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Self-guided short break on the Alta Via 1
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Highlights

  • Packing-in three fantastic days of walking on the classic Alta Via 1 national trail
  • Overnighting at 1500-2500m elevation, with spectacular views over peaks and valleys
  • Relaxing with a caffè latte in the hiking and biking capital of Cortina
  • Watching the evening sun turn the peaks pink from your authentic mountain hut
  • Enjoying tasty, filling food and good company around the table of your rifugio

Escape on a short break to the High Dolomites and enjoy three fantastic days of great trail walking at around 1500-2500m, surrounded by the very best alpine scenery that the region has to offer. Combine a stay in chic Cortina with nights in authentic mountain ‘rifugi’. By day, ,fabulous views over lakes, forests and peaks abound—and each evening enjoy the camaraderie of traditional huts.

Cortina is well-known as the hiking and biking capital of the Dolomites, and you’ll be spoilt for choice with plenty of restaurants and cafés in which to soak up the atmosphere and people-watch as you relax into ‘la vita bella’ both before and after your walk. The mountains beckon, and the start of the Alta Via 1 is a short bus journey away, at Lake Braies. And what a start it is—an extraordinarily beautiful azure-blue lake which reflects the peaks above—a good sign of experiences to come on the trail ahead! On a clear day you can admire the Tre Cime to the east—the three giant monoliths are a remarkable sight and an icon of the Italian Alps.

On this trek you’ll explore the Fannes-Sennes national park, where you’ll follow a network of well way-marked trails beneath the jagged spires of the Croda da Lago. Also admire the Tofana range, scene of fierce fighting in WWI —it is hard to imagine such turmoil in such a magical place. Walk through flower-filled pastures, shady forests, up switchback tracks and across boulder fields on your way between rifugi. Your tour includes a companionable dinner each night in the mountains, and why not try a firey grappa to fuel your journey. Captivating views of the Marmolada group follow; the highest mountain in the Dolomites, before reaching Lagazuoi where you’re whisked by cable car then bus back to Cortina.

DAY 1: Arrive Cortina

You’ll find pretty Cortina nestled in the heart of the Dolomites. It’s a great place to spend your first night amongst the mountains and to buy any last-minute provisions. Known as the ski and mountaineering centre of the High Dolomites, Cortina offers plenty of restaurants and shops. Reaching Cortina from Venice is easy; there is a twice-daily express bus service.


Overnight: Hotel Panda***, Cortina


The friendly Hotel Panda is full of alpine character and boasts an appealing mountainstyle décor. It is just steps away from Cortina’s glamorous Corso Italia and enjoys views of the Tofane and Monte Cristallo mountains. The hotel does not have its own restaurant, however there are plenty to choose from nearby.


DAY 2: Bus to Lago di Braies. Walk to Rifugio Sennes

After a good sleep, take a scenic bus via Dobbiaco to Lago di Braies (1494m), a spectacular lake and the official start of the Alta Via 1. Stride out from the far end of the lake with the mountains looming high on all sides, walking through patches of dwarf pines to the head of the valley. In clear weather you may catch sight of the three giant monoliths of the Tre Cime.


Your first day on the Alta Via 1 involves a good ascent to Rifugio Biella (2327m) from where you can take an optional hike up to the summit of Croda del Becco (2812m), or continue on the mountain track down to Rifugio Sennes, located at 2126m with panoramic views over Croda Rossa (3246m), Cristallo (3221m), Sorapis (3205m), and Tofana (3243m).


Walk: 10km, 900m ascent, 260m descent


Overnight: Rifugio Sennes


Rifugio Sennes can accommodate up to 60 guests in dormitories and rooms with both en suite and shared facilities. Managed by Erich and Cilla Palfrader, the Rifugio was built by their family between 1937 and 1939, and has opened year-round since the 1940s.


DAY 3: Walk to Rifugio Fanes

Today’s trek is along an old WWI mountain track, as you follow switchbacks on a 500m descent to Rifugio Pederü (1548m), which is ideally placed for a bite to eat. Admire views of the Sennes and Fanes massifs.


Continue across the Valle di Rudo as the trail then climbs up the Valun de Fanes to reach Rifugio Fanes (2060m), located above the town of San Vigilio di Marebbe, in a karstic limestone bowl in the Fanes-Senes-Braies Natural Park.


Walk: 10km, 510m ascent, 580m descent


Overnight: Rifugio Fanes


The lovely Fanes Hut offers both en suite private rooms and dormitory-style accommodation (total of 70 beds). The Rifugio was built in 1928 by brothers Fritz, Rudi and Alfred Mutschlechner, and has been run by Alfred’s son Max since 1978. The Rifugio was renovated in 1996.


DAY 4: Walk to Lagazuoi. Travel to Cortina

Continue along the AV1 passing shimmering Lago di Limo (2157m). As you climb the slopes of the Fanes group pause to admire the views to the southern mountain ranges and Marmolada. Crossing the grassy bowl of the Passo Tagéda, we suggest opting for an easier broad track past the windy slopes of Forcella del Lago (2486m), with a (manageable) steep descent on a path through scree to Lago Lagazoi (2182m).


