After visiting various flying places in the Alps over the last few years we decided to try something new and check out Algodonales in Spain. Algodonales is one of the scenic Andalucian ‘white villages’ (called so because of the white houses) but much off the beaten touristy path. With its setting in a hills of the Sierra de Lijar and architecture Algodonales reminded us much of Valle de Bravo except for the lack of buzzing activity at all times and many groves of olive trees (the noise and the diesel stink of Valle was not missed at all). Although the town square restaurants are busy with diners late into the night (excellent food, … Schweinebäckchen = Carrilada highly recommended for carnivores), the rest of the town is asleep at night.
Turns out Algodonales was a great choice for flying. Peter bagged a +100 km out-and return and couple of nice triangles even with his not-so-aerodynamic hiking harness (we left the pods at home to fit the camping and via-ferrata gear which we didn’t use because the flying was so good). The main site has 3 launches for different wind directions (NW, SE and more challenging N). Although the launches are reasonably high (600 m AGL) the rest of the flying is a mix of flat-land and mountain flying as elevation differences in the surrounding terrain are smaller. In addition to good cross country flights scenic evening soaring flights were to be had. On one occasion we watched the sun set from the air, landing just in time to pack up and enjoy a nice cold ‘Lande’-beer before it got dark. The many big and friendly vultures make perfect wind techs. They are noticeably larger than our bald eagles and like to thermal close to our wings but apparently there has only been one collision in 20 or so years.
Several companies cater to PG pilots (accommodation, drive to launch and retrieve from XC flights, pick-up from nearby airports). We went with ‘Ganterfly’; very good and friendly service, excellent flying advice and generally a lot of fun with dad Gerhard and his two sons Carlos and Manuel. As Algodonales is pretty quiet compared to other flying sites in Europe or Valle de Bravo it may take some research and prior arrangement for independent flyers to get rides to launch (at least at the time of our visit).
There are several other flying sites nearby including beach flying on the Atlantic coast at Matalascanas and Conil de la Frontera. And if the weather is not conducive to flying at all Cordoba, Sevilla, Granada and Gibraltar are within 1 or 2 hours driving and amazing cultural sightseeing destinations.
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