Europe, March/April, May/June, September/October, Travel Guide

Guide to Lovcen, Montenegro

Friday 14 February, 2014
Flying through the cloud from the summit of Lovcen. Photo: Manu Bonte

Flying through the cloud from the summit of Lovcen. Photo: Manu Bonte

WHY GO?
The jewel in the Adriatic this tiny country is a secret autumn flying spot, perfect for escaping to when the Alps are wet, windy and cold.

WHERE IS IT?

WHAT’S IT LIKE?
Montenegro is an undiscovered gem for flying. Small, with a population of only 600,000, everywhere is close to everything, including several interesting flying sites that will also allow you to see plenty of the country.

Budvar is one of the country’s main resorts. Starting in June it’s a lively place all summer with busy beaches and lots of nightlife. Rising above it is a SW-facing coastal mountain range that runs south towards the border with Albania.

The launch is called Brajici and is three-quarters of the way up these hills on the road to the mountain town of Cetinje – you will see pilots launching as soon as any morning cloud has burnt off.

Launch is at 760m with landing down below on the beach at sea level. Fly the coast and you can make it 40km south to Bar, close to the Albania border.

Inland things get quieter. Follow the road through Cetinje to the summit of Lovcen at 1,749m and on a clear day you will be able to see the whole country laid out before you. To the north is Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina, to the east is Serbia. The XC site of Niksic to the north offers south-facing slopes and mountains for XC exploration and triangles.

From Lovcen you can lob off and fly, before making your way down through the clouds into Kotor Bay. Surrounded by steep limestone walls you will feel like Jason and the Argonauts flying through the Pillars of Hercules as you soar above the incredible fortified city of Kotor.

FLYING CONDITIONS
Montenegro is about as far south as Rome or Barcelona so the season starts early. On the coast the mountains face south west, have their own coastal microclimate and start to heat up from February on. Flying thermals in February is possible, although inland the summit of Lovcen will be inaccessible because of snow.

The best conditions are in spring until June, although storms and overdevelopment can occur. July and August can be very stable and hot, plus crowded beaches make landing safely almost impossible. September and October things cool down and tourists disappear, meaning the weather is generally fine and dry with better flying and better landing options.

WHEN TO GO
Spring and autumn.

ALTITUDE
Take-off: 760m
Landing: Sea level
Cloudbase: 1,500m, with a 1,200m airspace ceiling in places

HANG GLIDER ACCESS
Yes, an asphalt road and short section of dirt track goes to a carpeted launch.

MUST BE FLOWN
The 40km coastal run to Bar (and back). Flying down into Kotor from the summit of Lovcen.

WATCH OUT FOR
Local airspace ceiling at 1,200m.

WEATHER INFO
Cloud often clings to the summit until the seabreeze kicks in. Watch for overdevelopment in summer.

ACCOMMODATION
Everything from hostels to six-star casinos and hotels is available in Budvar. Montenegro Fly offer accommodation for pilots at their dedicated adventure lodge on the edge of Lovcen National Park.

TAKE THE FAMILY AND RAINY DAYS
The beach resorts and the Mediterranean are the main draw here, with plenty of sight-seeing options for when it’s blown out. Away from that, climb the walls at Kotor and imagine sailing in from Venice on a trading ship. Then go eat seafood.

GETTING THERE
Dubrovnik airport 80km away in Croatia is the closest. Ryanair also fly to Podgorica in Montenegro. You will need a hire car to get around, although the tandem outfits will shuttle you to launch from the beach for €5. You can also get a local bus running to Cetinje from Budvar and ask to be let off at the paragliding take-off.

CONTACTS
Robin Brown runs Montenegro Fly, which offers guiding, trips, accommodation, airspace advice, weather briefings and shuttle to launch.


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