Want to plan a kiting trip? Just got back from one? Post you experiences, questions and information here.
There are always shady operations that you can run into when you travel. People must use common sense. I think what Kelela is saying is that if you network with reputable contacts, people are always more than happy to point you in the right direction.
Here are three IKO certified schools:
By the way, Marcio and his wife are awesome!
ask them where to hook up on a downwinder and if it's assisted.....DONE, wasn't that easy???
Read up on accomodation choices , airport transfers etc on the internet, in books. Arrange the transfer ahead of time if you're concerned.
Travel to different locations based on fellow kiter/school suggestions. Stay as little or as long as you want in the spot that suits your style of riding.
Sorry, but i have to agree with Kelela....been there and travelled alot myself both high end and roughing it.....been to Brazil too a while back windsurfing ....it's not that hard to DIY. Probably even easier these days in Fortaleza and area.
But for those for which tours serve their purpose, go for it. Some people prefer to see Europe with Contiki, i backpacked it and for me i made the right decision.
I'll tell you first hand that Jessie is steering you straight, rental car companys can be very tricky and thats just the beginning!!!
For example: I got hosed on a car in Costa Rica and it took 9 months to clear it up (and it still cost me something like an additional $1800)
My advice is go with a group for security and to split the costs (expected and/or unexpected costs) or make life easy and go with a tour company at least the first time around. And I dont care what anyone says, tons of common sense isnt enough to totally overcome evil doers...
OOh I forgot to add in the cost of a charter plane to get me and my girl the hell out of there... Screw it- frankly I'd rather forget about it, I'm never going back! Costa Rica is full of thieves and un-American x-pat freeloaders anyway!!
I just got back from 3 weeks in Prea, near Jericoacoara, NE Brasil. It was BY FAR the most fun and most epic riding (i.e., massive downwind action) I've ever experienced. Brazil is so much more than we expected, and we expected it to be spectacular. We have recovered from the initial shock/insult of being misinformed by Vela that the kiting in Jericoacora was excellent and easily accessed----it is,in fact, banned in Jericoacora; the best kite beach nearby is in Prea, 12 km ($50 fare each way!) towards Fortaleza. Usually, when one plans a trip w/Vela, they make it totally easy for you to enter a completely foreign country and be safe, do the sport you came to do, etc. So, it is with great emphasis that I warn all kiters: Don't use expect Vela to know what is up for kiters going to NE Brazil.
In Jericoacoara, the general populace make you feel like a leper for being a kiter vs a windesurfer! Holy snowboard vs. skier, Batman! It's weird, a leap backwards in time. The motto of most windsurfers there seems to be: HOW DARE U FLY.
We moved our whole Brazillian fantasy to Vila Prea in the village of Prea and it has been dreamy since then......the beach is deserted, they take us on a FAT downwinder every day, they hover discreetly in the background and land the kite/launch the kite/squeeze your fresh guava & o.j. drink, get the most amazing masseuse/make world class fresh fresh fresh food (better than anywhere I've been, I swear) and generally spoil the bejesus out of us. I mean, in my dreams, I can't fantasize the luxurious treatment we've been given. ALL for very reasonable prices, WAY less than what VELA charges for room/breakfasst/discrimination. I'm hella impressed.
Other than that, the people here are also....lovely. In every way. Happy, smiling, seemingly always in a good mood, helpful. I kept trying to tip the helper staff for, say, picking up all my kite gear from the room every morning, taking it to the beach, and then collecting it all up at the end of the day and returning it to the room. But NO. The helper folk semi-scolded me, like, we as upright Brazilian men feel odd not helping you kite-girls, so don't offend us by plying us with cash. Whoa.
HOWEVER. Not all of Brazil is so lovely: Do not think it's safe to fly into a major Brazilian city and wing it. Sao Paulo is drive-with-your-doors-locked, windows rolled up DANGEROUS. The best program is to suck up the expense (like, a couple hundred dollars) of having your hotel/driver pick you up at the Fortaleza airport and beat it to the kite location of your choice in NE Brazil.
Allegedly, you can fly directly from Miami to Fortaleza using American Airlines in concert with TAM, a Brazillian airline, but I have yet to locate this mystery flight. The most expeditious route seems to be SFO to MIA to Sau Paulo or Rio, then to Fortaleza. WHY this is a downer, multi-connections aside, is that you have to hit Brazilian customs once you get on Brazilian dirt. If you go MIA through Sao Paulo, you can look forward to a New Dehli style mad crush of humanity and hours of waiting to claim your luggage, load it up, schlep it through the airport to the TAM check in, re-check it in, and all that takes hours....in addition to well-being lost.
