Self Guided Walking Holidays & Cycling Holidays


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Self-guided trek on the southern Alta Via 1
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Highlights

  • 6 days of superb walking amongst classic peaks; Civetta, Monte Pelmo & Cinque Torri
  • A warm Italian welcome, delicious food and camaraderie at the mountain huts
  • Contrasting the chic ski resort of Cortina with the atmospheric and historic rifugios
  • Quiet paths through the wild Parco Nazionale delle Dolomiti Bellunesi
  • Admiring the sunset from the lofty terrace of ridge-top Rifugio Nuvolau

The Alta Via 1 long distance trail winds its way through the heart of the Italian Dolomites. This tour covers around 90km of the wilder and quieter southern section of the AV1, spread over 6 days, walking approx. 15km daily. We follow good alpine paths; our detailed route notes avoid the harder routes and via ferrata.

Arrive in buzzing Cortina, where you’ll spend the night before heading into the mountains. Cortina is filled with cafés, shops and restaurants, and will impress with its picturesque location encircled by mountain peaks. Contrast this chic ski resort with the delightful simplicity and natural charm of the 5 mountain huts you’ll experience on the Alta Via 1. From Cortina, stride out through rhododendron forests and flower-filled pastures, with views to the Cinque Torri, ascending to one of the oldest mountain huts in the Alps; Rifugio Nuvolau. Perched a-top a ridge at 2575m, its unique setting affords outstanding views over peaks and valleys, which glow pink in the late afternoon sun.

You’ll be following well way-marked routes as you make your way from hut-to-hut, hearing the call of marmots in the meadows and, with any luck, spotting eagles soaring high above on the thermals. Hike over mountain passes, including Passo Giau and Passo Staulanza; the latter calls for a stop at the rifugio for a mug of delicious hot chocolate… Rocky giants such as Monte Pelmo and the Civetta massif loom large, before the AV1 crosses the wildest of its parks - Parco Nazionale delle Dolomiti Bellunesi. Having warmed up already, you’ll be ready to tackle the steeper gradients here, rewarded with glimpses of the Venetian plain. We take the easier variant to La Stanga on the final day’s descent, before catching the bus from La Muda to the pretty village of Belluno for a stay in a super 3* hotel.

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: Walk to Rifugio Nuvolau

From Cortina, escape into the calm of the mountains. You can take an optional bus to miss the first 6km of your walk if you wish.


Continue through rhododendron forests as the peaks of the Cinque Torri come into view. Reach Rifugio Averau (2413m), then it’s a 20-min climb to the oldest Rifugio in the Dolomites— Nuvolau (2575m).


Walk: 13km, 1339m ascent, 16m descent


Overnight: Rifugio Nuvolau*


Built by a baron from Dresden in 1883 (and spared by his nephew on a WWI bombing raid), this simple mountain hut is perched atop a rock. The Siorpaes family have run the Rifugio for over 30 years. The special atmosphere more than makes up for the very basic facilities. There is limited cold water available via a washbasin, and the toilets are located outside of the main building. 24 beds are in rooms of 3-8 (dormitories).


*If you prefer, it is possible to stay at the Rifugio Averau, where there are twin/double en suite rooms as well as dormitories.


DAY 3: Walk to Rifugio Citta di Fiume

Start by returning to the road at Rifugio Averau, thereby avoiding the  route which takes in a short section of via ferrata. Reach Rifugio Passo Giau (2236m) then enjoy a wonderful afternoon of truly lovely walks through flower-filled meadows.


With any luck you’ll spot eagles overhead and hear the calls of marmots as you stroll through grassy fields and farmland strewn with impressive boulders.


Walk: 12km, 538m ascent, 1155m descent 


Overnight: Rifugio Citta di Fiume** (1918m) 


Founded in 1964, this charming rifugio offers 25 beds in 6-bed dormitories, with two external bathrooms. The present building dates back to 1924; with further modifications made in 1964 when the rifugio was created from a cowshed!


**An alternative for walkers preferring private en suite rooms, would be to walk a further 3.5km on to Rifugio Passo Staulanza.


DAY 4: Walk to Rifugio Vazzoler

A longer but rewarding day awaits as you cross lush pastures and some scree paths to Rifugio Passo Staulanza (1783m), at the pass of the same name. With views to Monte Pelmo (3168m), an easier option follows a pleasant and peaceful track which then ascends to Rifugio Coldai (2132m).


