If you’re lucky enough to be resident in Fethiye or to visit the area regularly, you’ll probably have an opinion on how you should descend from the top of Babadağ.
The 1,969m peak which towers over the town is renowned around the world as one of the best launch points for paragliders. Many will tell you that you haven’t lived if you haven’t been strapped to a pilot with the physique of a racing snake and jumped yourself.
But, after years of false starts and a protracted construction phase, there’s now an exhilarating way to get to the top too – and the “Sky Walk” is dividing opinions already.
For some, it’s a spectacular ride allowing cable car passengers an opportunity to spend around 20 minutes soaking in unrivalled views of Turkey’s breath-taking Turquoise Coast.
To others, it’s being shut in a glass box dangling from a bit of wire.
But even a less-than-scientific trawl of social media suggests the two views tend to be owned by two distinctive camps: the “haves” and “have nots”. In other words, if you’ve done it, then there’s every chance you’ll want to do it again. If you haven’t – yet – then you might be among those who need a team of wild horses to drag them through those sliding doors into one the cars.
It’s a bit like the rollercoasters at the theme parks. While many can’t wait to drop that locking bar and scream all the way round, others would much prefer to stand at the entry gate holding the bags thank you very much.
Some get a real buzz from the thrill of a white-knuckle ride; after all, a roller-coaster is specifically designed to take us well away from our comfort zone and to make us feel unsafe, the adrenalin rush generated by the sensation that we’ve somehow risked our lives and survived.
For others, for one reason or another, an environment which creates an artificial sense of danger makes no sense at all.
But, in this case – although the sensible, safety-first approach has its merits – the naysayers’ argument is also somewhat weakened by the fact that Fethiye Sky Walk is no roller-coaster or thrill machine. It’s a precise and rigorously-inspected piece of engineering which offers a smooth and peaceful ride.
The launch from the base station may prompt the more nervous doubters to grip the arms of their companions a little tighter.
After that though, it would be hard not to let fears fall away as panoramic views of the Blue Lagoon and Ölüdeniz unfold, followed later by extensive and unrivalled scenes of Hisarönü, Ovacık, Kayaköy and Fethiye. On a clear day, passengers can also probably pick out Göcek, planes arriving and departing from Dalaman and even the faint outline of the Greek island of Rhodes to the west.
An ascent or descent at sunset would be equally impressive, disturbed only by the unobtrusive hum of the cables, the smooth ride on each of the cars only slightly ruffled by the passing of the pylons.
Where to stop
A standard return trip to the summit and back costs 80TL per person and there are two halts where passengers can disembark if they wish. The “station” at 1,200m is open but, at the moment – although ready – the restaurant, cafes, amphitheatre and lowest paragliding launch point are not yet operational.
If you push on to the 1,700m terminus, this is where most will leave their cars, either to paraglide from the second launch point, enjoy a bite to eat in the 1700 Restaurant, Bar and Grill, or just to take in the views and watch the imported Japanese koi carp in the picturesque lily pond beneath the transparent walkway.
There is also an open chairlift from here connecting the main terminus with a café, helipad and the highest paragliding launch point 200m further up the mountain. However, that too is not yet running.
But, while the Sky Walk itself deserves centre stage as Fethiye’s newest tourist attraction, there are other aspects of the experience which one can only hope survive the test of time.
Car parking at the base station is reasonably priced and supplemented by a minibus shuttle service. All the facilities are immaculately clean; the process of purchasing a ticket is also simple and efficient, the stations are accessible to all regardless of age, size or ability and the staff are attentive and polite.
Although not aimed at clientele who prefer bargain prices, the menu at the rejuvenated restaurant at the 1,700m launch point is by no means off the scale and compares well with the fine-dining establishments catering for tourists down in Ölüdeniz, Ovacık or Kayaköy.
But, currently at least, perhaps the most memorable aspect of the Sky Walk is one which is the hardest to maintain – the sense of quiet, under-stated professionalism which makes it so much easier for visitors to relax and enjoy.
Staff who have clearly been meticulously trained are well-rehearsed and know their jobs. All are attentive, pleasant and welcoming but, equally, those behind the painstaking process which has led to this bright new feather in Fethiye’s cap should also be proud of what they have achieved.
Clearly, bars were set high and – although there’s still more to come – it’s pleasing to see the early targets comfortably achieved.
More information can be found by following this link. Once you’re there, to change the language to English, simply click on the Turkish flag in the top right-hand corner.