Off the Beaten Path: Outdoor Adventure in Benidorm
Along the golden coastline of Benidorm, you can hardly see sand. Instead, soaring skyscrapers poke out of the skyline, each seemingingly competing to see who’s taller. But I’m not here to lounge on the beach or discuss about the overdevelopment of Benidorm’s shoreline, I’m here to experience a starkly different side of Benidorm.
One that will bring me high into its mountains, through its dirt tracks and deep into the heart of back country Spain.
Besides lounging on the beach, there is a mulitude of outdoor activities that are worth engaging in. To get off the conventional trail and seek out something more thrilling, a trip to the outdoors is highly recommended.
4WD Jeep Safari
Steering away from the skyscrapers-studded coastline of Benidorm, our bulky 4WD jeep safari from Marco Polo Expeditions scales up the slopes of Sierra Cortina. This imposing mountain range borders the coastline, overlooking the glitzy shore on one end and the intimidating peaks of Puig Campana on the other. Although Sierra Cortina barely reaches the heights of Puig Campana (highest peak at 1,406m), it’s within a quick and easy 10-minute drive from Benidorm.
Gearing our way onto a series of dirt paths, our good-humored driver, Richard, turns up the stereo volume and gets us into the mood for some off-road adventure. Traversing winding tracks and water puddles, the jeep cruises past bumpy roads, only to result in a series of giggles and cheers. Our group of six are quickly getting into the rhythm of things, with wind in our hair and music flowing.
Richard, an Englishman in his early 50’s, tells me how much he enjoys his job, “We bring tourists out for a ride everyday and almost everyone enjoys it. There is not a single dull day for me.”
Soon enough, our entourage of jeeps make a pitstop at a cliff edge. Standing atop our open-roof jeep, a jaw-dropping panorama unfurls before me. Vertical buildings are seamlessly lined along the seafront, jutting out like little lego pieces, with a sea of blue as the backdrop. But beyond the shoreline, massive patches of greenery – golf courses, theme parks and nature reserves – stretch all the way to the foothills of Sierra Cortina, our standing ground.
Day-Trip from Benidorm
Back on the jeep, Richard tells me these jeep safaris are usually day-trips that last from 9am to 5pm. The day-long jeep safaris take tourists through deep canyons, turqoise reservoirs, even jungle beds, and include a typical country-style lunch at one of the mountain resorts in the area. Our safari – only lasting for half a day – condenses the highlights of the region.
Snaking our way through cute all-white villages, it’s hard to imagine we’re just several kilometers away from the commercialized Costa Blanca. The tranquil countryside, traditional architecture and sprawling olive plantations made me realise I am afterall in Spain!
We continue our journey into deep valleys, winding past hairpin bends and brown agricultural fields. Bending our backs to avoid the thick sugarcane foliage, we find ourselves driving through a sea of emerald green. Running parallel to our trajectory is a quiet riverstream, leading to our next destination: the Waterfalls of Algar.
Our final stop at Fonts de L’Algar (Algar Waterfalls) is a refreshing respite from the sizzling heat. The water’s ice cold though, but brave summer revelers show no fear when plunging into its turquoise waters for a dip. Although the waterfall is actually man-made (water powered up my pumps), it does look convincingly natural. A bridge connects you from one end of the stream to the other, from which you can get an excellent view of the tumbling waters slightly hidden behind giant boulders. A series of stairways lead to the source of the waterfall, through which you can wander and enjoy.
The jeep safari comes to an end as we meander back to the bustling city of Benidorm – leaving our slice of nature and paradise behind.
Refer to Marco-Polo Expeditions website for more information on these jeep safaris in Benidorm. For more outdoor adventure, there is plenty of activities to choose from – paintball, nordic walking, mountainbiking and rock-climbing.
Watch out for more updates here my journey through Valencia.
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Disclaimer: This trip to Valencia was sponsored by Land of Valencia, the Valencia Region Tourist Board. All opinions expressed are my own.