Hiking tours

Dolomites Grand Traverse WC version

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  • Location: Italy
  • Duration: 8 days/7 nights
  • Departing from: Mestre-Venice
  • Tour finishes: Day 8, Venice airport
  • Departures 2024: Sept 15 plus private departures.
  • Price 2024: Euro €3,600 per person based on double occupancy and minimum of 4 people. Single supplement €480. One guide accompanies departures of 2 - 8 people. Two guides accompany departures of 9 or more people.

This is our new “Dolomites Grand Traverse - WC version”. Hut-to-hut hiking, but with private rooms and your own ensuite facilities. So many people have told us: “We would love to do your Dolomites Grand Traverse or Alta Via tour but having to share a toilet and shower is a deal-breaker for us”. So now you can join us for an extraordinary week of Alpine hiking amongst the splendid Dolomites, and not get constipated! How awesome is that?! Our DGT-WC tour offers the convivial atmosphere and amazing views that can only be had by staying in a rifugio, but without the hassle of having to queue for the showers or share the toilet facilities. Combine breathtaking hikes, excellent food and wine, with the luxury of lingering on the loo whenever you want to. You stay two nights at Faloria Rifugio where you will look down at the twinkling lights of Cortina far below. The next two nights are enjoyed at the remote Fodara Vedla hut. Entirely renovated in 2021 this former farm complex offers beautiful rooms finished in gorgeous honey-coloured wood throughout. Then two nights at Fanes Mountain Hut. With a spectacular setting amongst the massive peaks of the Tofanes range this historic rifugio has been receiving guests since 1928. On our last hike, we descend into the green embrace of the valley to spend the final night in the comfort of the four-star Hotel Melodia del Bosco in Badia village.

Dolomites Grand Traverse WC version itinerary Request full itinerary

Day 0

You arrive in Venice Mestre.
You can choose to stay at the four-star Hotel Plaza where we pick up the group tomorrow. It is conveniently located in front of the Mestre train station and 100 m from the shuttle stop that connects Mestre station with Venice airport. Venice itself is a ten minute train ride from this hotel. Or you can stay wherever you like in Venice and meet us tomorrow morning at the Plaza Mestre Hotel. Let us know your preference. If you want us to book you in for tonight at the Plaza, we will do so and add the cost of the room to your final invoice. Today is not included. 

Day 1

Pick up and transfer to Cortina. Hike to Faloria Rifugio.
We pick you up at 10:00 am from the Hotel Plaza, in Mestre-Venice. Be dressed for hiking because, after our 2.5-hour private van transfer, followed by lunch at Rio Gere hut, we start our hike up to Rifugio Faloria from the Passo Tre Croci. Your main bags will be delivered by 4X4 so all you require is your day pack. You will hike along a World War One-era cobbled military road through larch forests. The road ends and becomes a path that gradually climbs out of the trees. You will be rewarded with a massive view of the looming saw-edged peaks of Mount Sorapis. Faloria Rifugio welcomes you at the end of the hike, and you will no doubt enjoy a glass of crisp prosecco or a cold beer on the scenic terrace before checking in. Dinner in the dining room, overlooking the shimmering lights of Cortina, some 3,000 feet below. The Hike: 7 kms/4.2 mi, 540m/1,725ft elevation again. Duration: 3 hours. Overnight: Faloria Rifugio. Lunch, dinner, and hotel/rifugio included. 

Day 2

Falloria to Mietres to Cortina hike.
Watch the dawn unfold as the sun’s rays bathe the opposite peaks of Grand Tofanes and gently light up the valley below. The backdrop to this morning’s hike is the jagged rock spires of Monte Cristallo. You gradually drop down through a quiet evergreen forest to verdant fields where brown-eyed cows happily graze. Your guides will lead you to Rifugio Mietres, a classic all-wood chalet whose terrace offers a stunning view over the valley and onto distant towering peaks. We stop here for a delicious lunch before resuming the hike into Cortina, where you will have time to peruse the shops of this chic and historic resort town. You can even buy something because you will be whisked back up to Faloria Rifugio via a spectacular cable car ride.  The Hike: 10.8 kms/6.8 miles or 3.5h, mostly downhill with a total descent of 973 m/3,100 ft. Hard-packed dirt and rocky trails, and some asphalt road back in town.Overnight: Faloria Rifugio. Breakfast, dinner, and hotel/rifugio included.

