Italian Dolomites High Route: Alta Via 1
This is the 'best of the best' of the fabulous Italian Dolomites! This spectacular mountainous area is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is one of the most beautiful landscapes in the world. It has eighteen peaks rising to over 3000 metres, many with spectacular rock spires and towers, such as the world famous Tre Cime. It is the exceptional natural beauty of the rock formations and geology that have made the Dolomites famous throughout the world. Be prepared to be impressed on our Alta Via - High Level trek through this part of Italy!
- Stunning mountain scenery
- Fabulous Italian food
- Truly spectacular hiking trails
- High mountain hotels in amazing locations
- Your luggage transferred for you
- Professional International Mountain Leader
|Trip||Departure date||End date||Price||Status|
|AVD1 17||Sat 15 July 17||Sat 22 July 17||£1395||Trip Guaranteed | Make a Booking|
|AVD2 17||Sat 22 July 17||Sat 29 July 17||£1395||Places available | Make a Booking|
|AVD3 17||Sat 2 September 17||Sat 9 September 17||£1395||Places available | Make a Booking|
|AVD4 17||Sat 9 September 17||Sat 16 September 17||£1395||Places available | Make a Booking|
We think the Dolomites, or the 'Dollies' as they are affectionately know are spectacular! This is a very special and interesting part of the world on a number of counts. It is unique in terms of it's geology, and in it's culture, presenting an interesting mix of Austrian and Italian traditions, food, and folklore. The area is know as the Sud Tirol in German, and as the Alto Adige in Italian. It can be a little confusing to find that every village has two names, but it all adds to the feeling that you are truly somewhere 'a little different'.
Add on Days and Try 'Via Ferrata'!
A via ferrata (Italian for "iron way") is quite literally a route with fixed “protection” (metal ladders, handles and chains) that aids travellers in moving safely through the mountains whilst always connected to the rock. Hikers can connect otherwise isolated trail systems, rocky cliff lines and summits that otherwise would only be accessible to skilled rock climbers. The technique was initially developed by soldiers in the First World War but has now become a safe popular sport in it's own right. If you would like to try this activity as part of your trip to the Dolomites then please ask us for more details. Please note we only use qualified IFMGA Guides for this activity and it is in addition to the following itinerary.
We always aim to complete the itinerary as outlined below, however, the following itinerary will be followed only when conditions and weather make it appropriate, both in terms of safety and enjoyment. Your guide will make a decision on your destination based on those conditions.
Day 1 Arrival
Today you arrive in Villabassa, Italy, also know as Niederdorf. The Sud Tirol is predominantly German speaking, with Italian the second language. If arriving by bus/train be sure to check both names, Villabassa/Niederdorf. The village is very small and our hotel, which is normally the 4* Hotel Adler, is within easy walking distance as it is only a few hundred metres from the train station. Your hotel will be confirmed when you receive your Joining Information one month before the trip start date.
Day 2 Lago di Braies to Rifugio Fanes
We start with a short bus ride to the famous beauty spot of Lago di Braies. The lake is spectacular, turquoise waters, surrounded by towering cliffs. We climb steadily under the striated cliffs of Monte Muro to our first pass at Porta Sora il Forn, at 2388m, to be rewarded with immense views, with the glacier of the Marmolada glittering to the south west. Then its down to the Rifugio Biella for a bowl of minestrone, or whatever else takes your fancy. After lunch we have a lovely descent through flower meadows and farms, until a final steep road down to the Rifugio Pederu. There is a chance for a coffee here, before making the final ascent as we take the wild and rocky Vallone di Rudo to Lago Piciodil to the lovely Rifugio Fanes. Ascent 1500m. Descent 1020m. 22km. 8 hrs. Access to luggage.
