Lake Garda & the Dolomites - GGDO
the ultimate Italian-Alpine experience
A complete tour through the world’s most beautiful mountains, between Verona, Lake Garda, Trento, Marmolada, Passo Sella, Val Gardena, Val Badia, Cortina d’Ampezzo & Venice
The enormous pinnacles and towers of the majestic Dolomites are the crowning glory of Italy’s northern border, and play host to our alpine adventure. A fairyland where lush meadows nestle against towering limestone peaks and charming little towns, with beautiful lakes, among which the great Lake Garda, and coloured houses, in the valleys. Small family run hotels and comfortable ‘rifugi’ (mountain huts) welcome grateful hikers with delectable cuisine, the ubiquitous grappa and steaming cappuccino. Drink in this dramatic limestone setting as we make our way through the different parts of this beautiful mountain range. Because there is not one ‘Dolomites’, on this special tour we show you the distinct ranges, all equally beautiful, but all different. As well will you immerse yourself in the different cultures: this is Italy, but apart from the Italian, also the Tyrolean (Austrian) and ‘Ladino’ culture are still very present in the area.
We start our tour from the charming small town of Garda, on the eastern shore of Lake Garda, still very Mediterranean, a good start for our first easy walks. We’ll travel up by cable car to Mt. Baldo, the great mountain range which runs all along Lake Garda. Here we make a beautiful roundwalk, with great views over Lake Garda and the valley of the river Adige. Then we settle in Riva del Garda, still on the same lake, but with a very much more Alpine character. From here we discover the Brenta Dolomites, a minor, but definitely not less interesting chain. We’ll explore the charming small town of Trento, with its wonderfully decorated houses and impressive castle. From here we make a daytrip by cable car, crossing the Adige River, onto Monte Bondone, Trento’s ‘house mountain’, with amazing views over the Adige valley, its castles and its vineyards.
From here, we then travel to the great glacier of the Marmolada, and explore the Sella range, before settling in our next base in the Alta Badia valley, the heartland of the ‘Ladino’ culture. From here we explore different part of the Fanes-Sénnes range, may be the prettiest part of the Dolomites. We hike along well-marked paths that lead into majestic mountain scenery. Stroll through alpine meadows carpeted with wildflowers, where by day we soak up the invigorating mountain air on our unforgettable ascent towards alpine bliss. On one night we relax in the warm embrace of our alpine lodging, savouring hearty gourmet cuisine. The last few days we spend in charming Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy’s most renowned mountain resort, from where we walk to what may be the most beautiful peaks of the area, the Tre Cime di Lavaredo. At the end of the walk we descend to the Misurina Lake and then back to Cortina again. Here we have a last memorable evening, with again a great dinner. Our trip ends in Cortina the next morning. It’s possible to spend a few more days here. From here it’s also easy to travel down to Venice, either by shuttle bus or by private minibus.
The premises where we will stay are all very special, full of historical interest. The standard of the tour is 3/4 stars.
Please note: this is a moderately easy tour which is suitable for those who have some experience with walking and a good general physical condition. Most of the walks are on good paths, some of them just recently restored by the local authorities. Average walking times: approx 5 hours each day.
|This tour is guided by a professional guide from EquipeNatura , the specialists for Lake Garda & the Dolomites.|
Day 0 Verona
Arrival in Verona in case you arrive a day earlier. In this case you have the possibility to explore this beautiful city, which origins go back to ancient times. For example pay a visit to the famous Roman amphitheatre and see the romantic ‘Balcony of Romeo & Juliet’.
N.B. Verona can easily be reached by train. There are regular AV (High-Speed), Eurostar and Intercity trains from Milan, Venice, Bologna, Florence and Rome. Also does Verona have an international airport. Several hotels can be booked for you in Verona, according to your wish (either ‘downtown’ centrally located, or near the train station, ranging from 3 to 5-star).
