April 23rd - 30th, 2020
Sardinia: the mountains and the south
Price: £ 1595 inc. flights, £ 1295 ex flights
Leaders: Bob Gibbons, Andrew Branson and Jon Crewe
Sardinia is the second largest Mediterranean island, almost 3 times the size of neighbouring Corsica. It’s enormously varied scenically and geologically, with a rich flora and fauna to match. Our week-long trip takes in the warm southern lowlands and hills, followed by a few days in the central mountains. We’ll see endemic orchids, wild peonies and many other flowers, together with migrant and resident birds, and some of the endemic reptiles and amphibians.
We arrive at Cagliari, where the airport lies next to flamingo-covered lagoons, and travel about an hour north-west to our first base, on the slopes of Monte Linas, with good flowery habitats nearby. From here, we are within easy reach of the extraordinary basalt uplands of the Giara di Gesturi – a wild land of marshes, pools and ancient cork oak, with a fascinating flora and fauna; the limestone hills and mountains of the south-west corner of the island, filled with endemic orchids and other flowers; the southern parts of the Gennargentu mountains, the southern coast, and the wonderfully unspoilt west coast Sinis peninsula with its exceptionally rich flora and fauna. After 3 nights here, we drive north through the lovely Gennargentu mountains to our second hotel at Dorgali, from where we can explore the higher mountains, limestone hills, the amazing hilltop settlement of Tiscali, and the unspoilt central-east coast.
The native flora of Sardinia encompasses over 2500 species, of which about 350 are endemic. We won’t see all of these, of course, but we do expect to see an excellent range of orchids, including a number of endemics such as the striking Ophrys morisiior O. chestermannii and many others, an endemic peony, endemic crocuses, endemic saxifrages, masses of Cyclamen, blue irises, and the extraordinary spikes of the parasitic Cynomorium coccineum, which has been shown by DNA analysis to have no close relatives anywhere else in the world. And of course, there is an abundance of that general colourful spring Mediterranean flora made up of poppies, crown daisies, vetches, asphodels and much else besides.
Sardinia is home to some fine historic and archaeological remains, particularly the impressive megalithic prehistoric settlements known as nuraghi; some are spectacular well-visited sites, while others are barely-visited and full of interesting flowers and birds – we’ll expect to visit several of each during the week. The bird-life is good, especially in the wetlands, and there should be good numbers of migrants coming through, and it’s always a pleasure to be hearing or seeing hoopoes, turtle doves, cuckoos, hawfinches and others almost anywhere we go. Depending on the season, it may be a bit early for large numbers of butterflies, though we’ll certainly see a good range of spring Mediterranean species. There are also plenty of interesting reptiles and amphibians, such as Tyrrhenian tree frog, Hermann’s Tortoise, Sardinian Brook Newt, three species of geckoes, and Bedriaga’s Rock Lizard, to name but a few.
After 4 days around Dorgali, we’ll drive straight back to the airport for our direct flight home.
The tour price includes return flights from London Gatwick to Cagliari, transport throughout, accommodation with private facilities on a half-board basis,services of leaders throughout, plus pre-tour information and post-tour species lists. Picnics should cost no more than about £4 per day. Tour Code: NHT/20/02. Price:£ 1595; Single room suppt £ 150; Deposit£ 400