Extreme sports in Turkey for the adventurous tourist

SENA ALKAN @senaalkan
ISTANBUL
Published 12.08.2016 22:03
Updated 12.08.2016 22:07
Dalama
Dalama

From hot air balloon rides in Central Anatolia to paragliding over the Aegean Sea, Turkey offers adventurous sports to get your adrenaline pumping

Regarded as one of the most appealing touristic destinations in the Mediterranean region, Turkey attracts tourists because of its turquoise waters, beaches, ancient ruins and boutique B&Bs along its coasts. However, the country offers more for those who want explore hidden beauties off the beaten track. With its natural, historical, oceanic and geographic wonders, you will definitely want to discover all the beauty it has to offer. If living in a nature and experiencing the rush of adrenaline is your ideal holiday, the adventures that await you in Turkey are sure to satisfy.


Damlataş cave

While many come to Turkey to relax on pristine local beaches, soaking up the sun or basking in the glory of cultural and historic wonders, Turkey also has adventurous sports venues for those who want to feel the blood rush through their veins. Paragliding, rafting, diving and hot air balloon rides are just a few of the options for thrill seekers. One of the most enticing options for tourists in Turkey is extreme sports. If you are looking to step away from the monotony of the daily grind we have compiled a list of the best places in Turkey for extreme sports.

Rafting

If whitewater rafting is your cup of tea, the Dalaman and Çoruh Rivers in the district of Dalaman in Muğla province are an option. Considered one of the best destinations for rafting, Dalaman is home to three and four-grade rapids that run through traditional Turkish villages, past ancient ruins and through natural wonders. On the Dalaman River, which stretches 229 kilometers in length, two rafting courses are available along which rafters will see eight different waterfalls and beautiful boulders that line the river. Rafting down the Dalaman River takes nearly three hours and is a strenuous but thrilling experience. A daunting challenge for first-time rafters, the experience on the Dalaman River is worth every minute and the time will fly by just as quickly as the whitewater rapids.

Another whitewater rafting option in Dalaman is the Çoruh River to the northeast. Recognized as one of the top 10 whitewater rafting destinations in the world, the grade-five rapids on the Çoruh River are fed by runoff from melting snow in the mountains along the Black Sea coast in spring. Flowing through canyons, narrow valleys and ancient ruins, the Çoruh River offers a heart-racing experience for the adventurous whitewater rafter.

Paragliding


Fethiye

Turkey is the perfect destination for amateur as well as experienced paragliders due to its optimal weather conditions, mountainous terrain and turquoise coastlines which truly make you feel like a bird gliding in endless freedom over the sparkling waters. Ölüdeniz in Fethiye is one of the best spots in Europe for solo and tandem paragliders. To paraglide, first you take a one-hour drive in a Jeep to the top of the Babadağ Mountain, which overlooks Ölüdeniz, where you can see an extraordinarily beautiful view of the mountainside and stunning foliage. From there, you will leap from the side of the mountain over the turquoise waters, feeling the breeze on your face while taking in a picturesque bird's eye view of magical Ölüdeniz.

In addition, there are other regions of Turkey that are also optimal for paragliding; namely, Eğirdir, Pamukkale, Gölbaşı and the Abant Mountains. The second favorite spot is Kaş, a small, touristy town located in Antalya province. The best time to paraglide here is between the months of April and October when natural beauties are at their finest and weather conditions are most suitable.You must be at least 16 years of age to paraglide in Kaş and there is an age limit of 55.

