Just after the turn of the century, Turkey laid the ground roots for a twenty-year plan that would propel them into the official top ten list of most popular holiday destinations in the world. One key aspect of that intense and highly detailed plan of action was to tap into the diversity of travel themes available.
Marketing some destinations for their specific attributes, like Izmir on the western coast that is an ideal spa destination, generic themes such as historical travel would also cover landmarks and attractions all over the country.
The most ambitious goal however was to promote itself as an ideal destination for adventure sports also called extreme sports by hard-core industry professionals. Given that in those days, rules, regulations and safety aspects were ad-hoc and admissible at the best of times, this proved to be a challenge since not only would Turkey have to massively advertise it, but also revolutionise industry standards to bring it in line with European laws.
Despite the naysayers and criticism from old circles of Turkey’s tourism industry, they did it enabling them to tap into the true adrenaline rush that most adventure sports fans are seeking and by 2015, Turkey was a top ten popular adventure sports destinations, ranked by the number of visitors. Looking at the diversity of those adventure sports explains exactly how they did it.
6 Highly Popular Adventure Sports in Turkey
The biggest change occurred in the skiing industry of Turkey, a trend previously confined to the rich and famous. The new style advertising of ski resorts, now also attracted mainstream Turks as well as foreigners.
From November to March, ski resorts around the country spring into action as hotels and restaurants open their doors for what has proven to be, their most successful trading periods to date.
Its close distance to the bustling metropolis of Istanbul, probably explains the intense popularity of Uludag, one of the most famous skiing centres in Turkey. Comprising of two separate parts, the resort has all facilities including ski hire and schools but more development is under way with an aim to overtake European ski resorts in popularity.
Mount Erciyes in the Kayseri region has a long-standing reputation for skiing and at a massive height of 3916 metres; the resort embraced skiing trends such as snowboarding. Skiing takes place on the Tekirdag plateau of the northern face of the now dormant volcano and the longest track of 3.5 kilometres mainly attracts budget skiers, away for a weekend from their busy jobs in the city. Otherwise, the extremely cold climate of Erzurum is widely known for its 2-meter blanket of snow covering the plateaus for sometimes up to 5 months at a time.
Paragliding on the Mediterranean coast
While the scenic coastal resort of Kas has paragliding centres, Olu Deniz further down the coast garners the crown as king of paragliding in Turkey. Four times a day, professionally trained pilots set off in tandem rides with novices, from the Babadag Mountain, with its two summits of 1,969 metres and 1,400 metres.
Running their season from April to November, the main popularity for this adventure sports is because nobody needs to be an expert. Complete novices hand over control to trained pilots who take them soaring through the air for roughly 40 minutes before gliding in gently to land on Olu Deniz beach.
White Water Rafting in Antalya
Navigating 12 rapids on a course length of 13 kilometres, the Koprucay River in Antalya has become the favoured destination for white water rafting in Turkey. Rushing under Roman bridges sitting in among extensive green scenery, rafts holding roughly 10 people will navigate the gushing stream of water for approximately 2 hours before ending at a local restaurant for the favoured tradition of a summertime barbecue.
Once again, this adventure sport attracts attention from novices, eager to try their hand at something new. After safety training, they embark on an inflatable raft with a trained professional to guide and look after their team.
Naturally with a long-standing historical background as sponge divers, it is no surprise that scuba diving is big business in Turkey. Hotspots areas to go underwater include the Mediterranean resort of Kas, hosting numerous underwater shipwrecks or Aegean Bodrum with its variety of underwater sea life.
Once again, though, Turkey has not confined this sport to experienced divers since novices can sign up for try dives in hotel swimming pools, or a one-day sea dive from the comfort of the shoreline. Anyone with time to spare can also complete a PADI course enabling him or her to legally solo-dive in designated areas all over the world.
Canyoning in Kas
A relatively, new and exciting outdoor experience is canyoning on the southwestern coast near picturesque Kas. Combining walking, climbing, and abseiling, canyoning in Turkey is a thrilling experience thanks to the intricate mountain ranges and their gorges formed over thousands of years.
After a safety briefing, participants receive helmets, ropes and wetsuits to navigate through waterfalls, scale canyon walls, and climb over large boulders. Any able bodied person who can swim, has a head for heights and seeks the adrenaline rush of being fully conscious in the moment, naturally takes to canyoning easily.
Sea Kayaking in Kekova
The Mediterranean is home to the historical and iconic ruins of Kekova, an ancient city that sank after an earthquake devastated the land. Since law prohibits diving and swimming among the ruins, the favoured way to see them is sea kayaking, a hobby marketed to experienced and novice sea-kayakers.
Setting off from the small rustic village of Ucagiz, sea kayakers paddle across a large stretch of water to reach Kekova. Using a combination of hand and foot skills to navigate the kayak, they pass over the ruins before turning directly left and heading to Simena that is famous for its castle and a popular swimming spot for the endangered Caretta turtle.
Not everyone desires the intense adrenaline rush that these sports provide but more gentle adventure sports are also sold all over Turkey including trekking, mountain biking and the most popular activity of Jeep safaris that navigate mountain roads to take visitors to villages and places, hardly mentioned in mainstream travel brochures. It is all about getting off the beaten track!
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