Molentargius-Salt Works Regional Natural Park, spread on an area of about 1600 hectares, is located in South Sardinia, between the two towns of Cagliari and Quartu Sant'Elena, facing Poetto seafront. It was established in 1999 to safeguard and enhance a site of international relevance, that had already been included in Ramsar Convention in 1977, due to its importance as a place of stop, wintering and nesting of several species of aquatic birds, as pink flamingos, nowadays a symbol of the town.
The history of the park is strictly connected to the one of the Salt Works: as a matter of fact, it owes its name to is molentargius, people who used to lead the donkey (su molenti, in Sardinian language) carrying the salt collected from the basins. Actually, over the centuries the area has been the richest source in Sardinia for the extraction of salt from the sea, an activity stopped only in 1985.
Nowadays, the park includes the former National Salt Works of Cagliari with its basins: the Bellarosa Maggiore or Molentargius (tanks of first stage of evaporation), the Pond of Quartu Sant'Elena (tanks of second and third stage of evaporation), the remaining tanks (Salt Works of Cagliari) and the Perda Bianca (ex mother liquors basin).
For these reasons, visiting Molentargius Regional Park represents a unique experience that combines the pleasure of historical knowledge, for example through the Salt itineraries, which offer interesting architectural, historical, environmental, scientific and technical cues, still not known by the most, to a full immersion in an extraordinarily lively and wild landscape.
Several species of wild birds cohexist in Molentargius ponds, representing the most relevant and remarkable charachteristic of the park. The symbol of this natural jewel are the Pink Flamingos, or sa genti arrubia, as Cagliari inhabitants used to say. Walking through the park it is possible to see many of them: hundreds of birds that stay or fly in the shallow water.
It's also easy to find several species of ducks, like the Mallard, the Canapiglie and the Mestolone, the Moriglione and the Moretta. Some other species are there during all the year: the Swamp Hen, the Coot and the Swamp Chicken. Among the most frequent aquatic birds there are the Herons ( the Airone guardabuoi nested for the first time in 1985 in Molentargius, the same year during which the Glossy Ibis started to reproduce into the pond), Little Egrets, Black-winged stilts, Pied avocets, Great cormorants, Sternas and Coots, Red Knots, Ruddy Turnstones.
You can easily meet the Kingfisher and there are many species of passerines, whil, among the species of gulls there are: the Black-headed Gull, Slender-billed Gull and the Yellow-legged Gull.
Among the amphibians that live the pond: the Tree frog and the Green toad, among reptiles: the Pond slider, the Grass snake, the Green whip snake and the Italian Three-toed Skink; among mammals: the Hedgehog, the Weasel and the Wild Rabbit. Even the insects, as the Dragonfly, play an important role mantaining the ecosystem balance. The flora is heterogeneous: it includes endemic species of a strong mediterranean character and plants threatened of extinction.
Molentargius Regional Natural Park offers several activities, suitable for visitors of any age. The excursions have different characteristics, durations and ability levels, in order to let anyone enjoy relax and fun in an exceptional and pristine natural setting. Moreover, in summer, suggestive and charming cultural events are performed in the park at the sunset.
The access is free. The visitors can leave their means of transport inside the dedicated parking area and going freely into the park, opened everyday, where they find also some sport itineraries, like nature trails, cycle paths and walking tours, totally surrounded by nature. They can also play birdwatching or make jogging. It is possible to book guided tours for groups, which include the observation of the plant life and the fauna of the park.
One of the best ways to discover Molentargius Regional Natural Park is by bycicle: if you don't have one, among the Sali Scelti Palace you can find a bike rental and a bikesharing service. The rental bikes must be returned at 5:30 p.m.
There are two more other ways to visit the park: by electric minibus or by boat.
You can discover the main features of this naturalistic and industrial compendium through the ancient water canals of the park, supported by the explanations of the guide on board and above all, comfortably seated.
The excursion by minibus offers the possibility to discover the most important characteristics of the Park, first passing through the street that runs along the Maestro canal of the Salt Works, and then along the Immissaro canal, till Poetto draining basin station, which canalises sea water into the Salt basin complex.
The centre is provided with microscopes, audiovisuals and computer materials. The experts will guide tourists, students and guests: through simple but meticulous experiments they will explain the ecosystem dynamic.
How to get there:
Arriving at Molentargius Regional Natural Park is very easy, from Cagliari and Quartu Sant'Elena, through Poetto seafront. In Cagliari, inside Sali Scelti palace, is located the Tourist Information Office.
The inner area, composed by Is Arenas, is accessible from Quartu Sant'Elena: in Don Giordi street are located the car parks for the visitors.
To ask for information or to book a guided tour, please contact the Infopoint, located on the ground floor inside Sali Scelti Palace (via La Palma): +39 070 379191.
Some good advice:
To visit Molentargius-Salt Regional Natural Park, using one of the several itineraries available, a sportswear or a casual one is recommended. The experts recommend to put on suitable clothing for the hiking, to avoid bright colours and to choose comfortable and water resistant shoes and mimetic clothing: this will make it easier to escape to the sharp eyes of the animals, so that you can watch them during their activities.
We recommend you to bring your binoculars - you can also rent them at the park's Infopoint only for one euro, this will make it easier to observe the animals without getting too close to them, thus avoiding disturbing them.
The four-legged friends are also allowed, but on a leash and those of large size must be muzzled.
Do not forget to bring your camera to capture the wonders that the Regional Park offers!
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Parco Naturale Regionale Molentargius-Saline
Via La Palma