Supramonte – Hikers’ paradise

I remember when I started this blog about a year ago it came out of a sudden urge to unlock the real potential of this magical island because it seemed that I had only been scratching the surface. And to be honest I did it for myself though I’m very happy that I’ve had thousands of visitors on the blog so far. Every step, every unknown place, every moment spent out there somehow brought me closer to this destination. I like to think that this past year has put me on the trail where I’ve always wanted to go.

Welcome to Supramonte.

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You can find a detailed description of this area here (http://bit.ly/1W1KpiX) but basically we’re talking about the central east coast of the island called Ogliastra. This territory has it all: mountains, highlands, canyons and a stunning coastline. In fact it is a paradise for hiking, trekking, canyoning or all of them at the same time. It’s an area of about 350 km² of canyons, ravines, sinkholes, columns, grottoes, giants’ graves, dolmens and astonishing peaks over the cobalt Tyrrhenian Sea. An area so wild and vast that everyone who is hooked on trekking gets drawn to it sooner or later. This was my turn!

But you don’t go to Supramonte alone. Especially if it’s the first time! You’d get lost in a place where cell phones rarely get a signal and where initially every trail looks the same and landmarks don’t seem so reliable when you’re surrounded by ridges and massive rocks.

This time I had the pleasure to walk with my friends Pietro (check out his blog: www.camineras.it) and Mario (emerging chef and dedicated biker and last but not least mother tongue speaker of Sardo). We were in very good hands not only because Pietro had already been there several times and he knows the area pretty well but because we got to know Giampietro, one of the most renowned experts of trekking in Supramonte. This is his kingdom.

Welcome to Ovile Carta! (info here: http://bit.ly/1PPw8Rv)

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Fear not, it’s not that gruesome after all …
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What you can see on the right is a so – called “cuile” or “pinnetta” a sort of hut made of stones and a juniper roof with bunk beds and a shower (!) inside.
Old timer stove in the 'pinnetta' for the cold days
Old timer stove in the ‘pinnetta’ for the cold days

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“Ovile” means pen, a place where shepherds keep their animals for the night. You can find thousands of them in Sardinia (and millions of sheep) but the ones in Ogliastra are situated in the mountains and are well – equipped. This particular one is also called “rifugio’ (shelter, alpine hut) and in fact that is what we are talking about. It isn’t a resort or a five-star hotel. It offers everything that you need though: place to sleep, delicious food, a guide with a knowledge comparable only to a Jedi’s and even connection with the outer world (wifi). But most importantly a glimpse on a place that evokes a long gone lifestyle of mountain shepherds (with all the harsh conditions and solitude) and something extremely vivid and joyful which is the feature of men who live in harmony with their environment.

And you know what else is surprising? Having a four (!) course meal menu in the middle of nowhere!!! Needless to say we were already full after the starters.

SUPRAMONTE

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My personal favourite – Pressed ricotta with marmalade of pepperoni (surprisingly sweet). In the background other essential elements of ‘Sardinian snacks’: sausage, cheese and red wine!
Proud and happy after the trek. Giampietro (on the left) invited us to his table to gain back some of our energy. Pictures on the wall show relatives and fellow hunters.
Proud and happy after the trek. Giampietro (on the left) invited us to his table to gain back some of our energy. Pictures on the wall show relatives and fellow hunters.

Trekking in Supramonte  – Bacu Urutzò

Choosing the right path
Choosing the right path in the morning
Let's get started
Let’s get started
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No wait! Incoming call – didn’t see that coming
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No earth here only rocks and trees!

There are some ‘celebrities’ of Supramonte, places and treks that have gained visibility in the last 10 – 15 years. You might have heard for example of Su Gorropu (http://gorropu.info/en/) one of the deepest canyons of Europe with its 500 meter high ridges and Tiscali (http://bit.ly/1Mw7AgV) an ancient nuragic village situated in a massive cave in Monte Tiscali. Above all there is her majesty ‘Selvaggio Blu‘ (Wild blue) one of the most spectacular trekking routes in the world that leads you into the wild to discover the beauty that one can obtain only through (a bit of) suffering as it takes almost a week to complete the trek (the very first thing on my bucket list) (info: bit.ly/1Oahkh1 – if you have any questions leave a comment at the end of this post)

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The canyon of Su Gorropu – one of the celebrities of Supramonte

We on the other hand chose something different this time. One of the less known treks in Supramonte but one that has all the characteristics of this unique land. Bacu Urutzò is one of the many waterless canals of the area that slowly find their way eventually to the sea. But even if we walked for almost 1,5 hours downhill and carried out an almost 600 meter drop the landscape remained the same. Only we felt more and more dwarfed by the surrounding ridges as the forest of stones grew higher and higher.

Even if it looks easy to find your way here from above actually when you are there it doesn’t seem that obvious! Let me show you why:

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Do you remember the ‘omini di pietra’/millones along the trek to Torre della Pegna (Alghero)? (bit.ly/1H9oig1) Well let’s say if you can constantly see the shoreline on your left it makes the whole thing a lot easier. Here they blend in quite well…

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The kraken of Supramonte
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Two bodies one soul
These
These “gates” were built to prevent flocks from getting too far. Pic by Pietro Fiori
Whereas this is a trap for wild goats. It was damaged by the flowing water during a heavy rain.
Whereas this is a trap for wild goats. It was damaged by the flowing water during a heavy rain.
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Mario staring at a 90m high arch – one of the most spectacular spots of our trek
Pietro making his way up
Pietro making his way up. Can you spot him?
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Prehistorical landscape

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Short break under the mild sun. Eating some cheese and fruit gives you the push for the way back!
Short break under the mild sun. Eating some cheese and fruit gives you the push for the way back!
The moment of truth
The moment of truth
Ok, now let's see what it's like uphill... pic by Pietro Fiori
Ok, now let’s see what it’s like uphill… pic by Pietro Fiori

While we were walking back to the top I couldn’t help asking myself the same question: who made these paths? Shepherds and their flocks? Water flowing down to the bottom of the canal?

You need to take a closer look at these green spots all along the trek to find out the truth.

Old charcoal pile spots - reminders of a hard life spent in the mountains
Old charcoal pile spots – reminders of a hard life spent in the mountains

What remains of the once fully functional charcoal piles are these unusual green spots. This is where charcoal burners used to drag piles of wood to burn them and eventually produce coal. And what a drag!!!! It makes you feel like a spoiled child whenever you dare to think you are getting a bit tired…

Once you are back again at around 1000 meters you have all the valley and the chain of mountains in front of you
Once you are back again at around 1000 meters you have all the valley and the chain of mountains in front of you

People talk about a certain disease that gets hold of you once you have seen Supramonte. They call it a ‘white disease’ from the colour of the rocks. It constantly pulls you back to see more and to get the feeling of exploring a no man’s land.

I’m sure this disease exists. Just not sure what its colour is…

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6 thoughts on “Supramonte – Hikers’ paradise

  1. Well done pal you could not write a better description! By the way, it was great walking with you and Mario, lets get on together again soon for another trek!

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