Windsurfing

With its rush of tourists in recent years, Alaçatı is a hot spot for water sports where sports enthusiasts flock to experience one of the best windsurfing and kitesurfing experiences in the world. An exhilarating activity for tourists of all ages, I definitely recommend windsurfing. For a family, it is a great opportunity to try kite surfing with your children. Schools have opened along the sandy coastline to teach kids, adults or older learners how to kite surf and wind surf. The towns of Foça, Akkum and Bodrum are other destinations for windsurfing. Locations along the Aegean coast have perfect wind conditions optimal for windsurfing due to the configuration of bays and islands. Windsurfing in Turkey is increasing by the day and high quality facilities have sprung up across the country. For kite surfing, you will find that Gökova, Akyaka in the western province of Muğla are all great places to start. Just remember before trying these sports that it is beneficial to take lessons for beginners to get the most out of your experience.

Diving

One of the most untouched tourist spots in Turkey, Kaş, on the warm, southern Mediterranean coast, is suitable for diving and one of the world's top 100 diving destinations. Kaş boasts more than 25 underwater sites for divers to discover amazing ruins including shipwrecks, caves, beautiful seascapes, ancient amphorae, underwater canyons and deep drop-offs into turquoise waters.



Antalya's other hot spot for diving, Kalkan, is suitable for advanced divers looking for a more serious diving experience. Underwater currents and rare fish species amaze and challenge the experienced diver who can see hundreds of fish and aquatic mammals riding the currents; including sea turtles, tuna and stingrays.



In western Turkey, the Muğla province is popular for its tranquil little villages and the city of Bodrum, which attracts an increasing number of tourists every year. There are many diving spots in Muğla, including the towns of Datça, Bodrum and Marmaris. To experience the underwater beauty that Datça has to offer and get acquainted with all its diversity, come prepared to be wowed. As renowned ancient Greek geographer Strabo once said, "If the gods love someone, they send them to Datça for a longer life." The town of Datça features natural beauty and deep seas. On the little islands near Datça, you can find many fascinating diving spots where you can see dolphins, sharks and Mediterranean seals. Marmaris has approximately 50 diving spots, many with ancient ruins. You will definitely be amazed by the sights during your diving adventure in places like Rhodes, Cennet Island and Kargı Island. A quick tip about diving around Cennet Island, however, be mindful of the depth of the water.

Hot air balloon ridesCentral Anatolia's historical region of Cappadocia is another amazing destination that offers breathtaking experiences with ancient natural treasures and hot air balloon rides. This magical city with its historical remains stand as the most renowned wonder of nature from ancient times, inviting you to lift your soul and vision with hot air ballooning. Through wind and melting snow, the region has been carved out of volcanic rocks over centuries and is a display of amazing colors and shapes unique to Cappadocia, including the famous fairy chimneys (also known as hoodoos).

Spelunking

With over 40,000 caves and caverns, Turkey is a paradise for potholing and spelunking with hidden churches, underground lakes, cisterns, stalactites and stalagmites -- but you should never enter a cave alone. Spelunking is a team activity, not an individual sport, which requires a helmet, carbide lamp, an SRT kit, a set of ropes, thermal underwear, a sleeping bag and mat and a pair of rubber boots along with special strength and a minimal degree of physical conditioning. If you are not a professional, there are many caves you can visit such as the Damlataş Cave in the district of Alanya in southern Antalya province or the İnsuyu Cave in the southern city of Burdur; however, the caves in Turkey are more for the professional cave explorer. The Altınbeşik Cave in Antalya has the world's third and Turkey's largest underwater lake. The length of the cave spans more than 2,200 meters and its lake is 125-meters long with a depth of over 15 meters in some places. There is a natural bridge formation of rocks in the center of the lake and at the end of the lake there is a 44-meter-high travertine. Due to the heavy inflow of water in winter and spring, this cave is best visited in summer and autumn. The Gürlevik Cave in Karaman contains a large stream that flows within, and, according to research conducted on the 2,500-meter cave, there are areas that have of two levels connected to one another by geologic formations. The Kızılelma Cave in Zonguldak is 6,630-meter-long and 114-meter deep hidden wonder. This cave has side entrances and a main gallery that consists of a wide variety of stalactites and stalagmites. There are also bats located in the fossil section near the entrance of the cave.

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