Flying Porterville

This fading summer I had the pleasure to fly in Porterville a few times. It is a great, great area for flying. This site is not only marking my personal best. I had lots of fun, I met great people and flying is made easy by the very well organised environment for paragliders.

Itay ridge

I was in Porterville first for some free flying in November 2011 and then for the SA Open in December.


Porterville is located about100 km north of Cape Town and a good hour drive from there. The area is marked by a ridge of about 50 (!) km which is marking the end of the Cedarberg. The ridge is facing west towards the ocean (about 60 km away).


Flying in Porterville is one of the best sites I have experienced so far. In the South African summer you can fly on more than half of the days. Between November – March you have a really great chance of fantastic thermal conditions.

But it is not for beginners. Or let’s say, beginners should start very early (starting late doesn’t work out on most of the days) and might have not a lot flying during the day. The good start window is at many days only for one or two hours before and around noon. Before you might not stay at the ridge and later the take off conditions can get very turbulent. But there are days where you can fly from 10 – 6.

Well, and then Porterville rocks. Most flights start with some dynamic and thermal flying along the ridge. You can go about 20 km South and more than 30 km North on the ridge. So if you the wind allows and you can fly the ridge completely in both directions you will get your (frist) 100 km fligth. My best flights (and that’s what a lot of people do) started with a few km to the south and then about 20 km to the north on the ridge. In the middle of the ridge you might jump over in the valley of Citrusdal and head there north as far as you can. If you reach Clanwillam you might have concluded your (first) 100 km flight. Often flights stop earlier as the winds get strong in the afternoon. So was my 68 km flight which you find here: http://xc.dhv.de/xc/modules/leonardo/index.php?name=leonardo&op=show_flight&flightID=300055.

Conditions are really strong and if you are only used to European flying it might remind you of flying in the dolomites or in Spain. I had a nice flight from Piketberg which illustrates that quite nicely: http://xc.dhv.de/xc/modules/leonardo/index.php?name=leonardo&op=show_flight&flightID=299140

It was 13 km in the flatlands and I used only two thermals: 6 m/s up and also 6 m/s down. It is for the first time really breathtaking. But you get addicted and want more!!! In the middle, these thermals are surprisingly smooth, but the lower you get the more turbulences will hit you. Also, to hit the inversion at the top of the thermals can be rocky.

DSC05972 DSC05973

My second stay was during the Winelands Open. The biggest paragliding competition in South Africa in which of international pilots take part. That was such a good fun! The main problem is to avoid too much of drinking to stay fit for the next day of flying.

It opened for me another dimension of flying, of really trying hard to get some distance in. Even if you are not really competing, the buzz of it is very energising and fun.

Itay 4Itay 3Itay 2Itay 1

I learnt a lot about flying and improved a lot. Just to try to make the waypoints of a set track in the comp and to see what the others are doing teaches so much. I really can recommend every paraglider to try it once. It is fun and great training.

Here are some pictures from the comp. A few a borrowed from Itay Takserman, a great Israeli pilot I had a wonderful time with in Porterville.

Some practical hints for Porterville:

How to start there? I just checked in the Flyers Lodge (….) in Porterville. You arrive, can’t avoid to have immediately your first cold beer and will find yourself after hours still chatting with other pilots or the owner Rob Manzoni about flying in Porterville and elsewhere in the world. There are some modern rooms as well as dormitories. If you are not arriving in peak season, space is amble. There are not many options for eating out, but at least three restaurants cater for very good steaks and acceptable pizza or salad. Rob can give you good advice on the wheather situation and prints out on busy days the wheather reports including some more technical stuff.

For the days of flying I always used the fantastic services of Coral and Paul. They have by far the best informations on the internet (http://www.flyporterville.info/) and are posting daily on facebook (http://www.facebook.com/flyporterville). Paul can give you a great update about tomorrows and todays flying conditions including the recommendations where to take off and to fly to. Coral is organising retrieval. Basically, she is getting you a driver to fetch you in your own car. They got a radio, know the region pretty well and have done retrieval many times. Give them a call (+27.727806483) at best two days before you arrive and everything will be sorted out for you!

If it is not flyable, there are very few options close to Porterville (one or two hikes), but plenty of options if you drive a bit. The winelands start with Tulbagh about 40 min from Porterville, the Cedarberg are nearby though the best hikes are 1 – 2 hours away and the coast with the superb kite-surfing spot Langebaan is about 75 mins away.


4 comments to Porterville

  • Die Fotos sehen echt stark aus. Genieße!

  • Hi Reinhard and Sonja,
    I hope that you are both well?
    I just wanted to say thank you for your kind words about Paul, myself and FlyPorterville, It’s lovely to hear from you after what seems like such a long time.
    We are so happy that you enjoyed your time in Porterville and hope that it won’t be too long before we see you again.
    Your blog is very cool … such adventures :-) .
    Anyway stay in touch and take care,

  • Reinhard

    Hi Coral, that was so great, really!! I hope to come back soon!

  • Aw, this was a really nice post. In idea I would like to put in wrtinig like this additionally � taking time and actual effort to make a very good article� but what can I say� I procrastinate alot and on no account seem to get something done.

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