THE KITING IS TO DIE FOR. If you're kiting near Jericoacora, i.e., Prea, none of us have needed anything bigger than a flat/bow 9m kite. I've only used my flat 7m flat kite the whole time. When we first got to Prea, it was so windy I was scared, like: Is it going to be survival kiting like this the whole time? Can I buy a 5m somewhere? Mark Doyle(Thanks for the good times, Amigo, see ya'll when ya get back) lives here part of the time, and he came to visit us which was RICH, to say the least...... HE said something like, dang, it's too windy here, I'm on a 5 every day, I don't know if I can take it much longer. Whoa again.
After the initial shock of being sandblasted when stepping outdoors, one gets used to the small kite, and out comes the courage, and out come the tricks. It's only sandblasting when it's 40+, and we still went kiting on those day, albeit with trembling hands on the bar and hyper-vigilance.
The other thing is, I somehow thought we would have a chance to ride point-break style waves (i.e., like in Santa Cruz, or C-St. in Ventura; the kind of wave that is firm and peels forever). It is all shore break here, like Ocean Beach or Silverstrand in Oxnard.
Fred & Rob at VilaPrea hooked us up with our favorite righteous Brazilian champion motocross dude, Daniele, to do the epic downwinder from Taiba till we couldn't kite anymore after days of downwinding. Literally. I had to come in on day 2 or 3, as in, I just cannot go on anymore. I forget in the blur of ecstacy from all the riding. Daniele has been on the NE coast for decades and knows everything: tides, best wave/wind combo spots, best posada to use,what's dangerous/not, etc.....plus he's hysterically funny.
Summary: If it's your first time to Brazil, spend the money on having a babysitter, i.e. a KNOWLEDGABLE dependable outfit that will steer you around. I thought I could count on Vela for that, but they dropped the ball. If I had not stumbled on the good folks at Vila Prea, who totally stepped up and impressed us, it may have been a bad trip. BUT NO! It was epic. Cheers, T. aka GracieMarie
Awesome report! Yep, sorry Vela steered you wrong, not cool at all especially when you're expecting to be able to kite right out front. With our tours we stay in Jeri because that's where the live action is with top notch eateries and parties, but we travel to Prea and surrounding for kiting during the day by buggies, you definitely need transportation to get around there and to pick you up at the end of the day, not better!
Rob and Fred are great, Prea's downwinder esp. at sunset is to die for. I'm so psyched you had such a great time. We love it there and can't wait to bring the SFers, we have 14 Bay Area kiters coming down, I'm sure you'll get a report once they're back!
Brazil's the BOMB!
I have also heard "Horrer Stories" from Costa Rica.
I (on the other hand) had probably the best trip in my life to Costa Rica about 12 years ago to Lake Arinal and the Pacific Coast...
Simply the best, most hassel free trip of our lives and we have been everywhere.. 1 week of winds at the lake from 20mph to 50 mph in December. We had 3 solid days where it blew 50mph ALL DAY LONG !!! Not great for kiteing but one hell of a windsurfing trip. Best, steadyist wind on earth.
Just goes to show you, you can have a bad trip no matter where you go, or if you do your research and the stars line up you can have blissssss...
I still say check out Costa Rica, but stay on the West Coast or the lake in winter... and watch out for the pot holes.. they eat Volks Wagons for dinner...
Rich "ATOM" Baum
I was in Costa Rica last year with my GF, I kite, she does not.
Costa Rica is generally a tourist friendly country. In rental agencies, airports, hotels and main tourist interaction points people speak English.
We did have problems with the car rental, it ended up costing us more than we booked. Having said that, the other rental companies were great guys and very helpful, so it was not as bad as it could have been.
Safety wise, its like everywhere else in Latin America: Stay away from the big cities. We met people that were robbed in San Jose, the big city in Costa Rica, the second they left the airport. But nothing out of San Jose.
Once you are out of the city, its great and safe. The province we traveled, Guanacaste, is a great place to travel. We never felt that we have to watch for anything, or not go anywhere, day or night. My GF felt confident enough to take the car and drive down the coast for a few days by herself. That's another plus for Costa Rica, your non kiting companions have a lot of stuff to do.
One thing I would advice: Get a real 4X4, not a foo foo Rav4 or a car that looks like an SUV. I got stuck in a canal that my ex-jeep would not even notice. Luckily enough a few locals popped out of nowhere, pulled the car out, and disappeared into the nowhere.
It is little on the rough side to travel yourself, but if you ever backpacked and have basic Spanish, Costa Rica is a traveler paradise. For the record, my Spanish is about 10 words most of them food (Pollo, Carne, Servesa...)
I have a friend who works in Cumbuco at a kite/windsurf specific hotel. The place is brand new. You will find the info at www.kitecollege.com. It might be what you are looking for if you are thinking about going to Brazil.
I can hook you up directly with her if you would like to get more direct information. Just send me a PM.
Happy holiday hunting!
Here's to sunny skies and windy days....may they happen together!
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