The Altopiano del Golgo (Golgo Plateau in English) is an incredible place in Baunei’s Supramonte, filled to the brim with nature and history. If you happen to be in the area (anywhere in the Gulf of Orosei, actually), you shouldn’t miss a trip to the Golgo Plateau.
There are plenty of things to see and do in this plateau located at 630 meters (2097 feet) above sea level, and you will have the rare opportunity to visit one of the wildest regions of Sardinia, surrounded by secular plants and animals – some of them truly elusive. Besides, this part of the island is blissfully isolated and a great place to forego the stress of daily life (think: no phone reception!).
History And Archeology Of The Altopiano Del Golgo
The area of the Altopiano del Golgo has been inhabited since the most ancient times, as the many Giants’ Tombs and nuraghe found in the area show. The Golgo Plateau was a safe place where to build a semi-sedentary society based on hunting and farming during the prehistoric era, and proved equally great for the Nuragic civilization which started to take advantage of the fertile ground and settled down. Among the most important and best preserved nuraghe in the area, you could plan a short trip to Nuraghe Coa ‘e Serra and Nuraghe Orgoduri.
For more information about nuraghe, read my post The Most Impressive Nuraghe In Sardinia.
The plateau wasn’t, however, abandoned after the fall of the Nuragic civilization: people have continued to come and go, especially the shepherds, who have always used the place as safe grazing land for their animals. The Church dedicated to St. Peter (more about it below) and the yearly festival for the Saint definitely prove the fact that the Golgo Plateau is still quite busy nowadays.
Legengs About The Altopiano Del Golgo
Speaking about St. Peter’s Church, there is a legend about its foundation, and it involves the most famous attraction in the Golgo Plateau: the su Sterru Abyss.
Su Sterru is a deep chasm (270 meters/885 feet) in the area, one of the deepest in Europe and the deepest in Sardinia. It opens out of nowhere, in the middle of the Plateau, and leaves the same, unsettling feeling on every visitor: it really looks like a bottomless pit.
Because of that, people used to think it was home to a legendary dragon, called Scultone and very similar to a basilisk, according to some versions of the myth. The beast used to torment the land, eat the animals and the crops, and sometimes even attack humans. However, apparently, at some point in history St. Peter appeared in the area and assured everyone that all it would take to get rid of the monster was building a church in his name; and so did they, and they still celebrate a festival in his honor after all these centuries.
Another version of the same legend says that St. Peter personally fought the dragon and the Sterru pit is the consequence of the battle: it opened because the Saint threw the dragon on the ground with such violence, an abyss formed beneath.
Check out my post The Most Interesting Sardinian Legends.
What To Do In The Altopiano Del Golgo
Hike and climb!
The Golgo Plateau is located in one of the prettiest mountainous areas on the island and has several hiking trails and climbing routes to offer, most of them best enjoyed with an expert guide (it’s very easy to get lost if you’re not familiar with the Supramonte’s geography). You will likely walk on the old shepherds’ tracks, meeting some animals – mostly goats and donkeys, as well as cows and pigs – as you proceed.
Check out my post The Best Hikes In Sardinia.
The best hike is by far the 7-day long, incredibly challenging Selvaggio Blu; but the following are some of the nicest (and easier to tackle) hikes in the Altopiano del Golgo.
Cala Goloritzé, the gem of the Orosei Gulf, is only 4 km (2.5 miles) away! You should definitely grab the chance to hike your way there. The view from the top of the path and once there is simply breathtaking. And, if you really like extreme sports, you could maybe try and climb the Aguglia, the rock spear overlooking the beach.
The beach formed very recently (1963) because of a landslide and is one of the most beloved spots in the whole Orosei Gulf, a paradise for climbers and swimmers, who are bewitched by the crystal-clear waters of Cala Goloritzé.
Keep in mind that the beach is protected and only a limited number of people are allowed every day. You will need to book your visit via an app. Head over to my post A Complete Guide To Cala Goloritzé for more information.
For a boat tour that will take you to Cala Goloritzé, click here.
Another beautiful beach in the Gulf of Orosei that can be reached via an easy hike (or on boat tours). The trail theoretically begins in the parking lot you’ll reach past the church, but if you have a 4WD vehicle you can actually drive until about 2 km (1.2 miles) from the beach, where you’ll find a small parking lot. From there, it’s an easy walk to the beach. You’ll have to carry everything you need for the day.
For a boat tour that will take you to Cala Sisine, click here.
Make sure to read my post A Guide To Cala Sisine.
This is one of the most challenging hikes that depart from the Altopiano del Golgo – in fact, most people prefer visiting Cala Mariolu during significantly more pleasant boat tours. The hike starts from the same large parking lot from where you can walk to Cala Sisine, but the descent is actually very steep and you will need your best rock climbing skills in places.
For a boat tour that will take you to Cala Mariolu, click here.
Check out my post A Short Guide To Cala Mariolu.
Visit some of the landmarks
I already talked about the nuraghe and Su Sterru, but the Golgo Plateu has some other little – and big – things to offer. While you’re visiting, and maybe enjoying a hike, make sure to stop at the following landmarks:
Literally, the Pools. They are natural basins, of natural origin but that have been enhanced by ancient men, which gather the rainwater and can hold it all year round, even during the hot summers. They were probably a sacred area during ancient times, and they are still widely used by the local fauna – both the wild animals and the domesticated ones – to drink, and therefore essential to the environment and economy of the area.
