The plateau of the Giara di Gesturi stands 500 metres above the surrounding Sardinian farmland: a startling, rocky ecosystem of twisted cork oaks, scrubland and shallow lakes.
A thunderstorm was building one September evening when we first encountered the surreal terrain and we were so spooked by its sharp contrast to the rest of the island we left almost immediately.
The following morning, feeling braver in the sunshine, we returned and hired mountain bikes to explore.
We’d been warned of the feral pigs who can be rather curious of visitors, but the highlight was undoubtedly the scores of miniature wild horses we encountered – another oddity in this curious landscape.
Sardinia is mostly famous for its beaches, but it also offers mountains and forests of stunning beauty. The best way to explore Sardinia's hidden gems is by mountain bike.
Just by looking at the map you will realise how wild Sardinia is: you can cycle for hours or days without meeting anybody. Some of the mountains, although not very high, are very tough, ideal if you want a challenge. In any case, you are never too far from the sea, but you will be very far from crowds, cars, etc.
The weather is ideal for cycling: it is never too cold or wet, although it might be too hot in July and August.
One of my favourite places to cycle is the vast forest around Monte Arcosu, west of Cagliari, where there is a WWF reserve protecting, among others, Sardinian deers.
If you want to organise a trip, you can try Ichnusa Bike (www.ichnusabike.it): they will provide assistance for every aspect of your trip (from bike hiring to accommodation).
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