Hang gliding in Rio is really popular. It’s not only the almost perfect conditions with wind, views and hills that’s the reason, the spirit of the new Carioca is one of adventure and sports.
The History of Hang Gliding in Rio
“It all started with Pepe…” Anyone involved with hang gliding in Rio de Janeiro would say this. Pepe is today an icon for the new Rio that took form in the 1980’s. He was the pioneer that started making hang gliding popular in Rio and in Brazil. The surf champion, hang gliding world champion (1981) and sushi restaurant pioneer tragically passed away during a hang gliding competition in Japan 1991. But his name is eternalized having two beaches named after him: Pepe in Barra de Tijuca and Pepino in São Conrado.
Pepe and some other enthusiasts built a ramp and started jumping of the hill Pedra Bonita, they landed on the part of the beach in São Conrado nowadays known as Pepino. Today there are many operators and there is always a cue at the ramp. This is where you will be taken if you sign up with any of the operators that offer the twin jump. It’s not a bad option, located right in the middle of Atlantic Rainforest you get unforgetable views of the hills and the city.
There are so many operators out there offering hang gliding. My only advice is that you shouldn’t let the price decide. Pick a serious operator that gives you a good feel. What you get offered in a hotel, hostel or travel agent are almost for certain reliable. Going to the beach in São Conrado you can for sure get a better price but some of these are cowboys that take unnecessary chances and don’t have the right equipment and experience. Accidents do happen!
If your operator calls you in the morning telling you that the winds are bad; Or if you’re up on the ramp and you see other people going but your company won’t; You´re in luck! That’s a good sign of a serious operator. Although with the new safer design of the kites, hang gliding under the wrong conditions is still really dangerous.