DOLOMITE EXPLORER

Dolomite Explorer - Italy

12 Days $4800 ex Verona

Accommodation

11 Nights Luxury Hotel
Optional Refugio 1 Night

Transportation

Mostly on foot
Transfers included

Included Meals

11 Breakfasts
0 Lunches
9 Dinners

Trip Grade

Category 3
High Heart Rate Holiday

From where I am standing, 50 million years ago I would be underwater instead of on the summit of what is considered the most beautiful mountain range on the planet; the Dolomites. Next to me is an eight-foot-tall metal cross standing atop the Croda Fiscalina. Behind me is the trail back to one of Europe’s most beautiful Rifugios, the Pian di Cengia, and in front of me is a 1000 foot cliff that drops away directly down to the grassy valley below and my home for the next 6 days.

It’s difficult to argue with the proposition that the Dolomites is the most beautiful mountain range on Earth. From my vantage point, to convince me otherwise would be impossible. 

Sliding out and upwards from translucent green valleys, spires and towers of rock, sometimes standing alone sometimes converging into enormous plateaus, project toward the heavens exceeding 3000 meters. Even during summer, some of these summits still hold onto the winter’s snow. And the rock itself is a kaleidoscope of colour.

Through the verdant valleys and among the giant pillars of rock, hiking trails wriggle and turn, giving the leisurely walker and the adventurous climber alike, access to a natural cathedral of limestone that seems to sprawl forever.

“A Traveller who has visited all the other mountain-regions of Europe, and remains ignorant of the scenery of the Dolomite Alps, has yet to make acquaintance with Nature in one of her loveliest and most fascinating aspects”. 

John Ball Guide to the Eastern Alps (1868)

“The Dolomites! It was a full fifteen years since I had first seen sketches by a great artist not long since passed away, and their strange outlines and still stranger colouring had haunted me ever since. I thought of them as every summer came around; I regretted them every Autumn; I cherished dim hopes about them every Spring.” 

Amelia Anne Blanford Edwards from Untrodden Peaks and Unfrequented Valleys: A Midsummer Ramble in the Dolomites 1873.

Like so many mountain ranges in the European Alps, the Dolomites are cherished by those who love nature. As such, a quirky mix of Germanic and Italian culture collide in these mountains. Idyllic Refugios nestled into quaint gullies or atop grand ridgelines, provide shelter and sustenance (read cheese, cured meats, pasta, wine, and beer) to those exploring this superb landscape.

Down in the valleys, small villages dot the landscape, each with their own church tolling their bells each hour and just as importantly their own gelateria. 

This is the Tyrol, a culture and people neither Italian nor Austrian, with their own special place in history and in the respective constitutions of each nation that it straddles.

It is hard to imagine that this was once the frontline during WWI and WWII. But up in those spectacular mountains are the remains of trenches, barbed wire, tunnels, and ammunition, a frontier territory that has seen Empires come and go.

The Dolomites really is a special place for reasons not always apparent at first sight. It has a depth and complexity matched only by its unique landscape, and our Dolomite Explorer will showcase all this and more in 12 days of luxury, adventure and exploration.

Valley near pian di cengia dolomites
Dolomite trails near Pian di Cengia

The Journey

Check into your hotel and meet your other travel companions. Free time to yourself.

Bad Moos is near the town of Sexten at the foot of some of the most iconic Dolomite formations. Our accommodation is out of town (we have the closest accommodation to the mountains and trails) however there is a free shuttle that can take you back into town. Tonight we will have a briefing on how the week will work, the options we have available for you, the weather, the trails, etc. (B,D)

The “Smuggler Trail” runs along a ridgeline that separates Italy from Austria. It was used by smugglers to transport illegal cigarettes and alcohol across the border. The trail snakes it’s way along the ridge following WWI and WWII military placements. Mussolini used this ridge to build secret bunkers as he never quite trusted his ally, Hitler. 

We will follow this trail as part of our Dolomite hike and have lunch either on the ridge or at a lovely Rifugio lower down the mountain. This trek is intended to be a good introduction to the week ahead, as we will explain the history of the area and it will provide panoramic views of the main Sexten Dolomite massif.

5 – 6 hours (break included) – ca. 400m altitude difference – medium difficulty (B,D)

Mountain Biking Tour: Today we take you on a wonderful Mountain Tour away from the roads and higher up the mountain with spectacular views of the valleys and ranges. This will not be too difficult. We will be using e-bikes which will make the journey of 60-65 kilometers quite a bit easier.

6 hours (break included) – ca. 300m altitude difference – easy, medium difficulty (B,D)

Today we will cross the Val de Sesto onto the Dolomite side so that we get up close to the mountains that have provided a surreal backdrop so far. A short bus ride to Kreuzbergpasse, we will head up into the forest line before exiting at around 1900m above the trees. Bunkers from WWII can be seen throughout this area, and the typical Dolomite rock and formation creates a dramatic landscape for us to walk through. Our guide will describe how the area was formed over the millennia to give us an understanding in the coming days the significance of the area.

