenian Alps at the trip page here. Enjoy: https://www.facebook.com/events/397867623640892/

Photo: Flying over Kobala looking West toward Kobarid and Italy, Soca Valley, Julian Alps, Slovenia

Over Krn

Over Krn - Spring paragliding over Krn - the highest mountain around Soca Valley, Julian Alps, Slovenia

The weather forecast was predicting excellent flying weather in Julian Alps and I was hungry of big air. So I drove the whole night to get at the takeoff at eleven in the morning. The cumulus clouds started already to develop high above snowy peeks and I knew it is going to be fun. And it was. I flew high above Alps’ peeks still covered in deep snow. You can imagine what an experience it was for somebody who lives in a desert and usually flies over sand dunes and sunburned rocks.

Photo: Spring paragliding over Krn – the highest mountain around Soca Valley, Julian Alps, Slovenia

Long way home

Long way home - Proglacial lake of unnamed HPN3 (only number) glacier of Northern Patagonian Ice Field chocked and fully packed with icebergs and pack ice after the glacier tongue disintegration, Patagonia, Aisen, Chile

I planed it as the longest unsupported expedition I organized. It was even longer than that – almost 40 days in untouched Patagonian wilderness. Life has different peace during trip like that. We achieved all the planed goals: packrafting long and narrow remote Fiordo Pulpo (Octopus Fjord), the first recorded exploration of the most remote glacier of The Northern Patagonian Ice Field – glacier HPN3, opening a land & water route between Tortel and Laguna San Rafael. We have not seen any humans during the expedition and going trough Patagonian jungle tired us but the prizes were worth all of it: riding packrafts between a group of dolphins, seeing leopard seal leaping into the air at an arm distance, witnessing disintegration of HPN3 glacier tongue, playing with gigantic icebergs, being an explorer. Western Patagonia is still a place where a human is an unknown visitor, where forest stands untouched for thousands of years, where everything obeys nature’s natural laws.

More photos, video and a writeup will follow soon. Stay tuned.

Photo: Proglacial lake of unnamed HPN3 (only number) glacier of Northern Patagonian Ice Field chocked and fully packed with icebergs and pack ice after the glacier tongue disintegration, Patagonia, Aisen, Chile

Packrafting Rio Palena – Rivers of Patagonia

Packrafting Rio Palena - Rivers of Patagonia - Packrafting rio Palena with volcano Melimoyu in the background, Patagonia, Chile

We packrafted 170km (105miles) of crystal clear turquoise waters of Palena river. Right from the Patagonian Andes to the Pacific ocean. The river winds trough canyons surrounded by snowy peaks and volcanoes. The river beaches have white sands and plenty of space for camping. Sometimes it felt like the boat was suspended in the air. The water was so clear that you could see every single pebble deep at the bottom. I believe it is the best multiday river run in Patagonia. It was an excellent warmup for this active Patagonian summer.

Photo: Packrafting rio Palena with volcano Melimoyu in the background, Patagonia, Chile

Can’t wait for Slovenia!

Slovenia - The Joy of XC -Chuck Savall from Colorado paragliding along Stol and Mursi ranges on an XC flights from Slovenia toward Italia, Soca Valley, Slovenia

I simply fell in love with Slovenia, its mountains, and above all flying there. Those who went there with me last year know what I am talking about. I could not resist and we are going back to Slovenia this year, to the European Alps. The dates are 20-29 June 2013. Last year we had excellent flying time with XC flights of over 100km. I can honestly say that it is one of the best flying location in the Alps and in Europe. We had in our group of 13 an international mix of male and female pilots from Chile, Peru, USA y Poland. I simply cannot wait to get there and if you want to join us please let me know. All the details of the trip can be found here.

Photo: Chuck Savall from Colorado paragliding along Stol and Mursi ranges on an XC flights from Slovenia toward Italia, Soca Valley, Slovenia.

Team Aircross in Iquique – photo session

Team Aircross in Iquique - photo session - Gerard

What a great paragliding season this year in Iquique. Great cross country conditions in October and November were virtually every day. Plenty of +100km flights. Often I flew more than I slept. In October I was visited by a team of Aircross pilots. I could not resist those beautiful wings and had to shoot them a desert photo session. Please enjoy the photo results here: Aircross Iquique photo session

Photo: Gerard “Gege” Chouvin flying over The Mystic Dunes on his Aircross USport Evo paraglider, Iquique, The Atacam Desert, Chile

On the podium

On the podium - Paragliding at Loma Bola during CAP 2012, Tucuman, Argentina On the podium - Paragliding at Loma Bola during CAP 2012, Tucuman, Argentina On the podium - Paragliding at Loma Bola during CAP 2012, Tucuman, Argentina

Antofaya’s Jarek Wieczorek takes the 1st place at the sport category at Argentinian Paragliding Nationals 2012: It was fun to fly over the mountain jungle in Tucuman, Argentina. As my regular flying location is the Atacama desert you can imagine how different it is from the rain forest. Around fifty pilots took part in the competition. Three out of four tasks were flown. The lesson from the competition is that while having good equipment is important the crucial thing is good tactics and piloting skills. I flew AirCross UCross paraglider.

