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Fact File

Where and when: Jarabacoa is one of the most dramatic places to go paragliding in the Dominican Republic. The takeoff point is on top of a hill next to the road to Constanza; and typical flights take in the surrounding mountains (you can see Pico Duarte from here) before landing in the valley on the outskirts of Jarabacoa. Other places to fly include Matua (near Santo Domingo), Azua, Bani, Barahona and Bonao. On the north coast paragliding is also possible off the top of Isabel de Torres in Puerto Plata, although the wind is normally too strong to make this a regular paragliding location.

Provided that the wind is right, you can paraglide all year round in the Dominican Republic.

Thermal and dynamic air: Experienced paragliders will be able to distinguish between thermal and dynamic air. The former is a column of rising air caused by the heating of the land surface, and is used by paragliders to gain height. Dynamic air, meanwhile, hits the side of the mountain in a constant, steady stream. If the wind is strong, however, this air hits the side of the mountain, spills over the top, and rolls down the other side. Flying in calm conditions where there is either thermal or dynamic air is straightforward enough. However a mixture of the two, combined with strong winds, can be unpredictable and potentially hazardous.

Equipment: Paragliders should not be confused with hang-gliders. The former are specially designer parachutes shaped like flexible wings, while the latter are large cloth wings stretched over a light framework from which the pilot hangs in a harness. Tandem paragliding equipment (i.e. paragliders for two people) plus all safety equipment is provided when you take a course or an individual flight. The essential difference between paragliders for beginners and those for more advanced flyers is that the former do not close as quickly. A refreshing thought, perhaps!

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Article: Mountain Hopping

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