Here in the Parco Naturale delle Dolomiti d’Ampezzo you’ll see remnants of the Austrian- Italian WWI front line. Stop at the open-air ‘Museo all’aparto della Grande Guerra’ with its fascinating interpretation boards.


Take the cable car which operates from Lagazuoi station down to Passo Falzarego, from where you can catch a bus to Cortina.


Walk: 12km, 690m ascent, 300m descent


Overnight: Hotel Villa Alpina***, Cortina


DAY 5: Onward Travel

After breakfast, you can take an express bus service from Cortina to Venice - or continue your travels in Italy!


Additional Nights and Extensions

You can add additional nights at any point before, during or after the walk. Contact us for arrangements or see our website.

Accommodation

We specifically select your hotel and rifugi to give you a taste of warm Italian hospitality and so that you are able to join in the camaraderie with your fellow walkers.


For the first and last nights of your tour, you will stay in a friendly 3* hotel on a bed and breakfast basis. At Refugio Fanes you can buy dinner locally at the refugio and in Refugio Sennes, dinner is included. They offer comfortable accommodation and good local food and drink. They are privately-run properties.


Hut accommodation is booked in mixed-sex dormitories made up of alpine-style communal sleeping areas or in bunk beds. We can book private rooms in the huts (some with shared and some with en suite). This 'room upgrade' is at an optional supplement. Private rooms are popular and therefore always subject to availability.


Please note that private rooms in the mountain huts are extremely limited. If you wish to ask for a private room you need to BOOK EARLY. While we are always happy to ask, it may not be possible to reserveprivate rooms in the mountain huts.


Single Rooms & Solo Walkers

This trip is not available to solo walkers and single rooms are not available except on the first and last nights (in hotel accommodation). A supplement is payable.


Availability

This tour is available to start any day of the week from July to September. Upgrades to private rooms will be shown as an option during the booking process. Option & extension prices will be displayed as part of the booking process.


Please note that private rooms in the mountain huts are extremely
limited. If you wish to ask for a private room you need to BOOK EARLY. While we are always happy to ask, it may not be possible to reserve private rooms in the mountain huts.


Time of Year

The best time to walk is July to mid-September, with August the most popular month (with the locals too!) and so busier in the huts. It is not unheard-of for snow to fall on higher ground during the summer, and patches of snow may still be present into July. For this reason, we offer the walk starting from beginning of July. July and August are the hottest months and carry the greatest risk of thunderstorms, which can be torrential and usually occur in the afternoon—being well-prepared and equipped for all these eventualities is essential.


Single Rooms & Solo Walkers

This trip is not available to solo walkers and single rooms are not available except on the first and last nights (in hotel accommodation). A supplement is payable.


Grade & Terrain

This walk is graded moderate to strenuous and includes daily walks of between 9 and 16.5km with ascents of up to 900m, descents of up to 1300m. You’ll be following switchback footpaths, country lanes, both narrow and wide tracks and rough mountain paths. You should be prepared for rocky and loose ground and unavoidable narrow paths across scree slopes. We have deliberately avoided routes involving via ferrata.

Some of the ascents and descents are considerably steep and some can be exposed so require a good head for heights and sure-footedness in places. You should have a good level of walking fitness to get the most from this trip, and be an experienced mountain walker.


Navigation, Route Notes & Maps

As this is a self guided walk you will be responsible for navigation, decision making and safety during your trip. This walk is strenuous, crosses high mountain passes and the weather can change quickly. You should be able to navigate easily with a map and compass in poor visibility and be experienced in the mountains.

We supply you with route notes for the recommended routes, as well as a comprehensive guidebook and Tabacco printed maps (1:25 000), so you will have no problem following the route each day. You are of course free to walk wherever you choose, with the possibility of following the guidebook and/or reviewing the map to make your own route.


Baggage Transfers

Due to the remoteness of the huts, it is not possible to transfer bags between your accommodation. You will therefore need to carry your kit with you each day. If you are staying in dormitory-style accommodation then you will need to bring a sleeping bag liner (or you can sometimes buy or hire one locally). Bed linen is provided when booking private rooms. For some packing tips and advice, please have a look here.


Equipment

Your information pack has a detailed equipment list which includes standard walking gear such as good walking boots or shoes, warm and waterproof clothes, trekking towel. Walking poles are highly recommended as the Alta Via 1 is tough on the knees.


General Information

The distances and ascents/descents are approximations of the recommended routes. Please be prepared by packing all necessary items, for example proper rain gear (jacket and pants), sunhat, sunscreen. Your information pack has a detailed equipment list which includes standard walking gear such as good walking boots or shoes, warm and waterproof clothes for the cooler months and lightweight clothing for summer, and a daypack.


Travel Insurance

It is a condition of booking with us that you have suitable travel insurance that covers you for cancellation, curtailment, illness or injury.