Photo: Paragliding at Loma Bola during CAP 2012, Tucuman, Argentina. Photos by Jarek and Boga

Antofaya XC Sky Challenge 2012

Antofaya XC Sky Challenge 2012 - Antofaya XC Sky Challenge will happen on October 28th. We will try to fly 200km to Iquique from the

Antofaya XC Sky Challenge  Level 2 takeoff on the highest sea cliffs in the world, Tocopilla, The Atacama Desert, Chile

This year Antofaya XC Sky Challenge will happen on October 28th, just a couple of days before the Iquique Open competition. We will try to fly 200km to Iquique from the “Level 2″ takeoff at the highest sea cliffs in the world near Tocopilla, Chile. Last year, half of the participating pilots beat their personal records with the longest flight of 190km. More info here and here.

Photo: Level 2 takeoff on the highest sea cliffs in the world, Tocopilla, The Atacama Desert, Chile

Flying The Atacama Desert – By Ned Israelsen and Chuck Savall

Flying The Atacama Desert, By Ned Israelsen and Chuck Savall - Paragliding over Toro plateau near Tiliviche Canyon, Pisagua, Iquique, The Atacama Desert, Chile

A must read for any paraglider pilot who wants to come to Chile and fly above the Atacama Desert:

“I bailed first as the thermal weakened, and found myself above an amazing plateau of a hundred undulating little peaks and dips stretching half a mile north and west. The late afternoon sun emphasized the colorful, jagged texture. The plateau sat atop a point that jutted west from the mountains all the way to the sea. I circled slowly, entranced by the beauty below. As I gained altitude bit by bit, an idea began to form. Could I go up the coast by flying over the plateau? Did I dare? What if I had to land in the middle of those badlands?” … read more

Photo: Paragliding over Toro plateau near Tiliviche Canyon, Pisagua, Iquique, The Atacama Desert, Chile

100km in The Slovenian Alps

100km in The Slovenian Alps - Jorge Rivera on his 100km XC flight spanning Slovenia and Italy, Monte Musi range, Parco Regionale delle Prealpi Giulie, Julian Alps, Italy and Slovenia

Jorge Rivera joined Antofaya Expeditions’ Slovenian trip and he writes about his memorable 100 kilometers flight:

“It was a total of 100 kilometers flying along high mountain ranges of which some rise over 2,500 meters in altitude with impressive and imposing rocky walls. A wonderful show that one can only see in great sport video documentaries.” … read more

Photo: Jorge Rivera on his 100km XC flight spanning Slovenia and Italy, Monte Musi range, Parco Regionale delle Prealpi Giulie, Julian Alps, Italy and Slovenia

Slovenian delight

Slovenian delight - On an XC flight from Soca valley in Slovenia toward Gemona in Italy, Julian Alps, Slovenia and Italy

This trip exceeded all my expectations. Slovenian Julian Alps delivered more than I could wished for. We hit the perfect flying weather at the end of June. There were some personal bests. There were a few 100km flights. There were classic Slovenia-Italy-Slovenia out and return XC flights. There were Italian pizzas galore. Everybody at our group of 13 had fun.

I am already planing the next year trip. And here are the daily photos from our paragliding in Slovenia. So if you could not be there with us this year then you can see what you missed – Slovenia 2012 daily photoblog.

Photo: On an XC flight from Soca valley in Slovenia toward Gemona in Italy, Julian Alps, Slovenia and Italy

One flight, three countries

One flight, three countries - Paragliding over Carpatian Beskids mountains, Czech Republic

The flying season in Europe is full on. A few days ago I had an XC flight, which spanned three countries! It would not be possible a few years ago but now there are no more borders in Europe and flying between countries is effortless. The cloud base was at 3,000 meters and green hills of the Carpathians extended far past the horizon. Flying here is very different from flying in the desert of Iquique. Technically it is a mix of mountain and flatland flying. If you are low you look for thermals along the ridges and sunny mountain faces. If you are high you use cloud streets and jump from one cloud to another.

