The Monti Sicani are a Sicilian mountain range, located between Agrigento and Palermo and between Trapani and Caltanissetta. These particularly beautiful mountains are located in the central-southern area of the island and host a vast forest formation biodiversity, with mainly oak woods > and holm oak. On the tops of the reliefs there are shrubs and grassy surfaces, often used for pastures. Along the watercourses it is possible to observe willow trees, oleander and tamarisk. At the Sosio river is the extensive wood of Sant’Adriano, where you can admire different varieties of pines.
On the Sicani Mountains it is possible to observe the flight of different species of birds, typical of the mountainous and hilly areas, such as the golden eagle, the kite , the sparhawk, the tawny owl, the falcon and the ghebbio. Among the native mammals found in the woods of the Sicani Mountains, there are the wildcat, the marten, the fox b> and, moreover, it is also possible to find different amphibians and reptiles.
The biodiversity of the Sicani Mountains
Biodiversity consists of the multitude of living organisms: animals, plants, fungi and microorganisms that populate the earth and interacting with each other become essential for our life, and for this reason they deserve to be protected from external threats. On the Sicani Mountains there is a high level of biodiversity protected through the establishment of Oriented Natural Reserves.
Also important is the geo-diversity that distinguishes the different landscapes of the Sicani Mountains, made up of mountains, hills and rocky walls, populated by different varieties of flora and fauna with their particular habitat.
The Monti Sicani Park
The Parco dei Monti Sicani, covering 40,000 hectares, was a regional natural park of Sicily from 2014 until 2019, the year in which it was suppressed. The Park included 12 municipalities: Bivona, Burgio, Cammarata, Castronovo di Sicilia, Chiusa Sclafani, Contessa Entellina, Giuliana, Palazzo Adriano, Prizzi, San Giovanni Gemini, Santo Stefano Quisquina, Sambuca di Sicilia .
These are 6 municipalities in the province of Palermo, 6 municipalities in that of Agrigento and four pre-existing nature reserves: Riserva Orientata Monti di Palazzo Adriano and Valle del Sosio, the Monte Carcaci Nature Reserve, the Mount Genuardo Oriented Nature Reserve and Santa Maria del Bosco and finally the Riserva Orientata Monte Cammarata, which were suppressed with the establishment of the park.
The purpose of the Park was to preserve nature, increase biodiversity and protect the activities carried out in the woods and in the countryside , such as pastoralism, so that in the territory of the Sicani Mountains there may be many farms and livestock producers of typical and high quality products.
The Sosio Valley and its Permian rocks
Did you know that the rocks of the Monti Sicani are among the oldest in Sicily? In particular, those of the Valle del Sosio have come to be created and stratified over time since the Permian and inside they conceal something even more fascinating.
Inside, these rocks (carbonate blocks) hold a precious treasure, the oldest fossils in Sicily: they are ammonites, brachiopods, sponges, foraminifera , trilobites, bryozoans and ostracods, or marine organisms that lived in the ancestor of the Mediterranean, or Tethys.
Among the rocks present in the ancient Sosio Valley, the so-called Solomon’s Stone stands out. It is the largest block present along the Valle del Torrente San Calogero – in fact it reaches a height of about 30 meters – and the fossils present inside were discovered by the paleontologist Italian Gaetano Giorgio Gemmellaro in 1887.
In addition to the Solomon’s Stone, there are also two other rocky blocks, namely the Pietra dei Saraceni and the Rupe del Passo di Burgio.
Flora of the Sicani Mountains
All this richness and complexity of flora and fauna has made it possible to make the Monti Sicani Park a reserve of biodiversity. The flora in the mountains includes various species of herbs, shrubs and hydrophytes mainly belonging to the Mediterranean species, but not only, because the climate permits engraftment also of Asian species, Caucasian and Siberian.
At lower altitudes, in the areas of gullies, we can find bushes, steppes, meadows, scrublands and pastures,while at higher altitudes and on the peaks there are holm oaks, the olive trees, the downy oaks, the strawberry trees and also the laurels, the viburnum and daphne.
In river areas, which are more humid, river species such as oleander, tamarisk and willows. In the undergrowth there are several varieties of mushrooms, the most common being the ferla mushroom. Furthermore, cereal crops are frequent , fruits, olive trees, citrus fruits and vineyards.
Fauna of the Sicani Mountains
On the Sicani Mountains there are many varieties of autochthonous mammals: the wild cat, the fox, the weasel, the marten, hedgehog, porcupine and hare. There are several amphibians such as the toad and the tree frog and many reptiles and insects. Of particular importance are the many species of birds that inhabit the Sicani Mountains, above all birds of prey – more than one hundred species that nest on the mountains – such as the falcon</b >, the Egyptian vulture, the kestrel, the golden eagle, the kite, the lanner< /b> and many nocturnal predators, such as the barn owl, the owl and the owl.
Along the course of the rivers it is possible to observe the dipper, the river nightingale, the raven, the Crag Swallow, the cuckoo, the spotted woodpecker greater and the tit. The mallard and birds of prey such as the osprey and marsh hawk nest in the wetter areas and near the artificial reservoirs.
Horseback riding among the Sicani Mountains to discover biodiversity
The Monti Sicani can be visited by making various types of excursions such as trekking and mountain biking, but it is the horseback excursions, which with slow and relaxed pace, will allow you to discover, through the mountain paths, the biodiversity that characterizes these spectacular Sicilian mountains surrounded by nature.
What are you waiting for? Whether you are nature lovers, beginners or expert riders, we at Sikani Horse Trek have several proposals available, suitable for everyone, to discover pristine places , surrounded by mountains, along the rivers or towards the towns between Palermo and Agrigento.
It is up to you to choose among our offers: simple walks lasting from one hour to up to three, with various stops for those who are beginners with horses, medium difficulty with excursions on horseback a day and for those who are more experienced trips from 4 days to a week. Contact us to find out more, for information or for any curiosity.