Sierra de Mariola
The city of Benidorm offers visitors a great choice of activities, outdoor pursuits, mountain biking and hiking trails but for the more serious adventurers, about 100 kilometres inland lies the beautiful Natural Park of the Sierra de Mariola. The park enjoys a privileged position amidst soaring mountains, lush valleys, rugged gorges, rivers, lakes and forests. Declared a Natural Park in in 2002 due to its important, and sometimes rare flora and fauna, the area is a paradise for nature enthusiasts, boasting over 1400 different species of plants and flowers.
Among the park's bird population you may see Golden Eagles, Goshawks, Peregrine Falcons, Tawny Owls, Eurasian Eagle Owls and a number of smaller species such as Robins, Tits, Green Woodpeckers, Partridge and chaffinch. The park's mammal population is just as impressive and is home to the elusive Wildcat, Common Genet, Badgers, Weasels, Wild Boar and foxes.
Mountaineers, rock climbers, ramblers and walkers will be in their element with so many hiking trails and climbs to enjoy, the highest mountain being Montcabrer at 1390 metres. During your walks and climbs be sure to look out for the abundance of herbs to be found in the area, a great way to add to your condiments cupboard for free. Being the source of several important rivers such as Clariano, Serpis, Uxola and Molinar, white water rafting, kayaking and canyoning can all be enjoyed in the Sierra de Mariola. Throughout the park's mountains and gorges there are some great caving and potholing opportunities.
The area has been inhabited since Neolithic times and there are some fine examples of ancient buildings and ruins, fresh water wells and several castles such as Cocentaina, Barchell and the Baneras de Mariola. The quaint mountain village of Bocairent is a hidden gem not often visited by tourists but well worth exploring when visiting Sierra de Mariola.
Its main attraction is the fascinating Moorish caves built into a rock face close to the village. They are a series of 50 man made caves and interconnecting tunnels with many small window openings, visible from some distance. The caves are free to visit and offer cool relief from the summer sun. The village itself is accessed by an imposing bridge and offers several shops, bars, restaurants and an ice cream parlour, as well as accommodation for those that wish to spend more time in the area.
For those who wish to spend more time exploring or adventuring in Sierra de Mariola, there is accommodation in most of the nearby towns and villages, as well as the delightful Camping Mariola. The campsite offers 190 camping and caravan pitches, 18 fully equipped bungalows, swimming pools, sports court, picnic and BBQ areas, restaurant, bar and mini supermarket.