Undoubtably one of the most striking features of the costa blanca is the incredible Peñón de Ifach, the Calpe Rock.
Jutting out of Calpe, seen for miles and miles and something you just can’t help but look at, it had been calling me to climb it since I uploaded my Calpe Travel Guide. I had to do it.
That’s how I found myself holding back tears, half way up Calpe Rock on a Saturday morning in March.
Alex is an avid exerciser, is that a thing? Having experience in climbing back in Dngland, I’m sure he’s got a badge or something to certify it. Racing in New Zealand for world championships in rafting, kayaking across the country and beyond and just loving dangerous sport in general. Me, however, not so much. Except gymnastics and cheerleading are some of the most dangerous sports but that doesn’t feel dangerous to me! I’m a quick runner, or was when I did cross country, I’m a strong swimmer, doing all my badges and swimming miles and lifesaving and all that. I’m a dancer. I can do acro for hours on end and not feel sore. Unless I decide to do a quick walkover on a Saturday afternoon in moraira without warming up… But, although I love walking, I’m wary.
Everybody will tell you how easy the Calpe Rock is to hike. I’ll tell you now, I beg to differ. The national park below, a gentle climb is nothing strenuous, it’s a gradual climb with breathtaking views either side. The floor is crumbly and the rocks take a little climbing every now and again but it’s a breeze. It’s easy. It’s enjoyable. You look down and the views of Benidorm, Albir, Calpe and beyond are spectacular.
Then you get to the tunnel.
It’s here where the red route starts. The part you’re not recommended to walk. After clambering through the tunnel clutching to the rope chains to hoist yourselves up, it was at the opening of the tunnel that I knew I couldn’t go any further. I’m not afraid of heights. I’m afraid of danger. You look to your left and it’s just one wrong footing between plummeting down to the ocean waves below. The chain and thin path where you’re recommended to walk sideways along didn’t fill me with much confidence either. After knowing how much the sand and rocks slid and moved on the wider path, there was no way I was going any further. Not with Rio. Not alone.
If you turn back once you get to the tunnel, the hike up the rock is actually an enjoyable, brisk walk winding up the wide, rocky path.
Calpe Rock does have a visitor’s centre on site which has vending machines and toilets. They also have exhibitions inside where you can have a play and hear bird cries and look at the views of the harbour below.
Just past the visitors centre, you’ll pass through the turnstile. Entry to Peñón de Ifach is completely free. It’s just a way for the nature reserve to keep track of how many visitors are passing through. There is a limit to how many people can be there at one time.