The Anthropomorphic Bethel is a small statue from the Neolithic, which is located in front of St. Peter’s Church. Despite it being not its original place – it probably comes from some nuraghe or Giants’ Tomb – it blends well with the scenario, like a little man sitting and admiring the church.
The Stone Mask is an incredible rock formation molded by centuries of erosion that have created a stunning human-like face on the side of the mountain. It can only be seen from certain angles, but once you notice the shape, you can’t unsee it: be sure to snap a few pictures.
To get there you can follow the easy trail starting behind the Rifugio Cooperativa Goloritzè. You will need to wear good shoes for this.
Church of San Pietro
The only church located in the Golgo Plateau is a stark white against the Mediterranean shrub and the small pine trees found here. It was built between the 17th and 18th centuries and is actually very plain, yet it remains one of the nicest sights in the area. If you happen to be in the area at the end of June, don’t miss it: the last Sunday of the month is when St. Peter’s Festival is celebrated here.
Read my post The Prettiest Churches In Sardinia.
Hit some places nearby
Not far from the Altopiano del Golgo, you will find some of the most charming places to visit in Sardinia. Here are some you should not miss.
Santa Maria Navarrese
Santa Maria Navarrese is the coastal hamlet of Baunei, a pretty marine village with its own unique features. By visiting here, you’ll be staying very close to some of the most famous beaches in the area, such as Cala Mariolu (though they can only be reached by boat). Or, you could just stroll down the villages’ streets and absorb its peaceful vibes.
Gulf of Orosei
The Orosei Gulf is a palette of blue and turquoise, in all of their shades. If you don’t have the time to explore the area bit by bit, my recommendation is to book a mini-cruise and see every important corner of the Gulf in one day: despite it sounding tiring, it isn’t a straining activity at all!
The mini-cruise option will take you to the main beaches – Cala Mariolu, Cala Sisine, Cala Biriola, the Piscine di Venere (Venus’ Pools) and Cala Luna – and some hidden gems and give you the possibility to rest, have a nice meal, and enjoy swimming in the clearest waters of the area.
To book your Gulf of Orosei boat tour, click here.
Sea Oxen Grotto
During your mini-cruise, you will also likely stop at the Grotte del Bue Marino (that’s the name in Italian), one of the most important cave complexes on the island. The caves’ name comes from the monk seal that used to live and mate in the area, and is now unfortunately gone extinct because of the competition with the fishermen.
The men, in fact, convinced that the seals were consuming too much fish, started hunting them until they stopped coming to the caves. Someone suggests that they still live there, but are now hiding deeper inside, where humans cannot reach.
Read my post The Prettiest Caves In Sardinia.
Located in Arbatax, the harbor hamlet of Tortolì, the tall red rock stacks (hence their name, Rocce Rosse) are among of Sardinia’s hidden gems. Their red color is even more vibrant against the deep blue of the Mediterranean Sea. When the Mistral wind blows, the scenery becomes incredibly eerie and the waves crash against the rocks. The area is also the location of one of Sardinia’s most famous summer music festival, aptly named after the location.
Check out my post The Best Festivals In Sardinia.
Practical Tips To Plan Your Visit
How to get to the Altopiano Del Golgo
The only way to get to the Altopiano del Golgo is by car.
Find your way to State Road SS 125 – which is the only road in the area – and drive all the way to Baunei. Once there, follow the road signs to the Golgo: enjoy the short (8 km / 5 miles) but beautiful panoramic road, and stop along the way to admire the landscape; the incredible views of the coast; and the animals roaming about.
Where to sleep when visiting the Altopiano del Golgo
There is only a place to sleep on the Golgo Plateau, called Rifugio Cooperativa Goloritzé, which is the best option if you want to hike or climb in the area and literally park your car and just explore. There are various rooms, which are comfortable, and there also is an on-site restaurants that prepares meals and packed lunch upon request.
The main downside is that those who manage it aren’t exactly friendly or welcoming. I have been there a bunch of times, but last time I was there in October I also decided it would be my last. They are not on booking, so should you want to make reservations you will have to send them an email.
If you really want to enjoy a good night’s sleep, you can choose a bed and breakfast or a hotel in the nearby Baunei or in Arbatax, where there are much better options. Here are two tried, tested and approved places:
HOTEL BIA MAORE, BAUNEI – Baunei is only 8 km (5 miles) from the Golgo Plateau and is probably the best option if you want to stay nearby and have as many hours of sleep as possible. Of course, this hotel is equipped with every comfort, free parking and Wi-Fi, private bathrooms and everything you might need. A continental breakfast is included every morning. Book it here.
HOTEL LA BITTA, ARBATAX – Arbatax is a bit further from the plateau but this hotel is worth the drive. La Bitta offers anything you can expect from a 4-star hotel – and more! From a private beach to a swimming pool, from delicious breakfasts to rooms equipped with every comfort, you can rest assured: this hotel and its services will spoil you. The on-site restaurant is absolutely delicious. Book it here.