Day 3 Rifugio Fanes to Rifugio Lagazuoi
We climb steadily this morning enjoying stunning views en route to our pass at Passo di Limo, at 2172m, and its lake of the same name. High peaks surround this pastoral amphitheatre with its curious limestone slabs dotted with pine trees. We then traverse a rugged mountainside to arrive at the Forcetta del Lago an impressive notch, at 2486m. You will probably think it looks like an impossible descent down the other wise, but the path does exist and you have stunning views all the way down towards Lago di Lagazuoi at 2182m. A 200m climb to finish the day to our Rifugio as we walk along what a front line in WW1, and where you can explore the gun emplacements and tunnels carved out of the ridgeline. A remarkably well preserved reminder of more troubled times. The Rifugio Lagazuoi is in a truly amazing locaiton perched high in the mountains, and there is even a wood fired sauna where you can ease muscles, while taking in views of the mountains. It’s a day with a reasonable climb, but the descent is minimal and our knees will appreciate that! Ascent 1185m. Descent 450m. 18km. 7.5 hrs. No access to luggage.
Day 4 Rifugio Lagazuoi to Rifugio Averau
Today we go from WW1 galleries hewn into the Lagazuoi and Casteletto mountains, to a close up of the wonderful summits of Le Tofane. We begin by heading over the Forcella Travenanzes, at 2507m before descending past a WW1 memorial. This is a sobering reminder of the bitter fighting which took place during this period of history. Then it's over the Forcella Col dei Bos and fabulous views to Cinque Torri. A morning cofee at the Rifugio Dibona then a steep climb through the larch forests, but there is the reward of lunch under the Cinque Torri at yet another lovely Italian Rifugio. You will notice a theme developing - walk, coffee, walk, cake, walk, lunch!
We then have another rocky, but easy climb to the pass and our refuge at Averau. Once we have checked in we would recommend you think about continuing up to the spectacular Rifugio Nuvolau which is literally perched on the cliff tops. It must offer some of the best views in the Dolomites and it is worth the extra effort. Ascent 975m if Rifugio Nuvolau included, 855m if not. Descent 1150m. 16km. 7 hrs. No access to luggage.
Day 5 Rifugio Averau to Rifugio Palafavera
Stunning morning views of the Tofane, Lagazuoi and Cinque Torri. We begin with a descent through flower meadows as we drop down to our next pass, and a contouring path which takes us under the cliffs and round past a chapel to the Forcella Giau at 2360m, and views to Monte Pelmo. At the pass we can enjoy a morning coffee, before setting off across the mountainside as we follow Monte Formin’s impressive south cliffs before climbing to the Forcella Ambrizzola at 2277m. As we make our way to our next pass we have views of Civetta and a gentle descent over pasture through dairy herds to our Rifugio Citta de Fiume where we can enjoy a break. Our final stretch for today is a traversing trail under the impressive peaks and spires of the wild and rugged Monte Pelmo, one of the famous landmark mountains of the Dolomites. Finally, it's down through the larch forests to another lovely rifugio where we spend the night at Palafavera. Ascent 550. Descent 1160m. 19km. 8 hrs. Access to luggage.
Day 6 Rifugio Palafavera to Rifugio Vazzoler
A steady climb this morning up a farm track through forest, sometimes the chair lift is running and if you really wish to miss out the farm track we can take the lift. Any lift cost is not included. We arrive at Casera di Pioda dairy farm, where cheese is for sale in the summer months. We then leave this rural scene of cow and goat herds and their tinkling bells, to climb up a well graded mule track to the shoulder of Cima Coldai, an outlier of the Civetta, until we arrive at the Rifugio Sonino Al Coldai. We continue west up a small valley to the turquoise waters of Lago Coldai, encircled by little stony beaches. This really is a very beautiful situation, and it is to be enjoyed as we drop around the lake and over the Forcella Col Negro, at 2203m before losing height and entering Val Civetta. With its slabs, peaks and pinnacles the west face of Monte Civetta towers 1200m overhead, and 7km in length, impressive! A hanging icefield the Cristallo is suspended below the highest top. This face is known as the ‘wall of walls’ and is unique in the Alps. We now head over the Forcella di Col Rean, and our overnight stop at Rifugio Vazzoler. Ascent 952m. Descent 800m. 14km. 6.5 hrs. No access to luggage.
