Lake Baratz and surroundings

During this new travel we will discover very interesting places, in northwestern Sardinia, close to Porto Ferro.


Situated just north of Alghero and Porto Conte, this area is characterized by a long beach, surrounded by promontories and cliffs along the coast; the environment is still rather wild and with few tourists out of season.
Just a few kilometers from the sea there is Lake Baratz. In Sardinia, it is the only vast natural freshwater basin (about 0.6 km²). Looking at a map of the Island, you can see many other lakes (Omodeo, Coghinas and Flumendosa), but all artificial basins.

Porto Ferro area

In this part of the region there are no large settlements and you can organize long hikes in nature. Along the coast, there are numerous towers and fortifications.
The sandy beach of Porto Ferro is frequented by surfers in the summer months, thanks to the wind and high waves.
Today we do not have much time for a long walk, so we prefer to get to the car park south of Porto Ferro by car overlooking the cliffs; from here the panorama is wonderful. Within a couple of minutes walk we reach the remains of the tower of Tres Elighes.
The view is superb: we observe the whole bay of Porto Ferro and the mountains that close it to the North. On the opposite side we can see the long succession of cliffs overlooking the sea, alternating with small coves, in the direction of Capo Caccia; an impressively flat path, of about 5 km above these cliffs, leads to the beautiful beach of the Porticciolo Tower.

Porto Ferro panorama

Porto Ferro cliffs

Tres Elighes tower

Porto Ferro cliffs

Lake Baratz

We move by car to approach Lake Baratz; in fact you can reach it from Porto Ferro also along paths crossing a first stretch of dunes and a pine forest.
We reach a park near the lake and we start our walk in nature.
We cross wild scrublands, whose silences are broken only by bird singing and wind blowing.
In a short time, we reach the shore of the lake; the marshy environment is probably similar to many areas of the ancient Sardinia, before the creation of agricultural fields and pastures over the last few centuries. Anyway, the vast pines around the lake date back to the early 1950s, created by man with the introduction of trees not typical in this area.
Here we stop for taking pictures, listening to the song of nature.

near Lake Baratz

Lake Baratz

Environment of Lake Baratz

Lake Baratz

More adventurous people will be able to discover different paths, perhaps a whole tour around the lake with new views. And with some luck they will also see the animals of this environment, including aquatic turtles and many bird species.
This place is also known for a legend. There are those who think that under the clear waters stand the remains of the ancient Roman city of Barax; in particular the buildings sank into the ground, perhaps after an earthquake. Today there is no historical-scientific evidence that confirms this belief… Anyway the name Barax is reported on some Roman maps of northern Sardinia.

Neptune’s Caves

This is the tale of an itinerary between land and sea, to discover an underground place… Follow us and admire Neptune’s caves!


How to reach Neptune’s caves

The caves are located in the north west of Sardinia, under the vertical cliffs of Capo Caccia and there are two ways to reach them; the first is through a steep staircase (the Escala del Cabirol) that descends along the cliffs with stunning sea views; the second is by sea, thanks to the boats that depart regularly from Alghero, especially in the beautiful season.


The boat tour

We chose the boat tour. This is one more opportunity to see the beautiful Catalan city of Alghero, the ancient ramparts and the port.

Alghero

The boat crosses the gulf of Alghero in less than an hour; anyway, during the tour, we have time to observe the beautiful beaches in the distance (especially Le Bombarde and Lazzaretto); we also take time to photograph the nice bay of Porto Conte, with ancient many fortification towers.

Near Porto Conto

We reach the small Cala Dragunara, with its clear waters, for an intermediate stop before departing. The last minutes of sailing are the most impressive, very close to the high cliffs of Capo Caccia. This is a landscape that has few equals in Sardinia and it hides great surprises!
Even though we have found a good weather with calm sea, we can notice all the power of the elements. Wind and sea over time have carved the cliffs of Capo Caccia.
The nearby island of Foradada is a spectacle to see! It is a giant rock with several caves dug out of the sea; the main one crosses it aside, allowing us to see through it the sea on the other side!

