Winter’s the best to fly above Fethiye’s clouds .hurriyet2008-detailbox-newslink { font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size:13px; font-weight:bold; text-decoration:none; color:#000000;} .hurriyet2008-detailbox-newslink:hover { font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size:13px; font-weight:bold; text-decoration:underline; color:#990000;} FETHİYE - For many, especially those who spent the summer working hard in the tourism industry, the winter is the best time of the year. This is the time for the more energetic of us to head out and do whatever Fethiye inspires us to do.

Wintertime brings, quite literally, a breath of fresh air to Fethiye and Ölüdeniz. Mountains and horizons, once hidden in the haze of heat during summer, become sharp and focused. Autumn rains wash away layers of dust from trees, bushes and grass.

At this time, those who spent the summer working hard in the tourism industry emerge from their end-of-season exhaustion, renewed with enough energy to enjoy what is, for many, the best time of the year.

The burning heat has gone and although the sun still shines, it is chilly and the higher mountains are covered with glistening snow. This is the time for the more energetic of us to head out and enjoy hiking, trekking, cycling and whatever else Fethiye’s beautiful countryside inspires us to do.

The delight of being outside in the sunshine during the closing months of the year, particularly November and December, is especially satisfying, but one activity that does not necessarily spring to mind is paragliding. The 1,986-meter summit of Baba Dağı is, together with Table Mountain in South Africa, considered to have the best launch conditions in the world.

The winter months may see this majestic mountain topped in snow, making it inaccessible, but nevertheless, there are alternatives. At this time of year, professional paraglider Murat Tüzer, owner of Sky Sports in Olüdeniz, teaches newcomers the sport and when he has the time, he flies from Kirme at a 900-meter altitude.

Flying in this area makes it possible to see the Greek island of Rhodes especially well in the afternoon, as the sun sets behind it, the twinkling lights of the towns and cars can be seen from over 30 miles across the sea. The air is so clear that the mountains behind Marmaris in one direction and Antalya in the other can sometimes also look deceptively close.

Interest in photography
Smiling at the thought of doing what he enjoys best, Murat says, "Really, this is a great time to paraglide. The air is cold, but very clear. There are still thermals that allow us to reach 2,000 meters and we can fly for up to an hour with no problems. It is better than the summer in many ways as we are not under pressure to complete a flight and get to the next customer. We mostly have solo pilots at this time of year, but we can accommodate tandem, too, with a little notice."

Gustav Van Vuuren spends his summers taking tourists on microlight flights from the runway in Ovaçık, but in the winter he too flies whenever the right weather conditions coincide with his free time. Servicing the flying machines takes time, as they have to go up to Denizli, but after that he makes the most of the winter months to take some extraordinary aerial photos around the country.

"For anyone interested in photography this is the time to fly," Gustav said and so long as you have warm clothes it can be an incredible experience. Murat agrees. The words of Leonardo da Vinci say it all for these two: "For once man has tasted flight he will forever walk the Earth with eyes turned skywards. For there he has been and there he longs to return."

The beauty of the land below and the thrill of flying are everything these two could ever want, and more.