Gliding in Worcester offers aerial adventurers some of South Africa’s most exciting flying conditions. Here, geographical and meteorological anomalies converge, over some of the Western Cape’s most spectacular scenery, to allow pilots to travel vast distances without the aid of an engine, and only the wind beneath their wings.

Did you know?

Worcester’s good light and scenic landscapes have made it a favorite location for film shoots.

In Worcester, gliding is possible all year round, owing to the fact that it’s one of the few places in the world where thermic, ridge and wave soaring conditions can be experienced at one site.

In summer, arid, hot and windy conditions in Worcester induce thermals providing some of the best conditions for soaring in the Cape. Once air-borne, either by winch or tug aircraft, and at the correct altitude, pilots seek out the core of the thermal, circling higher and higher until they experience uninterrupted vistas of the vine-covered valleys below.

Around Worcester the juxtaposition of the mountain ranges has the effect of creating variable wave lift conditions. In winter, a cold front, bringing north-westerly winds, precipitates high mountain lee-waves, allowing pilots, despite the lack of thermic lift, to go ridge riding and wave soaring.

The alternating up and down draughts, produced along the mountain ranges, generate wave patterns consistent enough for pilots to travel hundreds of kilometres without any loss of altitude. A spectacular example is the run from the Brandvlei Dam, over Villiersdorp and Elgin, all the way to Hangklip, near Kleinmond in the Overberg.

Here, subject to ATC clearance, aircraft achieve uncommonly high altitudes, allowing pilots to fly out over the Atlantic Ocean, enjoy panoramic views of the entire Cape Peninsula, and re-enter the wave to gain height for the return trip back to Worcester.

Gliding in the Western Cape is not only for qualified pilots. The Cape Gliding Club, based at Worcester airfield, offers air flight experiences (AFEs). An AFE lasts about 30 minutes and the scenery is so incredible you won’t want to come down. It’s the ultimate airborne escape; an out-of-this-world adventure that’ll make your adrenalin soar.

Travel tips & Planning info

Who to contact

Cape Gliding Club

How to get here

From Cape Town, drive north along the N1 through to Paarl. Drive through Paarl, and take the Huguenot toll tunnel to Worcester. Alternatively, take the Du Toitskloof Pass which is roughly 11km longer, but very scenic.

Best time to visit

Worcester offers exciting soaring conditions throughout the year. Each season provides its own visual delights – green farmlands in summer and snow-capped peaks in winter.

Around the area

Kleinplasie Living Museum is an open-air museum depicting farm life through the ages in the Cape; the Worcester Institute for the Blind is an informative and uplifting experience; and the town centre boasts many unusual examples of Cape Dutch gables.

Tours to do

A tour of the KWV Brandy Museum is a fascinating and delicious diversion.

Get around

It is advisable to hire your own car, as there is no public transport to Worcester, other than trains or long-distance buses.

What will it cost

AFEs (Air Flight Experience) cost in the region of R850 for a 30 minute flight.

Length of stay

While the AFE takes only 30 minutes, flight preference is given to club members, so you could wait a whole afternoon until it’s your turn.

What to pack

Winter can be very cold, more so at altitude. Ensure you have a warm windproof jacket, and a woolen hat and scarf.

Where to stay

Being a farming area, you’ll find plenty of cosy B&Bs, guest lodges and self-catering accommodation in the area.

What to eat

Worcester is a major fruit growing region, so enjoy what is ripe and in season. Worcester olive oil is great too.

What's happening

If you’re a qualified pilot, ask about upcoming activities at the Cape Gliding Club. They host a series of competitive flights for more experienced gliders.

Best buys

Willow Creek and Olyfberg olive oils – voted best in the world 2008. KWV Brandies – IMOYA VSOP Alambic Brandy and Van der Hum liqueur.

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