“If you don’t land you don’t have to pay”
Now even with my limited knowledge of gravity I knew the odds were in his favour and at best I was going to end the day fifty quid lighter and richer for the experience, or worst a red stain on the pavement. So five minuets later I find myself being strapped into a contraption similar to the kind of thing mothers put their babies in, but rucksack size.
My expert instructor goes through a few safety tips none of which seem to cover the important stuff like how to stop hitting the ground very hard from a great hight. “All you need to do is run with me on take off and keep your feet up when we land”. Not exactly the comprehensive safety checks you would expect from someone intending flying two thousand feet above the world of sanity hanging from a kite, but with the informative words of my instructor ringing in my ears we head off to the beach. Three attempts at running in unison (not easy,like ballroom dancing of soft sand) we finally have a wobbly lift off like a giant pregnant duck soaring up to greet the wide blue yonder, leaving behind the world of safety and the well oiled bodies, heading towards the most uncertain twenty minuets of my life.
Situated on the south-west coast line of Turkey, sometimes called the Turquoise coast,Oludeniz is one of the world’s top ten paragliding locations and has in the past hosted the International Air Games where hundreds of paragliders along with a host of other air sport enthusiast gather to fill the skies above the Babadag Mountains like brightly coloured moths occasionally sweeping down to land on the crowded beach, a danger in itself for any unsuspecting pedestrian or sun bather.
The town of Oludeniz although not ugly, is pretty much stereotypical of most Mediterranean tourist traps. So if you’re looking for the quant little fishing village it most certainly once was, your sixty years to late. Thankfully just about the same time the developers started digging lumps out of the three small villages that once occupied the space of the present town, the government slapped a protection order on the most attractive parts of the coastline giving national park status to the world-famous Blue Lagoon.
Now if hanging by a few pieces of string 2000 feet above mother earth or in this case the Babadag mountains (which actually translates to Father mountain) is not for you and slobbing on the beach with a beer and a kebab is a touch too inactive, there is another more challenging activity to get the blood racing. Oludeniz is the start of the 310 mile(500k) hiking trail, The Lycian Way which is described as moderately strenuous at its starting point in Oludeniz to a very difficult finish in Antalya. The way skirts the most dramatic coastline and countryside of the Tekke Peninsula.
A word of advice to anyone intending a serious attempt at the walk, you would be wish to plan ahead, many parts of the trail are remote and accommodation is few and far between. This means carrying camping equipment, food and a 24 hour supply of water, although during the summer you can do without a tent. When using water from the village wells and springs always purify with iodine or boil. The best months are April and May or September and October avoiding the very hot summer months and the winter snow which has been known to hang around in the hills well into April.
If you think walking a few hundred miles in the heat of a Turkish summer is a little too pussy for you iron men and women out there, relax there is one last challenge to rock your boat, The Ultra Marathon.
In October Turkey plays host to the ultra marathon where an international section of lunatics line up to run approximately 156 bone crunching miles over the hard stony limestone course, carrying their own suppliers of food and water. Although the organisers have shown a little humanity by providing tents for accommodation. The actual details of the course and a map are given to the participants just before the start of the race and details of how to enter are available on their website or check out their Facebook page. Be warned the entry fee is almost as terrifying as the race itself at 1000 Euro no discount for team entry and that’s an awful lot of beer and kebab’s.
Words/pictures David Coomber TheFitz