- A world heritage site of rock spires towering over lakes
- A unique French-run eco-resort in the heart of China
- Go in spring or autumn to miss the May-June monsoon
- The XC potential is only now being explored
A new frontier for the adventurous pilot and traveller
WHERE IS IT?
WHAT’S IT LIKE?
“The dragon takes off.” With those words, Taining was launched on to the paragliding world map in 2010. Almost 1,000km southwest of Shanghai, in Fujian province, Taining is a Unesco World Heritage Site remarkable for its unique landscape of smooth volcanic rock spires that rise above lakes.
Lush forests, ancient temples clinging to the side of 2,000m mountains and timeless villages crashing headlong into the 21st century greet the pilot who’s adventurous enough to get here.
A Frenchman, Jean-Jacques Defaix, established the flying site 10km south of Taining as part of a French/Chinese exchange/development. Taking a 40-year lease, he’s created a “Village de France” in the middle of rural China. It’s pitched as an eco-friendly resort promoting French culture and French-style activities, hence the parapentes. It’s aimed at a growing middle class of Chinese tourists, as well as overseas travellers intent on seeing something quite unique.
Alongside the main take-off, which sits high above the lake, a training hill has been bulldozed into existence near the lake shore. The whole centre is backed by the paraglider manufacturer ITV.
There are two main take-offs, one at 400m and one at 1,000m. The landing zone is at 250m. It’s perfect for training, acro and SIV, but XC exploration so far has been limited by the lack of landing options around the 14km lake. If you go XC here, let us know how you get on. The region sees almost 300 days of good weather a year, and a south wind brings the best soaring conditions, the locals report.
WHEN TO GO
Spring and autumn. There’s a short monsoon season from May to late June.
HANG GLIDER ACCESS
If you get a hang glider out here, then you’re going to get it to the top of the hill. The access to the take-off is top-drivable by truck or 4×4.
MUST BE FLOWN
Tour the lake, go on an XC adventure, send us a postcard about it.
DANGERS AND ANNOYANCES
Landing out. The landings are small, usually just a terrace. Watch for power lines too.
A collection of Alpine-style chalets on the lakeside is being developed for visitors. Join in or check out the hotels in Taining, 10km away.
GUIDES AND COURSES
ITV paragliding and paramotor school; the director is Yuming.
TAKE THE FAMILY
Take a boat trip on the Golden Lake, explore Taining old town, head to the Taining geological museum, gaze into the depths of the Jiulong Deep Pool and trek through the Zhaixia Big Canyon.
Monsoon in May to early June. Cold in the winter.
From Shanghai or Hong Kong take a two-hour internal flight to Fuhzou, Wuisan or Namchang, and then arrange a car or jump on a bus. It’s a four-hour drive.
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