Saturday, 18 January 2014

Babadağ - we felt we were on top of the world!

In our heads, when we thought Babadağ we thought paragliding and as neither of us dare participate in that particular pursuit it had never actually crossed our minds to go there. But when a friend was extolling its virtues as a place to visit and asked us if we would like to go up and take a look we thought yes why not.


We enjoyed the beautiful views from the cafe terrace

Babadağ (Father Mountain) towers above the beautiful Oludeniz beach and is part of the Taurus range which runs across southern Turkey. With a principal summit at 1.969 metres it is renowned for being the best paragliding site in Europe and one of the best in the world. If unlike me, you dare take the plunge it must be one of the most beautiful descents that’s for sure.

It is possible to walk to the top of Babadağ (hike would probably be a better word), however as we are ‘Fogies’ we preferred to drive. Nowadays the road has been greatly improved and I hear that further improvements have been made this winter. It is very steep in places and of course there are some sheer drops beside you at times which are a bit scary, but the road is tarmac or paving for most of the way. The scariest part is passing the jeeps and minibuses that are ferrying the paragliders to the top, their drivers obviously know the road very well and are extremely confident at flying past you, whilst you stop and dither to let them go on by.

One thing is for sure, that the drive is stunningly beautiful with increasingly astounding views the higher you rise. We kept stopping to take a few moments to savour the beauty, only to do the same again a few hundred yards further on as the views became better and better.

On our way up a stop to look at the view overlooking Ovacik and the coastline

 However, what did surprise us was that there is so much more to a visit to Babadağ than the sports side and that even if like us you are not going to paraglide it is well worth the trip up there.


Around half way up the road branches off to the left, and we took this road to have a nosey. The road does turn into more of a track and you need to drive carefully but it is well worth the detour. There are several farms tucked away in this valley and this is where we saw the timber köşk we loved, built into a tree, that we put the photograph of on our facebook page a few weeks ago.

Love this  köşk

Babadağ is mainly composed of limestone and is notably rich in flora which includes Acer Undulatum a species of maple which is endemic to Babadağ where it grows at altitudes of 1,400 metres to 1,800 metres. It is also home to forests of Cedrus libani stenocoma (Turkish Cedar), trees which can grow very large indeed.

We visited in October just prior to Kurban Bayrami (The Feast of the Sacrifice), and I did wonder if the goats that we saw wandering the mountain realised how lucky they were to still be there and if they were missing any of their friends.

Did he know how lucky he was to still be here enjoying foraging on the mountain?

We drove as far along the track as we dare, whilst we could still turn around OK and stopped for a while to look at the view – stunning. We could see acres of agricultural land cut into the mountain and some really remote properties that obviously belonged to the people who farmed the land. We thought it was a beautiful place to live.

What a peaceful existence it must be living here

Meeting the summit road again we meandered onwards and upwards until we reached the first launch pad where we abandoned the car to have a coffee at the café there. We watched the paragliders taking off for a while, and I have to say it is totally beyond my comprehension how anybody could volunteer to jump off the mountain. Once you start running down that slope there can’t be any turning back or changing your mind!

The launch pad for the first level - oooooooh!

From there we agreed to walk to the top, so we set off up the paved road and after a fairly short but steep walk we reached a higher take off point, where we stood and watched more brave souls preparing their gear and then taking off into the air. We were amazed at the sheer quantity of people who were there. Braver people than us I may add!

Launch pad at the second level - up, up ...................


................. and away!

For years we had watched the paragliders landing on Belcekiz beach below, as we lay sunning ourselves and had always assumed that it was a pastime for holiday makers who were rather braver and sportier than us. We were surprised therefore, to discover that the majority of the paragliders had come here especially to jump from this very famous launch site.

After watching them for a while and taking some photographs we set off to reach the top. I am afraid we were conned by our friend who first of all said “It’s not much further”, then when he could see us flagging – it is very steep – told us ”When you get to that bend you are about there.” The only problem being that each time we reached the bend in the road he said it again about the next one – about eight times!

Just round the next bend - Yea right!

But we were determined that having got this far we were going to get there so we with plenty of grunting and groaning from the fogies we finally made it to the very top. There we discovered a third launch site, which is apparently for experienced solo paragliders only and no tandem launches are allowed from there as it is too dangerous for amateurs.

