Governador Valadares is simply a Mecca for paragliding.
Talk to anybody who knows anything about paragliding! If you mention Brazil most people will think of Valadares, famous throughout the world for its good, consistent, cross-country flying. That is the main reason why so many national and international competitions are held here, year after year. Valadares hosted the World Championships in 2005 and the Super Finals of the Paragliding World Cup in January 2014 and again in January 2017.
Ibituruna is a huge lump of volcanic rock, towering 990 metres above Valadares and the landing field at Feira da Paz. Because of its height above the surrounding landscape, it tends to act like a magnet, drawing towards its peak all the thermals in the immediate vicinity. It is an exceptional starting point for those big XC flights. The take-off is well maintained and has plenty of room, coping with up to 150 pilots in some of the big competitions.
We always try to avoid flying these sites during competition time. Not surprisingly, some people can find being in the air with that many pilots very intimidating.
The main landing field in Valadares is massive. It is situated close to the city centre; only 10 minutes walk from the hotel and about 2 minutes from the nearest bar. In addition to the main landing field there are massive bomb-out fields before getting to the river, so having insufficient height for the crossing should never be a concern.
From January through to April the thermals are usually big, smooth and relatively calm. It’s a fantastic place to develop and fine-tune those thermalling skills. With cloudbase normally reaching about 6,000′ above the ground, you’ll have plenty of time and space to polish up your technique.
Later on in the year, particularly in September and October, the conditions can get noticeably stronger. Cloudbase frequently exceeds 8,000′ ASL (approximately 7,500′ above the landing field) and climbs of over 8 metres per second can be found. This is not the time for inexperienced pilots but the more adventurous ones may achieve some big distances.
Whether you come here with 10 hours, post CPC, or hundreds of hours, Valadares has a lot to offer and provides an excellent opportunity to increase those personal bests. Valadares is generally considered to have some of the best cross-country flying in the world.
The record for this site, set in September 2016, is currently 210 km. Flights of 100 km are quite common and it is not unusual for pilots with relatively low air-time to come here and fly 50 km.
Dean Crosby, your guide for the tours, has already done several flights of between 150 and 160 km from Ibituruna. I’m quite sure he’s capable of setting a new record on the right day.