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Rising 322 metres above the Mediterranean sea, and with incredible views of the surrounding area Peñon d'Ifach - also known as Calpe Rock - is one of the most famous sights along the Costa Blanca coastline and is also a protected Natural Park. If you are looking to climb Calpe Rock, the signposted route starts at the Visitor Centre, where there is a parking area. You can take part in a guided excursion which takes you along the walking trail, taking you all the way to the summit by way of a tunnel constructed in 1918 to make the climb easier. You can also climb the Rock without a guide.
Peñon d'Ifach - Calpe Rock
Rising 322 metres above the Mediterranean sea, and with incredible views of the surrounding area, Peñon d'Ifach - also known as Calpe Rock - is one of the most famous sights along the Costa Blanca coastline.If you are looking to climb Calpe Rock, the signposted route starts at the Visitor Centre, where there is a parking area. You can take part in a guided excursion which takes you along the walking trail, taking you all the way to the summit by way of a tunnel constructed in 1918 to make the climb easier. You can also climb the Rock without a guide.
Peñon d'Ifach Calpe is a calcareous rock one kilometre long, making a total of 50.000 m2 of rock. Joined to the land by a narrow isthmus, it is the result of a landslide from nearby Sierra de Oltà, making it one of the most unusual and beautiful geographical features, not only within the Valencian community but also on the entire Mediterranean coast. It was declared a protected Natural Park in 1987.
At the foot of the rock is the Royal Nautical Club and fishing port where the fleet of fishing trawlers unload their precious catch each day. It is also a meeting point for climbers and scuba divers from all over the world, who test its resistance over and over again, challenging nature by climbing its face and exploring its deep waters.
In older times Peñon d'Ifach was used as a watchtower - it was an excellent vantage point to spot attacks from Berber pirates and to warn the surrounding community. Today the Peñon d'Ifach is a peaceful refuge for many plant and bird species and a popular destination for tourists & visitors to Calpe.
If you are looking to climb Calpe Rock, the signposted route starts at the Visitor Centre, where there is a parking area. You can take part in a guided excursion which takes you along the walking trail, taking you all the way to the summit by way of a tunnel constructed in 1918 to make the climb easier. You can also climb the Rock without a guide.
The walking is reasonably easy on the lower slopes, but it becomes more tricky beyond the tunnel where the path narrows. The climb to the summit of Peñon d'Ifach is worth the effort as it offers spectacular views of the surrounding coastline, and inland to the mountains in the area. It is popular with bird lovers who come to see some rare bird species including Audouin's gull, Eleanora's falcon and the peregrine falcon. Nature lovers can also enjoy the many species of wild flower including one rare orchid species found only on Peñon D'Ifach.
Remember to wear appropriate footwear and clothing for the season. Climbing the Calpe Rock is not recommended for children under 12 years.
View from the Top
The Rock of Ifach has always been a symbol since time immemorial. It was beyond doubt an important visual milestone for the primitive navigators of the Mediterranean who most certainly believed it to be of deep symbolism.
Later, the Rock of Ifach became a privileged surveillance point, protecting against raids by pirates and navigators sailing down the coast and used by the townsfolk as a watchtower and refuge. This gave the Rock a certain reverential character among those living nearby, not only for the physical protection it gave, but also for the psychological and symbolic safety it guaranteed.
A variety of villages have established themselves on the Rock of Ifach since remote times. At it's foot, on the west side, an Iberian population settled, dated by the existence of Greek ceramics from the IV-III centuries before Christ.
In Roman times population descended to the isthmus which joins the rock with the land. Also, thanks to the numismatic findings, we can affirm that they reinhabited its hillsides during the middle ages. However, the continuous attacks from the sea by navigators forced the inhabitants to descend to the town of Calpe and create a surveillance system to confront the pirate raids.
The hiking trail in more detail
The route, which takes about two & half hours, starts with the nature reserve’s installations which consist of an exhibition room showing the different protected areas in the Valencian community, and a nature room, where among other sections, there is a projection room where a documentary on the ecosystem of the Rock is shown.
The path which leads to the top is dominated by coastal vegetation in which lavender is abundant. Along the way the pine trees seem to grow horizontally due to the dominant wind. Different insects inhabit the area, and palmettos, savine and ferns can be found near the calcareous rock.
On the way up we come across the remains of an old wall rebuilt in the XIV century and from this point we are obliged to stop and contemplate the magnificent panoramic view which unfolds before us. To the south, Sierra Helada, to the west, Puig Campana and Sierra de Aitana; in front, closing the bay of Calpe, the Morro de Toix, this is joined by the Mascarat to Sierra de Bernia and Sierra de Oltà which make a high plateau. To the north are Pedramala, the Montgó, the Puig de la Llorença and the Cape of Moraira; and to the east on a clear day, you can actually see the island of Ibiza.
Before going through the tunnel, take a look at the dark marks which spread across the seabed of Levante beach. These are a type of seaweed which carries out an important task in the marine habitat, such as retaining sediments, keeping the sand on the beach and serving as food for certain fish and sea urchins. It also makes a habitat for other species of commercial interest, where they feed and lay their eggs.
On the slope of Levante, the vegetation is slightly different due to the great amount of sunshine it receives so it is easier to find esparto grass and rosemary.
The path continues, surrounded by savine juniper and various other species, and divides into two.
To the left the path gives you the chance to look at the groups of fallen pine trees and rockrose as well as being able to hear or see different birds, such as seagulls, greenfinches or whitethroats. When we reach the end, on the left-hand side we can see how steep the cliffs are. We can also see the cape of San Antonio behind the tip of Moraira and the last foothills of the Rock of Ifach.
To the right, along a slightly more complicated path because of the slope and rocky parts, we reach the top, the culmination of the climb, where at 332 m high and nearly touching the sky, the visitor then realises how so many artists have obtained inspiration for their work. It is the place and moment to enjoy the sensations that mother nature provides.
Flora and vegetation
The noteworthiness of the Rock of Ifach’s landscape is due to the combination of elements typical of mountainous scenery, with others related to its being a littoral enclave, where the sea plays a preponderant role. Its flora and vegetation have deserved the attention of students since the times of Cavanilles. Nearly 300 species make up this plantlife, with Valencian endemics, being considered one of the most threatened of Iberian plants, and already difficult to find on Valencian territory.
Its fauna is also of notable interest, above all for the presence of birds, among which certain land birds and marine birds predominate (Eleonor falcons, marine ravens) of which about 80 species have been identified altogether, taking into account others such as nest builders, migrants and roaming birds.
The marine flora and fauna also worth mentioning for its wide variety of communities which, depending on the depth and character of the rock, appear among the shelves of the Rock.
Lichens, seaweeds, marine sponges and a variety of fish appear within the two marine communities which are of particular ecological interest: Mediterranean coral which is found in the cracks of its submerged walls and beds of seaweed which spread across the sandy bottom crakes a sure sign of the quality of its surrounding water.