The Porto Conte Nature Reserve, an extraordinary set of landscapes
Alghero is home to a wonderful nature reserve.
The Porto Conte Nature Reserve is classed as a natural and marine protected area
, and was established by the Sardinian Regional Authority in 1999. It covers 5350 hectares and encompasses
60 km of coastline.
The reserve stretches from Lake Calich all the way to the promontories of Punta Giglio and Capo Caccia, taking in Monte Doglia and its hilltop spurs.
To the north, the reserve reaches as far as the municipal boundary of Porto Ferro.
The reserve offers a plethora of extraordinary natural environments
that have a never-ending capacity to astonish, thanks to the variety and beauty of their landscapes and the uniqueness of their flora and fauna - both those under the sea and those on terra firma
A full 35 species of mammals are complemented by 150 species of birds (including rare peregrine falcons and griffon vultures), and numerous varieties of native plants and typical Mediterranean shrubs, including the Mediterranean fan palm -
the only wild palm in Europe.
Casa Gioiosa, at the centre of the former penal colony of Tramariglio, is the headquarters of the reserve. It houses exhibition rooms that highlight the most significant aspects of the reserve (marine, land-based, lagoonal and karstic) and offers guided tours and sensory trails.
The Arca di Noè (Noah's Ark), a natural oasis awash
with exciting encounters
A visit to the "Le Prigionette" State Forest
, more commonly known as the Arca di Noč (or Noah's Ark), is one of the easiest and most engaging ways to explore the reserve.
This protected area is home to various species
of wild animals
, including the small white Asinara donkeys, the famous wild horses of the Giara, deer and boar - to observe them, you'll need to be very quiet and have lots of patience.
The "Ark" is also an ideal area for trekking: several trails meander through the forest, leading you to the cliffs, which provide a breathtaking spectacle of landscapes and seascapes.
Ask at Reception to book your guided tour of the "Ark" (which lasts around 4 hours) and to receive maps and information on trails.
The Grotte di Nettuno ("Neptune's Caves") - a must-see
during your visit to Alghero
The so-called Grotte di Nettuno (Neptune's Caves) are a natural marvel that is definitely worth seeing first-hand.
The complex encompasses 4 km of spacious chambers, tunnels, underground lakes, columns, stalactites and stalagmites
, all within a limestone cave that has its mouth at sea level, on the side of the Capo Caccia promontory.
The cave can be reached on foot or by sea, which is certainly the easier option
If you want to savour the enchanting panorama
of the coastline, take the boat that leaves from
the port or from Cala Dragunara.
Alternatively, you can walk down the 650 steps
of the "Escala del Cabirol".
Although rather challenging, the steps afford an unusual and spectacular view over the surrounding countryside.