Europe, July/August, May/June, September/October, Travel Guide

Guide to Pamukkale, Turkey

Friday 14 February, 2014

Soar the spectacular travertines for hours, or go on a big XC.


People have flocked here for thousands of years to marvel at the bright white carbonate terraces of Pamukkale and bathe in the hot springs that flow down this spectacular “desert glacier”. Pilots come to fly this remarkable geological formation or go XC through the hills and across the flatlands to the north.

Pamukkale in southwest Turkey, about 20km from Denizli, is home to two sites: Dinamit and Cokelez.

Dinamit is a 300m site closer to the three-kilometre long travertines – the carbonate terraces of Pamukkale – with a large and easy take-off that faces west. Launch here to fly the flats out front and thermal above the travertines – expect strong conditions in spring and summer. Sometimes you won’t even need to go up to Dinamit: in May the wind sets up to allow take off from the travertines directly, from where you can soar the 160m high carbonate cliffs for hours.

About 20km away Cokelez is a mountain site suitable for long XCs and competitions. The PWC flew here in 2011, and the site record of 255km by Hakan Akcalar is Turkey’s national record too.

The town of Pamukkale is only 15km from the city of Denizli, and has been attracting tourists for thousands of years. The ancient Greco-Roman city of Hierapolis was built here – 20th century hotels were built over the ruins, much to the dismay of archaeologists – and the area is well set up for tourism. Local paragliding schools operate on a training hill near the travertines, and pilots come from Istanbul and Oludeniz to train.

Late afternoon offers the best chance to fly the travertines – it’s possible to soar them for hours in a west wind. In summer it’s possible to thermal up and fly long distances from Dinamit.

From May to September Cokelez is XC central. The main take-off faces south, but it’s possible to fly in a westerly too. For XC head north and north-east: distances of 100km+ are common, with cloudbase up to 3,800m.

May and September, outside the main holiday season, when accommodation is cheaper and flying conditions are easier. If you want to set an XC record, try July and August – but be prepared for some strong air.

Dinamit launch is at 720m, with landing at 366m and cloudbase at 1,500m.

Cokelez launch is at 1,670m, with landing at 1,000m and cloudbase at 3,000m.

Both launches are top-drivable with 4×4 vehicles.

You’re here, so you’d better fly the travertines – it really is like a glacier in the desert. Going XC from Cokelez, head north-east and go for distance.

When there’s an east wind at Dinamit, you’re better off drinking beer in Pamukkale, say the locals. On both sites there’s a lot of dust. From June to August it’ll be strong.

Hotels are not expensive and are plentiful – consider one of the hotels based around the thermal springs. There’s nowhere to stay at Cokelez; stay in Pamukkale and travel to the site each day.


Pamukkale is a very well-known tourist area so there’s a lot to do: thermal baths, aqua parks, exploring the old city, and hunting for textile bargains in the shops and factory outlets. Visit the fish farms in Denizli for an unforgettable day out.


It can get cold at night – bring a jumper.

Denizli is the international airport. From there buses leave for Pamukkale every half-hour. For Cokelez, travel first to Pamukkale, from where it’s easy to arrange transport to the site.


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