Hiking in Sardinia: Crossing the Supramonte

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“Take a deep breath, give your backpack a final check and make sure your hiking boots are well fastened.

Where are we going? Patagonia?

No! We’re heading to the heart of Sardinia:

The Supramonte “.

When we think about the second-largest island in the Mediterranean Sea, we tend to imagine white sand beaches, crystal clear water and nothing more.

I’m sorry to dispel this myth, but actually, Sardinia is 18% flatland with the remaining 82% divided between hills and mountains. Although the peaks are not excessively high, rarely exceeding a thousand meters, Sardinia could very well be considered a hiker’s paradise.

There are countless paths created since the dawn of time by Sardinian shepherds during their transhumances. With the passing of the years and the arrival of a new generation of hikers, some of the old trails have become real treks.


A 4-Day Hike

If you are looking for a 4-day itinerary far away from the monotony of modern comforts, well then, the Grande Traversata del Supramonte is perfect for you.

In May 2012, Alessandro, Cast, and I, three longtime friends, decided to try our hand at the challenge.

The idea was actually mine. I gathered the gang in a neighborhood bar and I must admit it was not easy to convince them.

At the start of our journey, our printed guide (which became our “Bible”), was brand new. But now, years later, it bears the marks of an unforgettable journey.

We studied the route at the table that day, then on Google Earth, and we courageously set our departure date.

Since that day my life has changed. That trip exponentially increased my desire to explore and get to know as many places as possible on foot.

Right from the start, the first challenges began presenting themselves. For instance, we had not calculated that there was no way to reach Arcu Correboi other than by car.  At the time we had imagined arriving there by bus.

The First Night

Equipped with IGM maps, a compass, a paper guide and anything else that could help us, we had failed to consider that in reality, mountains aren’t labeled with their name.

In Supramonte, landmarks can often be misleading.

The first night we slept at about 1300 meters above sea level, in the forest house of Monte Novo San Giovanni.

Monte Novo is a limestone massif about 70 meters high and immersed in the Montes Forest.

This forest is home to a centuries-old holm oak wood unique in the Mediterranean basin for its size, physiognomy, ecological and landscape characteristics.

Mother Nature’s Masterpieces

The path that leads from Monte Novo to Cuile Ziu Raffaele allowed us to understand what we mean when we talk about centuries-old holm oak. When you immerse yourself in these places, which I like to call “natural monuments”, one can only be in awe of the Earth’s wonders.

The night spent at Ziu Raffaele made me understand how beautiful silence is and how much city life can sometimes deprive us of our natural needs.

Legends say that Fabrizio De Andrè was kidnapped near this cuile (mountain hut).

Upon awakening, the first real challenge was to find “Funtana s’Arga“, a cavity that collects rainwater filtered through the karst system. In Supramonte most of the water resources are found underground and the access points are very often a privilege relegated only to those who know these places well.

Fortunately, on a previous bus trip, I had managed to get precise directions from a Sardinian hiker named Marco, an expert. Following his advice, we managed to find the precious source in about half an hour and continued the journey towards cuile Pradu.

The Third Leg

The third leg of the trip went quite smoothly and was definitely the most panoramic. The passage at high altitude on the Corrasi gave us the opportunity to take a wide-ranging look at the route behind us and what still awaited us.

The Pradu plain and its beautiful cuile were a godsend at the “finish line”.

You should know, among other things, that in Pradu – at about 1,100 meters above sea level – a rare endemic plant species grows: the Sardinian currant (Ribes sardoum).

Unlike Ziu Raffaele, given the proximity to the town of Oliena, cuile Pradu is a little less isolated and with any luck, you might just find some provisions left by regulars in the area.

During our stay we were lucky and got to try the excellent cheese produced by the local shepherds. We decided to return the unexpected hospitality by leaving some food for the next visitors.

The final destination is the water source of Su Gologone. Let’s face it, there have been so many studies regarding its origin that it deserves a separate article.

However, I want to be generous and give you a little information: Su Gologne is the main resurgence of a vast karst system and for now, the speleologists have estimated it to be at a depth of about 135 meters.

Some Tips and Additional Info

If you decide to accept the challenge, keep in mind that:

These 4 days will not be by any means a simple walk, but will test your ability to adapt. It will allow you to appreciate the beauty that an island like Sardinia hides in its most remote corners and will teach you how to grasp every moment.

The Supramonte is harsh, but at the same time generous with those who know how to respect its places and its rules. It will not disappoint you!

You’ll need all the essential hiking gear just as you would for any other trip, except for a tent. You’ll be sleeping in old shepherd huts known as cuile which make the atmosphere all the more memorable.

The route begins in Arcu Correboi (a town not far from Fonni) then passes through Monte Novo San Giovanni, Cuile Ziu Raffaele, Cuile Pradu and finally ends at the Su Gologone water source near Oliena.

The total length of the excursion is approximately 52 km.

The best time of year to embark on this adventure is definitely between March and the first week of June or between September and October.

You must bear in mind that we are in Sardinia, in rugged territory and that the availability of water makes the itinerary quite challenging. In fact, running short on water is the main concern on this route.