We will then traverse along the base of a dolomite wall before reaching Burstall Castelliere at 2150 m. From here we are afforded amazing views down into Sexten and back toward Kreuzbergpass. After a quick 30 minute descent, we will have lunch at Rudu Hutta (maybe a Schnitzel or some Pasta). After lunch, we will head for home down through a dreamlike forest landscape filled with wildflowers, birds, larch trees and pencil pines.

4 – 5 hours (break included) – ca. 550m altitude difference – easy trekking (B,D)

Today we head deep into the Dolomite massif and the UNESCO World Heritage site. From our hotel, we will head left up a zig-zag trail toward the impressive Zwoelferkofel. This enormous towering rock dominates our walk as we hike above the tree line above 2000 meters. Our first stop will be the wonderful Rifugio Zsigmondi for a little apple strudel and a coffee at 2224 meters before we head towards Rifugio Pian di Cengia or Rifugio Locatelli.
Our final destination is only about an hour from here across a beautiful green high field and then up over the Piso Fiscalino at 2519 meters. Your local Rifugio for the night has amazing views of the Dolomites. 

We will have the option of a short walk along World War One trenches toward Croda Fiscalina, a small summit with awesome views of the Fiscalina valley and the immense Dolomite massif.

We finish the day with a delicious mountain meal of 3 courses before a well-deserved sleep.

Tonight you will stay at a local mountain Rifugio. The rooms are dorm style. The imperial influenced food is excellent and the facilities are simple but accommodating. There are no showers. You will have to pack an overnight pack for these 2 days in the mountains.

5 hours (break included) – ca. 1100m altitude difference – medium difficulty (B,D)

Via Ferrata Option: Today we can offer those that wish to try their hand at Via Ferrata (or “Iron Roads” in Italian) the Monte Paterno. This is a beginner traverse of an important and beautiful mountain range that featured during the First World War. 

Via Ferrata was invented in these mountains and gave access to parts of the mountains that are not available to normal hikers. The activity involves wearing a helmet and a harness and clipping into fixed steel cables that are bolted into the rock walls. There are places that are exposed to high drop-offs. If you have a phobia of heights then this may not be an option for you. If you decide not to do this option we will have a guide to escort you through the mountains back to our hotel.

For those who wish to pass the Via Ferrata Option, you will be lead on an easier mountain trail with stunning views of the surrounding peaks.

6 hours (break included) – ca. 200m altitude difference up and 1300m down – difficult (B,D)

Today is gazetted as a rest day. You can use the spa and sauna facilities at the hotel or jump on the bus and head into Sexten for a wander. For those that wish to continue to explore you can join the walking tour conducted by the Alpine Schule through the hotel (this is free). (B,D)

One of our favorites walks as it takes us through beautiful meadows carpeted with flowers. We learn about farming in this area and also above traditional medicine through the use of trees, shrubs, and flowers. From the meadow, we head up through idyllic pine forests and finally to a meadow with amazing views of the Dolomites. From there we head to Casella di Fuori at just over 2000 meters which divides Val Fiscalina from Val Campo di Dento. 

A steep down on the other side we will then take an easier trail eventually leading to the Rifugio Tre Scarperi, which serves some of the best food in Italy.

5 hours (break included) – ca. 800m altitude difference – medium (B,D)

Today we farewell the mountains and head back to Verona for 2 nights. The remainder of the day is free to relax and wander Verona. (B,D)

We start the day with a guided tour of this ancient town, with our local guide explaining its history and a few of its’ secrets. Then in the evening, we have planned a final dinner together and then off to the Opera to see Carmen in the ancient Roman Forum dating back to 30 AD. Overnight in Verona. (B)

Today we all depart hopefully off to another Italian destination or back home. (B)

Note: For those that wish to stay extra nights in Verona we can arrange this. We can also arrange for ongoing train tickets to and from Verona.

Journey Extensions

Check out our Journey Extensions for those that want to stay a little longer or try something different along the way.

Pouring wine in France

Have some extra time in Verona on hand before or after your trip? We have some wine degustation tours leading you into the well known Trentino-Alto Adige. This is the perfect way to start to your trip, enjoying some wine with your companions and getting to see more of Veronas’ beautiful Hinterland.

For more information Please contact us directly on info@noroads.com.au.

Please note a minimum number of 4 participants is required for the tasting. We will notify you in time if there is enough interest and if the tasting is going ahead.

Includes

  • Led by a qualified guide
  • All accommodation in towns and on the mountain
  • All meals as outlined in Itinerary
  • All transfers to and from the Dolomites
  • Park permits
  • Welcome dinner and Celebration dinner
  • All activities as per itinerary including via ferrata and bike ride

If you are traveling alone and do not wish to share accommodation, a Single Supplement of $1050 will apply.

Excludes

  • International airfares
  • Travel Insurance
  • Arrival and Departure Transfers in Verona

Your Guides and Safety

Our lead guides are fully trained, registered and licensed IFMGA members who work for us regularly. All mountain lovers, they have skied, climbed and hiked many of the routes around the area and spend their days off, exploring the Dolomites. All are Guides of the Alpineschule Dolomite.

