Known to the locals affectionately as “genti arrubia”, or “red people” in English, the flamingos of Sardinia have fast become a hit among tourists and Sardinians alike. Although they’re now seen as ubiquitous to the Mediterranean island, the long-winged birds weren’t always known for their settlement on these stunning shores, and in fact have only really been consistently visiting the island in the large numbers we see for the past quarter of a century (although there has been a presence on the island for hundreds of years).
The best time to see flamingos in Sardinia
The best time to see the birds is early summer, especially around the first week of June. This is considered flamingo season in Sardinia, as it’s when they tend to lay their eggs and nest, hence there will be the highest concentration of them on the island. With that being said, you’re likely to be able to spot them across most of spring and summer, although they won’t be as active. If you do make it for the nesting period, you’ll be lucky enough to see the “pink mist” as they all take flight from the lagoons and salt flats they live on. It’s a spectacular site and one that will only engender further good feelings towards our pink friends. If you are desperate to see as many flamingos as possible, then sticking to the early June flamingo season in Sardinia is your best bet.
The early morning and just before sunset is the best time to see the birds, with the latter being the best time to spot the “pink mist”. This is because they don’t want to hunt or be too active in the sun, an attitude shared by a lot of animals and many humans alike. Although this specific timing may seem like an imposition, there are lots of different areas to see flocks of flamingos in Sardinia, so you probably won’t have to travel too far from any accommodation.
The best places to see flamingos in Sardinia
As mentioned there are flamingos all over Sardinia, but the most famous and easily accessible place to find them is Molentargius, just off Poetto Beach in Cagliari. This saltwater regional park was once responsible for massive amounts of salt extraction but is now dedicated to making sure the flamingos can nest and raise their young with minimal outside interference. There are actually freshwater ponds in the park too, which you can learn all about if you take a tour of the grounds. The tour guides know the best places to spot as many flamingos as possible as well as other interesting wildlife, so if you have a keen interest in ornithology then it’s a good idea to sign up. If you just fancy a stroll or going through alone, that’s possible. Bikes are also available to rent. The only restriction on visitors is that they’re asked to not get too close to the birds, as to not disturb them, so binoculars could be useful if you want a close up look.
If you’re on the northern half of the island and don’t fancy the long drive to the Cagliari area, then Stagno di Casaraccio in the Stintino region is another great area to spot flamingos in. This massive saltwater lake is also home to tonnes of other unique wildlife, and the fragile ecosystem means it’s been declared a site of community importance by the EU. Much less regulated than Molentargius, you can get a bit closer to flamingos here, but we would recommend keeping a safe distance as to not disturb their delicate eating and resting patterns.
South of the gorgeous city of Oristano is also another great place to spot flamingos and is especially convenient if you’re fairly central but on the West coast. Here, you can combine a great walking tour of the city and its beautiful architecture with a short trip to the boggy marshland where several hundred (if not thousand) flamingos rest and hunt. Although not as prolific in terms of sheer flamingo numbers compared to the previously mentioned two spots, if you’re around the area in Sardinia Flamingo season there’s almost no doubt you’ll spot a few of the pink birds and their less colourful young.
If you’re keen to combine culture and nature, then the former fishing village of San Teodoro and the nearby lagoon is your best bet. The city hosts a massive cultural festival in September, which lines up with the tail end of the flamingo population’s yearly residency on the Italian island. This festival is ostensibly in honour of the lagoon but is more of an all-encompassing celebration of the town and its food and drink, although the lagoon (and guided tours of it) do play a big part. The flamingos themselves are seen as symbols of good luck and positivity, and the idea of them is an important part of the festivities. The lagoon is also home to a lot of diverse and unique wildlife and has sweeping views of the nearby mountains and countryside, making it a special place to visit in general.
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