ONE WEEK HIKING IN THE GARGANO NATIONAL PARK
One week hiking in the Gargano National Park (period April/May or September/October ) This week of walking will take us through the Gargano National Park. Discover and enjoy the great variety of flora and fauna and be suprised by hidden, historical ruins from the time of the daunier civilisation. Especially in spring you can enjoy the bloom of the wild orchids and the perfume of wild rosemary and thyme. The rich flora of the Gargano offers much for us to admire but of particular interest is the astonishing abundance of orchids, indeed well over 60 species have been recorded from the region, a remarkable total for such a small corner of Europe!
From the airport of Bari, Pescara o Naples transfer to Monte S. Angelo, a beautiful medieval town of Monte S. Angelo. Our modern hotel is near the center with wonderful views of the Adriatic and the Gulf of Manfredonia. Dinner at our hotel.
We will spend the first day walking around the town of Monte S. Angelo. We start from the hotel and we follow an old track in West direction. We pass the medioeval church of Santa Maria degli Angeli e then we walk to the village of Tomaiuolo. From there we walk down towards Santa Maria di Pulsano. We will have our picnic lunch on a promontory overlooking the Adriatic, with wonderful views all around us. On our way we will see a lot of Orchids: Pink Butterfly, the Sawfly Orchid an some Ophris endemic to the Gargano Peninsula. From Pulsano we will drive the short distance back to our hotel. Time to visit the town of Monte S. Angelo. Dinner and ovenight.
Today we will drive inland to the Bosco Quarto, an area of outstanding beauty set amongst the striking limestone karsts and mixed forests of oak and hormbeam in central Gargano. Our walk today start from Piscina Pandolfi. The first part of the day will be in “Bosco Quarto” area, but mostly of our day will spend in Bosco Spigno area. Beeches are the most common trees in Bosco Spigno, and some of the older individuals attain impressive proportions but there are also yews, maples, hornbeams and oaks. In the morning we will arrive at forest lodge “Caserma Spigno”, near there we will have our picnic lunch. In the afternoon we walk on the high part of Monte Spigno and back down in Monte S. Angelo direction. In this second part of our walk we will see a lot of type of flowers. A bus will take us from the main road to drive back to the hotel. We suggest this walk in the Spring – April and the first half of May.
Today it is time to leave Monte Sant’Angelo for our second destination, Rodi Garganico, on the north coast. Transfer from Monte S. Angelo to Monte Sacro area. We start this morning by climbing Monte Sacro to the ruined abbey of Santa Maria. As we climb up through the Quercus ilex evergreen oak forest, we will see a tot of types of Orchids especially Orchis pauciflora and O. quadripunctata. We will have our picnic lunch at the foot of Monte Sacro and then explore the many little fields full of orchids: the Lizard Orchid, three species of Tongue Orchid and the Man Orchid, Orchis anthropophorum and we will look for the rare hybrid Orchis x bivonae. From Monte Sacro we will descend to the East side of the mountain, on this path we will see an impressive numbers of flower. Near Piscina Tagliata we meet our bus and we will then have a beautiful drive along the coast, stopping to explore the coastal maquis where we should find Cistus monspeliensis, C. creticus and C. salvifolius. In the afternoon we will stop in Vieste for a short walk in the historical center. From Vieste transfer to Rodi Garganico. Our hotel is near the little town and on the sea. Dinner and overnight.
From Rodi Garganico transfer to the famous deciduous Foresta Umbra which covers 15,000 hectares (35,000 acres) high up in the centre of Gargano. Beeches are the most common trees. We will stop to the visiting center of the Forest time to visit the little museum and have a walk to the artificial lake near by. From here we walk under the cool canopy and admire the trees. The woodland supports four species of woodpecker along with other typical forest inhabitants such as vocal Nuthatches and active little Marsh Tits. Another bird to look out for is the striking black and white Collared Flycatcher, newly returned from their African wintering grounds and busily engaged in spring courtship displays among the fresh green foliage of the forest giants. Time for our picnic lunch. We will have another stop just outside the forest, this is a good place to see Narcissus poeticus, banks of Green-winged Orchid, Orchis morio, the yellow Ophrys sicula and masses of the beautiful wild pansy, Viola heterophylla ssp graeca in both blue and yellow forms. If we will have time in the afternoon transfer to Peschici, time to explore this very attractive old town. An old fishing village, it is perched on a rocky cliff which drops sharply down to the sea. Little is known about its origin but legend puts its date at about 970 AD. From Peschici back to the hotel, dinner and overnight.
This morning we will take the road along the beautiful, rugged north coast, lined with Aleppo Pines and Italian Cypresses, before turning inland to the “Bosco di Spina Pulci”, an area of mixed limestone grassland and impressive oak woodlands atop a range of limestone hills. This is a particularly rich locality for botanists and we will spend most of the day here. We will find large colourful pink patches of Cyclamen repandum, the Provence Orchid (Orchis provincialis) and huge stands of Asphodelus aestivus. We will also look for Serapias cordigera, the endemic Serapias apulica,the distinctive Ophrys parvimaculata and Orchis provincialis. It is also a good place for the Fragrant Bug Orchid, Orchis fragrans. We will walk for about 8 miles. Back to the hotel, if we have time, we will go to Pozzatina to explore Gargano’s largest dolina. These are steep-sided depressions caused by the collapse of a cavern roof which are characteristic of limestone and seen all over the region. Back to the hotel and the overnight.
It is our last day, free time for walk in Rodi Garganico or we may make a short excursion around the Varano Lake. After that leaving this beautiful corner of Italy for the drive back to Bari or Pescara or Naples for our return flight to London.
Briefly alternative walking program:
Arrival at Monte S. Angelo, Overnight stay in a Hotel.
Monte Calvo walk – (ca. 12 km, 6 hours, altitudes: from 700m up 1050 m)
Monte Sacro – Monte Sant Angelo, Overnight stay in Hotel (ca. 18 km, 8 hours, altitudes: from 200 m up to 800m)
Monte Sant Angelo – Mattinata, Overnight stay in Hotel or in agritourism of Mattinata km, 8 hours, altitudes: from 800m down at sea level)
Mattinata – Vignanotica – Vieste, Overnight stay in a hotel (ca. 5 km, 3,5 hours, altitudes: 150m up and 150m down; Trekking, Transfer, Bus/Boot trip – depends on the weather)
Vieste, day off, Overnight stay in Hotel at Vieste
NOVEMBER SPECIAL – 1 DAY OLIVE HARVEST
At the end October / November we can add 1 day olive harvest. Puglia is the top olive oil producing region in Italy. You will find out how the best extra virgin olive oil is made following the whole process from the tree to the bottle, visit ancient olive farms, enjoy olive oil and local products tasting, visit olive oil factories. The extra virgin olive oil made in Puglia, one of the most palatable in the World, recognized by the experts for its digestibility and high vitamin content.