Back in 2006 I took a family holiday down to Oludeniz in the south of Turkey. Despite being on the surface a typical British tourist holiday we managed to see so much of the local culture due in most part to Shorty’s connection with this region. It might have been my first time in this place I felt I already knew, but Shorty was returning again for upwards of his 20th. Back to friends, memories and the stunning beaches surrounded by mountains. As soon as I saw the paragliders floating down off the mountain and landing back on the UNESCO listed beach I knew I had to do it one day, the same can be said for Shorty who saw his Dad taking the leap all those years ago. Finally we went paragliding over Oludeniz!
So after 10 years for me and 20 years for Shorty of dreaming of taking what is a right of passage in this small Turkish town we finally “jumped off the mountain” as the locals say. Having family and friends who live here made it even more special to do it with them waiting at the bottom for us. The experience was one of the most amazing and exhilarating we have ever had and lived up to all our dreams!
Dreams of taking the leap: Paragliding over the beach
Unlike when we visited Switzerland and decided on a whim a day before to go paragliding this was something that we had been thinking about for years.
For me it was 10 years ago when I had just turned 18. Back then I was just a skater who had no idea about all these amazing adventure sports that have taken over our lives in the past few years. I so wanted to make the jump but I didn’t really believe that I would or it was something someone like me would do!! I was brave (stupid!!) as anything on my skateboard but this was just another level! Then one of the paragliders landed in our swimming pool and another badly on the beach and broke their leg! Plus, being on a family holiday there was no way my mum would have let me!! ha ha!
Then there is Shorty. He had been coming here for years and back in the 90’s his dad took the jump off the mountain. As a 10 year old he looked at his dad landing on the beach and knew he would do it one day. But time goes by visiting and you always have excuses! He was never the bravest in the past and since we started doing adventure sports around about 5 years ago has completely changed!! So after 20 years of wondering if he would ever do it, we were back!
So here we was, back in the towns of Hisaronu, Oludienz and Fethiye after 7 years. Places we knew so well and with locals we classes more like family than freinds. This time we took a detour after visiting Istanbul to go and see Shorty’s Dad and Step mum who had recently retired and relocated over here. Now we were back, the new braver selves: the people who had paraglided before, who went climbing every weekend at home, loved the mountains, had a passion for canyoning, white water rafting, abseiling and kayaking, we had even hung 2000ft off a cliff whilst doing Via Ferrata in Switzerland!
Extreme sports enthusiasts on the trip of a lifetime stood at the bottom of the mountain with enough money, time and contacts to make it happen whenever we wanted!! Here we go!
Setting up the jump
Before we knew it we had the jump organised. It felt like as soon as we got into the village when those around us knew we were keen to jump they had booked us in with some freinds who were paragliders. News travels fast in these parts and although we were 100% that we finally wanted to tick this off our bucket list on this trip, it almost felt like we had no choice once everyone knew!! I must admit though I was a little nervous about my knee, but I knew this was a step towards my full recovery too.
This time though we had no real nerves or second thoughts. After paragliding in Switzerland we felt in a much better position to take on this much higher and longer jump. Where as we were going from 4000ft in Switzerland and on a 15 minute flight, this time it was 7000ft+ and a 45 minute flight time! But now we knew all about taking off and landing, about how it feels to be in the air and also how amazing paragliding is! It almost felt like the jump we had previously done had been to build us up to this moment, the original item on our bucket lists!
Jumping of Babadag mountain
Because we were going with freinds of those we knew in the village we took the local Dolmus bus up the side of the mountain. It was a little surreal to be on the normal bus surrounded by other people just going for a day out, but we had all the paragliding gear with us! Apparently back in the day the road up here was almost as scary as the paragliding itself. But thankfully today with the rise of the popularity of paragliding here they finally got around the building a proper road!
Paragliding here off the Babadag is world class and is often regarded as one of the best locations in the world. It has a unique combination of elements that contribute to that, the huge mountain that rises sharply from the beach at sea level below to over 7000ft and the amazing UNESCO listed Blue Lagoon beach, one of the most unbelievable beaches in the world. Then there are the thermals rising off the turquoise waters, these lift you above the mountain itself and insure each ride down takes at least 45 minutes!
After a short wait we were strapped in and ready to go. The nerves of course started to fill us and the mixture of excitement, adrenaline and fear created a potent mixture of chemicals in our brains and bodies! But this was it, we were ready to go and finally complete this longstanding dream. Take off was smooth and quick, running off the paved launch platform our legs were suddenly in the air and the ground below fell away quickly.
The mountain was unseasonably shrouded in clouds around its peak and through flashes of white we caught a sight of the gulleys and cliffs we were now soaring above. Jumping off the mountain the first feeling you get is of the hot air pushing you higher above the mountain itself rather than dropping. Soon we travelled through the layers of clouds and the whole scene opened up.
Now we felt high, the wind whistling through the canopy of the parachute as we twisted and turned over the mountainside. Soon we swung out over the deep turquoise and azure sea, the unique blue lagoon bay and the golden sands of the beach came into view. A view we had dreamt of for years!
Landing on the UNESCO listed Blue Lagoon
From the air we could see the tiny village below, people like ants, boats speeding around the harbour and even the curvature of the earth. Up here all was peaceful and jaw droppingly beautiful. My pilot, Ibo, lives over in Kaya village on the over side of the beach, he extended my flight to float gently over the famous ghost village on the cliff side over here.
We spent what felt like an eternity floating and flying free above the beach. Every turn gave us a new view of one of the worlds best rated and most wonderful beaches. After spending years seeing photos of this view sight it felt surreal to be up here and seeing it with our very own eyes!
Then it came time to disrupt the peace and have a last kick of adrenaline. Ibo asked me if he could do some tricks in the air above the sea, of course, I said yes! Being pulled left and right by the high G forces I almost felt like we went upside down. Spinning around and around it was hard not to feel out of control, but we trusted our pilots to give us the ultimate thrill ride.
Coming down towards the beach we got ready to land, coming down in wide circles over the village, the hotels and swimming pools getting bigger and bigger. As we made a path right down the main road many of those sunbathing stood and waved, took pictures and watched us coming in down our unique landing track. Coming in fast we made a smooth landing right on the beach with family and freinds waiting for our safe arrival back down to earth! But in truth, we would be high for days!
A major bucket list item ticked off
Wow, what an unforgettable experience we had flying down from Babadag and onto the beach below. The view was simply stunning and there are no words to describe seeing such a scene layout right in front of our eyes. Finally ticking off one of our most long standing items off our bucket list felt amazing. A leap of faith and a testament to our favourite saying…”Get Busy Living”, and on this trip of a lifetime we are certainly doing that!
Have you ever done something so amazing!?
Check out the last time we went paragliding: Swiss Alps Paragliding
Now we’ve done it on two continents! Next up has to be Skydiving!
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