Dolomites “Alta Via” Hike Write a review
We love the Dolomites so much that we have developed this "Alta Via" tour (our fourth!) to indulge our passion for the region. This is a special experience because we stay up in the mountains for three nights in isolated mountain chalets known as “rifugios.” They are more spartan than regular hotels but our travelers always say that they were more comfortable than they had expected. You still get proper beds, hot showers, and delicious meals, and the experience of watching the sunset from high in the mountains is a priceless experience. We ease you into the mountains with two nights in Selva Val di Gardena before taking you higher to hike the "Alta Via," or High Route. You’ll see some of Europe’s most spectacular Alpine scenery and stay in charming mountain huts for three nights. We end back in the comfort of a four-star hotel with spa. This tour provides you with a real Himalayan-style trekking adventure but with comfortable lodgings and superb Italian food and wine. It’s a winning combination!
Dolomites “Alta Via” Hike itinerary
Independent arrival in Bolzano, the thriving capital of the South Tyrol nestled amongst vineyards and orchards at the edge of the Dolomites. It is also home to Ötzi, the 5,300-year-old mummified “ice man” whose body was found in the nearby mountains two decades ago. His body and related artefacts are on display in a fascinating archaeological museum. Meet your guides and the rest of the group for a drink at 7 p.m. followed by dinner. We stay overnight at the Hotel Stadt, which has a heated swimming pool and is located in Bolzano’s main square. Overnight Bolzano. Hotel and dinner included.
We depart at 9 a.m. for a 50-minute van transfer to Ortisei, where we take a gondola lift up above the tree-line to 2,500 meters (8,000 ft) for the start of our first hike. We walk below the dramatic southern face of the Odle massif, and enjoy expansive views across the valley to the Alpe di Siusi, whose jagged rock towers seem to pierce the sky. We arrive at a rifugio (mountain hut) for a perfectly-timed snack break before carrying on to another rifugio with magnificent views beyond the Gardena pass. Enjoy a hearty Tyrolean lunch before setting off again to gradually descend towards Selva Val di Gardena. The worst of the descent is ingeniously avoided with a van pick-up which takes us to our home for the next two nights, the historic four-star Hotel Oswald. You then have free time to explore the village or enjoy the hotel’s indoor swimming pool and spa facilities. Dinner is in the hotel dining room. Details: Total distance: about 14kms/8 miles. Uphill 900m/2,950ft and downhill 850m/2800ft Hiking time: 5h30m to 6h. Maximum altitude: 2489m/8166ft. Summary: Moderate hiking in the morning on very good trails, then a long and challenging 500m/1650ft climb up to Forcella Stevia. Overnight in Selva Val di Gardena. Hotel, breakfast, lift ticket, and dinner included.
We have a short walk this morning to the “Funivia” which whisks us up out of the valley to an altitude of 2,000 meters (6,400 ft). We have a gentle start this morning as we slowly climb and then traverse for the first hour beneath the north wall of the Sassolungo. We then veer south and follow the trail as it winds its way between two towering spires of rock to a surprisingly-located rifugio where we stop for a well-earned piece of strudel before continuing up to a narrow pass and another spectacularly-located rifugio for lunch. Afterwards we are launched down the side of the mountain in a “pod” lift which takes us one by one down the otherwise knee-destroying descent to the Passo Sella, where we resume our hike, now on the southeast side of the Sassolungo. A final gondola ride takes us back down to the village. You have free time this afternoon before meeting the group again for a drink. Tonight is a “free night” so you can dine wherever you like. Choices range from a superb one-star Michelin restaurant to a simple pizzeria. Overnight in Selva Val di Gardena. Hotel, breakfast, and lift tickets included. Dinner not included. Details: Total distance: about 11 kms/6.5 miles. Uphill 750m/2,400ft and downhill 200m/640ft (becuase we take the "Pod" lift down. Hiking time: 4h30m. Maximum altitude: 2685m/8860ft. Summary: Moderate hiking, very good trails, long climb up to Rifugio Demetz of 600m/1900ft, but broken up with a coffee/strudel break. Overnight in Selva Val di Gardena. Hotel, breakfast, and lift tickets included. Dinner not included.