Capo Caccia

Capo Caccia cliffs

Isola Foradada

The boat tour finishes with the arrive under the cliffs of Capo Caccia, at the entrance of the caves.

Neptune's Caves entry

Neptune’s caves

The ground descent brings us directly inside the caves, in the first atrium that serves as the access point. This access to the caves was discovered already in the eighteenth century, but only in recent decades it was adapted for tourism. From here a guided tour start, along a few hundred meters path, kept in good condition; through the natural tunnels, tourists can appreciate an enchanting scenery consisting of deep abysses, small ponds, large rooms alternating with narrow galleries…
The firts part of the itinerary leads us to a large section of the cave, containing an underground lake (Lamarmora Lake). In the middle of the clear waters of the lake, an impressive stalagmitic column called Acquasantiera stands.
All the route is illuminated, emphasizing colors and shadows of stalactites and stalagmites, without excessive light. So we have the opportunity to take some photos before proceeding in the exploration.

Caves of Neptune - lake

Caves of Neptune

We follow the tunnel, through surprising natural rooms, arriving at that called Sala Regia (Regia Hall). It is a kind of big central saloon, whose height exceeds 50 meters! We admire it in silence.

Sala Regia

We continue the path in the last stretch, going up to a sort of balcony from which we can see many columns (stalactites and stalagmites) realized over time by that patient sculptor with the name of water.

Grotte di Nettuno

Caves of Neptune

Surprises at Su Sirboni

This month our trip continues on a striking and isolated beach wich reserves many surprises: the beautiful cove of Su Sirboni in Ogliastra.


The cove

Cala Su Sirboni is reachable by a pleasant 15-minutes walk along the coast near the village of Gairo. The narrow path crosses slopes covered by vegetation and allows you to admire beautiful views of the various creeks along the trail, until our destination.
The cove stands at the end of a valley immersed in the green and has a secluded beach, usually not too crowded even in summer. The sand is white and fine and the whole creek is surrounded by large reddish rocks… The water is crystalline, with a sandy sea bed not too deep that invites us to dive!

Su Sirboni Sea

Su Sirboni Beach

Just in the small valley behind the cave, we can observe a peculiarity of the place: immersed in the vegetation there are some abandoned houses of the tourist resort of Marina di Gairo, structures designed in the sixties but never completed for administrative problems.
This village could have attracted more visitors in this region, but it’s never been completed, so this place has remained a sort of paradise in an almost natural state.
The lack of facilities for bathers, the distance from car parks and more generally from the inhabited centers, in fact help to avoid overcrowding of the cove.

Su Sirboni cove

Hiking around the cove

But there are also other surprises: we continue walking along the path that goes south, climbing on a modest slope. The trail leads us to a panoramic position, from where the view opens south and allows us to observe majestic reddish rock walls that stands almost vertically above the sea. It’s enough to walk for a few hundred meters to find a so different environment!

Cliffs near Su Sirboni

Cliffs near Su Sirboni

Sea in Ogliastra

We stay here some minutes to observe and take some photos before returning back at Su Sirboni and enjoying a bit of sunshine and sea at the beach.

Cove of Su Sirboni

The bear of stone

Today we talk about a magical place, near Palau: the promontory of Capo d’Orso.


The Bear Rock

On the top of a hill there is the impressive natural monument known as the Bear Rock, famous also in ancient times; it consists of a block of granite, eroded by atmospheric phenomena.
A series of erosive processes, due to the action of water and wind, modeled this natural sculpture; in particular, they gradually engraved crystals of granite, giving to the rock the appearance of a bear. This type of erosion, which typically leads to the creation of cavities in the rock said “tafoni”, occurs from the bottom upwards; so, this has allowed the formation of the characteristic head of the Bear and the cavity present between the paws.
Without going further, we want to give you the opportunity to visit the monument right now, through our virtual tour:

The Rock can be reached in about 10 minutes walk on a rather easy path. For the access you’ve to pay a fee (ticket cost is very cheap). Along the approach path, numerous educational panels illustrate the typical vegetation of the area and the animal species present.

