Paragliding in Gjirokaster
Paragliding in Gjirokaster (Albania) – 70 Km Flat Triangle
If you go on a tour through Albania, a visit to Tirana is definitely one of them. Down in the streets of the vibrant capital, life is played by more than 600,000 people. At the top of the Dajti National Park, the perspective opens up over the densely built-up settlements far out into the mountains off the Adriatic Sea. In Albania about a dozen local pilots fly, in Tirana we are mostly alone. The small launch site in a clearing surrounded by bushes may be one reason. “This is adventurous, but the places are guaranteed to be better,” we promise our pilots as a precaution before the ascent. Full of energy we climb into the Doppelmayr gondola and are rewarded after unspectacular starts with super fine flight conditions. The imposing rock formations and the adjacent outskirts produce plenty of thermal. You feel like a child in the candy store and would like to turn up here and there, because it is so nice and you can see umbrellas everywhere. What a photogenic scene!
The next eye candy comes in the evening. We drive to the sea, over hill and dale for a perfect west start and squint against the sun reflected in the smooth water. The scenery is so cheesy that two local TV stars are flown tandem to the coast. Not without big fanfare with camera, microphone and a large entourage. We watch with amusement the perhaps a bit strange mentality and then enjoy our “sundowner” to the beach bar. True to style, we end the day with fresh fish on a board directly above the water.
The launch sites by the sea are perfectly developed thanks to the World Championships in precision landing last May. The Accuracy competitions have been trendy for years. They should be the springboard for the Balkan countries into the paragliding scene and a pioneer for tourism. For now, we do not care about the landing. Turning up and exploring the coastal areas is the goal. As so often, good timing is needed at the start time. It decides, whether one experiences a “hot” or rather cool beach day. Everything was there, even hitherto unattained altitudes of over 2500m.
The Höhenrausch is actually outbid the next day. We make a trip to Greece, the Greek equivalent of Gjirokaster. Google calculates a good hour’s drive, with border crossing then barely two. The compensation soon followed: Again, the “young savages” open the seemingly boundless Kurblerei in the blue sky. This time, even the 4000 lights up on some Varios. Significantly too cold for Sämi, who simply slips out of orbit for about an hour. Fabian comes to the top landing, which Dominik and Jonas were denied by excessive thermal detachment. No wonder, then it is just flown for hours until the sun goes down. The local pilots enjoy the many unexpected Fluggspändli, we will definitely be back.
This applies to our entire round trip through Albania: 6 days flying totally from the capital over the coast to the inland. We will talk about these absolute highs and other stories for a long time.
Text: Ramona Fischer
Photos: Ramona Fischer, Jonas Heidenfelder