Your big adventure starts today as we embark on the “Alta Via” (high road) component of the tour where we stay three nights up in mountain chalets known as “Rifugi”. You will have proper beds, pillows, hot showers, excellent food and a decent wine list while staying up high, in the crisp, clean, quiet air of the mountains. We start this day with a short, 15 minute private van transfer to a gondola lift which whisks us 800 meters up to the start of our hike. We walk along the northern wall of the Odler massif. As we walk we take in vast views out over the Val di Funes and onto the spiky peaks of the Odler group which tower above us. Lunch is enjoyed at 2000 meters at the Rifugio Odle where you can sit back, relax and take in the scenery. After a warming lunch of barley soup we set out again on a sensational trail that takes us beneath the imposing spires of The Furcheta to our final destination, the rifugio Genova. This charming chalet was constructed in 1898. It sits at 2300 metres at the entrance to the Puez-Odle national park. Toast the day’s hike with a cold beer, followed by a hot shower then dinner in the charming wood-paneled “stube.” Overnight in rooms that host up to 4 occupants. Shower and WC are down the hall. We have reserved double, triple and quadruple rooms here. Details: Total distance: about 18 kms/11 miles. Uphill 750m/2,400ft and downhill 450 m/1440ft. Hiking time: 5h30m. Maximum altitude: 2425m/7760ft. Summary: Moderate hiking, very good trails, but a fairly long day. Breakfast, dinner and rifugio accommodation included. Lunch not included.
Today’s hike is made up of dramatic alpine terrain as we strike into the heart of the Odle-Puez national park. The trail eventually gets squeezed between several peaks as we climb to the Nives pass. We crest at 2740 metres/8768 ft. Energetic hikers can take an optional out and back trail to the top of Piz Duelda peak, which tops out at 2,909 metres/9,308 ft. The views are impressive as we gradually descend to the welcoming embrace of Puez Hutte, which is nestled in amongst the surrounding peaks at 2475 metres/7920 ft. A large, sunny terrace welcomes us where you can kick back and take in the quiet solitude of these gorgeous mountains. As we dine, the setting sun baths the craggy peaks of the surrounding mountains with its last golden rays. Overnight in rooms that host two, three and four occupants. Shower and WC down the hall. Details: Total distance: about 10 kms/6 miles. Uphill 850m/2,700ft and downhill 600 m/1900 ft. Hiking time: 5h. Maximum altitude: 2740 metres/8768 ft. Summary: Challenging hiking, good trails but with some scree on ascent to Nives Pass. Not a long day, but with a section that entails a 600 metre/1900 ft continuous climb. Breakfast, picnic lunch, dinner and rifugio accommodation included.
Today’s hike offers a great variety of scenery and trails as we first climb into the mountains and then gently descend towards the Val du Lunghiaru whose verdant slopes are dotted with wooden baita, farmhouses, and barns. We pass through the tiny village of Pescol, population 21 and walk through farmland and forest before climbing steeply back into the mountains via a spectacular ravine which brings us abruptly up to the unique alpine landscape of the Gardenacia Plateau, a starkly beautiful area of bleached white Dolomite rock. The trail weaves its way amongst the undulations of this desert like feature to arrive at the Gardenacia mountain hut, located on the eastern side of the plateau, perched above the Val Badia. After the impressively austere rock formations of the Gardenacia plateau the soft greens of the nearby larch trees is soothing to the eye. This rifugio was built in 1937 and renovated in 2009. Happily the owners kept many of the original features and furniture to retain an old world charm. The Gherdenacio rifugio has an additional special feature; a sauna with large windows that look out over a stunning alpine view. What a great way to relax at the end of a day of hiking! Overnight in rooms that host two, three, and four occupants max. Shower and WC down the hall. Details: Total distance: about 16 kms/10 miles. Uphill 750m/2,450 ft and downhill 900 m/2950 ft. Hiking time: 6h. Maximum altitude: 2550 metres/8366 ft. Summary: Mostly moderate hiking but with a challenging 600 metre/1900 ft continuous climb near the end of the day. Good trails throughout. A full day. Breakfast, picnic lunch, dinner and rifugio accommodation included.
We set out this morning for our final Alta Via hike. We quickly enter a dramatic landscape as we ascend towards the Para Dai Giai to hike along a high ridge line at 2450 meters/8000 ft. On our way to Somafurcia pass we take in the emerald green waters of Lech de Ciampei, a beautiful tarn lake situated at almost 2,200 m/6,900 ft. and also a nice spot for a break and a snack. Our last hour of hiking takes us along the southern side of a group of mountains making up the Crepeina massif. As we slowly descend, we will see climbers on the Piz da Cir whose vertical pitches have enticed local climbers for over a century. We end our hike at the Danterceipe hut where we cheat just a little bit by taking the gondola down the last 600 m/1,900 ft to Selva val Gardena where we check back into our four star hotel and enjoy some well earned spa time and creature comforts after our three nights up in the mountains. We splash our tonight with a memorable dinner to celebrate our Alta Via experience. Overnight back at the historic four-star Hotel Oswald, in Selva Val di Gardena. Details: Total distance: about 11 kms/6.5 miles. Uphill 900m/2,950 ft and downhill 750 m/2460 ft. Hiking time: 4.5h. Maximum altitude: 2525 metres/8300 ft. Summary: Mostly moderate hiking but with a challenging 500 metre/1600 ft continuous climb at the beginning of the day. Good trails throughout but with a little scree for about 15 minutes towards Forc. Di Sassonher. We will arrive in Selva in mid afternoon. Hotel, breakfast, picnic lunch, dinner and lift tickets included.