Day 1 : (Verona) Garda
The starting point of our tour is the beautiful city of Verona, known above all for the famous balcony of ‘Romeo & Juliette’, but it origins go back to Roman times, of which the huge Roman Arena is an amazing testimonial. Here, at 3 PM in the afternoon, we will meet our tour leader and fellow travellers and travel by private bus to the charming city of Garda, the ‘Pearl of Lake Garda’, dominated by its ‘Rocca’ (rock) with an abbey and the remains of a medieval castle. Here we first settle in our hotel and then make a relaxed afternoon walk. This walk along the lake shore brings us onto the peninsula of San Vigilio, already described by the Roman writer Catullus. The atmosphere of this small medieval hamlet is like a fairy tale. Here we have our ‘aperitivo’ and a short introduction on what lies ahead for the next week. You then may wish to spend some time here on the tranquil lake, have a drink, or relax in the park. In the late afternoon we either walk back or travel back by bus to Garda. In the evening we go out for dinner together in a nice restaurant which offers the typical regional cuisine.
Total walking: approx. 1,5 hours. Meals included: 1 dinner
Day 2 : Garda & its Rocca & the Peninsula of Sirmione
After a leisurely breakfast we make a wonderful roundwalk, a first test for our hill walking skills. First we through the village and buy some picnic supplies, then we climb up towards the abbey, a steep but short and pleasant climb, rewarded by beautiful views over the lake. After a visit to the abbey (which also sells very good chocolate!) we walk along the remains of the medieval town wall onto the ‘Rocca’, the mountain overlooking Garda and the whole southern part of Lake Garda. This is an ideal place for a picnic with a view. After lunch, we descend back to Garda again. (For those who want to opt out, there is the chance to wander around the medieval alleys or relax on the beautiful lake front, drink a coffee, have a full lunch here or simply grab some ‘panini’ and an ice cream.) Then, in the afternoon we go for a short, scenic boat ride, across the southern part of the lake to Sirmione. Here we make a nice roundwalk and visit the roman villa on the beautiful headland. Those who want can also visit the castle. In the late afternoon we travel back by boat to Garda.
Total walking: approx. 3,5 + 1,5 hours. Meals included: 1 breakfast, 1 picnic lunch
Day 3 : Along Malcesine and the Monte Baldo to Riva del Garda
Today we travel from southern, ‘Mediterranean’ shore of Lake Garda, to the northern, ‘alpine’ side of the Lake. We pass many photogenic villages and then stop in the beautiful village of Malcesine, where the great German writer Goethe loved to stay at the castle. We’ll travel up by a cable car, with rotating cabins, to assure us views at 360°, all the way up to Mount Baldo, the great mountain range which runs all along Lake Garda. Here we make a beautiful roundwalk, with great views over Lake Garda and the valley of the river Adige. We’ll either walk back down to Malcesine or take the cable car again. Then we travel on to our next base, at the most northern point of the lake, in the charming small city of Riva del Garda. We stay in the medieval town centre, with its colourful painted houses. Here we notice that we have also passed a ‘cultural border’, which was also the border between Austria and Italy. After this long day, we enjoy some relaxation in our hotel. In the evening we go for dinner in a nearby restaurant, under the medieval arches of Riva, which offers the typical regional cuisine of the Italian Lakes region. A drink on the lakeshore square is the perfect end to a beautiful day.
Total walking time: around 4-5 hours. Total driving: around 1 hour. Meals included: 1 breakfast, 1 dinner.
Day 4 : Riva del Garda – Lake Molveno – Andalò (Brenta Dolomites)
After breakfast this morning, we travel by private minibus to Molveno, located on a beautiful alpine lake, one of the deepest in the Dolomites, at the foot of the towering Brenta Dolomites, a lesser known part of the Dolomites. By cable car we make our way up onto the mountain range, and then enjoy a beautiful, but relatively easy roundwalk, a good introduction to what the Dolomites have to offer! We’ll have a picnic lunch in the mountains, or if we wish we can enjoy some local specialties at a ‘rifugio’ (mountain hut). After lunch we make our way back down into the valley, but now we walk down to Andalò, a scenic descending walk. We have a short stop for a drink here, before travelling our bus picks us up and brings us to our next base, the beautiful city of Trento, the most northern Italian speaking city. We settle in our hotel for some relaxation. Our hotel is centrally located and therefore, before going for dinner, we can already enjoy some time wandering around the historical city centre, with its beautifully painted facades.
