The most comprehensive hiking tour of the spectacular Dolomite Mountains available
Italy’s Dolomite Mountains can’t help but impress with their stunning pinnacles, pillars, spires and rock faces that seem to change color at different points throughout the day. Our itinerary is the most comprehensive view of this magnificent range available and covers both the Western and Eastern Dolomites. Every day offers moderate hikes (with some more challenging options), leading you past forests, surreal rock formations, glacial lakes, and war monuments--vestiges from the First World War. At lunch, a charming rifugio and hearty mountain fare await. Every afternoon leaves you time to explore town or soak in the comfortable accommodations of a mountain inn or four-star hotel. Come experience the breadth of Italy’s northern Alps!
7 days moderate to strenuous hiking (max. elev. 8,462'; optional hikes 10,339')
- Hike amid spectacular pillars, steeples, and pinnacles in Italy’s northern Alps on the most comprehensive tour available
- Relax in well-appointed 4-star hotels after a day of hiking, including a night in a mountain inn, under the stars away from city lights
- Our local guides are true foodies and always find the latest in Italian-Austrian fusion cuisine
Duration: 9 days Start Location: Venice End Location: VeniceDownload Detailed Itinerary
Day 1 : Arrive in Venice
Arrive at the Venice airport, where your tour leader will meet you at the bar in the arrivals hall (located on your right at the end of the hall) between 10:00 –10:30 a.m. Drive to Cortina d’Ampezzo, which is our base for the next three nights (2½-hour drive). Nestled in the heart of the Dolomites, Cortina is a charming alpine resort surrounded by stunning peaks. It enjoys a reputation for great winter skiing (it was the site of the 1956 winter Olympics), and in the summer attracts hikers and mountain climbers who challenge the rocky faces of the nearby mountains. Our accommodation is at a four-star hotel, conveniently located in the center of town. We’ll have lunch at the Croda Caffè (a la carte menu) where we can choose from pizza, pasta, veggies, soups, and meats, then have the remainder of the afternoon free to relax or explore the streets of this charming town. Trip orientation and “Welcome” dinner with the group at a charming local restaurant with excellent regional cuisine, wines, and ambiance!
Day 2 : Dolomiti D’Ampezzo Park: Alpe di Sennes Circuit
This walk to the Alpe di Sennes uplands entails a wonderful range of scenery and habitats, two natural parks—Dolomiti D’Ampezzo and Fanes-Sennes-Braies—and the spectacular Croda Rossa mountain group. We begin with a 20-minute transfer to the Rifugio Malga Ra Stua (5,472'), a cozy hut-cum-dairy farm set in a valley lying between the Croda Rossa (northeast) and Lavinores (west) Dolomite groups. The name “stua” comes from “dam” (the nearby stream used to be harnessed for energy to operate machinery for the medieval quarry of red stone next to the hut). From here we hike uphill on a wide gravel trail to the Rifugio Sennes (6,942') and to the Rifugio Fodara Vedla (6,429') where we stop for lunch and enjoy a lovely view east to the Croda Rossa. After lunch we hike on a stony track, a former wartime mule route, traversing a series of grassy basins dotted with bushes and dwarf mountain pine, the ideal home of marmots and chamois. The final part winds steadily down through Arolla pine and larch back to the Rifugio Malga Ra Stua where we transfer back to our hotel. (5 hours hiking ~ approx. 7 miles ~ 1,640' elevation gain/loss.)
Day 3 : Tre Cime di Lavaredo
Today we take a scenic 30-minute drive up to Rifugio Auronzo (7,650'), then hike around the Tre Cime di Lavaredo and Monte Paterno, one of the most scenic mountain landscapes in the Dolomites. Along the way we’ll admire the spectacular Cadini mountain group on the south, with its rock spires and strangely formed needles. Our hike is along a wide gravel wartime mule track that leads to the Lago di Cengia. A series of steep zigzags leads to a stony amphitheatre on the edge of which stand extensive World War I fortifications. Another 20 minutes brings us to the Forcella Pian di Cengia (8,200') where we can admire the view of the Tre Scarperi mountain range. From here we descend on a steep rocky trail for the first stretch and then traverse almost horizontally on a vast scree slope to finish with a short climb to the Rifugio Locatelli (7,800'). Here we’ll have lunch while gazing at the stunning north faces of the Tre Cime di Lavaredo, part of the world history of mountaineering as the first routes were climbed in the 1930s. The area is a sort of “open air museum” as there are lots of reminders of the First World War—tunnels, bunkers, and old barracks. From the rifugio we hike under the north faces of the Tre Cime di Lavaredo to the Rifugio Lavaredo, where the van awaits to transfer us back to our hotel. The remainder of the afternoon is free to wander and explore Cortina’s busy streets lined with restaurants and cafes, antique shops, art galleries, and boutiques. Dinner tonight is on your own. (6 hours hiking ~ approx. 8 miles ~ total 2,000' elevation gain/ 1,800' loss.)
