For hundreds of years, the Dolomites have been home to the Ladin people, who can trace their heritage back to the Romans. On this magical itinerary, you will travel across three of the Ladin valleys on foot — Val Gardena, Alta Badia, and Cortina d’Ampezzo — and through some of the Dolomites’ most spectacular scenery.
Along the way you’ll experience the mountainous wonders of the Dolomites as you hike through wild Alpine meadows, deciduous and evergreen forests, and lunar-like terrain in the shadow of soaring peaks and dramatic walls. This rugged mountain landscape alternates with the refined South Tyrolean towns of Ortesei and Corvara, and the Venetian village of Cortina d’Ampezzo. The Dolomites’ extensive network of rifugi, owned both privately and by the Italian Alpine Club, will fuel hikers with delicious, authentic food!
As you are enjoying these mountains, be sure to enjoy the Ladin people and the cuisine and crafts of this unique tri-cultural region. We find fanciful intricate woodcraft and meet local artisans as you journey through the valleys. The Ladin language — a Rhaeto-Romance language also referred to as neo-Latin — is officially recognized as a minority language in parts of the Dolomites. In the valleys where we are traveling, most signage is written in Italian, German, and Ladin. You may even learn to speak some Ladin yourself!
Val Gardena & Resciesa
In the morning, we meet our driver in Innsbruck, Austria, who transfers us to Ortisei, Italy in Val Gardena. Here, we meet our hiking guides for our first excursion into the famed Dolomites. Our drive through the mountains is a great introduction to the incredible scenery of South Tyrol. Home to three cultures - Italian, Austrian, and the native Ladin, most signage in Val Gardena is written in the three languages - Italian, German, and Ladin!
Ortisei is dominated by the Rasciesa Peak in Val Gardena. This valley is locally known for skiing and rock climbing as well as its woodcarving tradition, which has flourished here since the 17th century. The flank of the Odle mountain group, aptly named "needles" in Ladin, has been subject to long term erosion, revealing the fascinating earth and rock strata underlining the principal pale dolomite rock. We see an array of geological material including gray chalks dating back 240-250 million years, wine red porphyry from a relatively late volcanic phase, and a blood-red variety of sandstone.
From Ortisei, we take the cable car to Rifugio Malga Saltner (6,926') to the start of our hike. The trail is predominantly gentle with little elevation change, perfect for getting our hiking legs warmed up for the next few days. We stop for lunch at a rifugio and admire the jagged north faces of the dramatic Odle Group.
We continue downhill on a forested trail to the middle cable car station, Mount Seceda (5,545'), from where we have the option to ride the gondola into town or hike down. Enjoy some time to explore Ortesei's lively cobblestoned streets of town before heading to neighboring Selva, our home for the next two nights. Located at an altitude of 5,128', Selva is located at the end of the Val Gardena valley, at the foot of the impressive Sella Massif and Puez-Odle Natural Park. Selva boasts a vibrant town center with plenty of shops and cafes just a short walk from our hotel. We'll enjoy a 'Welcome' aperitivo and dinner at Hotel Krone to kick off our adventure together.
Hotel KroneSelva, Italy
For more than 100 years the Hotel Krone (Coronia) has been welcoming guests. Discover the warm, intimate atmosphere, with the flavor of old style charm in the center of the town of Selva. Enjoy the cosy and stylish rooms, and spa with panonoramic views of the surrounding mountains. End your days in the hotel’s fine restaurant savouring the renowned local specialities and sipping excellent regional wines.
Today is a rewarding full-day hike! Although this hike is longer in mileage, overall, the terrain is comparitively smooth for relatively easier hiking. Occupying the head of Val di Fassa and Val Gardena is the magnificent twin formation Sassolungo-Sassopiatto; meaning "long stone" and "flat stone". Seen from the air it resembles a horseshoe open at the northwest end, and accommodates two tiny glaciers. Intriguing explanations for the origin of the mountain are furnished by legendary sources. One says the cruel king Laiadro, responsible for the death of his mother, has been buried in the mountain and his outstretched empty hand is clearly visible from Passo Sella as the Cinque Dita (five fingers) rock points.
