If theres one thing I like to do when travelling, its finding the biggest, most popular, adventure touristy thing to do while in a new place. In Tromsø it reindeer sleighing, in Cappadocia it was hot air ballooning and now in Ölüdeniz, it’s paragliding.
Ölüdeniz is famous for its Father Mountain (Babadag) where people from all corners of the Earth come to launch themselves off the top of the mountain. It is regarded as one of the best sites for paragliding in the world due to it’s unique panoramic views of Ölüdeniz and the Blue Lagoon. Having seen photos upon photos of the magnificent views and rave reports about paragliding, I couldn’t resist signing myself up for it.
I organised my paraglide through Gravity Tandem Paragliding (http://www.flygravity.com) who were excellent in accommodating this blondie off a mountain. My first paraglide was supposed to be scheduled for the Friday before. However due to strong winds they had to cancel, which gave me four days to work up a massive amount of nervous energy and anticipation.
Tuesday rolled around and I caught the two buses to Ölüdeniz from where I was staying in Kabak Valley and met the Gravity team at their shop. There was about twenty other people in the office as well and after quick wait we were herded down to their headquarters, where we were put into groups and taken up the mountain in a mini-van.
The drive up was spectacular and windy as we drove higher and high heading for the clouds. We were told to pick from a deck of cards to determine who our flight guide was and I picked Apo, a tough looking Turkish man who wore a bandana and rode a motorcycle. We were dropped off at the launching point which was pretty much an area that was concreted down to the edge, where we had to run off. There was also a restaurant there, but no time for coffee with a view, I had jumping to do.
Apo harnessed me up (in a non S&M way :O ) and we were hooked up to the parachute, ready for launching. There were others around me who were already running off the cliff and watching them race for the edge made my heart race. The nerves definitely were sinking in! Much like the morning sky in Cappadocia filled with hot air balloons, the sky was filled with colourful parachutes. Apparently around 150 flights are made each day in the peak season, with each paragliding guide doing at least three to five jumps a day!
Apo informed me it was our turn to run so I obliged and started jogging towards the edge. Its sort of difficult to run with someone strapped behind you, as well as the parachute so I just moved my feet while Apo pushed me forward until we were dangling in mid air.
Before I knew it, we were soaring high above Ölüdeniz and the mountains surrounding the glorious beach. It was surprisingly peaceful flying this high up, despite only being strapped in by a couple of straps! If there was ever a time in my life that I felt like a bird, this was it. Oh the freedom they must feel!
Apo asked me if I wanted to do any acrobatics and I scoffed, of course I would. He told me to hold on and spun us around and around, dipping from side to side. The G-force was incredible, I couldn’t even lift my arms up.
We settled back into soaring and spent the next few moments in silence, admiring the view and wiping the tears that had accumulated in my eyes from the fast winds of the acrobatics.
We soared further over the beach and the royal blue waters, which sparkled in the sunlight. I could now see why it was the best place for paragliding, the view is nothing short of epic.
We glided further down towards the beach and the busy streets of Ölüdeniz where we did a few more acrobatics before preparing to land. The funny thing about paragliding here is that the landing spot in right in the main walkway of Ölüdeniz. Every few minutes you’ll hear ‘Landing!’ and a few Turkish boys running towards an incoming paraglider, all while tourists duck out of the way.
I asked Apo if he had ever run anybody over, he just smiled devilishly and said “Just a few”.
The landing was a lot smoother than I had anticipated and I didn’t fall over like I thought I might. I’m pretty much a pro now! Now on land, I felt like we only jumped off five minutes ago, when in fact it had been about 25 minutes. I was itching to go again, but settled for watching the other paragliders in the sky.
After Apo packed up his parachute, we walked to the headquarters where we showed me my pictures and videos of the flight. I wasn’t intending on buying them, buuuuuut as I like to say ‘When in Rome!’, unfortunately my credit card starting to disagree..
Paragliding is definitely a must when visiting Ölüdeniz, or even anywhere in the south of Turkey. You can’t beat the views and its one of those ‘once in a lifetime’ experiences that you’ll never forget! There are so many paragliding companies in Ölüdeniz that you can choose from. Most of them are pretty open to giving you a good deal, however you’re looking at around 200-280TL for a flight. Do it! It’s absolutely worth it!