Fethiye – Ölüdeniz (Dead Sea)
The 14 kilometre road that leads you to Ölüdeniz from Fethiye is surrounded by pine trees. At the end of the winding road all of sudden a wonderful blue comes before you. This is Belcekız Cove. Once you walk over the long beach you see the incomparable Ölüdeniz lying before you. Ölüdeniz is as if it appears to be enchanting and lies still with no movement in its clear waters. There is nothing of the bottom of the lagoon but white sand. The reflection of the water and the sand bottom give it a turquoise colour. On the surface are the reflections of the green pines and this enriches the impression of the turquoise colour.
There is a story behind the name of Belcekız Cove. According to legend, ships in ancient times used to anchor in the open sea and the crews would come ashore in small boats to get drinking water here. One of the handsome sons of an old captain fell in love with a beautiful girl called Belcekız whom he saw on the waterfront. Belcekız too ended up with her heart beating faster and she fell in love with him. However, the boy had to get the drinking water and return to his father’s ship. Though the ship sailed away, Belcekız watched for her lover to return. Each time the boy came to get water they saw each other and made love.
One day, as the boy and father were sailing nearby, a storm blew up. The son told his father that he knew of a cove where they could shelter that was as still as a pool. The old and cunning father thought the son’s suggestion came from his desire to see his lover and that he was acting selfishly and did not care whether the ship sank or not. The dispute between the two kept on going as the waves grew higher. As the ship was rocked by the strong wind and was about to crash onto the rocks, the father hit his son with an oar and he fell into the sea. After the father headed back to the helm and continued his voyage, he found himself in an extremely still cove. He understood that his son was right but it was too late. The son died, his body being found on the rocks. Belcekız, seeing that her lover was dead, committed suicide by jumping onto the rocks. From that day on the place she jumped from was named as Belcekız, and the place the boy died was named as Ölüdeniz. Maybe the colours of the water that keep changing are fires of mourning, one for the boy and one for the girl.
In Ölüdeniz you will find numerous hotels and restaurants.
Nine hundred and fifty hectares of land around Ölüdeniz and the beach of Kıdırak have been determined as a place under protection order and turned into National Parks. Construction in the area of the Ölüdeniz lagoon and the Kıdrak Beach is banned and these sites are classified as special protected areas. The Kumburnu rest facilities within this protected zone are run by the office of the Muğla provincial governor, associated with MELSA Ltd. Co. Annually, approximately, 400,000 people make use of these facilities. There is a fee for the entrance. There is one large and one small cafeteria that provides food and beverage services. Besides fast food and drinks there is traditional gözleme available at the east end of the area. There is an organised picnic area for those who want to picnic, though lighting a barbeque is forbidden between May and October. It is possible to rent umbrellas and sunloungers. The car parking, toilet and shower services are free. The car park area holds 650 vehicles and is monitored by employees and security cameras.
On the beach you have access to aqua sports such as parasailing, water skiing and banana boats for those interested.
There is also a handcraft shop that is associated with MELSA. Here you find handcrafts unique to the Muğla region.
This extraordinary piece of nature is being fastidiously taken care of and cleaned, with a laboratory set to take measurement of the sea water from parts of Belcekız Beach daily. The aim of this is to get the ISO 14001 Quality Certificate for the beach. In Turkey the first beach to get this certificate was Kıdrak Beach.
Paragliding on Babadağ
(Babadağ’da yamaç paraşütü)
Having a holiday in the dreamland of Ölüdeniz means more than only swimming and lying next to the pool. Thanks to paragliding you can view this wonder of nature from 1975 metres above, before slowly descending. From this height you are not only looking at Patara Beach and Dalaman but also in clear weather you can see the island of Rhodes. There are agencies that organise paragliding with outlets at Ölüdeniz. You have to book a day ahead or in the morning to be able to take off into the air.
After a bit of training in the morning, in theory by experienced pilots, you are driven by jeep to the 1,700 metres high point on Babadağ (Father Mountain), your take off point. The road to that point is 25 kilometres long and is tough and rough and the trip up takes 50 minutes.
If the wind is not convenient at this level, you move another 200 metres up to summit at 1,900 metres. You put on your full body suit and helmet. Then you sit in the harness that is linked to the parachute and pilot. With the pilot pulling on the parachute it begins to fill, you run for a few steps, rise into the air and you are flying.
Once you start gliding in the air you feel an excitement but this is combined with the joy of the enchanting scenery, encompassing St. Nicholas Island, Ölüdeniz, Gemile Cove and Kumburnu. In order to be able to keep this extraordinary experience and the incomparable scene alive forever you should not forget to take along a camera or a video camera.
The adventure of flight that goes on with its minor ups and downs last about 30 minutes depending on the wind.
The experienced pilots can go as high as 3,500 metres and their flying times can last about five hours. Wearing a T-shirt, shorts and sports shoes are recommended.
Babadağ and Ölüdeniz have drawn so many paragliders to the area that it is now the venue for a paragliding championship, with the International Air Games staged in Ölüdeniz taking place in October every year.
What about safety or risks and dangers? The facilities that teach or provide paragliding services have to have the Tourism Sportive Activities Certificate issued by the Turkish Tourism Ministry. All pilots have to have certificates of flying experience. Up till now, thousands of people have flown. The accounts of accidents are so low as to be almost zero.