Day 3

Transfer to Cimbanche. Hike to Fodara.
After breakfast, the cable car delivers you swiftly and smoothly down to Cortina, where you hop into our waiting van that takes you to the trailhead.We are dropped at the old frontier that once divided the Hapsburg Empire from the Kindom of Italy. The trail leads us behind abandoned barracks to a stone road built by the Austrians during the First World War. In time, the trail brings us to the vestiges of a WW1 Austrian artillery position. Happily, we wind our way down to a peaceful valley to have lunch at Ra Stua, a historic rifugio and farm. Afterward, you will hike beneath the rampant walls of a rocky escarpment to emerge onto a high plateau. From here, the vast view of a dozen or more peaks, both near and far, is breathtaking.  You will finish your day at Rifugio Fodara Vedla. It is surrounded by lush green meadows, stunted pines, and charming alpine huts still used by local farmers when they bring their animals up for summer grazing. The rifugio's rich history goes back a century to 1923 when Hans Mutschlechner transformed an abandoned WW1 barracks into a “Malga”/summer farmhouse and barn. This rifugio is still run by Han’s descendants. Arthur and Frieda man the bar, their daughter Lorena serves the meal while her husband David is the chef. The grandchildren also help wait at the tables. Dinner is in the lovely wood-paneled dining room. David produces excellent local cuisine from his state-of-the-art kitchen. The Hike: 11.8 kms/7 mi Elevation gain 900 m.2,900ft. Duration: 4.5 hours duration. Overnight: Rifugio Fodara Vedla. Breakfast, dinner, and hotel/rifugio included.

Day 4

 Loop hike to Biella.
Wake up to the soft jangle of cow bells and the smell of brewing coffee. After a melodious breakfast, we head out for a loop hike to Seekofel Hütte, or Biella rifugio for lunch. Constructed of stone, it blends in harmoniously with the rocky flanks of Croda del Béco, which soars above the rifugio. Locally, the mountain is known as “the Abbess’s butt” for its rounded shape. Hikers with a sense of humor will no doubt be keen to ascend it for bragging rights. The view is stunning from the left cheek. After lunch, we return to the warm embrace of Fodara Vedla. Overnight: Rifugio Fodara Vedla. The Hike:  13.3 kms 525 m up. 4.5 hours duration. Breakfast, dinner, and hotel/rifugio included.

Day 5

Hike to Fanes Rifugio. Lunch at Lavarella. 
A gentle start this morning as you follow a trail made soft by a mat of pine needles. Then it is downhill to Rifugio Pederu for a mid-morning coffee and strudel break. Now this is civilized hiking!  The strudel will power you up the climb to the Fanes Plateau, a unique karst limestone expanse veined by babbling brooks. We have lunch at Lavarella Rifugio, where we are usually entertained by the antics of local marmots. Then it is a 15-minute hike to Rifugio Fanes, where we spend the night at 6,725 ft/2,050 m. Today’s hike is relatively short, but you have earned a light day after two big hikes in the preceding days. However, you can do an optional 2-3 hour afternoon hike to Passo di Sant'Antonio, for gorgeous views towards Monte Antelau or simply relax on the canvas deck chairs and take in the serenity of this place. This evening, Fanes boasts an ample menu for both food and wine, so we will dine a la carte. Try the “cajinci,” or “Schlutzkrapfen" in German, a local dish that’s a kind of ravioli with ricotta and spinach. The Hike: 10.5kms/6.5 mi  Terrain: hard-packed dirt with one long, steep descent; Elevation gain 2,300 ft (700 m) and loss 1,475 ft (450 m).Duration: 3.5 hours. Overnight: Rifugio Fanes. Breakfast, dinner, and hotel/rifugio included.

