I've come to the tail end of a 12 month Journey through South America. I picked up kiting and an F-one Bandit lll 8 in Mancora in May and it was love at first sight ( with the kiting, the Bandit and I have a love hate relationship). This makes me a kiter of 5 months, so do note this when reading what follows. These are my subjective views based, for the most part, on personal experience.
It would have been useful for me to have read something like this before embarking on my kite travels, so perhaps it will be of use to someone else.
The kiting starts in the South from Paracas all the way north to Mancora. Paracas is windy, a bay which makes the side off ok. Boasts something like 345 days of wind a year, so they say. I was there in May for 3 days, day one sandstorm, unkiteable, day two light 17kn, typical after a sandstorm, day 3 nothing. Word is that it improves after May. There is a kite school and rental in a trailer parked outside the Hilton Hotel. Very helpful, large Israeli clientele. Go to the Hilton for coctails and snacks, it's not ridiculous. The pousadas are in the town, about 3 km ish away. Just bus to the spot. A wetsuit could be used, I didn't. I heard that there were waves outside the bay, but didn't go looking
. Pacasmayo. Knarly tough conditions. Off shore, gusty, strong currents, a huge rusty pier, Tiny gusty beach for launching and landing, the longest barreling waves of perfection, ever. My kite buddy had the best day of his life, everyday. The waves never close out, last a km, are big, are plentiful and consistent. Big surfers paradise, although the kiting and surfing happen in different spots, no fighting over waves. At this stage I could barely go up wind, so my experience was more one of survival. Most peole used wetsuits, I didn't and was fine. There is a pousada at the spot called El Faro. It is convenient but overpriced. Service not great, the kind of place that charges you more when you ask for another breadroll at breakfast. It has an unfortunate location downwind of a sewerage depot, the associated smells are ever present.
Lobitos, I wasn't at this spot, but friends, both surfers and kiters rate it highly, very good for wave riding, big, barrels, lots of locals, not many tourists.
Mancora, what a jol. Prepare your liver for a beating. Hot, close to the border with Equador. Side on, good winds in season, after July, but even in May we were kiting 4 days out of 7. There is a good wave but lots of competition with surfers. Otherwise chop. 40 km away is Cabo Blanco, good waves, just kiters, Skip of Peru Kite, legend, will take you for 20 pesos. Stay at Loki hostel or Samana Chakra for more of the upmarket yoga vibe.
Lago Calima in Darien, outside Cali, the home of Cogua Custom Boards made by young shaper, Harold Gra. What a gorgeous spot. I was there in July, green, lush, quiet. There are 3 kite schools along the dam, each of which you must pay between 15 and 20 COP to launch and land. The wind is pretty gusty, arrives after 12:00 and is gone by 17:00, 4.5 days out of 7. Though it is a dam it is more choppy than butter flat. No wind if it has rained the night before. Stay with Harold in his pousada if you're on a budget or after a local experience, or at one of the many b and b's along the lake. Hourly busses to and from the dam make transport easy.
Riohacha. Nothing to write home about. Offshore, choppy, I was there in June. Wind 3 days out of 7. No tourist infrastructure. I would skip it if I had to do it again.
Cabo de la Vela. A very cool experience. Very very flat. I was there in June and kited every day, sometimes twice. On the northern tip of Colombia. Hot, so hot you can't really do anything but kite and sleep. Off shore, had the entertaining experience of watching both a kiter and the jet ski that rescued her (and drove over her kite) get swept out to sea, and towed back in by a fishing boat. Accomodation is a hammock in one of many wooden huts sprinckled about the beach. There are rests. And basic shops, bring everything or be prepared to eat out or eat simple. Unless Alvaro from Colombia Kite is there, there is no kiting infrastructure. Don't be put off by the journey there (bus to Riohacha, collectivo to Uribia, truck to Cabo), it's well worth it.
