I have always believed that a foreign country is best experienced with the help of local guides. By "guide" I don't mean necessarily tour operators - if you are lucky enough to have friends living in that foreign country, problem is solved.
In general, I think a local guide is important because they will help travelers dig deeper into a foreign society, avoiding them possible time-wasting in the lookout for the most worthwhile spots, especially in the case of a short trip.
However, sometimes contacting a local guide becomes "mandatory". My previous post (I know, long time ago, apologies, I've been busy writing) was about my trekking weekend in Europe's deepest canyon gorge, Su Gorroppu, in Sardinia's Supramonte. I went trekking, and I had my local guide. With "local" here I mean a guy who lives in Dorgali, a town near Su Gorroppu, and who's been going to the canyon since he was a child.
I'm from Sardinia myself, and I would never try to go there alone. Apparently, though, some dare. And get lost. Now, getting lost in a city is not a big deal. Getting lost in Supramonte *is* a major deal.
In the regional newspaper, L'Unione Sarda, I read an article which has a hilarious twist. Well, hilarious for who doesn't have anything to do with it. A while ago, the local rescue team (usually the local guides I've contacted myself) went to Su Gorroppu to look for a tourist (from Sardinia) who got lost and was never found, since December 27th. While looking for him, the rescuers found, by a very fortunate incident, a Japanese tourist who lost his way and couldn't manage to call for help. In some areas in the mountains, there's no mobile coverage.
Last week, the same rescue team was called again - it seems like these guys work during the day to bring tourists down the canyon and during the night to look for the "independent" ones.
Anyhow, they were asked to find two German tourists and they found three: one had been wandering about, lost, for two days and nobody knew about it.
Arriving close to the mountains, from the highway, the effect is one of astonishment: those massive rocks command the view. I'm usually more a "sea-person", but that landscape was truly overwhelming, so I can understand that for mountain-lovers it's a challenge not to be missed.
However, the best advice I can give, is to pay extra attention not only in these mountains in Sardinia, but in general, every time travelers want to undertake similar adventurous trips.