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Hooray for the Helicopter!

BRIGHT.

Lunch at Ascari racecourse in Jerez? A tour of the Málaga vineyards at sunset? Or you just need to get the airport quick? Try these exclusive helicopter tours and services in Andalucía.

Article by Anastasia Sukhanova

A helicopter on a beach

Everything looks better from above – especially when we’re talking about the beautiful landscapes of Andalucía. While the freedom of road tripping, the relaxed tempo of taking a train and the freshness of boat rides are all great ways of experiencing travel, taking a helicopter ride can bring an incomparable sense of adventure – like being James Bond and Indiana Jones at the same time. Surprisingly though, it is safer than it might seem, as helicopters can still land safely if the engine dies.

Couple getting out of helicopter

We spoke to two local companies about the services they offer:

HeliAir Marbella have been operating in Marbella since 1988 with a Heliport close to Puerto Banús. They have their own helicopter fleet with single and twin engines, and you can also request single or dual pilots. They even have a Flight School where you can obtain a private pilot license for helicopters PPL(H) which will allow you to act as Pilot In Command (PIC) on non-commercial flights.

Helicopter pilot

Andalucia Exclusiva, based in Granada, doesn’t sell trips as such, they sell experiences. And the experiences they offer on their website should be enough to tempt you into booking straight away. After years of experience in providing tailor-made travel in Morocco, the team turned their focus to Andalucia. Their service is bespoke and encompasses all forms of transport, not just via helicopter.

We take a look at some of the most spectacular helicopter rides and destinations offered in Andalucía.

Ascari Circuit

Aerial view Ascari resort

As if it wasn’t glamorous enough be attending a racing circuit per se, you can make a grand entrance by landing on its helicopter pad in your private air transfer. Dreamt up by billionaire Klass Zwart, who was coincidentally inspired by the location when flying over the terrain in his helicopter, Ascari is, hands down, one of the most spectacular racing resorts in the world. For the connoisseurs, the circuit is also a technological marvel. It has three possible configurations and 26 curves: 13 right and 13 left. With its length of 5,425 metres, it is the longest circuit in Spain and longer than many of the Formula 1 tracks.

Jerez vineyards

Bodegas Tio Pepe of Gonzalez Byass, Jerez
Bodegas Tio Pepe of Gonzalez Byass, Jerez

To continue the ride in style, one should make take full advantage of Ascari being in the region of Jerez, where practically any bodega serves lunch and wine worthy of a Michelin recommendation. One could spend months exploring the endless vineyards of Andalucía, but doing it from a helicopter could, perhaps, speed up the process. Flying over meticulously organized rows of grapevines isn’t just a meditative experience, it is one that gives additional insight into the functioning of each bodega and the specificity of its terrain. The choices are endless, since even the smallest vineyards often have horse riding halls that can be used for smooth helicopter landing. For a selection of top Andalusian bodegas, read our blog.

Ronda

El Tajo gorge Ronda
The El Tajo gorge, plummeting over 100 metres to the river below

Situated in the Tuscan-like Sierra de las Nieves Natural Park, the historical town of Ronda has an atmosphere that’s completely different from the glitter-infused glamour of Costa del Sol. The area was discovered by the Phoenicians, who founded a few prosperous wine-making towns populated by wealthy merchants. Ruins of one of them, Acinipo, and its impressive amphitheater, are quite a sight from the air, showing the true scale of progress seen by these lands long before the emergence of Spain as we know it. Fast forward to the 17th century and Ronda’s Romero family played a principal role in the development of modern Spanish bullfighting. Hence its second impressive helicopter sight, the Plaza de Toros, considered the oldest and monumental bullfighting ring of Spain. To top it all off, at the heart of Ronda is the El Tajo gorge, a rocky drop plummeting over 100 metres to the river. It is this natural phenomenon that serves a backdrop for Puente Nuevo, the bridge that is Ronda’s most famous postcard shot with columns stretching 120 metres down into the depths of the gorge.

Alpujarras

distinctive chimney style in Alpujarras
The distinctive chimney style in the town of Capileira in the Alpujarras

Not as known as the neighboring Sierra Nevada ski resort, the Granada region of Alpujarras gives an impression of being lost in the time-space continuum. Presiding over its towns and villages is the silhouette of the Mulhacen, the highest mountain of mainland Spain at 3,479 metres. Known to have been a destination for creatives, bohemians, and hippies in the 70s and 80s, the area has preserved an air of artistic mystery and still houses a surprising number of galleries. The villages of Capileira, Pampaneira and Bubión are considered among the most picturesque in Spain and while normally you would have to brace yourself for quite a long narrow mountain road to get there, a helicopter could drop you right in the middle of this idyll.

Buddhist shrine at O Sel Ling
Buddhist shrine at O Sel Ling

Only a few kilometers but an entire world away is the O Se Ling Buddhist Monastery, opened to public for a meditative stroll that would transport you right to Tibet – and retreats, if you’re looking for a more serious zen-searching measure. Founded in honour of a reincarnated lama born in Bubión, the monastery is rumoured to be frequented by Richard Gere to this day. If anything, he probably gets there by helicopter as well!

Strait of Gibraltar

Gibraltar and strait to Africa

Believed to be one of the pillars of Hercules, the Rock of Gibraltar is an impressive sight from any angle – and even more so from above. An oasis of all things British, it gives way to an even more impressive sight – the Strait of Gibraltar, which connects the Mediterranean Sea with the Atlantic Ocean while separating Africa from Europe. Characterized by impressive depth and very strong currents, the strait is yet to be conquered by modern technology, with generations of engineers fantasizing about connecting the two continents. In a way, a quick helicopter tour to Gibraltar can tick off many unexpected boxes at the same time: visiting another country, seeing two continents, stopping for lunch at a real pub and, these days, probably getting a refill of Marmite at the local Marks & Spencer.

For long-distance and international helicopter tours, check out services offered by Andalucía Exlusiva.
Tel: (+34) 650 952 581 or (+34) 622 11 21 69. Email: info@andaluciaexclusiva.com

For airport helicopter transfers, tours around Marbella, charters from the heliport of Puerto Banús and local golf courses, get in touch with HeliAir Marbella. Contact their VIP Manager, Anna Terzieva, on (+34) 951 820 050, or send her an email: at@heliairmarbella.com

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