Day 6

Fanes Ibex Hike.
Today we are in search of the rare mountain ibex, a species of wild goat that has only recently come back from the brink of extinction. They have been reintroduced into this part of the Fanes National Park. The males have impressive curved horns which can grow to five feet in length. Our hike takes us into a remote area where a herd of ibex ranges. The hike itself is spectacular as we climb high above the Fanes plateau, and if we see the Ibex, then it is an even more glorious day out. The turnaround point and our lunch spot is a high ridgeline that links together several high peaks and affords a huge view towards the eastern ranges. We enjoy a picnic lunch provided by our friends at Fanes hut and soak up the quiet and solitude. Not surprisingly, as we turn to face west and descend, the views are completely different from our morning hike! After our return to the rifugio, we have an informal tasting of some of the many excellent regional wines of Alto Adige and the Sud Tyrol. We purposely avoid the usual suspects, so you can try some Teroldego, Lagrein, and Blaugburgunder. Another delicious dinner in the stubbe. The Hike: 11.6 kms/7mi, Elevation gain and loss, 760m/2,400ft. Duration 4.5 hours. Overnight: Rifugio Fanes. Breakfast, picnic lunch, dinner, and hotel/rifugio included.

Day 7

Hike to Santa Croce for lunch. End in Badia.
You leave Fanes (your main bag is transported by 4X4) and make your way across the limestone escarpment. Small wooden walkways and bridges carry you over the streams to the far side of the bowl. The trail then climbs up onto an arid hanging valley that is flanked by rock escarpments and peaks that curve up from the valley. We enjoy splendid isolation as it is rare to encounter other hikers on this trail. We crest and then drop down towards the Rifugio Santa Croce, one of the oldest mountain huts in the valley. Established in 1718, to this day it serves the pilgrims who hike up to the sanctuary/church of Santa Croce which stands adjacent. After lunch, we have a short walk to a chair lift which brings us down to the village of Badia, where our four-star hotel is located. Those who cannot get enough hiking, can opt to forego the chairlift and hike to the next village of San Cassiano, thereby adding another couple of hours of pleasant, easy hiking, and then transfer to Badia. Tonight we have a very special dinner at “Maso Runch”, a beautiful family-run farm that clings to the steep sides of the valley. Not only do they run a farm, but they also have a fabulous farm-to-fork restaurant where we will be served their traditional dishes. Once again, three generations of the family will look after us tonight. The Hike: 8.3kms/ 4.9 miles Elevation gain 760m/1560 ft. Duration: 4 hours. Hard-packed dirt and rocky trails. The optional afternoon hike: 6kms/ 4 miles. Elevation gain is negligible. Elevation loss 488 m/1560 ft. Hard-packed dirt and rocky trails. Transfer time to Badia: 15 mins. Overnight: 4-star Hotel Melodia del Bosco in Badia or similar. Breakfast, dinner, and hotel/rifugio included.

Day 8

Transfer from Badia to Venice airport
(08:00) Our adventure ends with a private 3 hour van transfer to the Venice Airport. We arrive by 11 am in time for flights departing after 1pm. We can also transfer you to Mestre train station where you can take a water taxi into Venice, or board a train for other destinations in Italy. If you require an earlier transfer, we can arrange that for you but at your expense. Transfer to Venice airport and breakfast included. 

Please note:

Some details of the itinerary may change according to the departure date of your tour. Whenever we run a tour we make new discoveries. Sometimes they are good discoveries, like a wonderful new trattoria, and sometimes they are bad, like a trail has been washed away. The result is that we sometimes change our itinerary to improve it by adding new wonderful elements to the tour or by removing something that does not work anymore. Rest assured, our goal is to always provide you with the best possible experience. We will advise you of any changes to the original itinerary prior to departure.  

Dolomites Grand Traverse - WC version includes: 

Accommodation: 7 nights accommodation (2 nights at Faloria Rifugio near Cortina, 2 nights Fodara Vedla rifugio, 2 nights Fanes Rifugio, and one night the four-star Hote Melodia del Bosco or similarl). All rooms in the rifugi are private rooms with ensuite WC and shower.  

Meals: 7 breakfasts, 1 rifugio lunch on day 1, 2 picnic lunches, and 7 dinners 

Luggage: Bags are transferred from pick up on day 1 to all the lodgings and to Venice airport on Day 8. Refer to the  special “Luggage Transfers” section later in the itinerary for further details. 

Transport: Private van transfers as per the itinerary. 2 x Faloria gondola and 1 Badia chairlift.

Active days: 7 days of guided hiking 

Guides: At least 1 bilingual Customwalks guide accompanies departures of 2 - 8 people; 2 guides accompany departures of 9 to 14 people 

Activity Level 4 out of 5 = Challenging: In general, a Level 4 out 5 tour is physically challenging for fit hikers, and they are not appropriate for unfit hikers and inexperienced hikers.

