Visitors to Sardinia often spend their entire vacation on the coast and completely overlook Gola di Gorropu. Luckily, I was staying in Cala Gonone, not too far from Gola di Gorropu and I decided to skip a day at the beach and head inland for some hiking. It turned out to be one of the most memorable days during my nearly month-long trip in Sardinia. I’ve compiled some helpful tips for planning a fun day at the gorge.
What is Gola di Gorropu?
Gola di Gorropu, Gorropu Gorge, is one of the deepest canyons in Europe with walls over 500 meters (~1,640 feet) high. There are many flora and fauna including the Nuragica, an endemic and endangered flowering plant only found in one small area of the gorge. It is also possible (but rare) to spot wild mouflon sheep, pine martin, foxes and golden eagles. The Flumineddu River slowly eroded the landscape over time, creating the gorge. The river is home to the Sardinian Brook Salamander, the Sardinian Mountain Newt, and the rare Sardinian trout. I was pretty disappointed not to see any animals besides some domesticated sheep, but it was a busy (and noisy) day so I wasn’t surprised.
Gola di Gorropu is also a place of cultural and historical significance. There are many Sardinian legends that reference the gorge, as a magical place. There are tales about creatures who live in the shadows and stories of people who could see the stars during the day. The area also has a few nuraghi, stone constructions built by the indigenous Nuragic civilization, reinforcing the area’s importance. There is no consensus as to what the nuraghi were used for exactly, but if you’re interested in the history of Sardinia, I would highly recommend visiting a few of them while on the island.
The entrance of the gorge is only accessible by foot and there is a €5 fee payable in cash only. It is possible to park at the top of the canyon and hike down to the entrance, take a jeep part of the way, or do a combination of both like I did.
Once inside the gorge, there are three levels of difficulty. The beginning of the trek is easy, with a few boulders to climb over. One of the most impressive parts is just 4 meters (13 feet) wide and is in the easy section. The trek then changes to large boulders and is much more difficult and slippery. The final section is only for those with climbing equipment and experience and is not recommended by staff. The levels of difficulty are marked by green, yellow and red circles. One of the most difficult and famous rock climbing areas on the island is also located in the gorge.
Expect to spend at least 45 minutes to one hour in the gorge if you stop before the final red section.
Once you park by the red building, marked in green on the map above, you will see the signs for the trail. The hike from the trail head to the entrance of the gorge takes about 2 hours and is downhill the entire way. Set aside about 2.5 hours for the uphill trek back to your car. There are some slippery areas with loose rocks, but the hike provides a nice view of the river and valley on the way.
Once you reach the riverbed, the entrance to Gola di Gorropu is on the left, where you must pay the entrance fee and wait for an explanation by one of the guides. They will explain about what you will see in the gorge as well as the different levels of difficulty. Before entering, venture to the right and find the Sardinian flag, which marks a potable water source. Although the river is almost completely dry in summer (don’t expect to go swimming), the pipe with potable water continuously flows.
The roundtrip hike and visiting the gorge should take a minimum of 4.5 hours. This doesn’t include lunch breaks, photo stops or time spent swimming in the river.
It is possible to take a jeep one way or round trip from Campo Base Gorropu. There is still a 30 to 40 minute walk from the drop off point to reach the gorge entrance. The trail is relatively flat in comparison to the full hike and many use the service to skip the uphill return trip. Tell staff members at the gorge entrance when you leave so they can inform the drivers. The jeep ride itself is only about 20 minutes, and if needed, will take you back to your car at the beginning of the trail.
Round-rip tickets cost €30 per person and include the entrance ticket to the gorge, while a one-way trip is €15. While at Campo Base Gorropu, make sure to venture to the right and behind the shop. There is a very short trail that ends at an amazing viewpoint overlooking the valley.
It is very hot in summer with no breeze. Come prepared with a hat, sunscreen and good shoes.
Make sure to bring enough cash for the €5 entrance fee and jeep, if you decide to use it.
I would not recommend doing this hike with small children. There are slippery areas and sections in the gorge where you will need to climb boulders using both hands.
If visiting in summer, make sure to bring enough food and water. Close to the gorge entrance, there is a potable water source marked with a Sardinian flag. It was an extra hot day when I visited and I ran out of water, so this was a literal lifesaver!
Just a heads up, Campo Base Gorropu only has a squat toilet.
Have a great trip to Gola di Gorropu! Please leave your questions and comments below.