Photo: Paragliding over Carpatian Beskids mountains, Czech Republic

Antofalla, cheers!

Antofalla, cheers! - Approaching the snow line while climbing North-westerns slopes of volcano Antofalla, Puna de Atacama, Andes, Argentina

The very first ever solo expedition and ascent of Antofalla volcano 6440m (21,130ft) – the North-western summit – one of the highest and most remote volcanoes on the planet. It was on my to-do list for years. Two weeks of acclimatization and warm-up climbs, 220 liters (60 gallons) of gasoline loaded in my truck, GPS with all possible planed routes, 30 liters (10 gallons) of water, plenty of pasta and tomato sauce, crampons, and beer from Tierra del Fuego. Then I was screaming from joy running down on pumice gravel on the steep slopes with endless view in front of me. I climbed Antofalla, cheers.

Personal advise from my own experience: Be very careful while opening your beer at the 4700m (15,400ft) basecamp to celebrate.

Photo: Approaching the snow line while climbing North-westerns slopes of volcano Antofalla, Puna de Atacama, Andes, Argentina

The Salar

The Salar - Salt and mud mountains at the North-Eastern Salar Antofalla, Puna de Atacama, Argentina

Lost in the high Andes between two long ranges of remote volcanoes. A hundred miles long jewel. A place of eerie beauty and colors I thought nature cannot produce. A place of an endless horizon where Earth is still forming. A place where you never stop smiling. My visit to Salar Antofalla – a place of unbelievable landscapes.

Photo: Salt and mud mountains at the North-Eastern Salar Antofalla, Puna de Atacama, Argentina.

My Atacama in Thermik

My Atacama in Thermik - Paragliding over the Atacama desert, Chile

The largest paragliding magazine on the planet – Thermik – features a portfolio of my photographs showing the beauty of flying over the Atacama desert in Chile. “Thermals, soaring, and record in Northern Chile – The desert wind”, photographs by Jarek Wieczorek, text by Tim Mayer. Highly recommended. If you haven’t been to Iquique yet this may just convince you to plan your next paragliding destination. You can buy the magazine in electronic format here or in print here.

Photo: Paragliding over the Atacama desert, Chile.

Volcano Tuzgle – The warm-up

Volcano Tuzgle - The warm-up - Summiting Volcano Tuzgle 5530m (18,140ft), Puna de Atacama, The Andes, Argentina.

160 times per minute – that is my hart, 80 times per minute – that is my lungs. A life more intense at 5500m (18,000ft).

Photo: Summiting Volcano Tuzgle 5530m (18,140ft), Puna de Atacama, The Andes, Argentina.

The Attempt

The Attempt - Winter view of volcanoes at Chilean part of Puna de Atacama, The Andes, Chile

It looks like the universe never wanted me to get there. For years I tried but it did not happen. Next attempt is in order then. Volcano Antofalla 6440m – very large, very remote, at the hart of Puna de Atacama on the shores of Salar de Antofalla. So desolate that you can hear echo of your own thoughts. Perfect place to meet my old friend Mephistopheles, isn’t it? The date is set. I am already on my way in the Andes. Some info here.

Photo: Winter view of volcanoes at Chilean part of Puna de Atacama, The Andes, Chile.

Docking Station

Docking Station - Aerial paragliding tour of Iquique port, the Atacama Desert, Chile

The very first sign of ending summer is the better flying weather. Of course it is not that good as in high October-November season but we were able to get very high and have an aerial paragliding tour of Iquique port. And the glide of modern high end wing is something you would not expect. It feels like you could fly them to Japan on the other side of Pacific.

Photo: Aerial paragliding tour of Iquique port, the Atacama Desert, Chile.

Slovenia – XC trip to the Alps

Slovenia - XC trip to the Alps - Paragliding toward Bovec valley from the Stol range, Kobarid, Julian Alps, Slovenia

This June we are going to celebrate the joy o cross country flying. Flying in beautiful Alps of Slovenia. After spending in Slovenia my European summer last year I simply fell in love with this place. I fell for its grand wild silver mountains, its spectacular flying, its emerald rivers, its green valleys, and people who smile a lot. Slovenian Alps were simply created for paragliding. Yes, they were. You will be telling me the same while laughing when you land on a green meadow deep in the Alps after a long XC flight. I dare you because I know. Come, I am taking you with me to Slovenia to have lost of fun while flying. Learn more about the trip here.

Photo: Paragliding toward Bovec valley from the Stol range, Kobarid, Julian Alps, Slovenia.

The legend continues?

