A spectacular beach reachable through a suggestive ferrata in the hills, overhanging the sea!
Dear reader, today I'm taking you to the discovery of a truly unique and fascinating place: I'm talking about Cala Biriola.
We are located in the center-east of Sardinia, in the province of Baunei and what makes this place special, in addition to the beautiful beach, is the adventurous trekking necessary to reach the bay.
My sister and I were traveling from Tesonis, a small town in the province of Nuoro, and so we were coming from the south. I would like to emphasize that the drive was electrifying.
As we approached our destination and climbed the mountains, the views were simply spine-chilling: roads set in the rock climbing steeply up the walls of the mountains above, precipitously overlooking the valleys that wind hundreds of meters below.
At a certain point you will reach the top of the hill and it will be particularly sensational: you will find yourself suspended in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by uncultivated nature and some pigs, donkeys, boars that will block your way.
So an adventure in the adventure, as they say!
Descending from the mountain then, to reach the starting point of the walk by car, it is necessary to cover about seven kilometers of dirt road, quite bumpy in some places, and reach Ololbissi.
Here there will be a pitch with parking and a small kiosk.
Park there, stock up on supplies and take the opportunity to ask the very knowledgeable and friendly staff for information about the route. To us he even left a piece of paper in which he drew us the road to take (alas we got lost anyway).
We said goodbye with an encouraging, "we hope to see you again in the evening." And we set off.
For those of you who don't know (we weren't aware) the trek is unmarked and winds through dense forest overhanging the sea. Now you can see why we were wished good luck.
The first part of the path is unpaved and winding. During this first section it is very easy to meet some pigs, chickens and donkeys, as there is a farm nearby (do not continue towards the latter, is the wrong direction).
Needless to say, we took a wrong turn just after the first 500 meters, not a bad start eh?
The initial dirt section
We took a second look at the map and, retracing the tracks left behind, we turned back and “cut” towards the bush at a boulder hidden among the vegetation. This is where the real trekking begins and where everything becomes more fun and interesting.
At that point the path begins to become even more steep and tortuous, but the view fully pays off as you climb up the mountain.
We were still on a dirt road, but this time surrounded by bushes on both sides, with flowers scattered here and there and strange flying insects.
Go up and down between cliffs, turn one corner, turn another and you'll start to find these breathtaking views.
Blue sea, infinite, under the thick Sardinian wilderness.
We continued on our way and "soon" the view began to become more blurred. Yep, because at one point, we entered the total forest.
Here you will be about halfway through the trail.
You really have to pay attention to where you put your feet in this area, because sometimes the path gets very steep and the pavement can be completely graveled, therefore rather slippery.
After my first fall, in fact, I began to keep track of how many times my sister and I would end up on the ground: I seem to remember that we ended up with four falls each, almost unharmed. Not bad at all!
Disorientation in the forest
Often finding the right path was pure luck
As mentioned above, however, the danger is not the only aspect to be considered; rather, you will have to deal with the (non-existent) directions.
If so far the route has been difficult to navigate, I won't let you imagine in the middle of the bush: a real disaster.
The only way to head in the right direction "in there", in fact, is to use the pyramids of stones built by tourists Keep your eyes peeled the whole way: they could be your salvation, just like they were for us.
My sister and I proceeded to build at least a dozen, right in the spots where we got disoriented, and if you're lucky on your next visit some tourist may have added more.
It must be said, this route is defined as a "ferrata" rather than a trek. In fact, some points of the route are marked by ladders, wooden bridges and crossings overhanging the "valley" below.
Dangerous yes, especially if like us you are not equipped, but super thrilling all the same.
Personally, I love ferratas and, if you are a lover too, I assure you that Sardinia certainly knows how to please!
Crossings built with tree branches and iron wire
I like to see the Cala Biriola ferrata as a puzzle to be solved. To give you an idea of the difficulty I could probably compare it to an extreme level rebus from the puzzle week.
If you want to look at it philosophically, however, you can also compare it to life; as every choice you make will affect your future and it's up to you to find the right direction. It also puts you to the test and, just like in our existence, you will have to find a solution to come out on top.
Steep climb with impressive view (I admit, I was a little scared)
So, maybe if you feel stuck and frustrated because you don't know what direction to take in your life, it's best to go back and visit the cove when you've cleared your head: you'd risk coming back even more confused than before.
Crossings with tree branches
Going down the steep and winding descent, very slowly, you will begin to glimpse the wonderful beach. Beach that now seems to have become a mirage and looks more like a coffer.