Total walking time: around 4-5 hours. Total driving: around 1,5 hour. Meals included: 1 breakfast, 1 dinner
Day 5 : Trento & Monte Bondone
After breakfast this morning, we walk towards the Adige River, and from here we travel up by cable car, over the river, onto the ‘house mountain’ of Trento, Monte Bondone. Although at a very short distance, this area has kept an amazingly quiet, rural atmosphere. We make a beautiful panoramic roundwalk here, with beautiful views over the city of Trento and the river Adige, with a backdrop of the different ranges of Dolomites! We’ll have a picnic lunch in the mountains, or if we wish we can enjoy some local specialties at one of the first ‘agriturismo’s’ of Italy. After lunch we make our way back to Trento. Now we have some more time to look around in this beautiful small town. Trento is the most northern Italian speaking city, on the frontier between Mediterranean and Alpine cultures. And it seems to have taken the best of both worlds! You can enjoy some time wandering around the historical city centre, with its beautifully painted facades, or visit one of its great museums. Of course also the Castello del Buonconsiglio, where the Council of Trent was staged in the 16th century, is definitely worth a visit, if alone for the famous Cycle of the Months, one of the most fascinating secular pictorial cycles of the late Middle Ages. In the late afternoon, we go for an ‘aperitivo’ with our tour leader and new fellow travelers for a short briefing on what lies ahead for the next week. In the evening we go out for dinner together in a nice restaurant which offers the typical regional cuisine.
Total walking time: around 4-5 hours. Total driving: around 1,5 hour. Meals included: 1 breakfast, 1 dinner
Day 6 : Mount Marmolada – Sella Dolomites – Val Gardena – Lavilla / Val Badia
After breakfast this morning, we travel by private minibus up North and then penetrate into a landscape dominated by enormous pinnacles that must be seen to be believed – the mighty Dolomites! We first travel up the Adige valley and then into the Val di Fiemme, passing some charming villages along the road. Here we can make a short coffee stop and buy our stuff for a good picnic lunch, before travelling on towards one of the most beautiful peaks of the Dolomites, Mount Marmolada. Here we make a great walk, not to the top, but along the Lake of Fedaia and down into the valley of Canazei, with spectacular views on Mount Marmolada. If the weather permits we can also take the lift up onto the Marmalada and make a beautiful roundwalk. After our walk we drive to the famous Sella pass, from where we walk down into the Gardena valley, one of the prettiest valleys of the massive and may be have a drink in one of the villages along the road. At the end of the afternoon we arrive in the Alta Badia valley, dotted with lovely alpine villages, vibrant meadows and pastures. Our base here is in LaVilla. In the evening we can take a sauna, and then enjoy a dinner with local specialties in our hotel.
Total walking time: around 3-4 hours. Total driving: around 2,5 hours. Meals included: 1 breakfast , 1 dinner.
Day 7 : LaVilla – Puez Plateau
After breakfast this morning, we walk (optional bus) to the small village of Colfosco, from where we start our hike onto the Puez Plateau. A first stop can be made at a beautifully located mountain hut, overlooking the whole Val Gardena (optional 4WD-ride to here). Then we continue our climb onto the high plain. Here we make a beautiful walk, with amazing views, towards the mountain hut, (‘Rifugio’ or ‘Utia’, in local dialect) of Puez. We pass along the impressive Ciampani Mountain, following partly the ‘Alta Via delle Dolomiti’. Somewhere near the hut (or at the hut itself) we enjoy a (picnic) lunch in the mountains. Then, along the edge of the Vallunga and the Col Dalla Sone we continue our walk on the high plain. We come along the Gherdenaccia pass and then start the descent, with great views on the Fanes – Sennes range in front of us, all the way down to our hotel in LaVilla. In the late afternoon we recover in the sauna to relax from our hard walk and in the evening there are several options to go for a nice dinner.
Total walking time: around 5-6 hours. Meals included: 1 breakfast.
Day 8 : Val Badia – San Vigilio – Pederù – Fanes Valley
We enjoy a hearty breakfast in the hotel to prepare for our hike up into the Fanes-Sénnes range. A short scenic drive by private minibus takes us to San Vigilio. Here we have the option to visit a very interesting museum on the Dolomites. Then we start to climb up into the valley, until reaching the mountain restaurant of Pederù, where we can stop for a quick snack. From here, our hike starts as we ascend into the real mountains, climbing towards the pass of the Fanes Valley, underneath the towering Col de Ru (2076 m.). From this pass on the path flattens out, and it becomes a very scenic easy walk into a quintessential Alpine setting – the splendid Fanes valley. We hike along two spectacular alpine lakes, and end our walk ends at the beautifully located – and luxurious – mountain hut of Fanes, where we’ll spend the night.
