Slovenia Paragliding Trip
Jason and I had discussed possible locations for our annual paragliding trip and decided that Slovenia sounded like a promising place to visit. Jason had been speaking online with a Slovenian pilot who organised the accomodation for us and generously offered to show us the area while we stayed in his family home. He even picked us up from the airport
On the day of our arrival Ivan showed us the local landing field that he uses when flying from his farm. His mother made us a tradition dinner and then Ivan showed us his own peronal launch site, right on his property. It was quite late in the evening at this point so we just launched and glided down the valley, leaving our wings with his mother-in-law. We had been joined by Marko, another local pilot.
The next day we were up at around 7am for some more home cooked Slovenian food. Ivan had to work for a couple of hours so he dropped us in town and we had some coffee and bought some maps and phrase books. At around 11am Ivan joined us and we all took the bus to the take off at Kobala.
The first real day of flying started with a visit to the landing field in Tolmin, a huge open space to the west of launch at Kobala. We were given the low-down of the local conditions by English pilot Brett Janaway, who later flew 100 km that day!
The locals were all waiting for the easterly wind to switch to westerly, but it never did.
Kobala is a spine-back ridge so can take both directions. We took our cue to launch from local pilot, and our guide, Ivan Larhanar. After launching, Jason and I both found ourselves low and scratching for any lift we could find. I thought I might need to consider my landing options pretty soon. I was taking advantage of anything going up and making turns in tiny puffs of air that were occassionally heading up the slope. Patience eventually paid off and I was saved the embarrassment of bombing out on the first day. As I connected with a thermal over a radio antenna the sense of relief was intense.
I was finally climbing above my take off height after a series of downward glides between intermittent puffs of lift. I looked over the valley to see Jason doing rather well, having managed to avoid the route I had taken around the side of the mountain. I headed over to meet him, loitering in the house thermal that Brett had advised us about. I lost a ton of height in the process and no sooner had I arrived Jason buggered off to the next ridge. I hung back and worked hard in weak lift, waiting for the next substantial thermal to kick off. Patence paid off once more and I was rewarded by a healthy injection of altitude, enabling me to hop over to the next ridge and attempt to catch Jason, but he was off and away. Ivan was on the radio. He had landed at Tolmin and inquired whether we were still flying or not. I told him we were both in the air, and promptly started losing height. My fun was over and I was now on a dash to try to reach the landing field. I was near, but decided not to risk a low glide over trees.
I ended up landing just short of the landing field, but right near another pilot, a woman who was stripped down to a t-shirt and a thong! It was rather hot. Jason soon decided to join us despite considerable altitude. Our first day had proved challenging but rewarding. After a couple of cool beers we headed to Triglavski Narodni Park.
This place is well worth the three Euros admission price and has some stunning gorges.
Then it was back to Ivan's house for some of his mother's home cooking.