January/February, March/April, November/December, South America, Travel Guide

Guide to Valle de Bravo, Mexico

Tuesday 18 February, 2014
Site of the 2009 paragliding world championships for a very good reason: it’s always flyable in Valle!

Site of the 2009 paragliding world championships for a very good reason: it’s always flyable in Valle!

Here, if anywhere, you’re guaranteed top-quality flying.


In season, every day in Valle is flyable, giving you a variety of mountain, flatland and convergence lift to fill your boots with. A chilled lakeside bar will nourish your sky-shrivelled body and mind after you land. Valle has been the site of many top-class international competitions for very good reasons.

Valle de Bravo is a picturesque lakeside town west of Mexico City. Pilots and tourists flock to this winter paradise from December to March to take advantage of the amazingly consistent weather. The town swells every weekend with the Mexico City elite, there to take advantage of the wealth of outdoor sports and pumping nightlife.

El Penon, the main launch, is a 45-minute drive from town and starts working as early as 11am. There’s a witching hour, depending on the day, when take-off becomes unruly. However, like clockwork the valley cools as the sun fades, and patient pilots are rewarded with glorious evening glass-offs.

There’s a great ridge soaring site directly above the lakeside landing zone called La Torre. The original free flight site used by hang gliders in the late seventies is a steep ramp, which is flyable almost every afternoon and needs only 12km/h of westerly wind.

Valle serves up a bit of everything: pumping mountain thermals kick off proceedings, before you transition to classic plateau convergence flying and flat land crossings. Your day culminates at the lakeside landing zone, conveniently located close to the town centre.

November to February for PGs, January to March for HGs.

Cloudbase: 3,500m
Launch: 2,340m
Landing: 1,790m

Both El Penon and La Torre are reached by car and suitable for hang gliders.

The Valle convergence: from El Penon hop to the G-spot and gain enough height to cross the valley to the Three Kings. Take this line to the Divasedero turnpoint, then follow the convergence line back across the mesa to the Monarch butterfly winter nesting area above the town of Saucos.

The convergence needs a chance to set up so launch early, but wait until after 12:30 pm before you head off. After you’ve taken in the views of Nevada Toluca, return to the lake through the mountains and use Cerro Gordo to gain the necessary altitude for your victory glide to the cold beer waiting for you in the town landing zone.

Launch conditions can blow out once the midday heat overwhelms the valley floor.  Avoid the saddle behind El Penon at all costs. Many fields have hidden power lines. Watch out for crowded air, especially around the house thermals of the G-spot and the Crazy Thermal Place.

Pilots must register at www.clubpenon.org before flying.

From palatial Mexican estates replete with maids and cooks to Spartan “posada” digs.

There’s no shortage of guides in Valle, and several respected US schools go there every year. Try www.paraglidingmexico.com www.eagleparagliding.com, www.superflyinc.com, Alas Del Hombre , www.flymexico.com, or Raoul Carvalho.

“Arguably the best place in the world to fly! Quality flying guaranteed!” Russell Ogden – triple British PG champion and 2009 PWC Superfinal vice-champion.

It’s a great family holiday location in a quaint Mexican town. Play on the lake, swim in pools, hike in the mountains or visit a butterfly sanctuary to see the hundreds of thousands of Monarch butterflies that migrate there every year.

You’re unlikely to have any.

If it’s not raining it’s flyable.

Toluca is the nearest airport, from which taxis transfer you to Valle. Mexico City is an hour and a half further east, with daily buses from the central bus terminal. Or organize a pickup from one of the local operators in Valle who’ll await you at either airport – it’s the cost-effective option for groups.

• Got news? Send it to us at news@xccontent.local

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