Day 4 : Fanes-Sennes-Braies National Park
This lovely hike will take us into the Fanes-Sennes-Braies Natural Park, a stronghold of the Ladin language (we will see signs written in Ladin, German, and Italian). Short transfer (five minutes) to Fiames (4,240') on the Cortina-Dobbiaco road, from where we hike on a winding trail through the woods below the mountain of Col Rosa. The trail crosses the Ponte Outo (“outo” is Ladin for the Italian “alto,” i.e. high—4,550'). The larch trees, with their light green foliage in spring and red and yellow colors in autumn, contrast with the dark evergreens. The track soon reaches some commemorative rock plaques marking the Austrian 1916 front near the Lago di Fanes, and keeps on winding gently uphill to the Malga Fanes (6,890'). This area, called the Altopiano di Fanes, is very well known for backcountry skiing (the same trails one skis in winter can be hiked in the summer!). We’ll continue to our charming home for the night—the Mountain Inn Fanes (6,760'), run by Max and Petra Mutschlechner. The Mountain Inn Fanes was constructed in 1928 by the brothers Fritz, Rudi, and Alfred Mutschlechner as a winter ski hut. Alfred Mutschlechner, the father of the present hut host Max Mutschlechner, took over the hut and managed it until 1978. Its wood and stone structure, beds with down comforters, windows framing marvelous views of green pastures and rocky mountains, communal showers down the hall, and boisterous dining room filled with the singing of Tyrolean music seems the only fitting end for a great day. You will need to carry overnight belongings on this day. (5 hours hiking ~ 7½ miles ~ 2,600' elevation gain/100'loss.)
Optional late afternoon hike from the inn up to Paso San Antonio ridge. (2 hours hiking ~ 3½ miles ~ 1,300' elevation gain/loss.)
Day 5 : Altopiano di Fanes
Today we hike 2½-3 hours through the Altopiano di Fanes, with its panorama of the Western Dolomites, to the Capanna Alpina (5,660'). We’ll be able to see the Marmolada (11,024'), the highest peak in the Dolomites. Transfer 10 minutes to the charming mountain village of San Cassiano from where we’ll take a chairlift up to Piz Sorega (6,570'). From here we hike on a wide ridge trail with 360-degree views to our lunch spot at the Rifugio Bioch (6,850'). After lunch we hike one hour down to our deluxe hotel in the town of Corvara (5,120'), located in the Alta Badia in the heart of the Dolomites. The Val Badia is located in the South Tyrol. Before the First World War, this area used to be Austria, and the Austrian-Italian mixed culture is very well marked in the food, architecture, and language. The local people (called the “Ladini”) speak a language—Ladino—that comes from the Romansh language, one of the four official languages spoken in Switzerland and spoken in Northern Italy. The signs are written first in Ladino, then in German, and lastly in Italian. (5 hours hiking ~ approx. 9½ miles ~ 1,000' elevation gain/2,790' loss.)
A longer option takes us from the Rifugio Fanes uphill toward the Forcella del Lago (8,170') with spectacular views, and from where we steeply descend 2,510' to the Capanna Alpina and meet the rest of the group. It is an extra 2½ hours more, so those doing this option will leave 1½ hours earlier than the slower group. (7 hours hiking ~ approx. 11 miles ~ 1,410' elevation gain/4,000 loss.)
Our accommodation for the next four nights is at the Hotel Posta Zirm in Corvara. The hotel has a wonderful spa facility, with an indoor swimming pool and various steam rooms and saunas—just the ticket for soothing sore muscles after an active day of hiking!
