THE SIERRA HELADA
Benidorm. Located in the province of Alicante in eastern Spain and on the Mediterranean coast, its one of the most popular holiday destinations in the whole of Europe. With white sandy beaches, a warm Mediterranean climate and stunning Mountains, Benidorm attracts holiday makers from across the globe and is primarily know as a party town but certainly has so much more to offer. Benidorm has one main Hiking route, and is one of the most impressive on the Costa Blanca, this route takes us along the Coastal cliffs of the Sierra Helada, taking us from Albir to Benidorm.
The highest point of the Sierra Helada is 438 m. The cliffs stretch along the Mediterranean coast for approximately 6 km's and will take us approximately 4 hours to hike and has a distance of 9 km's. Its one of our more difficult routes due to its exposure and lack of shade. There are also many ups and downs to combat, with the downhill parts being dangerously steep and very unforgiving and the uphill parts will put anyone to the test. Wether you start from Benidorm or Albir, the difficulty of the walk remains the same. This having been said, the sense of achievement when having completed this hiking route is all the more rewarding. The views, wildlife, coastal sea smell and all round feeling of being out in nature makes it all worth while.
The Sierra Helada was declared a nature reserve in 2005, and is the only joint Marine and Sea reserve in the Valencian community. It covers an area of 5665 hectares with only 1/7th of the reserve being land, and the rest at Sea.
The Sea part of the Nature reserve stretches from the headland of El Morro de toix in the North, close to the sea port of Mascarat, and down past Benidorm island, encompassing 3 main island. Benidorm island, the Island of Mitjana and the illetes of L'Olla and Galera. The sea part of the reserve has special importance as the growth of Posidonia, which is a type of Sea Grass is worth protecting as it is endemic only to the Mediterranean and is a key part of any eco system and therefore attracts many types of Marine wildlife, from Dolphins, Octopus, Ray's, Turtles and many other species creating a rich environment for these animals to feed and breed. The growth of this Sea Grass also shows how clean the water is as the smallest amount of pollution will stop this grass from growing. Unique Sea caves and Sea reefs also contribute to the reserve.
The Land part of the Reserve also has a variety of Flora and Fauna, with the European Spider (Bird), grey Hawthorn, Baleric Shearwater all being wild birds that call the Sierra Helada home, Falcons such as the Peregrine Falcon also deserves a mention.
Wild Boar, Deer, and foxes can also be seen and not to mention the many types of plants with 2 micro-reserves being on the Helada to help the growth of some protected species. Wild Orchid can also be seen on the Sierra Helada.
During the 19th Century, the Sierra Helada was subject to a mining operation. The mineral "red Ochre", which is the oldest known natural pigment in the world, is found here. This natural pigment of the earth is made of hydrated iron oxide. From just below the lighthouse we can see the remains of where the mines were and whats left of the cliff railway which was used to take the mineral down to the sea and onto waiting barges.
Benidorm the town is famous for its party scene, being one of the party capitols of Europe it attracts famous DJ's and party goer's from across the Globe, from foam parties to theatre shows, vibrant cabaret shows scenes, from tributes to comedians, Benidorm has something for everyone.
One of the other sides of Benidorm is the old town, which still keeps to its Spanish root's, with maze like streets and more tapas and wine bars than you could ask for, its a hit with every holiday maker. Benidorm also celebrates its very own indie rock music festival called the low cost festival, it hosts the "vuelta de España" one of cycling three grand tours. It also boasts 3 family orientated theme parks as its not just for the party goer's, family friendly hotels and endless amounts of activities for the whole family are available.
For those of you who like to get out and about, you can take a walk up to the famous Benidorm Cross, a high point at the end of Benidorm giving you amazing views of the whole City, then there is the Sierra Gelada cliffs, you can even take a guided Mountain walk with Outbound Adventures and explore the natural beauty of this amazing area.
You can experience the amazing thrill that is Tandem Paragliding with Outbound Adventures, giving you the opportunity to see this amazing landscape from above and make those memories that last for a lifetime. So, the next time you want to go on holiday, don't over look Benidorm!!