From the Rock the panorama is wide and magnificent; in particular, it stretches from the coast near Palau to the archipelago of Maddalena, from the Gulf of Arzachena to the hills of the hinterland.

Bear Rock

Panorama from the Bear Rock

Sardinian Panorama

Capo D’Orso fortress

In the direction of the sea, on the same promontory of the Bear’s Rock, you can see the Capo D’Orso fortress; at the end of 1800 by the Savoia royal family built it, with the purpose of protecting Sardinia, in the event of a hypothetical French invasion attempt.
The strategic position guaranteed it an important role in defending Maddalena’s archipelago. Although it has been gradually abandoned after World War II, the fortress still maintains a good state of conservation.

Fortress of Capo d'Orso

Abyss of Ogliastra

Autumn is a good season to explore the inland of Sardinia and today we will guide you, with a easy excursion, in a charming and mysterious corner in the mountains of Sardinia; We cross the Baunei Supramonte to discover the surprising and deep chasm called the natural Golgo.


Baunei, panoramas over Ogliastra

Our journey starts from Baunei, small village situated on the slopes overlooking the Ogliastra plain; from here you can enjoy a great view extending from the coast to the far mountains… a glance at the heart of Ogliastra!

Baunei

View from Baunei
An asphalt road, narrow and winding, goes up giving breathtaking views, and leads us to the wild and lonely plateau of Golgo.

Exploring the plateau

Nature is lush, we cross forests of oak trees and Mediterranean scrub until we reach some open spaces where we could park our car, near the signs with directions to the “piscinas” and the chasm.
The vegetation is dense is some parts of the plateau, but the rough terrain roads are an easy path; in this lonely area it happens frequently to glimpse both wild animals, both sociable donkeys grazing.

Asinelli

Asinelli

In a short time we reach the picturesque ponds called “piscinas“; excavated in the rock and surrounded by vegetation, they are populated by small aquatic turtles intent to swim.

Piscinas in Supramonte

Piscinas in Baunei Supramonte

The water itself is a very important element for this plateau, not only for wildlife but also for the structure of the ground: the erosion of limestone rocks over time has formed caves and ravines, including the wonder that soon we are going to find out…

The Golgo abyss

We walk for a short distance until reaching our goal, known as Golgo or natural monument of Su Sterru. Surrounded by trees and shrubs, the chasm opens surprisingly under our eyes and it is impossible to see its bottom.
Today we know that the abyss is deeper than 200 meters and we can well imagine that in the past has been the theater of myths and superstitions. Tradition says that the area was in the past the scene of pagan rituals. Locally it is said that the Golgo himself was created by St. Peter, in his struggle to crush the legendary basilisk (the monster here known as Scultone) that threatened the population of Baunei…
In the past it was also assumed that the Golgo was the crater of an ancient volcano, because of the dark color of the rocks surrounding the mouth of the abyss. The most recent explorations have shown rather that Golgo have originated by water, which over time has carved the limestone cliffs.

Golgo

Golgo in Baunei Supramonte

We conclude our itinerary here, surrounded by nature. But we know that the more adventurous ones could find much more challenging routes, including the path down to the beautiful Cala Goloritzè, a bay jewel of Ogliastra (consider about an hour of walking).

Pearls of Costa Paradiso

The month of October can be a good time to go hiking, with good weather.
Just one of these days we decided to walk along the paths that cross the northern coast known as the Costa Paradiso, stitching together the most beautiful bays of this area –Li Cossi and Li Tinnari.
The weather is perfect, not too hot in sunny paths along the coast, although the day is quite humid and windless – unusual feature for late October.


Li Cossi beach

After parking in the morning near the hotel Li Rosi Marini, we walk along the path that connects the resort of Costa Paradiso to the beautiful Li Cossi beach; the first stretch of the trail, in excellent condition through some vertical rock walls overlooking the sea, with a great visual effect.

