One of the great undiscovered gems of Spain is the mountainous region hidden in the North West corner of the Alicante province behind the Costa Blanca. One of the reasons this beautiful limestone mountain regions remains undiscovered is the insistence of the Alicante tourist office to market the entire province both coast and inland as the Costa Blanca, which has effectively discouraged visitors to these mountains.
The Muntanya Alicantina provides some of the best mountain walking available in Spain. The dramatic limestone scenery and varied flora combined with its wonderful climate make it an ideal destination for walkers for 10 months of the year. July and August are too hot for serious hill walking.
The variety of terrain is a surprise for first time visitors with a series of ridges running west to east, north of Alicante to the border with the Valencia province.
- The highest of these ridges is the Sierra Aitana which rises to 1558 metres and offers views from its crest to the Mediterranean coast as far south as Cartagena and Ibiza on a clear day.
- The Sierra Benicadell in the north is notable for its razor sharp peak and forms the border between the provinces of Valencia and Alicante. From here you can see as far north as Valencia city some 100 kms to the north.
- To the west is the impressive Sierra Mariola , home to one the newest Natural Parks in the Valencia community. This provides a vibrate highland wilderness with a bewildering array of wild flowers and herbs. It is also home to a large colony of Griffon Vultures , whilst many large raptors can be found here from the rare Bonelli’s eagle to Eagle owls.
Hidden between the numerous ridges and peaks are beautiful valleys with small traditional farming villages nestling on the sides and a number of stunning gorges; from the Barranco de Infierno in the east, with its network of ancient Mozarabe trails to the picturesque Barranco Encantado in the west. The river Serpis Gorge and its permanently flowing river supporting an abundance of fish and birds.
Its not only dramatic and beautiful scenery that you will find here. The empty countryside bears evidence of its varied and long history. The hill tops are dotted with the remains of Moorish fortresses, on the high peaks you find huge ice houses, the largest of which had capacities of 1.3 million litres of ice, dating from the 14th to 17th century. Amazingly ice was exported from these icehouses ( Neveras) to North Africa up until the end of the 19 century. Villages abandoned after the expulsions of 1610 still remain whilst the hillsides show evidence of a vibrate past with long abandoned stone terraces still visible.
For lovers of flora, the Alicante mountains are a paradise. The area is surprisingly green compared with the arid coast just a few miles away and boasts a vast variety of wild flowers with a combination of Mediterranean, alpine and continental climate influences. The area boast the largest concentration of Micro Reserves for Flora in the EU under the Life 2000 scheme.
For more information about walking holidays in this beautiful yet relatively unknown part of Spain we recommend that you contact Mountainwalks.com.