Getting to / from Cortina

By Air: Venice Marco Polo Airport is the most convenient airport, with various interational airlines operating here. The smaller Venice Treviso Airport is serviced by low-cost carrier Ryanair (London Stansted, Bristol, East Midlands, Leeds Bradford).


From Venice Marco Polo airport (or Venice Mestre bus station): it is possible to take the Cortina Express to Cortina (approx. 2h20); departures are twice-daily, usually in the afternoon, so please ensure you check their website for timetables.


From Venice Treviso Airport: From the airport take a bus (approx.12 mins) to Treviso, then from Treviso Sud there is an ATVO bus once a day to Cortina (approx. 2 hrs). Or you can take a bus from Treviso town to Venice Mestre or Marco Polo Airport for onward connections with the Cortina Express (see above). Check the timetable on the ATVO website.


Included

  • Accommodation for 2 nights in a comfortable 3* hotel (en suite room), and for 2 nights in mountain huts (mixed-sex dormitory accommodation)
  • 4 Breakfasts
  • 1 Dinner (in Refugio Sennes)
  • Route descriptions, guide book, Tabacco maps and a pre-departure information pack
  • 24-hour assistance by phone

Excluded

  • Gettting to and from Cortina
  • Travel Insurance
  • Lunches, dinners in Cortina and Refugio Fanes, drinks & snacks
  • Public transportation, including buses, trains and cable cars
  • Personal expenses such as drinks, phone calls, extra transfers, tips, etc
  • Any items not specifically mentioned in the program

Extras

  • Single room supplement (if applicable); available for accommodation in Cortina only.
  • Private room supplement for the rifugios (subject to availability, rooms with either shared or en suite facilities).
  • Additional nights during the trip.

How far in advance do I need to book?

We suggest that you book as soon as your plans are finalized as it's a popular trip with a short season and accommodation is limited (particularly private rooms). However, we will always try to accommodate your plans.

How do the baggage transfers work?

There is no baggage transfer on this trip; you will need to carry all your overnight things, including a sleep sheet and towel.

What happens if I can't walk a stage?

Due to the remoteness of the huts it is not usually possible to take any form of transport between them. The staff at the rifugi will be able to advise you of your best options.

How fit do I need to be?

This trip is graded moderate to strenuous and requires good physical condition.You must be used to mountain walking, crossing scree or snowy patches, and challenging ascents and descents to get the most from this trip.

When is the best time of year?

The best time to walk is July to mid-September, with August the most popular month (with the locals too!) and so busier in the huts. It is not unheard-of for snow to fall on higher ground during the summer, and patches of snow may still be present into July. For this reason, we offer the walk starting from beginning of July. July and August are the hottest months and carry the greatest risk of thunderstorms, which can be torrential and usually occur in the afternoon—being well-prepared and equipped for all these eventualities is essential.

What personal equipment do I need?

Our pre-departure information pack has detailed advice and a kit list on what to take. This includes standard walking gear such as waterproofs, good walking shoes/boots, sun protection, water bottle and a comfortable backpack with waist strap.

REVIEW SNAPSHOT®

by PowerReviews
macs adventureDolomites Alta Via 1 Highlights
 
5.0

(based on 1 review)

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(1 of 1 customers found this review helpful)

 
5.0

Great but challenging walking trip

By Jennifer

from London

Verified Reviewer

Comments about macs adventure Dolomites Alta Via 1 Highlights:

Overall a great 3 days of walking, challenging but with great scenery of mountains, valleys, lakes and forests (especially the final day, totally surpassed the previous 2 days). A sense of achievement at the end!

Information Pack gives very limited info about the walking really, and the guidebook is a bit sparse too (sometimes no details for a couple of hours walking) but it was a very well sign-posted route. The ascent/descent figures in the Macs info are misleading and differ from the book.

There were some pretty tough sections with steep ascents. There was a point on day 1 with metal chains on a narrow rocky ledge - totally unexpected! Twice very difficult steep descents (on a gravelly road to Rifugio Pederu on day 2, and on narrow switchbacks to Lake Lagazuoi on day 3). On the final stretch to Rifugio Lagazuoi there was some snow to cross (our trip was early season - start of July) and a short ascent which was VERY steep on loose rock. Although recommended, we did not take walking poles because they weren't allowed on EasyJet as hand luggage - but we felt they would definitely have been 100% essential if it had been wet weather (we were lucky as the storm didn't come in until after we finished for the day).

The Macs website describes being 'whisked' back to Cortina at the end - but an unavoidable downside was having to wait a long 3 hours before we could get a bus back to Cortina (bus timings are very limited).

The rifugios were in lovely settings, nice places to stay. Good and generous evening meals, and nice to share tables with other walkers. Packed lunches over-priced for very little though. Our hotel in Cortina was different from the normal one (Ambra) which was very nice indeed (almost too glam!!). Cortina is a nice town to start/end, although with only 2 buses per day from Venice, the timings meant adding a night in a Venice airport hotel beforehand for us. It doesn't detract from a great trip, just would be good to know these things for planning!

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