This unforgettable hiking trip will take you across the wild and lesser known Mediterranean islands of Sardinia and Corsica, through bio-diverse landscapes no longer found anywhere else in Western Europe. Inhabited for thousands of years, both islands have maintained a local identity and character due to the strong will of the people and a wild interior that no foreign king could ever properly tame.
Shepherds, sailors, pirates, and farmers settled in deep, inaccessible canyons, high on rocky cliffs, or in the middle of isolated plains in circular, easily defensible dwellings. During our hikes we will seek out the remnants of ancient societies and worship systems that were created and lost over thousands of years.
Combining hiking and cultural aspects, we’ll visit UNESCO World Heritage sites; hike along coastal trails and limestone bluffs as well as the granite mountains of the wild interior; boat and swim in clear Mediterranean waters; enjoy the cuisine and languages of two Old World cultures; hike a segment of the world-famous GR-20 trail; and end with a half-day Mediterranean cruise from Corsica to Genoa.
*Please click on each day to view daily itinerary.
Cagliari to Cala Gonone
We meet in Cagliari mid-morning and then start our day with two of the most important ancient ruins on the island of Sardinia. The first will be the UNESCO World Heritage site of Su Nuraxi. The use of these beehive-like, pre-Christian buildings still remains unknown, but most archaeologists agree they were used as religious temples. The second site of the day will be the ancient spring of Su Tempiesu. After a lovely picnic lunch here, we continue north to the Gulf of Orosei, one of the most beautiful coastlines in the world. Comprised of a series of beaches, small inlets, cliffs, and rocky pinnacles that rise steeply out of the sea, the coastline here is so wild we will visit it by boat. Overnight in Cala Gonone.
Today we enjoy a scenic hike to Cala Luna, one of the most beautiful coves on the island. Centuries-old junipers bent by the wind dot the steep limestone walls and beautiful oleander and elder groves extend down to the beach. The bays in Sardinia are often outlets to the sea for narrow gorges that the locals call codule. We will make our way back by boat, stopping en route to explore a few amazing sea caves. Overnight in Cala Gonone. (5 miles / 1,000-foot elevation gain).
This morning we make our way into the wild Supramonte -- a vast mountain region full of woods and lunar landscapes. The entire Supramonte massif is made up of limestone rocks that date back 160-180 million years to the Jurassic period. If trail maintenance permits, we will hike to Tiscali, a 4th-century (BC) village built inside a majestic Karst hollow. It is believed that Tiscali was one of the last bastions of ancient Sardinian resistance to the brutal invasion of the Romans. Tonight we may be lucky enough to enjoy sweet and sour wild boar roasted in front of the fire -- one of the local specialties. Overnight in Cala Gonone. (8 miles / 2,500-foot elevation gain)
This morning we enjoy a lovely drive north to the port town of Palau where we stage our exploration of the Maddalena Archipelago. Created in 1996 to protect the local flora and fauna, La Maddalena National Park is home to all kinds of birdlife, including the Kestrel, the Peregrine falcon, the Common Buzzard, and sea birds such as the European Shag, the Cory's Shearwater, and the Manx Shearwater. Overnight in La Maddalena. (5 miles / 800-foot elevation gain)
Today we continue our exploration of the Maddalena Archipelago and/or explore other beautiful areas on the northern end of Sardinia. One of today’s highlights will be a lecture about the 4,000-mile migration of the rare Eleonora falcon from Madagascar to Sardinia and Corsica. Overnight in La Maddalena. (6 miles / 800-foot elevation gain)
This morning we continue north to Santa Teresa de Gallura, where we catch a 90-minute ferry to the amazing Corsican city of Bonifacio. The cliffs around Bonifacio have been undercut by the ocean so that the city now sits on the very lip of a precipice -- an amazing sight that will allow for a wonderful hike. Overnight near Bonifacio. (5 miles / 450-foot elevation gain)
Today we drive north into the famed mountains of Corsica, where we enjoy two relaxing nights in the mountain town of Corte. Dominated by the Citadel perched on its rocky outcrop, Corte lies at the mouth of the Restonica and Tavignano valleys, an area that boasts stunning scenery and fantastic hikes. Overnight in Corte. (4 miles / 1,500-foot elevation gain)
Going off the beaten path, we visit the wildest and most sparsely populated region of the island. Near the small settlement of Vizzavona we will have the opportunity to hike for awhile on the world-famous, cross-island GR20 trail. After taking in the picturesque waterfalls of the Cascade des Anglais, we will enjoy lunch in an extremely rural community. Overnight in Corte. (8 miles / 2,000-foot elevation gain)
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If weather and legal permits allow, we will go into the Scandola Nature Reserve. Here we will find towering pinnacles and gnarled, claw-like outcrops of rock that were formed by volcanic eruptions 250 million years ago. The colours of the rock vary from charcoal grey to incandescent reds and rusty purples, which strike a vivid contrast to the wild, green grasses and the cobalt blue of the sea. Dolphins and seals thrive here and colonies of giant gulls and cormorants inhabit the cliffs. Overnight in Porto. (6 miles / 1,000-foot elevation gain)
We enjoy a scenic drive to the northern port town of Bastia where we catch an afternoon ferry journey to Genoa, the birthplace of Christopher Columbus and the ancient Maritime Queen of the Italian Riviera. Upon arrival, we check into our hotel and make our way to a farewell dinner in an amazing setting overlooking Europe’s largest historical center. The trip ends with an overnight in Genoa.
In the morning, the trip officially ends after breakfast. We say our goodbyes and return home with fond memories.
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