Not only sea and forests, but also fascinating lacustrine landscapes. In fact, there are also two lakes in the Gargano National Park and are the largest of southern Italy. They are the Lake Lesina and the Varano Lake, located on the northern coast of the Gargano. Both are actually lagoons, communicating with the Adriatic Sea through of the canals, and both are separated by the sea by a sandy and wooded land stripe. Not to be missed the naturalistic environment that you will be able to discover with an excursion to the Varano Lake and to the Lake Lesina, by boat, by bike or just walking.
It is located between the promontory of Monte D’Elio and the hinterland of Rodi Garganico and, with its extension of 60,5 square kilometers, is recognized like the greatest lake of southern Italy. In reality it is a lagoon communicating with the sea through two canals. It is divided from the sea by a strip of land formed from detritus carried by sea currents and by winds after the year 1000. On this strip of land, called Island, long approximately 10 km and wide 1 km, is present the State Nature Reserve of Varano Island, that occupying a large area within the Gargano National Park. On the other sides instead is characterized by hills that slope towards the lagoon. There are various ways in order to discover the beauties of the lagoon: from the bike to the kayak until to the canoe and to the traditional boats, called “sandali”. The trekking will be also pleasant to practice, while the birdwatching is best done in spring and in summer. Besides the multitude of species of birds and the rich vegetation present in lagoon, near the area you can visit the Chiesa della Santissima Annunziata (Church of the Holiest Annunciation) situated on the bank oriental of the lagoon and caretaker of the precious Crocifisso di Varano (Crucifix of Varano). The inhabitants of Ischitella and surroundings are very devoted to this wooden statue of 1300, ever since it was carried in procession on April 23 of 1717 and would have resulted the end of a long period of drought. It is also recommended to cross, along the coasts of the lagoon, the Sentiero dei Pannoni (Pannoni pathway), ancient shelters of fishermen, built in the friable rock, which still today present the signs of ancient fishing tools. Along the pathway you will reach even to the freshwater springs, that allow to the lake of being brackish.
Like the Lake of Varano, is actually a lagoon connected to the sea through two canals and is separated from the sea by a thin and long strip of land, this time called Bosco Isola. Here lies the Natural Reserve of Lake Lesina, a protected area, of 930 hectares, as animal restocking area and integral part of the Gargano National Park. Here you will find very rare animals that inhabit the Woods and circulate freely. The lake waters are rich in fish and populated by silversides, gray mullet, shrimp, sea bream, sea bass and eels, these last in particular are very abundant and represent an important source of income for the local people. In addition to fishing, another activity that goes practiced in the area is the birdwatching: numerous are the species of birds that nest here and you can observe them, including rosy gulls, flamingos, kingfisher and marsh harriers. To be seen the Visitor Center in Lesina in which is guarded the first aquarium in Europe containing brackish water, with 14 fish tanks, abode of the fish species typical of the lagoon. Here you can also admire the naturalistic museum section, dedicated to the biological riches of the territory, with the lagoon, the Bosco Isola and the sea. For discovering the rich biodiversity of this place it recommends a visit by boat and an excursion in the nature reserve of Isola di Lesina, the Bosco Isola, pristine example of Mediterranean Maquis.