The legend continues? - An off-road racing truck crossing the coastal mountain range at Pampa Perdiz during Dakar 2012 rally, Iquique, The Atacama Desert, Chile.

The rally purpose build custom cars cost around one million dollars each. They are driven by celebrity drivers who do not shy from insulting other competing drivers in instant worldwide tv coverage, dumping those stranded in the desert without help or even driving over other competitors. The judges involved in politics. Promotional ball-pens and hats. Sponsored teams with multimillion budgets. Fenced off bivouac camps guarded by platoons of armed police and security. Wounded desert with wrecked landscape. How far did Paris-Dakar go from his legend of epic passionate trans Saharan rally for adventurers?

Photo: An off-road racing truck crossing the coastal mountain range at Pampa Perdiz during Dakar 2012 rally, Iquique, The Atacama Desert, Chile.

Palo Buque

Palo Buque - An acro pilot having fun on a virgin sand slope, Palo Buque, Iquique, The Atacama Desert, Chile

The biggest paragliding playground on the planet and a pilgrimage destination for pilots. It is a 1000m tall and 10km long sand and dunes covered ridge. Since Palo Buque sits just in my backyard I sometimes forget what a big treasure I have here. So I go and fly there at sunset over the Mystic Dunes and it reminds me why I fly.

Photo: An acro pilot having fun on a virgin sand slope, Palo Buque, Iquique, The Atacama Desert, Chile.

Real Pilots

Real Pilots - Paragliding Tiliviche camp at The Vulture Ridge, The Atacama Desert, Chile

Real pilots sleep in their wings. Sleeping-bags, tents, pillows and girlfriends are redundant. I love watching men with a passion. They push boundaries, they do not care about daily comforts, they always walk looking at the sky thinking about being there, and their faces light up when they talk about flying. Actually they hardly talk about anything else. So what do you do when you are not siting in your office? You kite-board? Do puzzles? Run marathons? I fly.

Photo: Paragliding Tiliviche camp at The Vulture Ridge, The Atacama Desert, Chile.

Fly Atacama – daily photoblog

Fly Atacama - daily photoblog - Ned Izraelsen flying over Toro plateau near Tiliviche Canyon, The Atacama Desert, Chile

It is the season in the desert and we have been flying every day for hours. We barely have time to sleep and eat. Both the familiar and the remote desert flying sites give us the best possible weather this year. I bet you wished you were here flying with us. Not sure? See the photos from our daily photoblog and you will jump on your next airplane heading to Chile.

Fly Atacama 2011 daily photoblog

Photo: Ned Izraelsen flying over Toro plateau near Tiliviche Canyon, The Atacama Desert, Chile.

4th annual Antofaya cookout

4th annual Antofaya cookout - After Landing - a free bar at the dunes of Palo Buque, The Atacama Desert, Iquique, Chile

The 4th great annual Antofaya BBQ at the dunes of Palo Buque is taking place Tuesday, November 15th and is featuring grilled fish and sea food plus plenty of Chilean wine and cold beers. All pilots present in Iquique are very welcome. If you miss it you will have to wait a whole year for the next one. We will start lighting up the charcoal and open the free bar at 5PM. Send me your RSVP.

Photo: After Landing – a free bar at the dunes of Palo Buque, The Atacama Desert, Iquique, Chile.

Expedition Explorers 2012

Expedition Explorers 2012 - Jarek Wieczorek exploring in his packraft one of the northern arms of San Quintin glacier - the largest glacier of Northern Patagonian Ice Field, Patagonia, Chile

Summer is coming to Patagonia and this year Antofaya Expeditions will continue exploration of uncharted fjords, valleys and glaciers of this pristine land of unheard beauties. We will hike, paddle, and camp in places where no other explorers got before us. We are preparing our fifth month long expedition to unexplored parts of Western Patagonia. If you want to join us on this very anticipated trip or just read more about our plans please visit the Expedition Explorers website.

Photo: Jarek Wieczorek – the host of this blog exploring in his packraft one of the northern arms of San Quintin glacier – the largest glacier of Northern Patagonian Ice Field, Patagonia, Chile.

Up in clouds

Up in clouds - Jarek Wieczorek gliding along the Atacama Desert coastal range in the Loa river area, The Atacama Desert, Chile

I visualized this flight tens of times. I imagined myself taking off high above the clouds. I daydreamed about flying over the deep canyon of Loa river. I looked at gliders down low at Palo Buque. I pictured myself flying into Iquique at dusk with street lights on. I dreamed about this flight for a long time. Aren’t our dreams what we live for? Tocopilla (Level 2) to Iquique – 190km – over 7h in the air. More here.