Change money at the border! The exchange rate has been invented by Hugo Chavez and drawing money from ATM's will bankrupt you. This applies only if you will be kiting Adicora or Margarita. Los Roques uses USD. I was in Adicora for most of July. It was boiling, millions of Mosquitos. Millions. The town is run down. Everyone uses 9m and up. I had about 2 days good kiting. Adicora has the unfortunate geographic location to be the recepticle of the flotsam and trash of the Carribean and it's neighbouring city, Maracaibo. It is pretty revolting to kite with this garbage. Added to the fact that Venezuela is in political and economic crisis, I'm afraid that I can't recommend this spot, for kiting or otherwise. Wait till Chavez is ousted, then reinvestigate.
What amazing kiting. This list is by no means exhaustive. The wind is so good in tge North East that you can pretty much pick any spot on a map and go there and kite. The question, will there be wind starts to become rhetoric. All of the websites go on and on about Cumbuco, from a kiting perspective, I can't see why. There is so much more.
Cumbuco. Great for a party, eating out, pIcking up prostitutes, getting robbed. Seriously though, you can kite in the ocean, big big chop, side on, waves when there is swell a bit north. And, there is Caupe Lake, which is about the size of my harness. This Lake is flat, but packed with a mxture or beginners, intermediate and advanced. It is dangerous and unpleasant. There were accidents each of the 4 days that I was there. Not worth it. Good pousadas, all around the same price, Windtown, on the beach, Cumbuco Guesthouse, inland but well run and great value.
Baleia. Tiny fishermans village. Many cheapish pousadas on the beach. Waves at high tide and mid to high/ low. Beautiful flat spots between the reefs at low tide. I was there on and off from August to October. I started with my 8 and eventually had to buy a 6 the wind was so strong. We measured it one day at 34 kn! This was an insane day. The wind starts around 8/9 and blows till sunset. It is a quiet village with just the weekly local Forros for a dose of society. There is an awesome Swiss kiting couple there for most of the season, ask about/ for Andreas, or look out for his 19m flysurfer between 6 and 8 am! Introduce yourself, you won't be sorry!
Icaraizinho/ Icarai do Amotada
This village has 4 spots. The secret laguna, huge, excellent wind, flat, absolutely not one solitary kiter, other than yourselves. Takes about 1.5 hours by buggy to get there. Beautiful trip.
The point: side on. 5 minute buggy trip, pretty flat between waves, sheltered, lots of local kids doing tricks that will blow your mind.
The Point : off shore, flat, tiny kitable area between rocks.
The bay around which Icaraizinho is wrapped, usually strong and gusty, but no bggy necessary. Alan, a very chilled young Frenchman owns Pais Tropical pousada and kite club there, great rooms, awesome vibe, fountains of Capiroskas all night and crepes with nutella for breakfast.
Tibau do Sul and Baiha do Cunhaú.
I was in these spots in September. Tibau blew everyday, you take a ferry to the kite spot, flat on the inside, waves on the outside, a bit pachy but very good overall. Plenty of space for all. TiBau has no nightlife but Pipa, an easy 10m bus ride away is pumping, trendy and good fun. Sossega is the kite pousada, for rentals, lessons etc. Good breakfast.
Not wantng to pay R$50 for a 20 km trip, I went it alone with 2 busses, one ferry and a 3km walk to get to this beach. There was no wind. This spot typically has 2 kn less than Tibau above, and in Tibau I just had enough to fly my 8. The spot is in the mouth of a lagoon/ river, whatever, is super flat, with, apparently some good waves on the outside. Regretably, I cannot comment from personal experience. The village itself was filled with shrimp factories and lacked charm.
Sao Miguel do Gostoso
Wow. I am really into this place. Very gorgeous, daily wind 18 - 26kn, was on my 6 LF Havoc most days. The kite 'spot' is in the lip of a bay, reef on the outside keeps it super flat on the inside. Wind starts around 10:00 and drops off at 16:00. It's only fault is that it can blow a little side off. The village has a great bunch if rests and pousadas. Pousadas are the most expensve that I've encountered in Brasil, for what you get, so far. The sunrises are gorgeous, sunsets over palms too, good beach bars, Dr. Wind, Jack Sparrows. My favorite kite spot in Brasil.
Right. That's my abridged executive summary of the best 6 months of my life. Hope it gives some assistance or entertaining reading.
I'll be back in my home spot in Cape Town in 2 weeks, here's hoping for wind *fingers crossed*