If we all are used to thinking of Sardinia for its beaches and calm waters, you should know that a horse trekking is a great way to discover the wild side of the island, especially on an off-season weekend where the summer heat is now dampened and temperatures are perfect for enjoying a day riding.

We land in Olbia, and we reach Dorgali after about an hour with a rental car: the inland village near the most famous summer destination Cala Gonone. Here, in the Toloi area, Antonio and his uncle Mario wait for us: they have studied the feasibility and stages during the weeks preceding this trekking.

Quick and Nero can’t wait and we leave straightaway the village through the old tunnel; on the way out, there is an incredible view of the sea.We have run alongside the coast for about two hours, along a slow track, the old Via Carbonaia, used to undertake commercial exchanges thanks to wagons pulled by strong oxen. We divert to inland, we go through the Ghivine Forest, and we reach the place where we have lunch. We arrive at the Su Ta Terra sheepfold, a circular building with a base in stone and a juniper roof: rudimentary but very effective and fascinating constructions. An elderly man still lives here, who welcomes us joyfully to the sound of a pig and a cannonau … it is not evety day that you receive people here… We ride to the sea: after a fairly demanding rocky descent, where we have to lead the horses by hand, we arrive at Cala Luna … the sight of the sea at sunset is never taken for granted and we go to the huge caves which open up above the rocky wall. At the refreshment point we load feed and hay for the horses and water them for a long time … we will find no more water in the rugged mountains until tomorrow.

The steep ascent, which passes next to the scenic Lupiru arch, takes us to our night bivouac, the historic sheepfold of Bilia Mereu. We are almost 1000 meters high, so we need a fire and a warm sleeping bag for the night. Whe spend the night in the fold, which is abandoned for decades, but it is still in perfect condition: it was belonged to a shepherd who lived with his goats completely alone. The locals pass on the rumors of a man with a gigantic appearance and superhuman strength … perhaps the last giant ?. By the way, legends always have a basis of truthfulness … and Mario delights us with his stories until late at night …

We wake up with the first ray of sunshine which faces east and comes throught the doorway with no doors , coffee brewing… you don’t want to say no to some comforts … and back on the saddle, we keep on travelling the ancient Via Carbonaia. We are amazed by the cleanliness of the undergrowth, carefully “pruned” by the many free animals that we meet along the way: goats, sheep, horses, pigs, cows … including the striped one which belongs to a very rare indigenous bloodline.

We finally find the water for our horses whose recover quickly and leave until the stop for the lunch at a small accommodation facility, the Carta sheepfold, which is the first sign of civilization since we have left. We hurry up, the road is still long. The landscape changes, the pastures and waterways of the Baunei plateau take the place of the stony ground traveled up to here.Now we have to travel a few kilometers of paved road, the Orientale Sarda up to Irzulei, but our horses behave impeccably as always. We stop at a bar for an ichnusa and some chat on the way. Last effort until the evening stop, along a scenic road that takes us back to over 1000 meters, where a comfortable fence and abundant food await the horses … and  another “zero impact” night for us :-p

In the morning the the sky is gloomy, it is going to rain and the wind is freezing but now nothing can intimidate us and with the fit and well rested horses we head west and we reach the plateau where we admire the remains of the famous “tombs of the giants”, nuragic buildings dating back to about 1800 BC, and in the background the beautiful Monte San Giovanni Montenuovo. We slowly descend from here and we lead the horses by hand along a winding path: once again, our fantastic travel companions prove themselves because they show a wisdom that speaks about a great ancestral bond with these lands. We look at the Fiumenedda river, we cross the territory of the Forestry Authority, the Olai dam and we are almost at the end of our journey: in fact, we have accomplished our “triangle” arriving near Orgosolo, sadly known for banditry in the past.

In the early afternoon, we reach the gallop, where we refresh ourselves waiting for the truck to load the horses to bring them back to Dorgali. Instead, we return by car, allowing ourselves a stop for a hot tea right in Orgosolo, a town visited now by tourists for its murals.

Tired but happy, we fall asleep in the car, so there is not much I can tell you on the road that takes us back to Dorgali but, we arrived, Antonio’s mother fills us with delicacies to bring a bit of Sardinia to Milan too …

Thanks:

A special thanks goes to: Antonio, who made all this possible … I tell you a secret, he seems gruff but he is not actually; Mario, who is a sort of Rambo able to prepare lemon tea in the middle of nowhere and who knows these places inside out .. I have to apologize to him for not having published his photos, but apart from the rest he was also a photographer; Quick, who have trusted me for 3 days; Nero, who has endured Fausto and ate my slice of melon; Mosè, our outrider, able to go anywhere and in any case; Pippinu, the old man of the group, who fell but got through; to Antonio’s parents, to his uncles, cousins and relatives who did their best to ensure that everything was successful. A heartfelt thanks to everyone !!

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