Costa Paradiso

Some of stairs help to climb along the exposed section, and then proceed to where, behind the last ridge, appears the unique scenery of Cala Li Cossi.
The sand on the beach drawing a perfect arc in the small valley which lies between the slopes.
Behind him we observe a lovely river environment, with the reeds along the banks of a small stream, while in front of the crystal clear waters of the ocean show all colors of the backdrops, ranging from white sand to the darkest shade of the rocks.

Costa Paradiso

Costa Paradiso

Costa Paradiso

Costa Paradiso

Unfortunately the beach is partly equipped (although in this season the kiosk is closed), to provide more leisures for bathers from the nearby tourist village: it would be great to see this place, surrounded by a majestic landscape amphitheater, in all its splendor and in a more natural state.

Hiking along the path of Costa Paradiso

Nevertheless, you can feel the breath of nature in this part of the coast, and when we continue our walk west of Li Cossi, the environment gets even wilder. The path crosses the vegetation, remaining always visible but without paved stretches or steps, such as those encountered before Li Cossi. It continues through the woods, hills and meadows, with a succession of different scenarios, but with the constant feeling that nature wraps us; rarely we meet some hiker who, like us, explore this environmet. In some places the path presents bifurcations and you can choose among multiple way, but even so, without risk of taking the wrong choice by maintaining the direction along the coast.
Costa Paradiso

Costa Paradiso

After more than an hour’s walk from Li Cossi and after having crossed a plateau between meadows and low shrubs, the trail goes towards reddish cliffs that plunge into the sea; in this section we follow the various cairns scattered along the route, indicating the right direction, until it reaches the last clearings. Here the trail crosses a slope and, in the last stretch, descends steeply towards Li Tinnari.

Costa Paradiso

Costa Paradiso

Li Tinnari cove

Cala Li Tinnari is a real jewel, nestled in a majestic nature. As Li Cossi, it’s situated in a valley with steep slopes at the mouth of a small stream.
Small rounded pebbles compose the beach, making less pleasant the access to the sea; however, thanks to the presence of this ground, the seabed shows thousand of nuances. In the middle of the bay a few isolated rocks rise from the water, effectively dividing the beach in two small coves.
Apart from the very few hikers, there is no trace of man.
We stop a moment to admire in silence the imposing landscape.

Costa Paradiso

We also observe the stretch of coast that extends westward: we know that the path continues and from here you can come to the beach of Marinedda near Isola Rossa.
For us, however, it is already time to think about the return to Costa Paradiso, aware that in October the days are shorter and about 2 hours of walking are needed to come back.

Capo Testa, mystical place

There is a unique and unforgettable place near Santa Teresa di Gallura, that we wish to view also this year. This is the Capo Testa peninsula, which extends close to the Straits of Bonifacio, connected to the rest of Sardinia by a narrow isthmus that has beautiful beaches with fine sand, and a wonderful blue sea.


Not far away, on the end of the Beach of the Granites, north of the isthmus, you can see the remains of some ancients columns from the Roman period (the site was used as a quarry until the Middle Ages)… But today we are not here for this.

Capo Testa peninsula

Because Capo Testa is a place where you can feel the breath of nature and observe the slow march of time.
The road rises in the heart of the peninsula, up to the highest area, where you can find a parking.
From here some trails start, leading through little valleys and the slopes; we leave behind us the access point to the picturesque Valley of the Moon and we head towards the Capo Testa lighthouse … there isn’t only a single path, a predetermined track, but a tangle of multiple trails and only our inspiration decides where to direct us.

Capo Testa
Curiosity drives us to cross colossal rock masses, before stopping to observe breathtaking views: cliffs plunging into the sea, small bays situated among the rocks, and in the distance, over the blue Mediterranean, the rough shape Corsica appears.
Capo Testa

We feel the wind blowing in the valleys while we’re surrounded by gigantic rocks carved by time and elements, which seem to be sculpted by the hands of the ancient Titans.
Capo Testa

On top of this last stretch of the peninsula, the white lighthouse is located; the construction, despite the size, seems to be small in the vastness of the landscape that surrounds it.

Capo Testa

Capo Testa

Capo Testa

Capo Testa