This hike offers high altitude panoramic walking with superb scenery; wildflowers grow in abundance on the grassy slopes populated by cows and marmots.We transfer to the Sella Pass (7,152'), then hike under Sassolungo and Sassopiatto on the famous Friedrich-August-Weg route. Following ancient shepherd routes, spectacular views take you to Rifugio Sassopiatto (7,546'), and on past hay chalets and hillsides coated in wildflowers. Circling around the mountains, we are surrounded by clumps of yellow Rhaetian poppies. We may opt to visit a camouflaged stone Rifugio Vicenza (7,391'), surrounded by towering rock peaks and a view north over Val Gardena. A level stretch of trail leads through a rocky pass, and on to Rifugio Comici (7,063') to stretch our legs. This loop hike now turns south through an unearthly landscape of tumbled boulders - Città dei Sassi ("city of stones") - arriving back at Rifugio Passo Sella from where we'll transfer back to Selva.
Puez Odle National Park
From the town of Selva di Val Gardena, we'll venture to the Dantercepies cable car whic will take us to Passo Gardena (6,955') for our hike amidst the Dolomites' signature rocky terrain to the Passo Cir (8,100') in the heart of the surrounding peaks. Eventually, the trail widens and follows undulating terrain leading us to the Forcella Ciampai Pass (7,760'), where we may pause to take in the stunning 360-degree views. From here, we may choose a longer option from the Passo Cir to the Sass Ciampac (8,770') with even more extensive views.
We descend an incredible switchback trail towards the Alta Badia, stopping at Rifugio Col Pradat for an exquisite lunch with a jaw-dropping view of the valley. Afteward, a short trail leads to a cable car where we have the option to hop on for a descent to the village of Colfosco or hike down a fairly steep, rocky trail (adding 1,000' descent). Our next two nights are spent in the town of Corvara located in the Alta Badia, or South Tyrol, in the heart of the Dolomites. It is a classic example of a South Tyrolean village and the jumping off point for many visitors to the region.
Before the First World War, this region was part of Austria, and the fusion of Austrian and Italian culture is evidenced in the food, architecture, and language. The local people (called "Ladini") speak Ladino, which is rooted in the Romansh language, one of the four official languages spoken in Switzerland and in northern Italy. The signs in this area are written first in Ladino, then in German, and lastly in Italian — perhaps a testament to the order in which people identify themselves.
Tonight, we're in for a taste of Ladino culture and gastronomic feast as we visit a local agriturismo, Maso Runch, a family-run farm dating to the 18th century. Buon appetito!
Hotel TableCorvara in Badia, Italy
The Hotel Tablé offers a refined environment and features bright and spacious rooms, each with a balcony. The on-site restaurant prepares both international cuisine and local Ladin dishes. A bar/pastry shop, reading room with fireplace, and spa are available for guests.
Santa Croce Sanctuary
After a hearty Alpine breakfast, we transfer to the church of San Cassiano to begin our hike to the Santa Croce Sanctuary at the base of the Sasso della Croce. We pass through a number of closely-knit hamlets with ancient timber farmhouses and barns, known as viles. These small communities are characteristic of Val Badia; in medieval times they were grouped together for protection, forming self-sufficient units with their own collective oven and well. The properties have been safeguarded from obsolescence thanks to the deeply-rooted and legal process of the maso chiuso — closed farm — introduced in the 6th century, whereby the eldest son is expected to carry on farm activities while other siblings must seek fortune elsewhere.
As our walk wends uphill through pine forest, we have great views of Santa Croce, the mountain groups of Conturines and Sella, and the Val Badian towns of La Villa, San Cassiano, Corvara, Pedraces, and San Leonardo. The sober white church was consecrated in 1484 and the original chapel was built in the 11th century, when a wealthy count of the Val Pusteria withdrew here to meditate in repentance for his harsh treatment of his subjects. He then donated his earthly possessions to the nearby abbey, the badia, hence the name, "Val Badia."
A charming rifugio here welcomes us for a short break on the panoramic terrace before we continue to the scenic Armentara meadows trail to a typical Ladino shepherd's house for lunch. Here, we will taste local specialties such as turtres (Ladino vegetable pastries), grilled veggies, and homemade cakes. We descend on foot to the town of Valgiarei where we will meet our private transfer to take us to our hotel.
Lagazuoi Massif & Averau & Cinque Torri
This morning, we start our day at Passo Falzarego (6,906'), where we take the cable car to Rifugio Lagazuoi, one of the highest rifugi in the Dolomites — sitting on the patio feels as though you're at the edge of the world, with views that stretch for miles on a clear day. We may see Marmolada (10,964') and Antelao (10,709'), the two highest peaks of the Dolomites.
