The cape of Monte Santu is a point on the east coast of Sardinia where towering cliffs meet the sea, funneling wind and waves in a such way to make sea conditions very rough and challenging for sea kayakers in comparison to the areas just to the north and south of it. Luckily there is a hidden cove called “Portu Pedrosu” right at the roughest part where you can take a break, stretch your legs, and even camp for the night as many people do even though it’s technically prohibited to camp or bivouac anywhere in the area of Baunei. It’s also a good base for hiking up into the surrounding landscape though hiking is pretty strenuous in this area at this time of year for people like me who don’t perform so well in high heat and humidity.
I spent last Friday night there and then on Saturday I paddled a bit further north to Cala Goloritze, one of the most scenic beaches in this part of Sardinia. Most people arrive at this beach by driving to the high plain up behind Baunei, an area called “Golgo”, where they park their cars and hike an hour and a half down 500 meters in elevation to the beach. Boats are not allowed to land there as at other beaches but kayaks are ok. My plan was to leave my boat there at the beach and hike up to Golgo with a back pack with everything needed to stay over night and attend the “Sagra di Capra” or goat festival being held there that evening outside the historic San Pietro church that resides in the middle of Golgo.
The hike was pretty rough in the summer heat but not so bad since it was already after 4PM. At top there is a parking/camping area and small cafe that sells over priced drinks and water which I was counting on to rehydrate myself after the trek. After that I walked about a kilometer to the church/fair grounds just in time to get on line for the roasted goat feast. They were also offering a plate of local cheeses so I decided to get one of each. The strips of goat flesh on the skin were greasy tasty but the actual meat inside was very dry and tough and I over heard a man commenting that the goats were too old. The cheese was quite tender on the other hand. The fresh ricotta was amazing and there were a couple very nice pecorinos and a soft smoked cheese that was so strong that one bite burned my mouth to the point where I couldn’t taste any of the other cheeses afterwards.
After eating I headed through the brush to a nearby tree covered nuraghe to setup my hammock. I lost my shirt along the way and had to scramble through the dry stream beds again the next morning to find it. Once I was setup I put on the spare shirt I had and walked back to the church, this time along the road, to check out the evening’s entertainment. On stage a man was playing traditional Sardinian songs on accordion along with more modern material accompanied by electronic rhythm tracks. Much of the performance was pretty far from traditional but there were many opportunities for people to practice their traditional Sardinian dances, mostly teenage girls dancing with each other. There was a large, well-served bar where all the men folk were standing around discussing whatever it is they discuss. I enjoyed a few cups of home made aquavite di vinnacia (“abbardente”, “filu ‘e ferru”) and then headed back to my illicit camp site.
In the morning I was awakened by a small heard of goats who stood around staring at me while the bells around their neck jangled making it impossible for me to fall back asleep so I finally had to get up and scare them away. Just getting out of the hammock was enough to send them scurrying as they seem to be pretty skittish animals. This area is home to a huge population of domestic animals wandering around freely: goats, sheep, pigs, cattle, donkeys and even a few horses.
After a little breakfast of cereal biscuits I packed up and headed back to the church to maybe catch some of the religious procession scheduled for that morning though mainly I wanted to retrace my steps and find the shirt that had dropped off the back of my pack the evening before. Luckily I didn’t have to go too far back into bush to find where it had fallen. I suppose it was lucky that it hadn’t been eaten by goats yet either!
I returned to the church and had some water and saw the end of the procession where they take the efigy of San Pietro out and carry him around. I bought two small brass livestock bells from a vendor there as souvenirs and headed back to the cafe at the trail head that leads back down to the beach. I had an amazing mozzarella and tomatoe sandwich with a Coca Cola, something I never drink, but at noon the heat was such already that it seemed like something I needed. The walk back down to the beach was almost worse than the walk up the day before as the sun was higher and hotter and I always find going to down to be more difficult, although less strenuous, than going up.
After transferring my load from my pack back into dry bags and launching the kayak again I headed back south towards Portu Pedrosu again. Not far from the beach I stopped at a little sea cave to cool off. As I paddled into the cave the cold air from inside hit me as a very welcome relief. I beached the boat inside and took a little swim. I also climbed out of the above water entrance to the cave, jumped off the rocks into the water and swam back in though the water level entrance.
I spent two more nights at Pedrosu. I took a little hike the next day but it was so humid and still that I was exhausted and feeling a little ill again after just 2 hours with only minor ascents. On Tuesday morning I headed back out into the wind and chaotic waves at Monte Santu but I didn’t have to battle the seas very far until conditions got much calmer just to the south. I felt much more comfortable out there on the waves than I did out on the trails. I had enjoyed a couple hikes back in May and there were a lot of tourists in the area at that time specifically there for hiking and trekking. There’s not much of that now though there are still some die hards. At this time of year the best place to be is in the shade or on the water, or maybe lying on the beach in the sun and moving as little as possible.
Below are pictures of Nuraghe Orgodùri which is not very well preserved being mostly caved in and filled in but it’s still an interesting place as just a huge pile of rocks covered with big shade trees. The cove shown is not Portu Pedrosu, but the next cove just north of it called Portu Chuau which is also very protected but not the best kayak landing.