Giara di Gesturi plateau, Gesturi, Sardinia, Italy.

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La Giara di Gesturi

Top choice in Southwestern Sardinia

Rising above the rolling green landscape, La Giara di Gesturi is a high basalt plateau famous for its wild horses and uncontaminated natural beauty. The 45-sq-km plain, much of which is carpeted by macchia (Mediterranean scrubland) and woods of ancient oak and cork trees, offers excellent walking and wonderful wildlife watching.

Approaching the Giara from Tuili, the road climbs in a series of steep switchbacks to a car park at the Giara's southernmost entrance.

From here, a well-trodden trail leads to a small lake called the Pauli Mauri. This is one of several seasonal paulis (pools) on the Giara where you just might spot one of the area's indigenous cavallini (ponies) as they come out to drink. The best time to try for a sighting is the early morning or late afternoon.

The plateau also has its own microclimate, which fosters an array of unusual flora, best seen in spring when the ground is covered in heather and the wild orchids are in bloom.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

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