The Limbara is a mountain massif in North – East Sardinia dividing the two geographical sub regions of Gallura and Logudoro. Its name probably comes from the ancient Latin “Limen Balares”, the border line that divided the territories inhabited by Balari (Balares) from the one inhabited by Corsi, the present Gallura. Its peak is Punta Balestrieri. At 1362 m. above sea level, it offers a great view over Gallura, Monte Acuto, Lougudoro and across to nearby Corsica. You can reach this massif from different towns and this is a first taste of the diversity Limbara can offer. One of our preferred hike starts from the Berchidda side. Berchidda is a little town where there are good friends of us and it’s possible to taste good typical food and great wine and we surely speak about it other times. The starting point is inside the forestation site of the Regional Agency Forestas, check the opening times which you have to respect. The hike begins on a dirt road that quickly carries us to a stream. Limbara usually has plenty of water and given that in Sardinia this is not so common, one of the things I like most on this path is the sound of water.
The stream flows down gurgling, with the water that seems to brush the smooth stones, making little falls and fresh pools.
We cross and we are welcomed by a dense strawberry tree wood made up of quite young trees. Wood cutters worked hard here and while walking it’s possible to understand that this forest was really impressive before they cut the original trees down. Now, from huge trunks are growing new trees. And it’s amazing to see how these are twisted, searching for light. The bark has little red scales.
In autumn these trees have plenty of red berries, for the joy of foxes and birds. And in the same period the branches hold their white flowers, filling the air with a sweet scent. The strawberry tree honey keeps this sweet smell in spite of its bitter taste. As we carry on, the path begins to steepen and with the increasing altitude the trees give way to tall shrubs. In late Spring wild violets peep out from the grass, gently colouring the ground.
Big boulders appear, reminding us of a different climate, with ice carrying them and then melting and leaving behind chaos. This grey granite is ancient and tough and among these rocks we like to look for a particular lizard, a very shy one. It’s the Archeolacerta bedriaga, which is endemic to Corsica and Sardinia and prefers rock walls and isolated boulders. I don’t know if it’s because I’m fascinated by the name, but I find this lizard particularly interesting, with this prefix Archeo that makes me think about something ancient. I like its brown skin with its snout with evident scales. I think it goes perfectly with this setting of granite.
Looking for the lizard helps us not to feel the effort of the ascent! The path brings us to the top, Punta Bandera, with its narrow turns.
On the top, if it’s a clear day, we can enjoy one of the most spectacular views of the entire Gallura. The panorama encompasses nearby Corsica, the valley of Olbia, the ridge of the mountains near Alà dei Sardi with its wind farm and, in the distance, Monte Albo and its white limestone. Of course we can see Tavolara, the island which signifies the edge of the Gulf of Olbia.
If the day is warm, we can look up to the sky for Golden Eagles. They prefer to fly on good, sunny days, taking advantage of the hot air going up from the ground. In this way they can easily fly without moving their wings. At least two or three pairs of this magnificent bird of prey live here. The way back is on the same path, allowing us to meet again the points of this hike we love most. If you want to discover more hiking paths in Gallura read San Pantaleo, Capo Testa and Capo Ceraso, too.