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  • The little black book for the City
    Travel — 6 August 2013

    Paragliding:
    The Turkish Riviera

    Dakota Smith heads to Oludeniz in Turkey to try his hand at paragliding, the sport for which the town has become famous

    Oludeniz is a small town on the Mediterranean coast of Turkey, an area known as the ‘Turkish Riviera’. Away from the crowded streets and souks of Istanbul, Oludeniz’s small streets, quaint cafes and restaurants are smattered along the white sands of a secluded sandy bay. The clear blue skies are interrupted only by one thing: the mesmerising flow of the many paragliders. Look up as you relax on a sun lounger and you’ll spot them, sailing in from the Babadag mountain high above the town to land like birds softly on the town beach.

    Paragliding enthusiasts from around the world descend upon this small Turkish town during the tourist high season (from May to October) to enjoy its unparalleled paragliding opportunities. They do so because of Mt Babadag is exceptionally high, at 6,500ft, for a seaside mountain, and the wonderful panoramic views it offers.

    Getting to the launch site at the top of the mountain takes 40 minutes and is arguably scarier than the paragliding itself, as the truck narrowly skirts the cliff edge on the small dirt road that ascends the mountain.

    ‘Paragliding enthusiasts from around the world descend upon this small Turkish town during the tourist high season (from May to October) to enjoy its unparalleled paragliding opportunities.’

    Once at the top, the views of the coast and surrounding countryside take your breath away, although you’ll already have had your adrenaline stoked at the sight of the other paragliders – most of whom are professional pilots on tandem flights – launching off the side of the mountain with their large, colourful wings following behind.

    The fear that comes from running down the mountain slope before launch quickly turns to exhilaration as the paraglider catches the wind and lifts effortlessly into the air. The flights can last up to 45 minutes, which gives passengers ample time to get accustomed to the flying sensation and take in the views.

    There are a number of operators in Oludeniz that provide tandem flights, all of which last at least 30–45 minutes. Outings leave upwards of four times a day from the town, no experience is necessary and the experience is truly unforgettable.

    With much of the town’s economy depending on paragliding, safety is paramount, but that doesn’t mean that all elements of danger have been removed from the sport. As such, it’s important to choose a well-established operator when planning a trip. Focus Tours, operated by brothers Kudret and Ahmet, is a permanent fixture on the Oludeniz tourism scene, and they are a good place to check-out as they employ only the most experienced of tandem pilots.

    focusparagliding.com