Photo: Jarek Wieczorek – the host of this blog gliding along the Atacama Desert coastal range in the Loa river area, The Atacama Desert, Chile.

Final Glide

Final Glide

Iquique is the only place in the world where you can flight right above the town. Every paraglider flight in Iquique ends with a final glide from the mountains of The Coastal Range toward landing on one of the Pacific beaches and takes you right above the city, above a square pattern of streets, above swimming pools and a stadium, above a shipping port, above a bay full of fisherman boats and above high-risers lining the coast.

Photo: Leo Andrade on a final glide above city of Iquique, the Atacama Desert, Chile.

Level 2

Level 2 - Sunset view from the highest sea cliffs in Chile and the highest paragliding takeoff of Northern Chile - Level 2, Tocopilla, the Atacama Desert, Chile

Another addition to Project Colorada. This time our desert off-road exploration took us to the highest sea cliffs in Chile. It is a 6.000ft (1800m) vertical drop straight to the ocean! And yes, we are preparing a brand new takeoff there – Level 2. The views are breathtaking as it is way above the permanent Atacama inversion layer which means it is often high above the clouds. It should make paragliding XC flights from Tocopilla toward Iquique much easier. We will be testing it very soon.

Photo: Sunset view from the highest sea cliffs in Chile and the highest paragliding takeoff of Northern Chile – Level 2, Tocopilla, the Atacama Desert, Chile.

Antofaya XC Sky Challenge 2011

Antofaya XC Sky Challenge 2011, October 23

On October 23 (Sunday) Antofaya Expeditions is organizing a paragliding XC Challenge trying to fly 200km to Iquique from a brand new takeoff on the highest cliffs in Chile – 1600m. Number of available space limited. Please email me to sign up. More info here.

Crossing The Andes

Crossing The Andes - Camping in the hart of the high Andes between Tilcara in Humahuaca Valley and San Francisco in Calilegua, North-Western Argentina

Antofaya crosses The Andes – on foot. It took us five days of strenuous trekking along ancient Inca paths to cross the spine of South America – The Andes. We trekked from a desert village of Tilcara on the Western side, climbing various ranges and crossing deep valleys. We ended in a hamlet of San Francisco in lush jungle on the Eastern side of this longest mountain chain in the world. The maximum altitude we reached was 14,000ft (4300m) asl and minimum 3,300ft (1000m) asl. It is over 2 miles (3 kilometers) vertical climb. And we had to do it multiple times summiting each range! I wish we could do it as easily as condors do it – our only companions during this adventure.

Photo: Camping in the hart of the high Andes between Tilcara in Humahuaca Valley and San Francisco in Calilegua, North-Western Argentina.

Lemon Air

Lemon Air - Carlos Curi flying his paraglider over lemon tree plantations in Tucuman, Argentina during Argentinian National Loma Bola Paragliding Championship

It is spring in Tucuman. It means it is the time when thousands of hectares of lemon plantations are in bloom. Every single thermal is filled with nice sweet smell of flowering citrus trees. You do not want to stop circling. It is a paragliding aromatherapy.

Photo: Carlos Curi flying his paraglider over lemon tree plantations in Tucuman, Argentina during Argentinian National Loma Bola Paragliding Championship.

Sidetracked in Patagonia

Sidetracked in Patagonia - Playa San Quintin, Istmo Ofqui, Patagonia, Chile

Sidetracked magazine publishes a story about Antofaya’s exploration of remote corners of Patagonia.

“Our eyes are not used to this land of contrasts. Standing on a white sand beach in hot summer sun you see snow and ice-covered mountain peaks topped with lenticular clouds. Glaciers that descend from those ice fields do not flow through barren, rugged mountains but instead crash into rain forest—jungle filled with ferns, moss, bamboo and layers of fallen trees and colorful insects, into meadows covered in blankets of flowers.” …. read more

Text by Jarek Wieczorek. Edited by Rianna Riegelman “Patagonian Explorers”
Photo: Hiking along remote Pacific beach, Playa San Quintin, Istmo Ofqui, Patagonia, Chile

Fly Atacama with with us in 2011

Fly Atacama with with us in 2011 - Steve Torgesen flying over Tiliviche Canyon and Cero Torro plateau, The Atacama Desert, Chile

As every year this November is going to see lots of colorful paraglider wings flying over the driest desert in the world – The Atacama Desert in Chile. We are getting ready for our annual adventurous pilgrimage to Iquique – the most consistent flying destination on the planet. And again we will cover countless XC miles and again we will fly from down to dusk and again we will host the famous desert BBQ for all pilots. So what are you going to do this autumn when it rains outside? Join our flying tour to a place where it never rains. Details here.