Day 6 : Above the Val Badia and along the Sella Massif
Within the enormous fortress-shaped Sella massif is an excellent network of paths. Its sheer flanks are reserved for mountaineers and “via ferrata” experts. The mountain group boasts a 10,030-foot pyramidal peak, Piz Boè, which can be seen from any of the four passes that bound the Sella massif. Today’s hike will be a traverse along the south face of this incredible massif. Transfer 30 minutes to the Passo Pordoi (7,345') from where we start hiking up on a zigzag trail toward the Forcella Pordoi. Along the way we will be able to appreciate some incredible views of the Sassolungo, Marmolada, Civetta, Pelmo, Antelao and Col di Lana mountains. After a 35-minute uphill trek, we head right and start our traverse that goes gently up and down along the Sella’s south face. The trail is on a typical Dolomitic stone desert trail; it is rocky and sometimes exposed. We may see the occasional hardy wildflower such as the tiny white alpine mouse-ear and yellow poppies. Continue to the Rifugio Franz Kostner (8,200’) where we will stop for lunch. After lunch we’ll hike downhill along Lago Boè and through the woods to Corvara (5,120'). Those who don’t feel like doing some downhill can take two lifts down to Corvara or hike down one part and take the second lift to town. (5 hours hiking ~ approx. 7 miles ~1,000' elevation gain/3,000' loss.)
Day 7 : Santa Croce Sanctuary
Today we’ll walk to the Santa Croce Sanctuary at the base of the Sasso della Croce (Sass dla Crusc for the Ladin-speaking population). It’s a five-minute transfer to the town of San Cassiano (5,250') from where we start the hike. We first walk uphill on a paved road, passing through a number of closely knit hamlets formed of clusters of ancient shingle-roofed timber farm houses and barns known as viles. These small communities are characteristic of Val Badia; in medieval times they were grouped together for protection, forming self-sufficient units with their own collective oven and well. The properties have also been safeguarded from demolition and destruction thanks to the deeply rooted and legally recognized custom of the masso chuiso—closed farm—introduced in the sixth century, whereby the eldest son is expected to carry on farm activities and traditions while siblings must leave to seek fortune elsewhere.
After a 45-minute walk on the road, we pass through the last vile and get on a gravel trail that directs us to the Santa Croce Sanctuary. We walk gradually uphill through the pine forest with great views of the Santa Croce, Conturines, and Sella mountain groups as well as the towns of La Villa, San Cassiano, Corvara, Pedraces, and San Leonardo—all part of the Val Badia. Along the way there are a couple of steep ascents. It takes about two hours to get to the church and sanctuary of Ospizio S. Croce (6,710'). The sober white church was consecrated in 1484 and holds an image of Christ bearing the cross, hence the name of the mountain—Sasso della Croce, “stone of the cross.”
The earlier chapel on the site was built in the 11th century when a wealthy count of the Val Pusteria withdrew in meditation here in repentance for his harsh treatment of his subjects. He then donated all his earthly possessions to the nearby abbey, the badia, which gave its name to Val Badia. The “pilgrim’s” hospice (ospizio) building from 1718 was originally the sacristan’s lodgings. We continue for another 45 minutes to our lunch spot at the “Ranch Andre,” a typical Ladino shepherd’s farmhouse that has been converted into a small rifugio for lunch. The place is very inviting and the food delicious. We’ll be able to taste the turtres (Ladino vegetable pastries), grilled veggies, and homemade cakes. Across the valley is the spread out Puez-Odle group and the Sass de Putia. After lunch we descend on a different trail to the town of San Leonardo and have a 10-minute transfer back to Corvara. (5-6 hours hiking ~ approx. 7 miles ~ 1,935' elevation gain/loss.)
Day 8 : Passo Cir, Forcella Ciampai & Rifugio Puez
After a short transfer to Passo Gardena (6,955'), we follow a rocky trail for 1½ hours through the sheer pinnacles of Pizzes da Cir towering above us. Hike up to the Passo Cir (8,100’) and follow a wider trail on undulating terrain that leads to the Forcella Ciampai Pass (7,760') and up to the Rifugio Puez where we stop for lunch. A longer option allows a half-hour hike from the Passo Cir to the Sass Ciampac (8,770'). From the summit there is a fantastic panorama of the Eastern Dolomites with the Sella massif right in front of us. We descend to the Forcella Ciampai Pass and continue to the Rifugio Puez (8,120') where we meet the rest of the group for lunch. A final three-hour hike downhill on an easy and panoramic trail brings us to the town of Colfosco and then to Corvara. Chamois—mountain goats—are occasionally seen along the way. (6 hours hiking ~ approx. 7½ miles ~ 1,390' elevation gain/3,000' loss.)
