Sardinia is an inspirational island of natural beauty with a mix of Italian and Spanish cultures. Walking from the black mountains of Montiferru to the Sinis wetlands you will discover beaches, bays, headlands, ancient ruins and historical sites. This is a gentle walk crossing a variety of terrain and home to much bird life, especially in the spring. The Montiferru mountains, a basaltic area famous for green forests, clear spring water and local 'red' beef provide wonderful walking opportunities with sweeping coastal views, charming accommodations and numerous swimming opportunities. Bird watchers will be entertained by the large colonies of Grey Herons, Pink Flamingoes and a wealth of other bird life, while the ancient Spanish watchtowers, small villages and the ancient site of Tharros occupied by the Phoenicians, Punics and Romans offer welcome distractions for those keen to learn more about the island's history and culture. Whilst walking, you will also come across artichoke fields, Vernaccia vineyards, olive groves and the Cabras Lagoon, famous for grey mullets and its 'Bottarga'.
This tour is graded Easy – Moderate. The terrain is generally easy being on tracks and good footpaths with walking times of between 3 and 7 hours per day. The longest day is mainly downhill on tracks and back roads. There is a little flexibility on a few days to adjust the distance walked.
Make your way to your hotel in Santu Lussurgiu. This is a mountain village on the south-eastern side of the Montiferru mountains. It lies on the slope of an ancient volcanic hill, and its bright stone houses make a fine contrast with the green backdrop of woodland and meadows.
Accommodation: For two nights, stay in a 3 star 17th century mansion of Spanish design. All the rooms are tastefully decorated in traditional style reflecting something of the history of the place. There is a quiet courtyard inside the huge wooden gates that form the entrance. The dinning area is in vaulted rooms on the ground floor and the food provided is of excellent quality. The proprietor here is a key member of the ‘slow food’ movement, which promotes the production of traditional foods in traditional ways.
A short walk to start the holiday so have a relaxing breakfast before setting out but beware it is not all plain sailing with 300m of ascent along the way. A mix of road walking and agricultural tracks take you up to San Leonardo with sweeping views on the way. Spend a little time looking around this village, the church and springs are interesting and Sunday is market day. There are numerous places to get a drink and something to eat. Another mix of road walking, tracks and paths will get you back to Santu Lussurgiu. You will have time to divert to the viewpoint above the town where a statue of Christ overlooks the village and to walk down through the maze of narrow streets to look at the churches and find the bar at the centre of the village for a well-earned refreshment.
First hop into a taxi for a short ride to the top of the mountain and the start of the walk. The route descends from the Montiferru Moutains, to Santa Caterina di Pittinuri located on the coast. The route initially traverses the high ground with views down to the coast then descends to the coastal plain. Most of the way is on good tracks with gentle gradients passing through oak forests, olive groves and quiet pastures. The last hour is on level minor roads taking you to the quiet bay at Santa Caterina.
Accommodation: Our nice 4 star hotel is located right on the coast on a cliff at the edge of the beach. The hotel has a swimming pool, pleasant rooms and an excellent restaurant overlooking the sea. The location is quiet, the village small with just one small shop and a couple of bars.
A morning transfer to Is Benas lagoon, home to a large colony of Grey Herons and Pink Flamingos in season. A beautiful track winds along the cliffs leading to the beach of Su Pallosu. This only takes 2 or 3 hours so walk onwards to complete a route around Capo Mannu. This takes you along more cliff tops to the lighthouse and the ancient Spanish watchtowers to Putzu Idu, a village located on a stretch of coast often frequented by sailors and surfers.
Accommodation: The 3 star hotel is located as close as you can get to the white sand beach and offers beautiful views.
The day starts from the hotel, walking to the start of the limestone cliffs of Su Tingiosu, which stretch for 6 km/3.7 miles and provide habitat for many birds. The cliffs end in the beautiful quartz beaches of Is Aruttas and Mari Ermi where rice-sized grains of quartz form the white beaches. Finally head inland, crossing artichoke and wheat fields to arrive in San Salvatore Sinis, famous for its church erected over a Roman hypogeum – or underground temple. The village is unpopulated apart from one week when a religious festival brings the place to life.
Accommodation: For the next two nights stay in a charming 3 star countryside complex located near San Salvatore Sinis, a tiny village in the heartland of the Sinis peninsula. Its U-shape layout resembles that of a Spanish hacienda with 14 lovely decorated rooms surrounding a flourishing garden in the central courtyard. The hotel has a restaurant and comfortable living room.
A day trip walking across fields and by the side of the lagoon to San Giovanni, then on to the site of Tharros and the narrow peninsular of Capo S. Marco. A leisurely hours walk takes you from the hotel to the ancient Basilica Paleocristiana di San Giovanni di Sinis V Secolo, a church dating back to 470AD. Here you join the main tourist track to the site of Tharros an interesting site dating back to the 8th century BC but most dominant are the Roman remains. An hour here and a stop in the café will set you right for a loop around the Capo S Marco using the smaller footpaths that skirt the coastline. Pass the watchtower before walking along the beach and back to the cafes and restaurants of San Giovani. You can spend the rest of the afternoon relaxing on the beach, walking further along the coast or just head back (by the same path used in the morning) to the hotel.
A morning walk leads you out of San Salvatore to Cabras, the main town of the Sinis. During the itinerary you walk along artichoke fields, Vernaccia grape vineyards, olive groves and past the Cabras Lagoon, the largest in the area, famous for the grey mullets and above all its Bottarga, the cured roe of mullet. Don’t miss the fresh fish, the Bottarga and the Vernaccia wine, you could even try them for lunch! However if you are passionate about bird watching don’t spend too long over lunch, as today is your day! Take the optional afternoon walk crossing the swamp of Pauli ‘e Sali, a protected area where an immense number of birds (some are very rare) usually nest. Sheltered by the canes you can take beautiful pictures without disturbing them. 9 km/5.5 mile loop.
Accommodation: Stay in an old villa, now a charming 3 star hotel. This lovely property is located in a restored house in the centre of town. Under the same management, the nearby restaurant ‘Il Caminetto’ is renowned among locals for its traditional fish cuisine but you might want to phone ahead to make a reservation.
Depart Cabras after breakfast.
Per Person, Twin Share