For a country with a long-standing reputation as an open-air historical treasure-trove, over the last decade, Turkey has also become synonymous with outdoor pursuits and adventure activities. Thanks to the government's foresight in promoting the diverse sports, and investing heavily in safety regulations, more and more foreigners are turning to Turkey for their thrill-fix, so we are putting the spotlight on some of the activities that make Turkey an ideal travel haven for action.
Windsurfing and Kiteboarding
One of the newer pursuits introduced to Turkey is kiteboarding. Due to the wind speeds, hundreds of kiteboarders internationally flock to the waters around Gokova, in Mugla province. However, as the sport catches on, enthusiasts are now bringing this particular pursuit to the likes of Cesme, near Izmir, while in the resort next door, the Alacati Windsurfing Festival, celebrates the gentle sport of windsurfing with attendance by thousands of fans, professional and amateur from across the globe. All year round, coastal windsurfing and kiteboarding schools are also open for any eager enthusiasts looking to learn how to ride the waves.
Scuba Diving in the Aegean and Mediterranean Seas
For action strictly below the surface, scuba diving schools on the Western and Southern Coasts from Kusadasi to Antalya, offer a variety of opportunities for beginner and experienced scuba divers. PADI courses are available for the serious enthusiasts while holidaymakers complete a test-dive in their hotel swimming pool before diving under the water, from the beach or a boat moored off the coastline. The Scuba diving season generally runs from April to November.
Paragliding in Kas and Olu Deniz
Thrill seekers looking for a challenge can paraglide from Babadag Mountains overlooking the stunning resort of Oludeniz, close to Fethiye. Numerous professional companies provide tandem paraglides for a safe ride on the incredible thermals to the long white beach below. Paragliding is also available around the country, but Kas offers an unusual bird's eye view of the old town, the stunning scenery, and the Greek island of Meis.
White Water Rafting in Antalya
Memorable moments are made of this! White water rafting in the Koprulu River, Antalya, or the Dalaman River, near Fethiye, will give travellers a true white-knuckle ride. Regulations have been incredibly tightened in recent years to ensure greater safety and for more skilled and professional riders, Çoruh, in northeast Turkey, is considered an excellent rafting river.
Trekking the Lycian Way
The Lycian Way is a 540 km long path stretching from Oludeniz, near Fethiye, to Geyikbayiri, near Antalya. The track, covering part of the coastline of ancient Lycia, offers trekkers, professional or amateurs, the opportunity to cover as far or as short as they like. It often draws walkers from across the globe looking to take in the stunning scenery and the challenge of completing one of the top ten walks in the world.
Water Sports and Jeep Safaris
Whether it's banana rides, parasailing, jet skiing or even fishing off the coast of Turkey, water sports are big business in all coastal resorts of the Aegean and Mediterranean coasts. Alternatively, a thrilling Jeep ride over rough terrain takes passengers into mountain roads and to explore the smaller, unknown villages of Turkey that are traditional and away from the eyes of the tourism world.
Horse Safaris and Mountain Biking in Cappadocia
Cappadocia is instantly famous for its unusual lunar landscapes and cave cities but also noted for its horse-safaris wandering across the rugged plains. A potentially safer alternative for those that are averse to Cappadocia's other well-known pursuit of ballooning, it is an ideal way to explore the valleys of the region including Pigeon, Rose, and Love. Alternatively, grab two wheels, and mountain bike your way around the area, which also has a yearly festival attended by hard-core biking enthusiasts. Efforts to extend mountain biking tours to the Aegean region and the Turkish Lake District are currently underway.
Sea Kayaking in Kekova
For a strenuous workout, sea kayaking over the sunken city of Kekova, an ancient Lycian ruin, west of Antalya, is an unusual experience to boast about. Setting off from the traditional village of Ucagiz, sea-kayakers cross the sea to reach the small island of Kekova, before turning a direct right to arrive at the other well-known landmark of the area that is Simena, famous for its castle, homemade ice cream, and Caretta Caretta turtles.
Canyoning and Mountaineering
Canyons around southern Turkey are increasingly becoming home to a new all-action activity that sees participants climbing, jumping, abseiling and scrambling through and over waterfalls. It offers a unique opportunity to see Mother Nature in all its beauty from a unique angle but given Turkey has so many mountainous regions, it's no surprise that the likes of ranges in the north, central and eastern Anatolia are proving to be popular trips for climbers and enthusiasts alike. The most famous of them all is Mount Ararat, the supposed resting of Noah's Ark. Travel agencies are now mining the niche tourist angle with winter and summer programmes.
Skiing is one of the most famous sports/pursuits that are on the rise in Turkey, thanks to a boom in resorts. The main ones are centred on Uludag, above Bursa; Saklikent in the Beydaglari district near Antalya; Davraz, near Isparta; Kartalkaya, between Istanbul and Ankara, while the longest season is enjoyed at Palandoken, near Erzurum, where the Turkish Olympic team trains. Efforts are being made to improve all the resorts gradually as investments and interest increases. Plans for a new ski resort at Denizli are underway for the 2017 season.
Golfing in Belek
While considered more of a sport than a pursuit, European holidaymakers have long pined for a round of golf while on holiday in Turkey. So it's no surprise that Belek, near Antalya, has become a golfer's haven, although there are courses in Bodrum, Kusadasi and other parts of the Western Coast. Belek is known as the capital of golfing in Turkey, and this is seen in the quality of the courses that have hosted major international players like Tiger Woods.
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