June 30 - July 10
August 13 - 23
August 27 - Sep 06
Price: US$ 2700 (CAD$ 2800)
Single supplement: US$ 300 (CAD$ 350)
Group size: 3 - 8 guests
The Gran Paradiso National Park has an abundance of wildlife: The ibex, Europe's largest Alpine mammal, can be seen grazing high above the valley floor on most walks. Its smaller cousin, the Chamois, is also a permanent member of the park, so is the Royal Eagle and the Marmot.
Our trekking journey begins in the city of Aosta, capital of the Val d'Aosta, an ancient Savoy town, not far from the Grand Saint Bernard Pass, where Romans created a thriving commercial hub. Based for one night in Aosta itself, we will use the afternoon and evening to explore this nearly 2'000-year old city. If we have time, we will organize a guided tour by an English-speaking local guide, to discover Aosta's hidden treasures.
Using the excellent trail system called 'mulattiere', or mule's paths, we will climb through forests before reaching alpine terrain and Italy's famous mountain huts or 'rifugios', mostly family-run restaurants and hotels. After the Gran Paradiso traverse we will spend two days around Courmayeur and the majestic south side of the Mont Blanc Massif. Walks will take us up the Mont de la Saxe ridge, where views of Mont Blanc, Grandes Jorasses and the Peuterey summits unfold before us.
This is a relatively arduous trip with elevation gains up to 1'500m (4'900ft) per day. Some scrambling is involved as we skirt glaciers and moraines to reach high passes that are often above 3'000m (9'840ft). We will have ample time to taste the cuisine of this unique region of Italy. Autonomous since 1948, the Aosta valley combines cuisine from both France and Italy, and blends traditional Italian dishes with local delicacies.
Day 1: Transfer from Milano airport to our hotel in Aosta, briefing and welcome dinner.
Day 2: Walk from Aosta to Cogne over the Col di Chomole, amazing views of the Mont Blanc Massif, Matterhorn, Grand Combin, etc.
Day 3: Day-walk in Cogne, visit of Roman iron mines.
Day 4: We start the traverse of the Gran Paradiso National Park, hike up to the Sella refuge, where we can watch ibex playing almost in front of the hut.
Day 5: From the Sella refuge we will make our way up the Col de Lauson, before we head down to the Val Savarenche valley. The Col de Lauson is one of the highlights on this traverse.
Day 6: The van will bring us to the trail head at Pont, where we hike up to the Costa le Manteau, then up to the Rifugio di Chivasso.
Day 7: From the Rifugio di Chivasso we head towards the Rifugio Benevolo via the Col di Nivoletto. Possible variation: via the Col de Rosset. Stunning views of Italy's highest peak, the Gran Paradiso.
Day 8: Early in the morning we head towards the Col Bassac Dere, where Edelweiss carpet the slopes above us. Overnight in the fantastic Rifugio Mario Bezzi. This will be a very long day.
Day 9: An early morning descent and transfer will bring us to Courmayeur. Rest day in Courmayeur.
Day 10: Day-walk in Courmayeur.
Day 11: Departure day.
Accommodation: 4 nights in hotel***, 2 nights in hotel****, 4 nights in modern mountain huts (some in double rooms, some dormitories possible).
* All our guides are internationally certified, and have an in-depth knowledge of the area they are guiding in.
* Most guides working for us in the Alps live in the Chamonix valley on a permanent basis, where the mountains are both recreation and their livelihood.
* All of our guides are professionals, and are skilled at transmitting their tremendous knowledge of the region/country to you.
* All our guides speak fluently English and at least another foreign language. Wherever you go with us, your guide will be able to communicate at ease, enabling him/her to take care of any problem/special wishes that might occur.
Trip Difficulty: Level 4 (From 1=easy to 5=very strenuous)
Strenuous walking on mainly marked trails with some cross-country hiking. Scree slopes, boulder-hopping, snow patches, ridge-walking with some exposure. 6-10 hours of daily walking, consecutively for 6-11 days. Up to 1350m (4100ft) maximum elevation gain per day. Day-pack and occasional overnight pack. Maximum altitude in the Alps: 3000m (10000ft), in the Himalaya 5400m (16000ft).
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Europe Italy Nature & Wildlife National Parks Walking Tours