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Sardinia
 
Est - EastNord Est - North EastNord Ovest - North WestOvest - WestSud Est - South EastSud Ovest - South West
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GESTURI HIGH PLATEAU 
GESTURI HIGH PLATEAU
Gesturi

CA [Cagliari]


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LOCATION: South- centre of Sardinia.

The Giara is a basaltic plateau that extends for 16,21 square miles, 550 metres above the sea level, among the territories of the municipalities of Gesturi (CA), Genoni (NU), Tuili (CA) and Setzu (CA).
12kms long and 4kms wide, the Giara is famous for a particular species of horse, unique in the world, that has been preserved for centuries: Giara wild pony. It's the only species of wild horse in Europe.
There are about 700 specimens on the plateau, that pasture freely through the woods of cork trees and downy oaks and the inevitable strawberry trees, myrtle and lentisk.
This plateau is known to Sardinian people just as “La Giara”. Someone calls it “Sa Jara manna” (the big Giara) to distinguish it from all the other plateaus that abounds in south central Sardinia.
Besides The Giara of Gesturi (La Giara), there are other two plateaus between the regions of Marmilla and Sarcidano: the Perri plateau and the Siddi plateau. All three of them have formed in the Oligocene period as a result of volcanic phenomena and are characterized by steep escarpment walls, that make them real islands within the island.
The biggest of these islands is Giara of Gesturi: an area that has always captivated every visitor. Even nuraghic people must have been drawn to this incredible place, since, along its perimeter, are the remains of 24 nuraghi. At the foot of the plateau there's an even bigger number of nuraghi, confirming that this area was considered as impenetrable. Nearby the Giara of Gesturi (about 8kms) there's a monument which is also the symbol of the nuraghic civilization: the Palace of Barumini.
The Giara wild pony (Equus caballus jarae) is a species that was probably imported on the island by the Phoenicians. Until the Middle Ages it inhabited the whole island, but then it started to mix (mingle) with other horse races and slowly disappeared from some parts of Sardinia,remaining only on the Giara. This because the plateau is a natural fortress, reachable only through the “scalas”: two steep gullies, that a horse can cross with great difficulty. These characteristics made sure that the Giara wild pony did not become extinct, even though its existence is still at risk,due to poachers and the  crossbreed with other species.
Since 1976 there has been a project going on at Capo Caccia ( a promontory near Alghero, north-west of Sardinia) aimed at the protection of Giara wild pony, with a herd constantly kept under observation.
In the meantime, the other wild ponies keep running in their favourite place, La Giara. Maybe because nature gives them their favourite meal: common water-crowfoot. This kind of vegetation abounds on the plateau, especially in spring, when winter rains allow the formation of the characteristic “paùli”: small sinkings that, during the winter, fill up with rainwater, forming an impressive number of beautiful ponds.
The Giara is rich in other animal species, with as many as 64 species of birds (as the European Nightjar, the great spotted woodpecker, the buzzard and the common raven), and 22 more during the summer. The plateau is also inhabited by Sardinian grey wild cats, the European pine martens, wild boars and Sardinian red foxes.
Among reptiles worth of notice is the presence of  the Fitzinger's Algyroides, very rare. The plateau also abounds in amphibians, especially the Tyrrhenian Painted Frog. There are also two very old species of  shellfish: the Lepidurus Apus ( Spring Tadpole Shrimp) and the Triops cancriformis (Horseshoe Crab). These specimens didn't undergo any evolution in 200 millions years and are now extinct in the whole Mediterranean area.

Facilities:
- Parking areas (Gesturi, Tuili, Setzu, Genuri, Sini, Gonnosnò, Albagiara, Assolo e Genoni)
- Walking tours
- Hotels (Gonnosnò, Barumini e Tuili)
- Restaurants
- Horse riding
- Mountain bikes

Ideal for:
- Families with children
- People who love hiking
- People who love bird-watching
- People who love horse riding
- People who love mountain bikes

HOW TO GET THERE: From SS131, turn into the SS197 at the junction for Villasanta, and after the villages of Villamar, Las Plassas and Barumini, you arrive in Gesturi. La Giara can also be reached from the other towns around the plateau.

 
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