The tragically famous rock fortress, il Castelletto, stands below us, the setting of incredible battles and harbor of caves and tunnels where the soldiers of WWI dwelled for months on end. If time allows, we also explore the restored galleries, trenches, and emplacements near the rifugio. So much fighting occurred here that it literally changed the face of the mountain by the end of the war.
After taking in this incredible scenery and sobering history, we take the return trip via cable car to start our hike, heading south into a beautiful valley. We pass Lago Limedes, and depending on the light, this beautiful little lake has a rich green color and offers beautiful reflections of Monte Averau. Heading up through a rocky canyon toward Forcella Averau, we work up an appetite as we approach Rifugio Averau. This offers the perfect spot for a delicious lunch of perhaps homemade gnocchi and ravioli as the rifugio is well-known for having one of the best restaurants in the Dolomites.
Well nourished, we descend to the Cinque Torri mountains (Five Towers). The famous profile isn't comprised of just five towers — there is also a mass of secondary boulders, fractured towers and peaks sprinkled liberally across the entire area. We enjoy a loop around the towers and the opportunity to learn more about the World War I history with visits to many sites along the route as we hike through restored trenches and explore the rugged dwellings of the soldiers who fought in The Great War.
We'll then transfer to Cortina d'Ampezzo, a charming resort town surrounded by stunning peaks and uniquely sheltered from the cold winds of the north, giving it a relatively mild climate year-round. Having hosted the 1956 Winter Olympics, Cortina enjoys a reputation for great skiing but also attracts hikers and climbers in the summer as a base for adventuring in the surrounding stunning mountains. This inviting town is our home for the next three nights. This evening's dinner will be savoured in Hotel Cortina's renowned restaurant.
Hotel CortinaCortina d'Ampezzo, Italy
The Hotel Cortina is one of the oldest hotels in Cortina d’Ampezzo, dating back to 1870. The renovated building has retained all of its traditional Ampezzan charm and attention to detail, while adding modern services and amenities. Set in front of Cortina’s 19th-century bell tower, the hotel offers a fitness center, restaurant, and a terrace bar overlooking the Corso Italia.
Fanes-Sennes-Braies Natural Park
This walk to the Alpe di Sennes uplands offers much diversity of scenery and habitats, home to veritable hordes of ibex, chamois, roe deer and marmots. As with Day 2, although this is a longer hike, overall, the terrain is comparitively smooth for relatively easier hiking. Grandiose Dolomite groups headed by the Croda Rossa are foremost features, their lower flanks cloaked by flourishing woods of evergreen conifer and deciduous species.
The hike begins at the Rifugio Malga Ra Stua (5,538'), a cozy hut-come-dairy farm set in a valley lying between the Croda Rossa and Lavinores Dolomite groups. The name "stua" comes from "dam" (the nearby stream used to be harnessed for energy to operate machinery for the medieval quarry of red stone next to the hut).
Our first stretch takes us to scenic views from Campo Croce (5,814') where we'll head to Rifugio Biella on a rocky trail through dwarf pines, into a lovely flowered basin, and past mountain lakes along the foot of the impressive Piccola Croda Rossa. We'll ascend to Rifugio Biella (7,634'), with its stunning panoramic views of the Tofane and Pelmo Massifs. We may savor a classic rifugio lunch here, or at Rifugio Sennes further down the trail. After lunch, we join a gentler jeep track, through undulating terrain with masses of gentian, edelweiss, and marmots and hike south downhill to Rifugio Sennes.
The route takes us along a panoramic ridge with views of the Croda del Becco, Croda Rossa, and Cristallo before a long descent back to Rifugio Malga Ra Stua.Enjoy dinner on your own at one of the town's many authentic and highly reputed restaurants.
Croda da Lago Massif
Today, we transfer to Passo Giau, the start of a beautiful hike around the Croda da Lago Massif (7,335'). We set out on the grassy Col Piombin, (a name stemming from past lead mining) and hike over the Forcella Giau (7,742') with inspiring views of the Tofana and Lastoi de Formin. Sharp ears may hear the peeps of playful marmots.
The path drops to cross a few streams and then gains up to the earthy saddle of Forcella Ambrizzola (7,470'). We enter the spectacular ragged valley amid the Croda da Lago and Lastoi de Formin range and admire the vistas of these impressive Dolomitic formations. We continue to Rifugio Croda da Lago Palmieri (6,699') for our last delicious Alpine lunch, overlooking the prominent Tre Cime di Lavaredo and its neighbors towering above the Cortina valley.
We enjoy a more forested descent along babbling brooks before returning to Cortina, culminating our full week of hiking the Dolomites' most iconic routes. Our adventures are celebrated together over a delectable dinner at one of .
