The Bauxite Quarry | Discover the Martian Pond near Otranto, Italy

Today I’m going to tell you about a place we discovered a bit by accident while driving on the coast of Apulia: the Bauxite Quarry!

You’re probably already wondering what it is, as we also did when we first heard of it! Let’s say it’s really an experiencefrom another planet;D

In this article I want to tell you about our experience at the Bauxite Quarry and leave you with all the information you need to get there and organize your visit!

Bauxite Quarry near Otranto - Guide for Visiting

“The Bauxite Quarry looks like something out of Mars,

an extra-terrestrial soil two steps from Otranto!”

1. What is the Bauxite Quarry?

cava di bauxite di otranto - informarmation and where is it

Bauxite is anorange and bright red sedimentary rock, famous for being the raw material from which aluminum is extracted. It is also used for processing abrasives, bricks and colors.

The Bauxite Quarry is a man-made tourist site (although no human traces can be found there today!) near Otranto (Puglia region) that, if you’re passing this way, is definitely worth seeing!


We stumbled upon this place thanks to friends of ours from Apulia (this awesome southern Italian region!) who had heard about it and made us do an unscheduled stop there.

Well…it’s true what they say that the best things happen by accident!

After parking the van and about a 5-10 minute walk, what appeared before our eyes was unbelievable: a lake that was at times emerald green and from some perspectives deep blue, surrounded by red sand gullies that seemed to be from another planet!

Once the wonder of what we were faced with passed, the first question that flashed through our minds (and probably flashes through anyone who sees it!) is how it is possible for such a place to exist.

Well, nowadays the site that can be admired is the result of an old Bauxite quarry (“Cava di Bauxite” in Italian), excavated by man and abandoned more than 40 years ago, which the floristic and faunal nature has reappropriated. In the next paragraph, I tell you in detail the history of this curious place.

2. The history of the Bauxite Quarry

bauxite quarry - the story

In the 1940s, a professor and a natural history student from the O.G. Costa Technical Institute of Lecce, discovered by chance the presence of this material in the soil of a field near Otranto.

After further investigation, it was decided to create an open pit quarry to extract the precious mineral.

Throughout the 1960s and until 1976 (when the business was closed), the bauxite quarry near Otranto was mined, washed, shipped to the nearby port and shipped to Marghera (in the province of Venice) where it was processed to extract aluminum.

Over time, the quarry unfortunately turned out to be less economically profitable than expected, as it was realized that the rock was not real bauxite, but composed of bauxitic pisolites (in local dialect “uddhrie”), rocks with rather low aluminum content.

Since 1976, the quarry then remained abandoned.

In the center of the quarry, a perennial freshwater pond (renamed“Bauxite Pond“) formed that takes its water from the water table below: practically, what you see is fresh water flowing from the underground, directed to the sea!

To date, the Bauxite Quarry presents itself as a picturesque biochromatic union among the vivid green of the surrounding broadleaf trees, the dark blue of the aqua water, and the rust red of the rainfall-carved gullies: a habitat for many animal species, a’unknown and unusual tourist attraction and especially an example of how nature takes back what man leaves behind.

If you’re wondering how I learned this whole story, well… there’ s a sign (written in Italian only unfortunately) at the entrance near the parking lot that explains it much more lengthily, I’ve summarized it for you to make it nice and simple 😉

3. Where the Bauxite Quarry is Located.

The Bauxite Quarry is located a stone’s throw from Otranto, Puglia region, Italy.

Above I leave you the Google Maps reference to see its location and enter it into your navigator 🙂

4. How to get to the Bauxite Quarry near Otranto?

bauxite quarry - where to park and how to get there


Starting from Otranto Centro/Porto, the Bauxite quarry is only a 25 to 30-minute walk away. To get to the quarry simply follow via Madonna del Passo and then take the path at the height of the Sanctuary s.Maria dei Martiri.

The path is paved (nature is slowly taking it back, however), but almost no traffic, ideal for walking.


If you are traveling by motor, you can easily reach the Bauxite Quarry via provincial road 369 to Otranto. See here Google Maps.