Photo: Steve Torgesen flying over Tiliviche Canyon and Cero Torro plateau, The Atacama Desert, Chile

Chasing weather in my cockpit

Chasing weather in my cockpit - Piave river flowing trough vineyard covered foothills of the Alps, Bigolino, Treviso province, Northern Italy

I am a spoiled brat. I am a spoiled pilot who lives in the Atacama Desert where we have 360 flyable days in a year. Now I am traveling in the Alps and learning meaning of word “para-waiting”. It means checking weather daily, choosing location, driving hundreds of miles, siting on a take-off for long time, and then it is raining anyway. Or worst, snowing like in Chamonix a couple of days ago. And it is the middle of the summer! All of it is so foreign to me. I am a spoiled brat and my European paragliding friends make fun out of me.

Photo: Piave river flowing trough vineyard covered foothills of the Alps, Bigolino, Treviso province, Northern Italy

Patagonian glaciers photo story

The great San Quintin glacier splits into two creating Ventisquero Andrees and then spreads its huge piedmont lobe into the marshes of Ofqui isthmus. Beyond that are the uncharted fjords of Western Patagonia. Even farther into the Patagonian Andes there are valleys, rivers, lakes and glaciers never visited before. Expedition Explorers IV 2011 took us into this hidden mysterious world. See it for yourself here.

Movie: Expedition Explorers IV 2011 – The Great San Quintin, Northern Patagonian Ice Field, Aisen, Patagonia, Chile. (http://www.vimeo.com/21908794)

Ceske Beskydy

Ceske Beskydy - Lysa Hora range and Sance reservoir and dam, Moravian-Silesian Beskids, Czech Republic

I am spending my austral winter far away from the desert. It is very green here and flying is great. Mountains are covered with forests and valleys are full of small villages. There is plenty of paragliders here and take-offs are big grassy fields. It so different from what I am used to experience and see from the air. It is Czech Beskids.

Photo: Lysa Hora range and Sance reservoir and dam, Moravian-Silesian Beskids, Czech Republic.

Casa Hexagon version 2.0

Casa Hexagon version 2.0 - Constructing a new house of Casa Hexagon, Lago General Carrera, Aisen, Patagonia, Chile

We are rebuilding what was taken by erupting volcano Chaiten. We are rebuilding Casa Hexagon – farther south in the hart of Patagonia with views of the ice fields and the lake with waters bluer than skies. Stephan, the owner of Casa Hexagon, is full of positive energy. I am sure the version 2.0 will be even better than the original Casa Hexagon. Don’t miss it during your next Patagonian adventure. You can find it outside of Puerto Guadal.

Photo: Constructing a new house of Casa Hexagon, Lago General Carrera, Aisen, Patagonia, Chile.

Still daydreaming

Still Daydreaming - Packrafting near one of the northern arms of San Quintin glacier, Northern Patagonian Ice Field, Aisen, Chile

How do you come down from the land of your dreams to walk on the solid ground? How do you accept earth after visiting heavens? It has been days since I came back and still I cannot neither talk about it nor think about anything else. I guess this year you will need to wait a bit longer for a story about what happened this austral summer in Patagonia around The Northern Patagonian Ice Field.

Photo: Packrafting near one of the northern arms of San Quintin glacier, Northern Patagonian Ice Field, Aisen, Chile.

Sol Survivors

Sol Survivors

Another article by Rianna Riegelman a member of Antofaya Expeditions is featured by South American Explorer Magazine in issue #94. This time about endemic flora of the Atacama Desert.

“Some corners of the Atacama report no recorded rainfall -ever- and support no life. Other parts of the Atacama receive regular seasonal rainfall and support a variety of vegetation, some wildlife, and even human agriculture. Believe it or not, the Atacama Desert hosts more than 1,300 native plant species. Approximately 60% of those are believed to be endemic to the region.” …. read more

Text by Rianna Riegelman “Chile: Sol Survivors”
Photo: Cactus from an endemic genus Copiapoa at Southern coastal Atacama Desert, Llanos de Challe National Park, Chile

Evening soaring

Evening soaring - Bob Janzen from USA flying over high wind mountain desert area called “cementario dos” during one of evening XC flights, Iquique, The Atacama Desert, Chile

What a busy November! Flying every day. Flying every day more than once. Conditions were superb especially for the first half of the month. I think I got almost 100 hours in this one month. We did multiple San Marcos to Iquique XC flights of 95km, cloud soaring at Chipana, Pisagua trips, plenty of sand dune flying. Not to mention my new sporty glider from AirCross.