After breakfast and a 2-hour transfer where we can admire the landscape one last time, we bid farewell at the Venice airport.
Please note that this is a typical itinerary, and actual activities may vary due to weather conditions, local events, and to allow serendipity to play a hand in your experience. Accommodations are as outlined in the itinerary, although we reserve the right to change these or the order visited should the need arise.
Jun 25-Jul 2, 2023
Jul 24-31, 2023
Sep 10-17, 2023
Sep 24-Oct 1, 2023
From $5,695 Per Person
First two reserved:$395
Additional (not guaranteed for nights 5 & 6)$895
See single supplement policy below.
MAKE IT PRIVATE
9+ Guests: $5,695 per person
5 to 8 Guests: $6,195 per person
Make it Private price is based on Land Cost only, and a guarantee of the specified number of guests in double occupancy. For groups smaller than the numbers shown, or those requiring single occupancy, we reserve the right to adjust the per person price. Additionally, some trips have minimum group sizes. Please call 1-800-941-8010 for details.
Accommodations (hotels, tents, cruise cabins) are based on double occupancy. A single supplement is paid by participants who specifically request single accommodations, subject to availability. If you reserve at least 120 days prior to departure, you may be eligible for a reduced or free single supplement.* This is generally limited to the first one or two solo travelers to reserve, and the reduction is outlined in the pricing for each trip. Please note, free or reduced single supplements are not combinable with other offers or promotions.
If you are traveling alone and wish to share accommodations, we will try to match you with a roommate of the same gender. If you reserve at least 120 days ahead and a roommate is not available, you will only be charged a “forced” single supplement in the amount of 50% of the standard single supplement* (unless otherwise noted in the detailed itinerary). Single accommodations are limited so you are encouraged to reserve early!
*This may not apply to certain trips with unique accommodation arrangements. Please see specific trip information for more details.
Boundless Journeys' trips are designed for energetic and flexible individuals who like to be active and have a spirit of adventure and a positive attitude. This trip is rated 3+, moderate to strenuous, on a scale of 1-5 (5 being the most strenuous). We hike full days through spectacular mountainous terrain. Most days include long elevation gains and losses ranging from 1,000 to 3,400 feet; hiking duration ranging from three to five hours, and mileage ranging from 5.5 to 8.5 miles. Hiking is at elevations up to 7,470'.
Trail conditions vary greatly, including a mix of wide dirt paths, hiking trails with rocks and roots, rough, large rocky steps, loose scree, and shallow stream crossings. Uneven terrain underfoot requires agility and stable footing and balance. We request that you bring hiking boots with full ankle support and two trekking poles, which help provide comfort, significant stability, and most importantly, enjoyment. Our hikes take us through farmland, forest, rocky open terrain, and over mountain passes. Each hike includes climbing and descending, sometimes steeply. The trails occasionally travel through exposed sections with drop-offs and traverses steep hillsides or on rocky switchbacks, which may pose an issue for those with vertigo or a fear of heights. Feel free to call our office for further details.
Most Convenient Arrival Airport:Innsbruck Airport, Innsbruck, Austria (airport code INN)
Most Convenient Departure Airport: Venice Airport Marco Polo, Venice, Italy (airport code VCE)
The Dolomites are usually warmer and receive less precipitation than the rest of the Alps. However, as in all mountainous areas, the weather can change suddenly and can vary greatly between regions within the Dolomites. In the summer, from mid-June to early August, days are pleasantly warm with cool nights and the occasional storm. September tends to be clear and fairly warm with good consistent weather through to the middle of October.
You can expect a mix of warm, sunny days sometimes punctuated by rainy, cooler weather. You should always be prepared for sudden changes in the weather while you are out on the trail. Keep in mind that elevation gain and loss will also affect the temperature.
In the Dolomites, you'll find some of the heartiest and homiest cuisine in all the Alps. The combination of the cultural influences here results in dishes ranging from traditional Italian pastas, polenta, and game meats, to Austrian strudels and sauerkrauts, to Ladin soups, stews, and cakes. The northern valleys, where we will be traveling, pride themselves on delicious breads and thinly sliced speck, made exclusively in the region. There is a variety of memorable wines from the area, as well, both red and white, and several types of grappa.
Hiking on uneven terrain, 4-5 hours and 5.5-8.5 miles per day.
This trip can be your own adventure by taking over one of our scheduled dates, or we can request a fresh one.
By: Matt Holmes
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