Switzerland is home to between 8000 and 9000 licensed paragliders. Some 300 of them live in Canton Ticino – and no wonder: here on Lake Maggiore they enjoy spectacular flights from Cardada-Cimetta (alt. 1647 m), only 10 minutes by cable car from Locarno, down to the Maggia Delta at alt. 195 m. This particular arena benefits from three special attributes: the flight directly over the city, the landing on a tiny island, and the substantial difference in altitude (approx. 1452 m). Three particularities in Switzerland that are arguably unique. Given a southerly wind, the flight from Cardada-Cimetta takes a good 20-25 minutes – up to over an hour if the wind is right. The flight benefits from an ever-changing awe-inspiring vista. At times you can see the Verzasca valley, Vallemaggia and Centovalli simultaneously. Northerly winds are no good for this particular flight, even if the sun’s belting down.
Paragliding is possible from almost anywhere in Ticino. Fitness and surefootedness are a prerequisite, of course, and you need to carry as little weight as possible. It’s now possible to get gliders and accessories that weigh less than five kilograms, which makes the climbing that much easier. Mountaingliders is a Locarno-based flying school on the Maggia Delta that offers all manner of tandem flights. They include Hike & Fly experiences, since demand is on the up – and daredevil experiments without proper training are a big no-no. The insider tip is the aforementioned flight from Cardada-Cimetta above Locarno with landing in the Maggia Delta. The team of 12 qualified pilots accept tandem passengers of all ages. The take-off is the part of the tandem flight that requires all your attention, especially if you’ve never done anything like this before. It’s important to follow your pilot’s instructions and jump off when he or she says so. During the flight, you can relax, make yourself comfortable and take in the breathtaking panorama and contrasting emotions. Take off and enjoy! And after landing? Then you’ve earned yourself a refreshing aperitif and a little dolce vita by the lake.