Discover the untouched beauty of Sicily while hiking in the Zingaro Nature Reserve. Experience crystal clear waters, deserted coves and breathtaking views.
In the morning we bump our rental car from San Vito east along the coast to the first nature reserve established in Sicily.
When the construction of a road along one of the most scenic coastal stretches from Castellammare del Golfo to San Vito lo Capo was planned in the 1980s, there were considerable civil protests at the time.
With success: the government gave in and established Zingaro as the first nature reserve in Sicily.
The Zingaro Nature Reserve in Sicily covers 1600 hectares and a seven kilometer long coastal strip with small sandy bays in the otherwise rough limestone rock. A paradise for hiking!
Let's go hiking!
There is an older gentleman sitting in the ticket booth who is currently weaving a bag out of the leaves of the dwarf palm tree. The plant is now the symbol of the reserve. Together with the diss plant, it used to be the most important source of income. It was not only used to make bags, but also mats, ropes and hats.
The long stalks of the diss plant, however, were sold to the Tonnara (tuna factory) to make the nets. So it's no wonder that we start our hike through dissgrass and dwarf palms, which have recovered - at least near the water - after the big forest fire five years ago.
Spoiled for choice:
Within the Zingaro Nature Reserve in Sicily there are hiking routes of different lengths and difficulty. Some run along the coast, others run through the center of the protected area. We choose the coastal path - you walk 7km from one entrance to the next, always with a view of the sea. The many bright white bays invite you to swim - at least until I can feel the temperature with my feet and then for found it too cold. My hiking colleagues prove to be less squeamish and bravely trudge into the crystal clear, turquoise water.
Here too, towers and tuna fish factories were built along the coast. Abandoned and partly decaying buildings, chapels, vineyards and almond and olive groves are a reminder that people lived here until not so long ago.
Today the nature reserve offers a protected habitat primarily for hares, lizards and over 40 species of birds. People are particularly proud that eagles have settled here again. However, they are rare this morning, although admittedly I only have eyes for the beautiful coast and not towards the mountains. In summer the bays and hiking trails are definitely busy and overcrowded with visitors. Now, in the low season, all we hear is the singing of birds and the sound of the sea. What luck that such a unique place could be preserved from development.
Sundowners in San Vito lo Capo
Back in San Vito lo Capo, the friendly waiter at Café Pino brightens up our day of hiking: He piles up bowls of nuts, chips, crackers and pizza bread on our table to accompany our well-deserved Aperol Spritz. We sit relaxed in the evening sun and think about what fun things we should do tomorrow: sightseeing in Palermo? Climbing the mountain of the gods Erice with a visit to the ancient city of the same name? A visit to one of the many wineries? Climb? Or just laze around on the beach?
Quick facts about the Zingaro Nature Reserve in Sicily:
October - March: 8:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
April - September: 7 a.m. - 8 p.m.
Entrance fee: 3€
There are two ways to reach the park by car: from the south go via Scopello (follow the A29 Palermo-Mazara until the Castellammare del Golfo exit, then take the SS 187 towards Trapani until you reach the motorway junction and at Scopello turn).
Coming from the north, follow the SS 187 to San Vito Lo Capo and then continue along the east coast to the park entrance.
After consultation with the management, it is possible to stay overnight in the refuges between October and May. Further information can be found at www.riservazingaro.it
Ryanair flies depending on the season 2-3 times a week from Karlsruhe or Frankfurt Hahn to Trapani, for example. Flights from €50 (without check-in baggage).
Rental cars - directly at the airport - are available from €55 for a week, for example at billiger-mietwagen.de
San Vito Transfer offers, in addition to airport transfers, a mini-bus shuttle between San Vito lo Capo and Zingaro for €10 per person. www.sanvitotransfert.it Tel +393473388608, Via dell'Altopiano - 91010 San Vito Lo Capo
At Hippocampus Sea Service you can book half-day (€30) or full-day (€50) boat trips to Monte Cofano or Zingaro between Easter and October. There will be two swimming stops along the way. Unfortunately you can't book the boat for one route and walk the other... Via Faro | Porticciolo Turistico, 91010, San Vito lo Capo, +39 338 612 5140, www.hippocampus-sanvito.it
The Hotel Piccolo Mondo is located less than 100 meters from the beach in San Vito. Double room with breakfast from €60. Via Nino Bixio 7, San Vito Lo Capo (IT), Tel: +39 0923 972032, www.hotelpiccolomondosanvitolocapo.it/
In the Profumi di Cous Cous you can feast on all kinds of couscous in the garden under the citrus trees. Be sure to reserve., Via Regina Margherita 80, 91010, San Vito lo Capo, +39 0923 974155
We became a big fan of Café Pino, where we got so many snacks with our sunset Aperol Spritz that we were full for a few hours. Via Savoia, 22, 91010 San Vito Lo Capo