A popular alternative for visiting the quarry and the picturesque Salento surroundings is definitely the horseback riding trip. Starting from Otranto, there are in fact several riding stables that offer longer or shorter trips (one to three hours) to visit the pond and the nearby Baia d’Orte. The prices, in our opinion very fair, are around 20Euro/hour.

5. Where to Park to Reach the Bauxite Quarry.

orte parking lot to reach bauxite quarry - photos

If you are traveling in your own vehicle, the most convenient place to park is the Orte Parking Lot (see on Google Maps).

The parking lot, which is spacious and level, is 200 meters from the Bauxite Quarry, you pay at the little house man (if it is open) and costs 3 Euro (daily rate, independent of how long you stay parked and the vehicle you are traveling with).

In fact, motorcycle, car or RV, the fee for all is 3 Euro.

To visit the quarry once you have parked, simply exit the parking lot and turn right, walk about 100 meters and then turn left again (once you finish the private fenced field): getting lost is almost impossible 😉

In addition to the Bauxite Pond, as a site of interest just a 10-minute walk from the parking lot is the beautiful Orte Beach, a quiet cove with few tourists.

6. Prices and Hours for Visiting the Bauxite Quarry.

how much does it cost to visit the bauxite quarry near otranto and the pond?

The quarry and Bauxite Lake can be reached at any time of the day or night (the area is not fenced off).

To visit there is no ticket to pay, so the visit is
totally free of charge
. (yuppi!! 😀 )

The only cost you might incur, if you come by car, is the cost of parking (3 euros).

7. Is it possible to bathe in the Bauxite Quarry?

can you bathe in the bauxite quarry? no

Thorny question.

Officially, the Bauxite Pond is not swimmable.

According to what locals say, it is possible to encounter snakes on the shore.

That being said, the water in the Bauxite Quarry is fresh water that is neither stinging nor toxic (bauxite is toxic only if inhaled, which it is not by bathing), and we have seen locals diving in.

There is even a video on Youtube of brave tourists from Trentino who jumped in., so in principle, barring snakes, the lake is safe.

8. How long does it take to Visit the Bauxite Quarry?

how long does it take to visit bauxite quarry near otranto puglia italy

The Bauxite Pond near Otranto is much smaller than it may look in photos, and in half an hour it is possible to leisurely walk around the entire pond.

Counting a ten-minute walk (round trip) from the parking lot and ten minutes to stand gawking at the alien view, we can say that an hour or so is enough to visit Bauxite Caxa entirely.

9. 4K Drone Video of the Otranto Bauxite Quarry.

Below is a 4K aerial shot of me from the quarry.

As strange as it may sound, don’t be frightened, we are not on Mars, but really in the Apulian Salento 😉

10. Weather of the Bauxite Quarry and Otranto.

average temperature otranto puglia italy

The Apulia region enjoys a Mediterranean climate with scorching summers and mild winters.

There really is no better month to visit the Bauxite Quarry: it can be visited safely throughout the year.

Spring and autumn are the times when the surrounding nature is greenest, while the foliage of the trees dies down in winter and summer (too much heat “burns” the plants, which appear drier).

November is the rainiest month of the year in Otranto, while July has the least rainfall (there are almost always no rainy days in July).

Personally, I would suggest you visit the Bauxite Quarry on a day without rain, surely it will be more pleasant to walk around it and take souvenir photos 🙂

Likewise, if you can, avoid the hot hours of summer: there are almost no shelters from the sun nor fountains or water points. Visiting in the morning or evening will certainly be cooler and more relaxing.

11. Conclusion

otranto bauxite quarry visit - our tips

And here we come to the end of our article!

I hope you found this guide helpful in planning your visit to this little-big surprise near Otranto 🙂

Before I go, I want to leave you with one last bit of advice: avoid white shoes because they won’t come back the way they used to (we’ve been there ;D), flip-flops or otherwise sneakers that you don’t particularly care about are ideal 🙂

What do you think? Have you ever been to the Bauxite Quarry? What impressions did it leave you with? If you like, please share your experience in the comments below, we always love to chat🙂

As always, thank you for reading, and see you in the next article!!! 🙂


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