Total walking time: around 4-5 hours. Total driving: around 1 hour. Meals included: 1 breakfast, 1 dinner.
Day 9 : Fanes – Alta Via – Lagazuoi – Cortina d’Ampezzo
Today’s hike starts directly from the front door of our hut after breakfast. This part of our journey sees us enter the real world of the Dolomites with the presence of the great mountains – Cima Scotòni and the Cima Fànes Sud. These mountains are perforated by mazes of the operations during World War I (1915-18), bitterly fought in this area. We hike the ‘Alta Via’ of the Dolomites (also called the ‘High Route’ number 1), a long-distance footpath that traverses the Dolomites from north to south. Our route passes alongside some of the most impressive scenery of the area. At the end of the afternoon we reach the shores of the gentle lake of Lagazuòi and the Rifugio Lagazuoi (2773m) which is awesomely sited, with world-class mountain views. Here we can enjoy a drink, before travelling down by cable car into the valley. We’ll experience one of the world’s finest views here: the surrounding valleys disappear into the shadows, highlighting rock pinnacles which—still exposed to sunlight—take on an extraordinary palette of ever-changing colors. Down in the valley our minibus waits for us and brings us back to Cortina.
Total walking time: around 5-6 hours (several shorter options). Meals included: 1 breakfast, 1 lunch, 1 dinner.
Day 10 : Cortina & the Tre Cime di Lavaredo
After the challenging walks of the last two days, we make an easier walk today. But a splendid one, around the Tre Cime (‘three tops’) of Lavaredo, one of the most famous postcard images of the Dolomites. A short drive brings us to the Misurina Lake, and then up to the Auronzo hut, from where our walk starts: along the three mountain tops of Lavaredo we walk towards the Rifugio Locatelli (Drei Zinnen Hutte). Then we cross to the other side of the mountain chain and we enjoy an excellent views of the North face of the Tre Cime. Along a beautiful path we return to the Auronzo hut, from where we take the bus back. Now we have to possibility to recover and discover the charm of the valley of Cortina d’Ampezzo, a famous resort for the Italian jet set. We could also relax a while along the shores of Lake Misurina, before travelling back down to Cortina, or even go for yet another nice hike along the lake shore, in the beautiful and relaxing surroundings. In the evening we can choose where to go for our last great evening meal, our farewell dinner to the Dolomites ! .
Total walking time: around 3-4 (+1) hours (several shorter options). Meals included: 1 breakfast, 1 lunch.
Day 11 : Cortina – Venice
This morning after breakfast, our journey ends. We can opt to spend some more time in the Dolomites, or travel down to Venice, which can easily be reached by public transport. A transfer back to Venice can be arranged at any time. Meals included: 1 breakfast
ACCOMMODATION & MEALS
All nights are spent in beautiful, characteristic hotels, mostly historical buildings (generally 3/4-star; 5-star on some departure dates). All rooms have en-suite facilities.
Accommodation is on B&B basis, in all accommodations. Most evening meals are included, for which we have selected the best available restaurants. On two nights you are free to choose from the wide choice of restaurants in the area. Your guide can give you good tips for these evening dinners.
Almost all (picnic) lunches are included in the tour price. On other days you are free to have your own lunch. Here you have the option to have your lunch in a nice restaurant, or purchase your supplies for a picnic lunch.
Nights 1 & 2: The first two nights are spent in the charming lakeside village of Garda, the place that gave its name to the place. Our accommodation is a good 3-star hotel in the heart of the historical centre.
Night 3 : This night is spent in spent in a charming 4-star hotel, located right in the heart of Riva del Garda. A wonderful location, at walking distance from all main monuments and the Lake shore.
Night 4 & 5 : These two nights are spent in a good 3-star hotel, located in the centre of Trento, at walking distance from all main monuments and the river.