Terrain: Rolling and often steep terrain with frequent challenging ascents and descents, often over rugged and uneven terrain

Actual hiking time: between 4 - 6 hours per day, mostly in the morning but also in the afternoon

Distances: Usually 8 - 14 km (5 - 8 mi). Max distance is 14 km (8 mi).

Surfaces: Trails are a mix of compact earth or dirt tracks, gravel roads, and rocky, uneven trails. You will also encounter ancient stone stairways and rocky steps. You may also find somewhat overgrown sections. 

Footing: Good to tricky. You must pay attention to where and how you place your feet. Proper hiking shoes or boots with thick soles with good treads are required. Sports sandals, running shoes, and tennis shoes are not adequate.

Specifics: The hiking on this tour is not too technical, but there are some significant elevation gains on some of the days so it is physically demanding. The trails are very good and we do have 4X4 back up in case of need, but at your added expense if you need to take a day off and want to transfer to the next rifugio by 4X4.

Hiking Poles: Highly recommended and your guides will mutter to themselves when they see you did not bring any poles. If you don’t bring your poles and ask your guide to use his or hers, they will refuse because they need them!   

Compared to the Cinque Terre: More difficult than the Cinque Terre mostly because the distances are longer. If you enjoyed the hikes on the Cinque Terre and want to hike more, then these 4 out of 5 rated “Challenging” tours are perfect for you. 

Compared to the Dolomites Grand Traverse: This tour is a tad easier than the DGT. If you did the DGT that we used to do for REI and enjoyed it, then you will enjoy this tour, and not have any issues. The only hike you will be repeating in its entirety is the day 5 hike from Fodara Vedla to Fanes. There is a little bit of repeat on the day 3 hike as you approach Fodara Vedla, and on the Day 4 hike when we return to Fodara Vedla after lunch. 

Other: This tour is not appropriate for first-time hikers. People with hip and knee issues might aggravate their pre-existing injuries. Hikers need to be fit and able to hike five hours daily. You should also be used to negotiating rocky, uneven terrain. You should also have good balance and understand where to place your feet when climbing or descending rocky, uneven terrain.

Other 4 out of 5 Tours: Dolomites "Classic" Hike is rated 4 out of 5. Our Dolomites Dolomites Grand Traverse is rated 4.5 out of 5, as is our Tuscany Mountains tour.

As a point of reference, what is a 1 out of 5 Activity rating? A 1 out of 5 rated tour is a tour without any hiking. Walks would be in towns, cities, and villages, and the countryside walks would be on paved, or gravel/dirt roads, and occasionally on some packed earth trails. Elevation gain and loss would be negligible.

As a point of reference, what is a 5 out of 5 Activity rating? A 5 out of 5 rated tour is a tour that would be physically challenging and technically difficult even for very fit and experienced hikers. The hikes would have steep ascents and descents on narrow, exposed trails with challenging footing, such as on scree fields, or through rock falls and boulders. Distances would be up to 25 km/16 miles per day and feature ascents of over 1,000 m/3,200 feet in a day. A 5 out of 5 tour would also mean that you would be carrying a heavier-than-normal pack. None of our tours are rated 5 out 5. Our most challenging tours are 4.5 out of 5, and they are the Dolomites Alta Via (because of some exposed trail that requires some technical expertise) and our Republic of Georgia tour which has some long hikes with over 1,000 meters of elevation gain.

Backpacks: On this tour you will be carrying more in your backpack than on other tours because: a) we are in the  mountains so 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; and c) you will be carrying your lunch on day 4;

Getting There: We pick you up at 10:00 am from the Hotel Plaza, in Mestre-Veniceon on Day 1. A 2.5 hour private transfer takes you to the trailhead and your luggage goes by 4X4 to Rifugio Faloria.

Air: The most convenient airport to the trip is Venice. Other airports in Northern Italy include Verona or Milan (Linate or Malpensa). For a complete list of Italian airports and a selection of low-cost airlines, see our "Transport Info" page.

Rail: You can get to within 100 meters to the pick up hotel by taking the train to Mestre-Venice train station. 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: the trip ends with a private van transfer to the Venice airport, arriving around 11:00 a.m. From there you can get a bus or water taxi into town or to the train station. See our "Transport Info" page for more information on transportation alternatives at the Venice airport.

If you book a trip with us you will receive detailed information about how to get to the start of your trip. Please e-mail us with any specific travel questions.

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