Day 7 Rifugio Vazzoler to Villabassa
Our final day to Passo Doran. Leaving our Rifugio we have good views of the fantastic shapes of the Torre Trieste, at 2458m, and Cima della Busazza, at 2894m. We then gain the steep little pass of Forcella Col Dell’Orso at 1823m. We have a short aided section along a flowered rock face then it rises across boulders and pasture, before dropping before the Moiazza’s great south face. Heading along the Val Framont, we can take in a short detour to the commanding outcrop that hosts the Rifugio Carestiato for another Italian coffee! The remained of our Alta Via is through pasture and pleasant meadows down to the Passo Duran. Here we can enjoy a celebratory drink before we are collected by taxi and taken back to Villabassa to our hotel and spa. Ascent 670m. Descent 800m. 12km. 6 hrs. Access to luggage.
Day 8 Departure
Today is your departure day from Villabassa.
The services of a fully qualified International Mountain Leader, all accommodation on a half board basis during the trip. Two nights in a 4* hotel in Villabassa, based on twin rooms. 5 nights in very comfortable mountain Rifugios, all with showers, and some with en suite faciltites. It will include transport to the start of the route at Lago di Braies, and a taxi transfer back to Villabassa from Passo Duran. Transfer of luggage between rifugios. This is possible on 2 out of your 5 nights in the mountains.
Lunches, and any beverages, alcoholic drinks. Transfers to and from Villabassa/Niederdorf at the beginning and end of your trip.
This trip requires a minimum of 4 clients to run. We take a maximum of 10 clients.
Accommodation will be in a twin room in a hotel in Villabassa, although a single room may be available for a supplement. This is normally the 4* Hotel Adler, which has a top class spa. This does require early booking, and if the Hotel Adler is not available we will be in similar accommodation in the village. The Dolomite Rifugios are definitely a 'cut above" normal mountain huts, and our guests have said they are more like hotels than huts! We usually manage to secure bedrooms, or small dormitory style rooms of between 2 - 4 people which allows same gender in one room, rather than mixed. On rare occasions it may be necessary for mixed gender, but this would be unusual. It is worth pointing out that in other mountainous hiking areas 'mixed' would be the only option! A single room may be possible at the beginning and end of this trip while in Villabassa. Please contact us for details of the supplement required if you wish a single room.
In mountainous terrain the weather can vary considerably. Temperatures can reach over 30°c in the height of the summer (July/August), but can be as low as 5°c on the passes. It is often sunny with good clear days, but it can rain and snow (even in July or August) so you should be prepared for any eventuality. The average temperatures range from 15-25°c in the valleys and 5-15°c on the passes.
If choosing to travel by air you can fly to Innsbruck, Austria or Venice, Italy. Verona airport, Italy is another possibility.
If flying to Innsbruck you then take a train to Villabassa, also called Niederdorf on train schedules. Be aware that in the Dolomites/Sud Tirol all the towns and village have an Italian name and a German name. If choosing Innsbruck you can take a free shuttle bus, takes 15 mins and leaves every 10 mins, from the airport to Innsbruck central railway station. The train departs hourly, for Brennero/Brenner, change here for Fortezza/Franzensfeste, then on to Villabassa/Niederdorf. The journey takes just approx. 3 hrs, and the changes are every 30 mins at Fortezza and Brennero. If your departure flight is too early for the first local train between Villabassa, and Fortezza then you can book a taxi at the hotel to take you direct to Fortezza.You can also fly to Venice either Marco Polo or Treviso airports, and then take the Cortina Express bus to Cortina, and then change for the local bus to Villabassa. Our guests have said that either route works well, and the journey is enjoyable.
A useful link which gives other options, such as the trains from Venice to Villabassa, is Rome2Rio which gives a map and overall picture. Local trains for Villabassa can be found at www.sad.it. You can also take the train from the UK all the way to Villabassa, you can check times here.