The countryside in which we hike is a labyrinth of deep valleys and snow-clad mountain ranges with, at its heart, a wonderful set of Dolomite pinnacles. We enjoy landscapes of alpine meadows and evergreen and deciduous woods, dwarfed by these soaring peaks and glaciers. In late spring and early summer anemone, pasque flower, gentian and the beautiful globe flower abound. Larch and spruce groves face the constant threat of death from erosion and landslides. Ibex, roe deer, chamois; marmots, eagles and huge anthills thrive in these parts.
We stay in two delightfully luxurious alpine hotels, one with a spa, sauna and swimming pool where we can pamper ourselves after our daytime activities. We also experience some real mountain accommodation in a refuge which is much more rustic and yet has tiny en-suite facilities! We enjoy evenings in the charming little towns and villages, wonderful dinners of local cuisine and restful nights in the quiet of our rooms.
Bolzano - Passo Valparola - Armentarola
We meet at 12.00 at Bolzano train station and head out to lunch in the shady gardens of a local restaurant. Then a drive into the Dolomite Alps to reach Passo Valparola(6600ft). From here we walk down a forest trail into the extraordinarily beautiful Alta Badia area to Armentarola, crossing a light pine forest to open meadows carpeted with spring flowers and scattered with wooden alpino huts. A lovely introduction to the heart of Dolomite landscape.(1hr/2.5miles)
Le Cinque Torri
We drive over a ridge to Passo Falzarego and take a breathtaking cable-car ride to Lagazuoi (8400ft) for spectacular views and an introduction to the major massifs of the central Dolomites. As our walk descends across the open landscape, one can stop and enter some of the tunnels dug in WWI and imagine the extreme conditions to which young men defending these frontlines were exposed. A walk beneath the Tofane massif offers views of the Cinque Torri, a favourite spot for rock climbers. After a panoramic picnic we walk through forests along a narrow trail hoping to get a glimpse of chamois before reaching a rifugio for a refreshing drink of apfelschorle.(4hrs/4miles*)(Elev. -2,100ft)
Le Tre Cime
A scenic drive to the north-eastern Dolomiti di Sesto takes us through the chic resort of Cortina D'Ampezzo and past enchanting Lake Misurina to Rifugio Auronzo the start of today's circular walk. We hike along a trail with many more WWI tunnels still evident, to the base of the magnificent pinnacles of the Tre Cime di Lavaredo (the Three Buddhas) and marvel at the honey coloured shadows reflecting on its perpendicular limestone walls in the afternoon sun.(3.5hrs/5miles* can be extended to 5.5hrs) (Elev. +/-500ft)
Fanes National Park
Dolomite legend tells of inhabitants in these valleys called Fanes, who had an alliance with marmots, but who tried to expand the kingdom by making a secret pact with eagles. Eagles and marmots never got on very well and the fate of the Fanes people was sealed. The area in which we hike evokes such magical and fairytale-like feelings that, as we eat our picnic and watch for marmots dashing in and out of the rocks, you can almost hear songs in the breeze. Rifugio Fanes can only be reached on foot and this is where we stay for the night. (4hrs/6miles*) (Elev. +2800ft; -300ft)
Rif Fanes - S.Vigilio
We leave the Fanes National Park along a picturesque gravel track to descend to Rifugio Pederu and then walk along the valley which leads to S. Vigilio, a village where they speak the old Ladin language. The majesty of the mountains all around us make us feel small, as people here always have done. For centuries, during winter months, farmers were isolated from the rest of the world and farmsteads had to be self-sufficient. Faith and hard work helped them survive arduous conditions. (5.5hrs/3miles*+8miles along the valley) (Elev.-1600ft)
S.Vigilio - Lake Braies
We make a long ascent up a wide mountain track with views of the valley of S.Vigilio beneath us. It is an exhilarating feeling to reach the summit and see the new mountain ranges open up in front of us. After a well earned rest, we descend through high mountain pastures amid expansive scenery to emerge at Lake Braies, an icy mountain lake whose emerald green waters reflect the peaks dominating the skies above. Those wishing a more gentle day can visit a local natural history museum, Brunico market town and make a circular walk around the lake. (6hrs/8miles*) (Elev. +/-2850ft)
Bolzano - an appointment with Frozen Fritz!
We travel to the affluent city of Bolzano to visit the archaeological museum which was specially adapted to Otzi, the neolithic Iceman, whose body emerged in 1991 from a melted glacier on the Austro-Italian border of the Dolomites. This excellent museum also contains large numbers of artefacts from the whole region giving us a very full picture of its geology and history. Spend a leisurely afternoon in the historic town centre with its germanic architecture and medieval arcaded shopping centre and take home a few souvenirs of your vacation.
Departure from Bolzano
Scheduled departure from our hotel at 9.00 for Bolzano station (15mins).
Dates for 2013 :- 23-30th June
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Europe Italy Outdoor: Land Rambler Hiking & Trekking National Parks
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