Nights 6 & 7: These two nights are spent in a charming 3-star hotel in the heart of the Val Badia, renowned for its special ‘Ladino’ kitchen and with a beautiful wellness centre.
Night 8: This night is spent in a wonderful ‘Rifugio’. Rather than just a ‘mountain hut’, this is a good 3-star hotel, with also a good kitchen, in a wonderful setting on the high plain of Fanes.
Nights 9 & 10: The last two nights we stay on the romantic & fashionable village of Cortina d’Ampezzo, capital of the Italian Dolomites. We’ll stay in a beautiful family-run 4-star hotel. The friendly staff will make you feel at home.
On our GUIDED WALKING TOURS we include almost everything :
• Private English speaking tour leader for 11 days
• Accommodation: 2 nights Garda, 1 night Riva del Garda, 2 nights Trento, 2 nights Val Badia,
1 night Rifugio Fanes, 2 nights Cortina d’Ampezzo, all in good ***/**** hotels
(1 night 3-star level ‘mountain hut’)
• Meals: all breakfasts, 5 dinners (good restaurants!), 3 lunches
• All private & public transfers as indicated throughout the entire itinerary
• Entrance fees of all sites along the itinerary
• All special activities as outlined in the day by day itinerary
• Guest experts for special places
• 24/24 h local assistance
• Luggage transport
• All gratuities for baggage, porters & hotel service
• Departure taxes
• Travel Insurance
• Drinks and meals not mentioned in the itinerary
• Optional additional tours or activities
• Items of a personal nature
LEVEL OF DIFFICULTY
Moderately easy (2/3): Mostly moderately easy walks, along well maintained footpaths, with nonetheless rough surfaces. On some days some stretches are difficult for those suffering from vertigo (but NOT dangerous!). On these days alternative options are available. Extensions or shortcuts are also possible on most days.
Fitness: High standard of fitness is not necessary but you should be able to walk for up to 5 hours a day in hot sun on dusty or stony tracks.
ARRIVAL & DEPARTURE
Arrival: The tour starts in VERONA (Train Station), a city with an international airport, and connected with Venice, Milan & Rome (and all other major Italian cities) by a frequent (high speed) train service. From the airport there are regular shuttle buses to the train station.
Departure:The tour ends after breakfast on day 11 in CORTINA D’AMPEZZO. A short transfer brings you to the train or bus station (included), from where you travel back by bus or train to Venice. Several taxi services are available to bring you directly to your next destination.
AVAILABILITY & CONDITIONS
There are no scheduled departures for this tour in 2016, but on request a tour can be planned at any date for private groups. Just contact us!
We can then also personalise the tour with respect to duration and lodging. We can offer you a large selection of ‘Premiere Inns’, very good hotels, many among the world’s best hotels, as acclaimed from Condé Nast Traveler, Travel+Leisure and many others. Genius Loci Travel, as the leading adventure travel company in Italy, can book your room in any hotel you could dream of!
N.B. For this tour tailor-made private departures (for groups of minimum 4 persons) can be planned on any date. Availability & prices on request. Prices start from 1790 euro p.p., depending on the season, accomodation requests (updates are possible) and number of persons in your private group.
Please contact us for the latest prices
|Places available. You can book this tour with a minimum of 1 person.|
|Guaranteed Departure. Still some places available.|
|There are a very limited number of available places on these dates. Immediate booking is recommended.|
|Availability and prices on request.|
|Fully booked. Departure closed.|
- Prices are per person and based on 2 people sharing double or twin accommodation.
- Single rooms (mostly double rooms - single use) are available on all trips. The supplements listed apply.
- Prices are expressed in Euro's. There will never be a currency surcharge.
- Actual exchange rates: GB £ - US $ - CAN $ - CHF - DKK - SEK - NOK - Other currencies.
- A 5 % early booking discount applies for several trips.
It is possible to include some extra nights before or after your tour, in any of the accommodations ‘en route’. For those who have never been in Verona an extra day here is strongly recommended.
The tour can easily be extended with a few days in Cortina d’Ampezzo.
At the beginning or the end of the tour there is the opportunity to visit Venice. The tour can also easily be extended with a few days here. Several good accommodations are available. Details and prices on request.
SHORTER & LONGER VERSIONS
A shorter, 5- or 7-day version of this tour is also available. See also our other tours !