|Penyal d’Ifac (Peñon d’Ifach)|
Penyal d’Ifac (Peñon d’Ifach)Calpe, Costa Blanca NorthThe Phoeonician adventurer's who sailed along the Mediterranean coast thousands of years ago called it the 'Northern Rock' ( the southern rock being Gibralter) and ever since the Calpe Rock has been a symbol on the coast. This sheer, impregnable crag dominating the bay of Calp (Calpe) has become the symbol of the Costa Blanca. Once a notorious pirate hideout, it’s now a protected Natural Park perfumed with lavender and wild flowers. A steep trail zig-zags upward, burrows through a tunnel cut in the rock, then winds dramatically to a viewing point at the very summit, 332 m (1,089 ft) above sea level. A word of caution: the first section of the trail is suitable for walkers of all levels; after the tunnel, it becomes increasingly tricky.
If you intend to follow the trail right to the summit, ensure that you have suitable footwear and plenty of water. Top 10 Features
1. Hiking Trail
On the lower flanks of the rock, the main trail to the summit twists and turns through gnarled pine trees and swathes of perfumed lavender. On the upper reaches, you’ll need a head for heights and sturdy footwear.
In 1918, a tunnel was hacked through the rock to make the ascent easier. The floor here is steep and slippery, but at least visitors no longer have to be hauled over the cliff face by ropes, as was the old custom.
3. Summit of Ifac
The narrow hiking trail leads to the very summit of the rock, with stunning views of distant mountain ranges, the coastline and far out to sea.
There are three viewing points (miradors): two are on the lower slopes, but the best views (besides those from the summit) are from the old guard post on the southern flank.
5. Climbing Routes
The Penyal d’Ifac is a rock-climbers’ mecca. There are several climbing routes on both the north and south faces, which take between five and eleven hours.
6. Flora and Fauna
There are more than 300 species of flora on the scrubby slopes of Ifac, including lavender, golden rod, red valerian and St Bernard’s lily. The rarest endemic plants are contained in two microreserves. Few animals besides lizards and other reptiles can survive in these rather parched conditions.
The Penyal d’Ifac is home to more than 80 species of bird, including Eleanora’s falcon, the peregrine falcon, the shag and the northern gannet. There are several species of gull, including the yellow-legged gull and the rarer Audoin’s gull.
A cluster of buildings at the base of the Penyal d’Ifac contains the park information office and two exhibition rooms, which highlight the most important features of the park and describe the wildlife to be found within its borders.
9. Coves and Inlets
The base of the Penyal d’Ifac is dotted with picturesque coves, which also have protected status under the Natural Park scheme. A paradise for divers and snorkellers, the crystal-clear waters are home to a wealth of marine life.
Calpe’s port sits at the neck of the narrow isthmus which joins the Penyal d’Ifac with the mainland. It’s a cheerful mixture of sleek yachts and battered fishing boats. Cafés and ice-cream parlours aplenty offer welcome refreshment after an exhausting climb.