Flying high: Paragliding in Oludeniz, Turkey

 

“Just keep running, towards the edge, and we will fly.”

Those were the words my pilot said, before we leapt off a 2000 metre high Mountain ledge, into the sky.

Most people I know, would think that I would have accomplished every adventurous activity possible, after living in New Zealand, were I bungy jumped, went skydiving, went zorbing, got pushed off a cliff on a chair, and chucked myself off Auckland’s Sky Tower. What else is there to do?

Paragliding of course!

It was something which was on offer in New Zealand, but I didn’t quite get round to doing it. So when I decided to go to Dalaman in Turkey, and realised that they did paragliding there, I was on it.

Not only that, I found out that it was the highest free running cliff in the World to paraglide from.

Awesome!

It looked amazing, and after getting in touch with the travel agency Vostok Turizm, (also known as Another Turkey on Facebook or @Vostoturkey on Twitter) I had a date booked.

The day arrived, but unfortunately the weather was not on my side, with low cloud and a potential rain storm. So the guys at Vostok Turizm did their best and booked me into the earliest booking for the next day, so I could still do it, and make my flight connection to Istanbul for later that afternoon.

I was picked up by mini van early, and driven, with about 6 others, the 11km to Oludeniz from Calis beach, where I was staying.

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We stopped briefly at the paragliding office (Eftelya), who are a smaller outfit, just off the main strip. After I confirmed my name and booking (as the booking wasn’t made directly by me, but through Vostok Turizm). I was quickly ushered to back to the van. “Don’t I need to sign anything? or …”

“No no, its time to fly” I was told.

This concept of virtually no safety briefing, was totally new to me. I hadn’t given them details of my past medical history, next of kin details, or had signed any piece of paper, to say that I was of sound mind and had voluntarily decided to run off a mountainside, attached to someone else with a parachute.

“Is health and safety just a western thing?”

We were driven the 20 or so minutes up to the top of the Mountain, where all the pilots were waiting with their parachutes and equipment.

All of the group members then picked out a plastic ball, with a name on it – this was their way of deciding who went with who – a little strange I thought, seeing as you could have two super heavy people – surely this wouldn’t be safe, but no – we were paired off in this way.

I got paired up with a female pilot called Yeliz, who quickly got me to change into a pair of long pants and a long sleeved top, which I was grateful for, as even though it was 25 degrees on the ground, it certainly wasn’t 2000 metres up.

Again, I waited to see if there would be a safety briefing, but there was none. A harness was attached to me, and I was made to hand over my camera and other belongings.

Although I was told that I could take a camera with me (in fact, it is written on the website of all paragliding companies), apparently it is “now policy” not to have one, as accidents have happened in the past, and people have lost their cameras.

As I watched the 6 others take off from the side of the cliff, I relaxed a bit, it looked easy enough – just run and jump; and I did just that. Within seconds, we were flying high in the air.

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The journey from the top to the bottom took approximately 35 minutes (the average is between 35-40 minutes, depending on the wind).

Gliding through the clear blue skies, I watched the happenings on the ground, as boats took off from the harbour, and incredibly tiny people walked around their hotel grounds.

The scenery was amazing, and my pilot took time to point out different areas that we could see. It wasn’t quite clear enough to see Rhodes in Greece, but you can see it at times.

During the journey, the pilot did a few loops and spins, and it was a great thrill.

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As we were approaching landing, I was told to stand up, and walk onto the ground. It sounded more difficult than it was, but I managed it without falling over (incredible for me, seeing as my balance and co-oridination are terrible).

After the parachute was packed away, we walked back to the paragliding shop, were a met the owner – a delightful chap, who was also a traveller himself, so we chatted for a while, before I got to look at my photos and videos.

They looked great. However, I wasn’t expecting to pay 130 Lira (£30 or US$48)*  which is over half of what you pay to do the actual paragliding itself, which I thought was expensive. However, I know this is a charge that other companies impose on participants.

*I will made the company aware of this in my feedback, as I feel these charges also need to be highlighted beforehand.

After devouring a Gözleme (Turkish Pancake), I was driven back to my hotel by the owner.

Overall, I had a great first experience paragliding, and would do it again.

Tips for Paragliding in Oludenzi, Turkey:

  1. Check Prices beforehand, including cost of videos and photos. Some companies may also charge you the additional 32 Lira for Forestry Fees to get up the mountain; others include this in the price.
  2. Check if you can, in fact bring your camera, and take your own photos/video
  3. Make sure you are fit and well in order to do this, and your insurance covers you (all Paragliding companies should have insurance)
  4. Only book paragliding through a reputable company (not through a seller on the beach)
  5. Wear warmer clothes for the top of the mountain – it is a bit chilly

You can book your paragliding adventure through Vostok Turizm, online for £55, or visit one of the many paragliding offices on the main strip.

“Come to the edge.

We might fall. 

Come to the edge

Its too high

COME TO THE EDGE

and they came,

and we pushed

and they flew.”

Christopher Logue

Have you been Paragliding before? What do you suggest my next adventure activity is? I am running out of ideas!

 

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