Day 9 : Departure
Three-hour transfer to the Venice airport for departure on homeward-bound flight. Our arrival at the airport is scheduled for the late morning, so your overseas flight should be planned for the early afternoon (no earlier than 2:00 p.m.). If you have an earlier flight from Venice, the guide can arrange a private transfer at the approximate cost of $450 (subject to change without our notice). Note—we highly recommend you spend a few days in Venice, a remarkable and beautiful city like no other!
DATES: Best time to go: June - July, September Departures: Jun 20 - 28, 2015 Jul 18 - 26, 2015 Sep 5 - 13, 2015
Hotel Posta ZirmCorvara
The long-established Posta Zirm Hotel in Corvara combines Alpine tradition with modern hospitality. Your holiday in the Dolomites will pass in an atmosphere of security and family warmth along with a distinct, elegant ambiance. Enjoy our high-class cuisine, Far Eastern wellness philosophies and the breathtaking natural landscapes, and feel right at home here in our hotel in Corvara!
Hotel FranceschiCortina d’Ampezzo
The Franceschi Park Hotel sits on the grounds of a magnificent private park and is surrounded by pleasant and relaxing gardens. Conveniently located within walking distance of the center of town, the hotel offers spacious and elegant rooms furnished in the typical Ampezzan style. Guests will enjoy delicious homemade meals made by the owners themselves, and an array of amenities such as tennis courts, a sauna, solarium, Turkish bath, and Jacuzzi.
Properties shown are representative of the accommodations we use on this trip, may not be inclusive of all accommodations we use, and are subject to change.
Expert leadership is the key to an exciting, unforgettable experience. Our trips feature gifted leaders for whom leading trips is a true vocation. Besides showing you wonders you’d never find on your own, they make sure everything runs smoothly and safely without a hitch. They are knowledgeable about all aspects of your trip, and take great pleasure in sharing their insights with you. More than just guides, they positively elevate your experience by being teachers, companions, and the best of friends. You’ll be in good hands with them every step of the way.
Alberto De Giuli
Alberto De Giuli, a fully certified UIAGM/IFMGA mountain guide, was born in the small town of Padova, Italy. After receiving his degree in economics from the University of Venice; he decided to pursue his true passion, to guide in the mountains. He currently lives in Arabba, which is in the heart of the Dolomites. Alberto has spent several years guiding groups on climibing, hiking, trekking, and skiiing adventures. He truly enjoys showcasing the Dolomites to everyone!
Guilia Monego is a professional skier and adventure enthusiast. Her passion for skiing and the mountains has led her to work as a ski instructor, complete in many alpine ski races and events to leading hiking trips throughout the Dolomites. Whether she is leading a ski expedition in Patagonia or China to photography trips to British Columbia, she is at home at the mountains.
Luca Gasparini is an enthusiastic bilingual professional mountain guide. The mountains and outdoors has always been a part of his life. He started skiing at seven years old, rock climbing and ice climbing at age 19. Luca is living in the Dolomites working as a mountain guide in heli skiing, ski touring, off-track-skiing, ski safaris, ice climbing and snow shoeing in winter and rock climbing, trekking, canyoning and mountaineering in summer.
Marica Fave is grew up in Campitello in the Fassa Valley. She started skiing at age 3 and ski racing at age 6. Since then, she has been a part of the mountains ever since. While on Ski teams, she traveled through out Europe, North America and Canada. In 2006 she became a certified mountain guide and has been leading trips for Mountain Travel Sobek for many years. She has guided in Italy, France, Switzerland and India.
After being high school science and chemistry teacher, Karin Pizzinini decided to pursue her two big passions: travel and photography. Now she works both as an art director, making documentaries about Ladin arts and culture, and as a hiking guide in her beloved Dolomites, where she grew up and lives. She is a year-round outdoor enthusiast - enjoying telemarking and ski touring in the winter, hiking, rock climbing and climbing glaciers in the summer. She used to compete in cross country skiing, cycling and ski touring, where she has achieved the title of Italian champion. Karin says her mission is transmitting knowledge, be it as a teacher, a guide, a film director or a writer. Guiding trips through the beautiful scenery where she lives, and on trips around the world, enables her to share her enthusiasm with her groups, which is certainly one of the things she likes best.