Photo: Bob Janzen from USA flying over high wind mountain desert area called “cementario dos” during one of evening XC flights, Iquique, The Atacama Desert, Chile.

Over the desert

Over the desert - Flying a brand new competition paraglider over the mountain dunes on a long XC in the desert, Iquique, The Atacama Desert, Chile

I get many questions from people who never been here or never been at any desert. How is flying here? When is the best time to come? Paragliding in Iquique is very different than what you have experienced anywhere before. It is not ridge soaring, it is not extremely hot here and logistics are complicated. The rewards are just unbelievable. And if you are a person who is inspired by what you see you will be coming here every year. Or maybe even you will come and settle here as I did. The desert is simply stunning but it takes dedication to see this beauty. Beauty which is beyond words for me. So I take photos and share them with those who want to watch.

Photo: Flying a brand new competition paraglider over the mountain dunes on a long XC in the desert, Iquique, The Atacama Desert, Chile.

San Chango

San Chango - A pilot flying his competition paraglider MacPara Magus 6 from the new XC takeoff Chango, The Atacama Desert, Chile

This new XC takeoff will become a hit. It is the best XC takeoff in the greater Iquique area. It has everything: big, safe and flat launch area facing prevailing winds, enormous sandy landing in front, high altitude difference of 600m, easy access even by a car, spectacular desert views 360 degrees, perfect XC distance to Iquique. We have opened it a few weeks ago and been flying there at every chance. It simply rocks. Check it out for yourself.

Photo: A pilot flying his competition paraglider MacPara Magus 6 from the new XC takeoff Chango, The Atacama Desert, Chile

Alpacka Packrafts in Chile

Alpacka Packrafts in Chile - Alpacka Packrafts at the proglacial lake of Benito Glacier Northern Patagonian Ice Field, Aisen, Patagonia, Chile

Alpacka rafts got us to places in Patagonia where nobody was able to get before. We love these ultralight and super rugged boats so much that we decided to make them available for all Patagonian adventurers. We sell Alpacka packrafts in Chile and Patagonia. Get them at Antofaya website.

Photo: Alpacka Packrafts at the proglacial lake of Benito Glacier Northern Patagonian Ice Field, Aisen, Patagonia, Chile

Winter is over

Winter is over - Carlos Curi flying his paraglider over a desert plateau near Iquique, The Atacama Desert, Chile

Days are getting longer, sand is getting hotter, cloudbase is getting higher, cross country season is coming. Winter is over in Iquique. The big fun is about to begin.

Photo: Carlos Curi flying his new paraglider Omega 8 over a desert plateau near Iquique, The Atacama Desert, Chile

Desert paragliding gallery 2009

Desert paragliding gallery 2009 - View of the desert mountains near Iquique

It took me long time but finally I have photos from last year’s paragliding season in Iquique ready. For pilots who had a chance to fly with me these photos will serve as a nice souvenir. Please enjoy. I hope to take plenty of fine photos of colorful wings over the desert this year, too. The gallery is here.

Photo: Paraglider Pilot’s view of the coastal mountains near Iquique, The Atacama Desert, Chile

Desert Eye Candy

Get Adobe Flash player

It is always flyable here but sometimes my job keeps me stuck to my computer desk. For times like that I made a cool paragliding screensaver with over fifty wonderful photos which turn on pilot’s imagination. It is available here for everybody to try: Desert Paragliding Screen Saver.

Photos: Selection of photos from Desert Paragliding Screen Saver

Arenal

Arenal - Cloud covered Cuesta de Arenal plateau and Tiliviche Canyon near Pisagua, The Atacama Desert, Chile

Project Caleta Colorada continues with establishing the highest paragliding take-off in the greater Iquique area – Arenal. This easily accessible in a car take-off at 900m a.s.l. should make cross country flights between Pisagua and Camarones more attainable. That area is getting more and more popular with pilots looking for desolate desert experience. Multiple XC flights have been already flown there but existing Junin and Tiliviche take-offs pose distinct challenges for an XC hungry pilots. The Arenal take-off is located so high that on days with a lower cloudbase you actually take off above a cloud layer and above the permanent coastal Atacama inversion layer – see the photo.

Photo by Rianna Riegelman: Host of this blog – Jarek Wieczorek – looks over cloud covered Cuesta de Arenal plateau and Tiliviche Canyon near Pisagua, The Atacama Desert, Chile

South American Explorers

South American Explorers

South American Explorer Magazine selects Antofaya’s packrafting Expedition Explorers as the feature trip for their edition #93.

