Sardinia, Italy August 2014

by Emma Bumpus on September 16, 2014

Summer explodes as Careertraveller and family taste island life where crystal clear waters, blazing fertile landscape and unique nuraghe take us on a journey of intense beauty, that reverberates D.H. Lawrence’s impressions of ‘Sea and Sardinia’.

Situated between Europe and Africa, Mediterranean hues of turquoise and azure blue shimmer below ‘encompassing heathy, moor-like hills’, echoing Lawrence’s verse: all the strange magic of Sardinia is in sight’.

Flora and fauna become the focus of our travels as we head to Torre Del Porticciolo, an extraordinary camping village that stands amidst an oasis of rainbow coloured pomegranate, fig and tangerine trees within the Porto Conte Nature Reserve!

Forest-like chandeliers of olive, eucalyptus and coniferous pine trees, complemented by purple flowered rosemary and flushed pink oleander are a botanical BBQ of the senses, evoking refreshment, wellbeing and genuine forest medicine!

Like foresters we embark on a Natural Alghero ‘off road’ jeep tour that captures Sardinia’s magnificent terrain and seascape, which interrupted with intermittent samples of sun ripe blackberries, freshly made pecorino cheese, and traditional sardo salsiccia (sausage), smacks of agro pastoral produce and independence.

As we head into the wild mountains of “heath and arbutus scrub” we trace the roots of shepherding, which since the days of Aragonese rule have been responsible for developing the island’s economy with local arts, handicraft and agriculture.

Our marine biologist guides captivate us with up close and personal sightings of coastline birds of prey including griffon vultures and kestrels in Planargia, an area of outstanding natural beauty inhabited by little more than thirteen thousand people.

Jagged volcanic cliffs protected by masses of macchia, mountainous blackthorn, myrtle and arbutus (strawberry tree), supervise a stretch of pure untouched Bosa beaches that provide the most stunning backdrop to major historical sites as we step back in time.

With over 7,000 nuraghi in Sardinia, Palmavera Nuraghe is no exception and presents a prehistoric link to Algherese civilisation via huge blocks of sand and limestone dating back to the 10th and 15th century BC. Remnants of a fortress and village displays reconstructed shepherd huts and towers with strategic views over dramatic misty mountains.

An introduction to the harvesting of cork followed by ‘un po di snorkelling’ around Compultito beach (where the locals go) is a journey into ecotourism, where conservation and tradition tribute Sardinia’s rich cultural heritage.

Alghero presents itself as an exotic port with tropical palms, picturesque harbour and medieval ramparts and towers, which date back to 14th century Catalan rule.

Nicknamed La Barcelonetta or ‘little Barcelona’ we wander the old town streets of Sardinia’s most Spanish city via a labyrinthine of old town-cobbled streets full of Catalan street signs, paella influenced restaurants and architecture, namely Chiesa(church) di San Francesco, rebuilt in Gothic-Aragonese style.

Amidst a bustling playground full of historical battlements and holidaymakers, we uncover treasure in the form of coral jewellery and carvings from the city’s deep coastal Riviera del Corallo or Coral Riviera. Wonderful!

Encompassing silver sandy beaches and luminously peaceful, port, make Alghero the perfect base for Progetto Natura’s wildlife excursion: our marine classroom for the next 4 hours! On-board we uncover this non-governmental organisation’s scientific research and studies devoted to cetacean conservation through a variety of activities from dolphin observation to underwater acoustic monitoring.

Following the Pelagos Sanctuary code of conduct protecting marine mammals, we grasp the meaning ‘responsible travel’ and follow the 300-metre outer boundary observation area and at no more than 8 knots, watch bottlenose dolphins spyhop as nature intended!

Overwhelmed by this island’s stunning natural world and incredibly simpatico openness, we make waves for a justifiable blast of sea kayaking with Sea Kayak Sardinia. From the cockpit of a salt spraying oceanic playground we experience the wild and rocky Sardinia around secluded craggy coastline to Cala Dragunara, a glittering ‘treasure island’ of bespoke sea, sun and sand!

An injection fuelled espresso doppia propels us into further action around Porto Conte where we carry adventure across Tamarillo Bay with a spot of deep sea cave paddling that takes this extreme and recreational sport to new heights.

Encircled by Mother Nature, we become attuned to Alghero’s breath taking biodiversity and rugged archipelago that embraces the spirit and science behind kayaking, in accordance with the British and American Canoe Associations.

Andy, our notably patient and entertaining professional BCU 5 (British Canoe Association) qualified instructor puts us at ease with great skill and resilience as we learn the art of real sea paddling. Great ocean temperament knowledge enables him to navigate us through a sensory journey around Capo Caccia’s limestone cliffs, which almost 300 metres high leaves us flying with endorphins and somewhat spiritually centred.

Ready for Neptune’s Grotto we descend 656 horizontal steps above crashing waves down to a maze of underground caves, which discovered by fishermen in the 18th century, displays an amphitheatre of dazzling stalactites and stalagmites.

Alghero is an authentic feast of flavours, charm and beauty, which in the words of D.H Lawrence suggests, “Sardinia is another thing”.

A very special thanks to, Natural Alghero, Progetto Natura and Sea Kayak Sardinia for a fascinating introduction to Alghero. Further details of their organisations and excursions can be found by clicking on the links below:
Natural Alghero
Progetto Natura
Sea Kayak Sardinia

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