Solo paraglider waiting to take off from the top platform

Whilst mentioning the danger of this pursuit, it is a fact that several people have died over the years jumping from Babadağ. But apparently the rules and regulations have been tightened considerably over recent years and the more recent fatalities have been solo flights not the tandem flights which the holiday makers do. The number of flights per person, per day is restricted and is obviously seriously implemented because you have to stop at ‘checkpoint charlie’ on the way up, to check in if you are paragliding, and they do check your car for equipment if you say you are not.

It was fascinating watching the paragliders and if I am honest I am more than a little jealous and wish I had the nerve to do it, it must be the most amazing experience – but heights is so not my thing!

Right at the top is the fire watchers house where he spends the summer as a look out for any forest fires. I hope he has a freezer because it is a long way to get a pint of milk if you run out!

The ideal home for you if you don't like neighbours

But also there are the most wonderful, spectacular views. From there you can see Fethiye, Kaya Koy, Ovacik, Oludeniz & Hisaronu and the beautiful coast line for miles. You can see Patara beach in the distance, Kemer and the Antalya road cutting through the mountains. We could even see Uzumlu our home village.

Fethiye and Ovacik far far below

Far below you can see the paragliders making their descent and landing on the beach below. We all love a good story and there is a tragic local legend regarding Oludeniz and the Belcekiz beach below.

Long ago when cargo ships passed by this area, they would stop to pick up fresh supplies of water. The captain’s son went ashore to collect the water and there he came across a beautiful nomadic girl called Belcekiz and they fell in love. Each time he left, she would sit on the mountain looking out to sea waiting for his ship to return. One day as the ship arrived a storm blew up. The son told his father where there was a bay sheltered from the wind to sit out the storm in calmer waters. His father however, thought it was just an excuse for his son to see his lover and ignored his advice. During the storm the captain hit his son with an oar, knocking him into the sea, where he drowned.  The bay where his body was washed ashore became known as Oludeniz -Dead Sea. Belcekiz when she heard of his death threw herself off the mountain. The place where she fell became known as Belcekiz.

Belcekiz beach - the landing site 

 For the benefit of anyone who wishes to make this trip, there are options. If you choose to go paragliding then transport will be provided by the company. Although I have never done this I have heard that Sky Sports is a good company to use, they have an excellent safety record, many years’ experience and I have often seen them recommended on local ex pat advice pages.  

Sky Sports come recommended

It is possible to walk directly from Oludeniz using goat tracks and a brief part of the Lycian way. The distance is 13 km. Alternatively you can walk along the road which is further, but easier walking.

If like us walking that far uphill is a no no, then obviously it is best to go by car so that you can stop where you wish and meander into the valley, but it is also possible to go up by dolmuş too which run throughout the season.

We loved our day on Babadağ. Thank you Brian for taking the time out to take us there.










8 comments:

  1. Barry's been from the top with paraglider...I waited at the bottom, pretending to be photographer. Same as you, I prefer something more solid, as opposed to fresh air, under my feet! :) Great pics.

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    1. Thank you Julia. Frankly I found walking on the road beside such a steep drop scary enough, without jumping off!

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  2. My jealousy abounds! What an amazing post. Turkey is on the top of my list of places to go

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  3. Thank you Mandy, Let us know what you think to Turkey when you get here. I bet you have a great time when you do.

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  4. Me and my husband walked to the top of Babadag in 1999. we met the fire watchers and the views were superb! we walked from the very bottom and several trucks passed us carrying passengers to the top to paraglide off. A unique experience and one we will never forget! we had tea with the fire watchers and even had a poem wrote for us about the forest fires.

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    1. What a lovely experience for you and one you have obviously never forgotten. You would certainly see some changes if you revisited now, all these years on!

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  5. I jumped in May this year a have to say one of the most amazing things I have ever done, I dont really like heights and I am not really brave , so was really pleased and proud of myself for doing it, the drive up in the mini bus was terrifying though xx

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    1. Congratulations Natalie on being brave enough to do the jump. I wish I dare. It made me smile to think you dare jump but found the trip up scary though lol! xx

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