During our excursion to Portofino on the so-called Passeggiata dei Baci (Kisses Walk), we had noticed some signs describing the Sentiero degli animali (Animal Trail), also located within the Portofino Park.
The Animal Trail is a beautiful walk in the woods with 14 wooden statues representing the most representative animals of this area, such as the wild boar, fox, beech marten, peregrine falcon, squirrel, etc.
From the outset, it seemed a very nice walk to take with our daughters and only after various seasonal influences did we manage to organise it.
In this article, therefore, you will find all the information you need to walk the Animal Trail in the Portofino Park and our usual advice, even with children in tow.
How to get to the Animal Trail
The Animal Trail is located in Nozarego, on the heights of Santa Margherita Ligure.
The nearest motorway exit is Rapallo.
To get to Nozarego, you must pass San Michele di Pagana and the Castle of Santa Margherita Ligure, on the seafront.
Just beyond the castle, take via Favale on the right, which leads away from the coast.
Continue along viale Bellosguardo and then via Solimano and you will have arrived, in a total of 15 minutes from the Rapallo exit, at the Sanctuary of Nozarego.
Here you can leave your car in the free car parks and begin your excursion on foot.
The Animal Trail in Portofino Park
Starting altitude – 152.5 m (Madonna di Nozarego Sanctuary).
Maximum altitude along the route – 360 m (loc. Pini Spessi).
Length – 3,300 mt.
Height difference – 207 mt.
Duration – 1h30 approx.
Signposts – Multiple.
The Animal Trail is a ring-route of about 3.3 kilometres that starts and arrives at the Nozarego Sanctuary.
The uniqueness of this route lies in the fact that it is ‘populated’ by 14 wood-carved animal statues scattered along the way.
Route starts in the churchyard: take the little path to the left of the church, which, in a few steps, leads to a fork in the path.
Here too, keep to the left by taking the steps.
Signposts to follow: Red T.
This first section is the most strenuous of the entire hike, because it runs completely uphill, below a beautiful chestnut forest.
Sharpen your eyesight because, already from this point, you can make out the wooden statues.
After about half an hour, the path comes out of the forest and flattens out.
The flat stretch is rather short.
When another fork appears in front of you, you should take the path on the left that descends.
The sign to follow at this point is the Cappelletta delle Gave.
After a quick stretch with panoramic views of the gulf, the path reenters the forest and descends, without any particular difficulty, to the small yellow church.
Finally, take the paved path downhill (marker 3 red dots) which, amidst olive and fig trees, will soon lead you to an asphalt road, about 200 metres from the Nozarego Sanctuary and the start of your hike.
Information with children
The Sentiero degli animali (Animal Path) can be walked safely even with small children, if they are well trained.
If, on the other hand, it is one of the first hikes in the woods, we recommend it for children from 6 years of age due to the difference in altitude and the fact that some sections (a few) are slightly exposed.
We recommend hiking boots and a supply of water, as there are no drinking fountains along the route.
If it has just rained, the ground may become muddy and, in some places, a little slippery.
Along the route, you can find several areas with benches where you can take a short break or have a snack.
The Animal Trail links up with several routes within the Portofino Park, each marked by a different signpost.
On the Park Authority panels scattered along the route, therefore, you will never find the words Animal Path.
The advice is to pay attention to the changes in signposts or to follow our GPX track, so as not to take the wrong path.
Since it is a loop trail, it can also be taken in the opposite direction, but we recommend this direction in order to get some sea views.
If you take it backwards, however, in the first section the sea remains behind you and in the second section, the view is obscured by trees in the forest.
The Animal Trail in the Portofino Park: our opinion and conclusions
The Animal Trail, in our opinion, is nice because it alternates between sections in the forest and sections that are a little more open and panoramic.
In addition, this sort of animal treasure hunt makes it perfect for children who are not too keen on physical activity.
Of course, much more interesting (but also longer and more strenuous) hikes can be found within the Portofino Park.
Perhaps, we would have appreciated a few more statues and a little less ‘camouflage’ as none of us managed to see all 14 of them.
In any case, it is well worth a visit whether you are travelling with children or if you are a nature lover and enjoy walking through the typical vegetation of coastal landscapes.