We leave this morning at 9.30 a.m. for a 1hr transfer to the Bolzano train station for trains departing at 11:00 and after. From there you can get connections to Venice, Verona, Milan, Innsbruck and beyond. For private groups we can also arrange final transfer to Venice (airport or train station, both of which are about a 2.5-hour drive). Breakfast and transfer included.
The hikes in the Dolomites are the most challenging that we offer. The paths are good, but you require good footing and should be used to hiking on steep, rugged terrain. Many of the hikes are no steeper than our Cinque Terre walk, for example, but the distances we hike in a day are a little longer. We walk 4-6 hours a day but often take a chair-lift, cable-car of funicular up or down various stretches, allowing spectacular views and for an easier hike. Daily distance between 9 and 18 kms.
Activity Level 5 = Challenging: Difficult terrain, sustained climbs and descents, at least 5 hours of activity daily, and up to 7 hours of walking. You need to be fit, experienced hikers who enjoy being challenged.
In general: This is a challenging tour for fit hikers who will be happy to end the hike each day and recover with a cold beer. Not appropriate for novice hikers or even for experienced but unfit hikers.
Terrain: Rolling and often steep terrain. Challenging sustained climbs and descents of up to 1,200 metres/4,000 feet. Altitude can play a role as our Challenging tours are in the mountains. In the Alta Via we sleep at 2,700 metres/8,500 feet.
Actual walking time: between 5-7 hours per day.
Distances: Usually between 15 and 18 kms/9.5 and 11 miles. Max distance is 22 kms/14 miles.
Surfaces: Trails consisting of compact earth, gravelly earth, and sometimes dirt-gravel roads and frequently on rocky and uneven trails. Scree slopes and steep switchback trails are also encountered. Sometimes it is necessary to use one’s arms to climb up a short “impasse”, or sit down on your bum to descend sections that are too big for a step. You might also find somewhat overgrown trails.
Footing: Good to tricky. You must almost ALWAYS pay attention to where and how you place your feet. Proper hiking shoes or boots with thick soles with good treads are required. Sport sandals, running shoes and tennis shoes are not adequate.
Specifics: The trails are safe, but some of them have some “open” parts which could unsettle anyone who suffers from vertigo (on the other hand, all you have to do is look the other way!). Most of the trails are well maintained, but occasionally you have to walk on a short stretch of scree. You also have to carry what you need for three nights up in the mountain huts, so your day-pack will be a little heavier than usual. Elevation gains are between 600 - 900 m (1,970 - 3,000 ft) and we cover around 14 kms (8-9 miles) per day.
Hiking Poles: REQUIRED! If you don’t bring your poles the guide will hit you over the head with their own poles.
Compared to the Cinque Terre: Significantly more difficult than the Cinque Terre because the distances are much longer and the terrain and footing much more difficult. If you enjoyed the hikes in the Cinque Terre and found them to be a dawdle, and you regularly hike and backpack, then these 5-rated tours right up your alley.
Other: These tours are not appropriate for first-time hikers. People with hip and knee issues will probably find that these tours will aggravate your pre-existing injuries to the point that you may have to abandon the tour. Hikers need to be fit with healthy joints who can easily hike for six hours a day and who are also used to negotiating rocky, uneven terrain.
Backpacks: On these trips you will be carrying more in your backpacks than on other tours because: a) we are in the mountains and therefore you need to carry more layers and be ready for any weather conditions; b) you may need to carry more water since it may not be available; c) you may be carrying your lunch; and d) you will have to carry extra clothing for our three night stay in the mountain chalets because luggage transfers are not possible. .