I liked it so much for its contemptuous beauty, intimacy and peculiarity.
Yes, because it is literally set among the rocks and is really small.
In fact, its location makes it accessible only in good weather conditions, otherwise the waves carry away the shoreline.
As we approached the "coffer" we met two Italians like us who were looking for a way to access the beach.
It was at that moment that I fully understood the famous phrase "so close, so far". I repeated it countless times because it seemed to have become a mirage.
The Cove in all its beauty
After spending a good half hour looking for a way out, two tourists in the water noticed us and saw our desperate faces: they advised us to try to go around the rocks on the right side. A blow of grace hit us, it was the right way.
We climbed up between the boulders and, somehow, we were finally really close to the longing beach.
My face can sum up the effort made up to that point:
We threw down our backpacks and let ourselves sink into the water. Ah... what a relief!
The sea was crystal blue and the place heavenly.
The beautiful beach in the late afternoon in all its quietness
We spent no more than three and a half hours on the beach, because the idea of getting lost in the dark in the middle of the forest terrified us quite a bit. Furthermore, there was to consider the hypothesis of losing ourselves again (and in fact it happened).
I can assure you, it is not naive, the via ferrata is really very confusing and being devoid of signs it is very easy to get lost.
Although I have to admit that being in the company of a female intelligence helped. I would probably still be looking for the beach.
The return and final considerations
On the way back, past the halfway point, we took some time on the hilltops to admire the scenery. Yes, it was sensational.
And I appreciated it so much precisely because of the difficulty it took to reach the cove.
This is what fascinates me most about travels, they test you.
And there is no better compensation, in my opinion, than being able to say "I did it".
Traveling is rewarding and I am fully grateful to have completed the ferrata and spent a wonderful day, in a crazy place, in the company of my sister.
Did you know that the only way to reach the cove is by trekking? (Unless you own a boat or are willing to spend big bucks to rent one, of course).
Some people think it's a shame. Personally, however, I think it is a peculiarity that makes it even more fascinating!
If you like sunbathing on the beach, then you should know that you'll have to arrive very early.
That's right, because due to its particular position the coast goes into the shade from about 4p.m, so if you intend to sunbathe and tan, the option mentioned above is perfect.
Moreover, in this way you can avoid the huge and annoying mass of tourists that usually land around mid-afternoon.
Travel times and useful information
Walking times vary between three and five hours and the ferrata is challenging. Obviously, the better you study the route, the less time it will take to reach the Cove.
It may also be useful to download the application “maps.me” available on the play store. It allows you to download the maps and use them offline.
In fact, keep in mind that during almost the entire route the internet connection will be very poor or absent (including the beach).
Take the opportunity to enjoy a beautiful day away from technology and in contact with nature!
The parking lot where you can leave your car at the beginning of the route, instead, costs €5,00 for the whole day (updated to 2020).
The picturesque landscapes definitely got the better of me. For those who know me, however, also know that I love ferratas and mountain treks and here I had a lot of fun for this very reason! The signs were not present and made everything more difficult but certainly more exciting! The beach, then, does not need no comment. Simply spectacular.
It was quite disappointing to see the incredible coming and going of boats that every few minutes loaded and unloaded tourists ruining, in my opinion, a distinctive feature of that beach: the quiet. Do the planet a favor and preserve the natural beauty of the Cove: if you want to visit it, reach it by foot. I assure you that it will also be much more satisfying than getting there by one of the many boats.
For the rest I loved this magnificent place so much.
– Pay attention: this is the number one piece of advice I feel like giving you, even though it may be banal. I have told you how many times my sister and I have fallen and it was not pleasant. The path, at times, becomes very steep and craggy. If you think, moreover, that you are on a hill overlooking the sea you understand that it is not exactly pleasant.
– Study the route in advance: what my sister and I didn't do. Remember that there are no signs outside of pyramids of stones created by tourists (they are few). I agree that going off on a wild adventure is thrilling (I thought so too), but as we traveled the route I realized how much we could have used a scrap of paper/photos with some more detailed directions. It definitely would have saved us a lot of time.
I suggest you have a look at the official website for more detailed information about the route.
– Get your own food and drinks: luckily we thought of that, because there is no food service on the beach. You can refuel at the kiosk at the beginning of the trail.
– Start light: with steep uphill and downhill sections and narrow alleys, surely the last thing you want is weight on your shoulders. Take the bare essentials with you and enjoy the trek.