For the Via Ferrata section all our guides are fully qualified and we have a 1-5 Guide to Climber Ratio, so it is very safe.

Our Dolomites Explorer trip is for those who love beautiful natural places. It is for those that love to get out into the mountains, try new things such as Via Feratta but also appreciate very comfortable accommodation, excellent food, and great guides (if I don’t say so myself). I love this trip because it has so much history, it is in the most beautiful mountain range on the planet with fascinating geology and the food and wine of the region are superb. You will love it!

Angelo
Dolomite Guide

Accommodation

We will be employing luxury accommodation throughout this expedition. The hotel in Verona is located in the center of town. 

The hotel near the Dolomites is the Dolomitenhof, a luxury spa hotel with amazing accommodation, meals, and views of the area. This will be our home for 8 days. We will unpack our bags here on Day 2 and repack them again on Day 10.

The Best Time To Travel To The Dolomites

The best time to walk the Dolomites is mid-June to the end of July and then September. June has fewer people and the flowers start to bloom then and into July. August is holiday time in Europe and there are just too many people on the trails. September sees the trails free up again.

Meals On The Trip

No matter where we take you, food is an important component of any No Roads Expeditions trip. Europe is no exception.

All meals are outlined within the itinerary. 

Breakfast: Breakfast buffet with fresh bread rolls and croissants, bacon and eggs, and a large selection of cold meats and cheeses, home-made juices, cakes and muesli

Lunch: These are usually taken at a local Rifugio where they make fresh pasta, apple strudels and more. Lunches are to be paid directly to the Rifugio which gives you the widest selection of meals, tasting whatever you feel like. These meals are usually between 10 Euro and 15 Euro. No Lunches are included in the trip as we would like you to have the option to choose whatever you like no matter where we are.

Dinner: 5-course gourmet dinner with a sumptuous buffet with fresh salads, vegetables, and antipasti. Also a cheeseboard with local and Italian cheeses and fruit corner Sundays aperitif reception followed by a gala dinner.

Dolomite trail
WWI bunker dolomites
Group in the dolomites italy
Dolomite landscape

The Dolomites are certainly one of the most beautiful landscapes you will ever travel through. However not many people have heard of them or know them well so you may have a few questions for us.  The following are the most common however if you have another question please let us know or the answer may be found in our Trip Notes section.

Whats Is Via Ferrata?

Via Ferrata is Italian for “Iron Road”. This “new” sport had very serious origins as mountaineers were employed to establish fixed cables through these mountains so that soldiers could form lines and access points into enemy territory. The Dolomites is riddled with WW1 remains, with bunkers, barbed wire and even rooms cut into the rock face. Today Via Ferrata is a sport in itself, giving hikers that know what they are doing, access to parts of the mountain once only accessible to trained mountaineers.

Those undertaking Via Ferrata must wear a helmet and a harness with attached carabiners. The carabiners are locked into the metal cable that is fixed to the rock face. If you lose your footing the carabiner and harness will stop you from falling any further than a couple of meters.

The Via Ferrata we have planned for this trip is for beginners and is considered quite easy. We will have a trained professional guide from the Alpineschule who is experienced in introducing people to Via Ferrata.

You must have a head for heights and are ok with exposed rock faces. This is a great way to see the Dolomites, giving you access to parts not available to normal hikers and is highly recommended.

And no you don’t have to do this portion of the trip. For those that opt for a more leisurely day, you will be taken by one of our guides for a lovely hike and the group will meet together in the afternoon for a well deserved refreshment.

What Is The Bike Ride Like?

We have planned a mountain bike day in the Dolomites which will take us high into the mountains, through lush pastures, forests and with great views of this superb landscape. The trip will be led by a registered Mountain Bike Guide. Helmets and bike are included.


The bikes we use are e-bikes (they’re are the battery powered ones) so the riding itself is quite easy even though the total distance traveled is approximately 60 kilometers.


So if you are thinking about this part of the trip maybe you should pack your lycra.

Can You Tell Me About The Night In The Rifugio?

Rifugios are well-appointed mountain huts which are dotted throughout the European Alps. They are usually run by mountaineering associations and local communities. They usually consist of a common meal area and then dormitory-style bedrooms with some possessing private rooms. Bathroom facilities are usually shared.

They are a great place to meet other travelers and are a wonderful place to stay and eat. Rifugio are an important part of mountain culture and this is why we have added this into the trip. It will also provide for a great location to start our Via Ferrata the next day rather than walking into the mountains from the valley.

For those that are staying in the Rifugio, you will just need to bring your toiletries and some spare underwear with you. All bedding is supplied.

If you do not wish to stay overnight, that is not a problem, our guide will walk you back to our accommodation back down in the valley for you to stay there for the night.

Via Ferrata in the Dolomites.
The Via ferrata provides incredible views of the Drei Zinnen!
A beautiful ride through the Sud Tyrol!
The small eating area in Rifugio Pian di Cengia
The dorm bedroom of Pian di Cengia

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