Created to safeguard the Sardinian deer, the WWF Oasis of Monte Arcosu is today a place of incredible naturalistic interest
Among the scents of the Mediterranean scrub and very rare animal species, Monte Arcosu is a paradise for those who love birdwatching and trekking.
There are many reasons to consider Sardinia an excellent destination for a nature-oriented or sustainable holiday. One is the WWF Oasis of Monte Arcosu, between the municipalities of Uta, Assemini and Siliqua.
The history of the WWF Oasis of Monte Arcosu
The Monte Arcosu Reserve, or Oasis of the Deer and the Moon, is a protected natural area located within the Gutturu Mannu Regional Park.
Before becoming the largest WWF oasis in Italy, it was a private game reserve. Unfortunately, extensive goat farming, logging, mushroom picking, fowling and poaching were depleting the area. Therefore, in the 80s the Italian WWF started a fundraising to buy it and transform it into a protected reserve.
Schools, citizens and even the European Union donated, so that the fundraising was such a success that the WWF raised more money they needed.
Thus, despite the distrust of some of the local population, they created the reserve in 1985 and in 1996 bought a further plot of land.
The territory, the flora and the fauna
The Oasis is dominated by Monte Arcosu, whose name recalls its arch shape. It includes two valleys: that of the Rio Guttureddu and that of the Rio Sa Canna.
Rocky spiers and steep slopes characterize these two narrow valleys. Here is also Mount Lattias, the highest peak withing the Oasis (1086 mt a.s.l.)
Wherever you turn, the woods surround you. Indeed, the Oasis of Monte Arcosu covers almost 4000 hectares and includes the largest Mediterranean scrub forest in the entire Mediterranean basin.
The typical trees are the yew, the strawberry tree, the cork oak and the holm oak, with the remains of a primary forest of the latter. And then, shrubs and plants such as myrtle, heather, rock rose, and 20 species of wild orchids.
But the real protagonist of the Oasis is the fauna. In particular, the Sardinian deer. Without the creation of the protected area, this animal would already be extinct. In 1985 there were just 80 examples. Today, more than 1000 live in the reserve and an equal number in the adjacent forests.
The fallow deer was also reintroduced with the creation of the protected area. Unlike the Sardinian deer, however, the fallow deer of Monte Arcosu are less shy. Indeed, they do not hesitate to approach visitors at their enclosure by the Rio Guttureddu!
Other mammals that live in the area are the fox, the wild cat, the weasel, and the marten.
However, this WWF Oasis is a true paradise for birdwatchers. They can spot over 80 species of birds, including the peregrine falcon, the golden eagle, the Sardinian sparrowhawk and the very rare Sardinian goshawk.
The trekking trails
To better enjoy all this beauty, visitors can take the numerous trails that wind for a total of 80 km.
The trails start from the two visitor centers. They are clearly marked and many are suitable for everyone.
Among these, there is the Rio sa Canna path, which follows the stream, crosses the forest and reaches the top of the hill overlooking the visitor center.
Another simpler one starts from the Perdu Melis guesthouse and goes into the surrounding woods.
But for those who are more trained there are plenty of longer and more demanding trekking paths.
In any case, it is possible to walk alone or with a local guide. Just remember that this service is available only by reservation.
How and when to visit the WWF Oasis
Like the Sette Fratelli Park, the WWF Oasis of Monte Arcosu is located a short distance from Cagliari (about 25km).
It is open on Saturdays and Sundays throughout the year, except December 25 and January 1.
The opening hours vary according to the season:
– Spring, autumn, winter: from 9 AM to 6 PM;
– Summer from 8 AM to 7 PM and in August by reservation only.
Be aware that in case of a weather alert, the Oasis remains closed.