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9 Adventures You Didnt Know Were PossibleTurkey

Beyond the ever popular hot air balloonsof moonscape Cappadocia, below the dizzy heights of paragliding over the bluelagoon of Ölüdeniz, Turkey´s menu of exciting experiences caters to allinterests, ages, and budgets. Here are 9 incredible adventures you might besurprised to know were possible in Turkey.

1. Dive down to a Dakota DC-3 aeroplane on theMediterranean seabed.


Submerged in the azurewaters of the Mediterranean and just a 10-minute boat ridefrom Kaş, one of Turkey´s premier diving destinations is the intact, 65ft,fixed-wing Dakota DC-3 aircraft — complete with twin engines, propellers,landing gear, and cockpit instruments. Manufactured during WWII, anddeliberately sunk here in 2009, the 12.25-ton aircraft with its 95ft wingspanwas once used by the Turkish Air Force to transport paratroopers. Now, some 70feet undersea, the wreck is host to a variety of marine life includingstingrays, loggerhead turtles, and octopuses, as well as scuba divers seekingsubaquatic adventures. Divers can enter the cargo hold of the plane, eerilyperched skyward as if ready for another takeoff.

2. Ride the winds and surf of the Çeşme Peninsula.


An hour´s drive west ofcosmopolitan İzmir lies Turkey´s greatest destination for kiteand windsurfers seeking high speeds on the Aegean Sea. The Poyraz and Lodoswinds that once aided (and hindered) trade to ancient Anatolia make the Çeşme Peninsulaone of the world´s top destinations for wind-powered surf enthusiasts. Beginnerand intermediate surfers can take to the calmer seas and shallow waters ofAlaçatı Bay and Urla, while more experienced kite surfers should seek out thestrong winds and white caps of Pırlanta Beach. And, when the sails come down,there´s plenty to explore in the up-market boutiques, swanky bars, and gourmetrestaurants that line the narrow cobbled streets of Alaçatı, aninland town of vine-clad greystone houses dating back to the 19th century thatalso happens to host the annual PWA Windsurfing World Cup.

3. Make "yakamoz angels" on a bluecruise during a new moon.


"Yakamoz", voted the world´s most beautiful word in 2007,is "phosphorescence" in Turkish. It mainly means"moonlight on water", but also refers to another marine experiencewhen floating phytoplankton illuminate the sea, leaving a trail of twinklinglight in their wake when disturbed. Mother Nature´s psychedelic show is bestseen on a Mediterranean blue cruise during a new moon, when the lunar light islow. Passengers can plunge into the waters to wade on their backs andmake "yakamoz angels".

4. Get a bird´s-eye view of Ephesus.


Most visitors spendhours scouring the remnants of the Roman Empire´s Ephesus (designateda World Heritage Site just this year), its towering Library of Celsus andthe 25,000-seat Great Theatre. But they often miss the vast arrayof vestiges outside the ticketed area dating back to the Hellenistic andNeolithic periods. And of the millions of tourists who tread the marble floorsof Ephesus every year, very few have marveled at the city´s expansive splendourfrom the air.

The best way toappreciate the size and breadth of the city´s historical footprint is from oneof the airborne adventures offered from nearby Selçuk. Microlight,ultralight, and skydiving flights will have adventurers soaring above the Romanruins, the remains of the Temple of Artemis — one of the SevenWonders of the Ancient World — and more. Keep an eye skyward too for the newInternational Turkey Balloon Fiesta, which may in the future provide anotheraerial view of Ephesus.

5. Sea kayak over a sunken Lycian city.


Concealed in the depthsof the Mediterranean between Kekova Island and Kaleköy arethe foundations of a sunken Lycian urban center. In the 2nd century AD anearthquake shook the city, pulling its buildings below the water´s surface.Today, the remnants of residential houses, staircases, and shipyards can beseen above and below water as they seemingly slide down the side of KekovaIsland.

Travelers can eithermotor past the sunken city with the throngs of day-trippers on all-inclusivecruises, or opt for a self-paced, more intimate view by kayaking over thesubmerged ruins.

6. Take a wild family adventure in Dalyan.


Perhaps one of Turkey´smost underrated coastal retreats is the eco-friendly town of Dalyan,situated in a Special Environmental Protection Area between hedonistic Marmarisand Fethiye. The outdoor adventure factor for families here is second to none.The town has coastal wetlands; the freshwater Köyceğiz Lake; the Dalyan River,which connects to the Mediterranean; and İztuzu Beach, a breeding ground forendangered loggerhead turtles.

Take a rowboat over theriver and walk past the pomegranate groves to the ancient Carian city ofKaunos, linger in the mud baths and hot springs that line the Dalyan River andKöyceğiz Lake, and cruise on a riverboat past some of Turkey´s most impressivecliff-face Lycian tombs. Journeys come with the added chance of spotting landand marine wildlife like wild goats, donkeys, turtles, blue crabs, grey mullet,and sea bass. Head further along the river to İztuzu Beach to swim andsunbathe, and visit the Kaptan June Sea Turtle Conservation Foundation to seeinjured sea turtles being nursed back to health and learn about theconservation efforts going on in the area.

7. Hike the gastro-trekking trails of the KızılırmakRiver Basin.


Most experiencedtrekkers have heard of Turkey´s long-distance Lycian Way that traces theMediterranean Coast, but just one look at the Cultural Routes Society websiteand you´ll see there´s plenty more trekking to choose from throughout thecountry. To mix hiking with adventures of the gastronomic kind, look no furtherthan Çorum Province´s self-guided Gastronomy Route, northeast of Ankara.

This route is the firstof its kind in Turkey and follows the ancient trading and migration routeslargely centered around the Kızılırmak River Basin. Best exploredbetween April and November, the route consists of 25 walking trails, sevencycling trails, and a 702km vehicle route for travelers on four wheels. Theassortment of itineraries leads through the highlands and river basin past thewaterfalls, forests, castles, bridges, and lakes of northern Central Anatoliawhile giving access to the unique culture, crafts, and farm-to-table delicaciesof the villages en route.

8. See a different side (and season) of Turkey atKartalkaya.


Turkey´s adventureoptions may be synonymous with summer, surf, and beaches, but from December toApril, the mountains are most definitely where it´s at. Local snowboarders andskiers know to get their ride on at Kartalkaya resort — 3hours from Istanbul and 1,500 meters above sea level in the Köroğlu Mountains,this is a sweet winter esacpe. Good to know: Dorukkaya Snowpark is the place todrop in for snowboarders. It´s Turkey´s only snowpark. And it´s amazing.

9. Take on the Çoruh River´s Class 5 rapids.


Touted as one the topwhitewater rafting destinations in the world, the fast-flowing ÇoruhRiver runs 272 miles from northeast Turkey´s Mescit Mountains rightdown to the Black Sea coast of Georgia. It´s a remote river that hurtlesrafters and extreme kayakers through deep gorges and green valleys, past ricepaddies, orchards, villages, and ruined fortresses in an area that´s been leftrelatively untouched by tourism.

The best — and mostchallenging — time of year to go is from May to June, when the mountainsnowmelt flows in abundance to feed the fury of those mighty rapids. Get afterit.