Challenging Tours: Dolomites Alta Via, Republic of Georgia – Tusheti National Park
Trip Cost Includes: 1 night Bolzano, 3 nights Selva Val di Gardena in very comfortable four star hotels with spas, and three nights in comforftable rifugi (mountain huts). Note: Rooms are based on a first come, first served basis. If you book early, and you are a couple there is a good chance we will be able to reserve double rooms for you, however it may be necessary to have three or four people maximum in a room. Toilets and showers are in the hallway (it's a great way to meet people!). Also included: 7 breakfasts and 6 dinners; 3 picnic lunches; bilingual Customwalks guide(s) to accompany the tour and lead you on the walks; all van transfers and lifts (gondola lifts) as per the itinerary including pick-up from Bolzano and final transfer to the Bolzano train station.
Booking: e-mail us at email@example.com to receive a booking contract (or use the 'Contact Us' link at the top of this page), or click on the 'Book Now' button to the right.
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Getting There: the trip starts in Bolzano, which is easily reached by train from various Italian cities. The closest airports are Innsbruck, Verona, Milan, and Venice. Travel time by train to Bolzano: from Innsbruck 2 hrs, direct; from Verona 1.5 - 2 hrs, direct; from Milan 2.5 - 3 hrs, with one change; from Venice (Mestre) 2.5 - 3.5, most with one change; from Florence: 3 - 3.5 hrs, some direct high-speed trains; from Rome 4.5 - 5, some direct high-speed trains.
Air: The most convenient airports to the trip are Innsbruck, Verona, Milan, and Venice. For a complete list of Itlian airports and a selection of low-cost airlines, see our "Transport Info" page.
Rail: See the Trenitalia website (in English) at this link. For alternative high-speed rail travel, see the Italo website. For complete information on using the Italian train system, see our blog post.
Getting Away at the End of the Trip: After breakfast on Sunday, we provide a 1hr private transfer to the train station in Bolazano, arriving around 10:30 a.m. for 11:00 am trains. From there you can get trains to Venice (takes 2-3 hrs, depending on departure), Milan (2.5 hrs), Verona (1 hour), Innsbruck (2.5 - 3.5 hrs), Florence (3.5 hours), or other cities.
If you book a trip with us you will receive detailed information about how to get to the start of your trip, or feel free to e-mail us with any specific travel questions.
My second year in a row hiking the amazing Italian Dolomites ( and luckily for me with the same guide !) The scenery was spectacular and our trip itinerary was very carefully organized and thought out to maximize the beauty, the ups and downs, and some trail variety and the best Refugio's and one amazing sauna !!!I totally felt in the best hands with our guide who truly watched out for us. And you could also tell the guide vicariously enjoyed our enjoyment of the mountains and shared the excitement with the the views and the food and travels together. He was very special and unique and had a great sense of humor and spoke English fluently.I highly recommend this trip. It was a little tough for me being an older person and hiking with significantly younger people ( i.e. my 31 and 28-year-old sons who are in incredible shape). 10 miles a day - six days in a row - was certainly a challenge; but well worth it.
Wining and dining in the Dolomites... and working up an appetite! This was an intense hike. My body took a bit of a beating, but I was smiling the whole time as my eyes took in the amazing Dolomiti. The itinerary was thoughtfully designed to give us the best experience and give us exposure to a variety of landscapes, refugi, and terrain. Amazing trip. Terrific guide. Wonderful memories.
You need to be in good shape to do this trip, individually the walks are all wonderful with good paths and outstanding views. When you put six of these walks together it's quite a physical challenge but it was also a great adventure. As always the guides looked after us brilliantly and we had a lot of fun on this trip.
The Alta Via is spectacular- featuring awe inspiring vistas and beautiful terrain, it was an incredibly special trip and stands out as one of the best vacations we have ever had among many great ones.I found that rising with a cup of warm coffee and the sunrise was a fantastic way to start the day as we made our way through the rugged terrain. The rich mountaineering history in the area fosters a wonderful sense of camaraderie as we made our way as a group through the countryside.I would heartily recommend- we are actually thinking of booking this very trip for a 2nd time in fact.
My second year in a row hiking the amazing Italian Dolomites ( and luckily for me with the same guide !)
The scenery was spectacular and our trip itinerary was very carefully organized and thought out to maximize the beauty, the ups and downs, and some trail variety and the best Refugio's and one amazing sauna !!!I totally felt in the best hands with our guide who truly watched out for us. And you could also tell the guide vicariously enjoyed our enjoyment of the mountains and shared the excitement with the the views and the food and travels together. He was very special and unique and had a great sense of humor and spoke English fluently.I highly recommend this trip. It was a little tough for me being an older person and hiking with significantly younger people ( i.e. my 31 and 28-year-old sons who are in incredible shape). 10 miles a day - six days in a row - was certainly a challenge; but well worth it.