“There is a valley in Southern Chile called Valle Exploradores – Valley of the Explorers in English. It is an enticing valley with an inviting name – a fantasyland of dramatic granite peaks, thick green Patagonian rainforest, glacial blue lakes and a milky gray river that joins a wide channel called the Elephant Fjord.” …. read more

Text by Rianna Riegelman “Chile: Packrafting in Patagonia”
Photo: Pakrafting in temperate Patagonian rainforest on Upper Rio Sur, Aisen, Patagonia, Chile

Colorada

True off-road flying at one of the most remote Iquique paragliding sites. Past weekend conditions at Caleta Colorada were nothing short of great. We flew almost to Iquique and back. And the views over the Atacama plateau are to die for.

Movie: Off-road paragliding, Caleta Colorada, The Atacama Desert, Iquique, Chile. (http://www.vimeo.com/13710141)

Tandem racing

Tandem paraglider piloted by Philip Maltry with his daughter over Patillos take-off, Iquique, The Atacama Desert, ChileThere are very few tandem paragliding competitions in the world. One of them takes place every winter in Iquique. Not only is it a sport event but a social one, too and tandem pilots from various paragliding school compete in any possible way for publicity for their commercial operations. Solo pilots are allowed to compete as well. And plenty of them show up to flex their sleepy winter wings.

Photo: A tandem paraglider piloted by Philip Maltry with his daughter over Patillos take-off, Iquique, The Atacama Desert, Chile.

Power of faith

Dancers during religious feast of Fiesta de La Tirana, La Tirana, ChileEvey year a small oasis of 500 inhabitants in the heart of The Atacama Desert gets besieged by pilgrims and religious dancers. Two hundred thousands of them! It is a spectacle in its own rights with dancers coming from all over Chile and neighboring countries. They dance continuously for a week twenty four hours a day as a tribute to their holy virgin. During the day they dance in scorching desert sun and in the night they dance in temperatures well below freezing. Christian religion mixed with Aymaran beliefs. It is all there.

Photo: Dancers during religious feast of Fiesta de La Tirana, La Tirana, Chile

Fly Atacama 2010

Sandro Traussnig paragliding over dry riverbeds of Cerro Toro plateau near Tiliviche canyon north of Iquique, Pisagua, The Atacama Desert, ChileAs every year together with Ken Hudonjorgensen I have been preparing another great paragliding desert adventure for this coming November. This year we and our participants will focus on XC miles and discovering new flying locations. Come and be part of this real adventure during the best paragliding season over the desert of Northern Chile. Read more information and see more pictures here.

Photo: Sandro Traussnig paragliding over dry riverbeds of Cerro Toro plateau near Tiliviche canyon north of Iquique, Pisagua, The Atacama Desert, Chile.

Los Coihues Navy

A packraft and a kayaker at the put out at Rio Manso de Frontera at the border between Argentina and Chile, Patagonia, Argentina.Now I know why in Barliloche people do not make big eyes like everywhere else in Patagonia when I say “a packraft”. Because they know what it is. I met fellow packrafters here. They have been introducing the sport to Patagonia for a couple of years now, the same way as I have been. They had some amazing adventures with their packrafts, too. And of course once we met we had to go packrafting together – four packrafters and five kayakers. We went to Rio Manso de Frontera. The river gave me all I asked for. I wanted to swim and yes the biggest rapid of the river bit me and I went swimming down some rough whitewater, mostly underwater. As Bicho said “I saw his head spinning down in an eddy”. I guess it was my baptism to be a member of Los Coihues Navy.

Photo: A packraft and a kayaker at the put out at Rio Manso de Frontera at the border between Argentina and Chile, Patagonia, Argentina.

The road to Cushamen

Aerial view of easternmost Andean ranges near El Maiten and Cushamen, Patagonia, ArgentinaIn my previous life I was driving my truck looking for a forgotten road from Fofo Cahuen to Cuchamen, getting lost in the dark, spending a night at the top of the hill, and in the morning dreaming about flying above those remote ranges of Argentinean Patagonian steppe. In this life a friend takes me to his secret flying place. A place so stunning and shiny in the setting sun that you never want to land. And then I realize that these are the mountain ranges of the road I saw long time ago. This is the road to Cushamen. Thank you Martin, Laucha and your newborn Lorenzo for your hospitality. Thank you for taking me on the road to Chushamen … again.

Photo: Aerial view of easternmost Andean ranges near El Maiten and Cushamen, Patagonia, Argentina.

Next Page »