Visit Zingaro Natural Reserve
The Natural Reserve of Zingaro is in north-west Sicily, on the coast and overlooking the Gulf of Castellammare. It is between the towns of San Vito Lo Capo to the north and Castellammare del Golfo to the south.
The reserve was established in 198 as the first protected nature reserve to be created in Sicily. It covers an area of 1600 hectares (4000 acres) and contains many protected species of wildlife including small mammals, birds and rare plants.
Explore Zingaro Natural Reserve
Italy This Way comment: the trails through Zingaro Natural Reserve are a very lovely way to see part of one of the most attractive coasts in Sicily
There are two entrances to the reserve:
- Ingresso Sud is 12 kilometres north of Castellammare del Golfo and close to Scopello
- Ingresso Nord is 12 kilometres south of San Vito Lo Capo
We parked at the southern entrance: plenty of parking was available, although it was 10.00 in the middle of May when we arrived, and I got the impression the parking was filling up quickly by the time we left, so perhaps in summer it gets difficult to park...
A small entrance fee is charged (five euros at the time of our visit, if I remember correctly) to enter the reserve, which includes a map showing the various paths. Small visitor centres and snack bars are also found at the entrances to Zingaro.
Insde the park there are various trails between the southern entrance and the northern entrance:
- Sentiero Costiero, follows the coast, and is an easy seven kilometres walk, mostly flat, although walking shoes are not necessary you will need 'sensible' shoes becaue the surface is often gravel or slippery. There are several small museums along this path to explain the park and the environment.
- Sentieri di Mezzo Costa, about 7.5 kilometrs long, parallel to the coast path but further up the hills so it is a more challenging walk with more altitude change involved
- Sentiero Alto, a challenging 13 kilometre walk through the mountains between the two entrances to Zingaro
In addition to the main footpaths there are several additional footpaths that explore further regions of the reserve and connect the principal trails.
While the park does not have direct access to the sea, there are places where additional trails lead down to coves and creeks along the coast which are easy to access and provide an additional perspective on the area as well as a chance to sunbathe and go in the sea.
There is no water or food available in the park, and not a great deal of shade, so bring what you need for the visit with you - as with any coast walk it can be hot!
Of course, as with any nature reserve, it is prohibited to hunt, fish, leave litter behind, take anything away, have a fire or cause any damage!
One kilometre south of the southern entrance you can visit Scopello, where there is a historic tuna processing centre in a pretty location (if you think that doesn't sound interesting, the film Oceans Twelve thought it was beautiful enough to use as a film setting...).
Outside the boundary of Zingaro Natural Reserve you can visit the small towns of Castellammare del Golfo (to the south) and San Vito Lo Capo (to the north). Both are small resorts, with San Vito lo Capo a more traditional seaside resort and better for beaches, and Castellammare having a small historic centre.
You can find more local travel ideas in the Sicily guide.