Stroll around Lago Coldai and up to a small pass before you drop down into the valley with views of Lago di Alleghe. Ahead you’ll reach the mountain pass, Forcella di Col Rean. The path to Rifugio Vazzoler (1714m) brings several passes as you skirt by the Civetta massif.


Walk: 18km, ascent 955m, descent 1150m


Overnight: Rifugio Vazzoler


Photogenic Rifugio Vazzoler, with its red roof and shutters, also has an
impressive alpine botanical garden. Accommodation is in dormitories.


DAY 5: Walk to Rifugio Passo Duran

Today you’ll walk an undulating path as you first climb steeply to the next pass;  Forcella del Camp (1933m), followed by some straightforward trekking high in the Dolomites. Finally, a mountain road takes you down to Passo Duran (1605m).


Walk: 11km, 953m ascent, 1082m descent


Overnight: Rifugio Passo Duran San Sebastiano


Charming Passo Duran San Sebastiano offers 25 beds in both dormitories and private rooms. There is a lovely seating area around an open fireplace, a bar and restaurant.  


DAY 6: Walk to Rifugio Pian de Fontana

After breakfast, set out on trails that feel more remote than before, with ever-impressive alpine vistas. Today you’ll be walking via the Forcella del Moschesin (1950m) and up the rocky western slopes of the Cima de Zita.


You are now entering the Parco Nazionale delle Dolomiti Bellunesi, the wildest of the national parks on the trail and with a good chance of spotting deer and marmots. A vibrant orange lily flowers amongst the grass, rocks and shrubs.


In one or two places you’ll find the gradient particularly steep, and the ridge path to the day’s highest pass at 2451m feels somewhat exposed. Enjoy glimpses of the Venetian plain. Descend sharply to Rifugio Pian de Fontana (1632m).


This is a lengthy stage, and it is possible to split today’s walk in two by staying at Rifugio Pramperet (1857) if you prefer—please talk to our experts.


Walk: 16km, 1099m ascent, 1031m descent


Overnight: Rifugio Pian de Fontana


This is a simple but homely rifugio, with 32 beds in dormitory-style accommodation. There’s often a roaring fire which goes well with a grappa!


DAY 7: Walk to La Muda. Bus to Belluno

As you descend the twisting mountain track back into civilisation, find time to reflect on the incredible vistas, wonderful food and wine, and unique characters you’ll have met along the Alta Via 1.


The final stage of your walk is via Rifugio Bianchet (1245m), through woodland dotted with boulders and tiny cyclamen, to meet the road at La Muda, from where you can take a bus (30 mins) to Belluno.


Highly experienced mountain walkers and climbers can check their maps and guidebook for the challenging route up the northern slopes of La Schiara, with a dramatic three-hour descent on almost unbroken via ferrata.


Belluno is the perfect town in which to end your long distance trail. With its compact size, you will enjoy a leisurely stroll around the cafés and boutiques of the old town.


Walk: 12km, 480m ascent, 1672m descent


Overnight: Albergo Capello e Cadore***, Belluno


The Cappello e Cadore Hotel is a popular 3-star hotel located in the heart of the historic town centre, between the central Martiri and Piloni piazzas. The 32 rooms each have aircon, TV, minibar, hairdryer, with free WiFi in the lobby so you can reconnect with friends and family!


DAY 8: Onward Travel

After breakfast, you can take a train from Belluno (via Conegliano) to Venice—just a 1h50mins journey, 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 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 walk, you will stay in friendly 3* hotels on a breakfast basis. For 5 nights you will stay on a half board basis in mountain huts - ‘rifugi’. They offer comfortable accommodation and good local food and drink. Some of the rifugi are more basic than others; they are a mixture of CAI (Italian Alpine Club) and 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 often book private rooms in the huts (some with shared and some with en suite) and where this type of room is available this is noted against each accommodation; 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 and near capacity for many 2017 dates.  While we are always happy to ask, it may not be possible to reserve private 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.


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 850m, descents of up to 1250m. 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.


On Day 6 it is possible to split up the walk by staying at Rifugio Pramperet (1857) in between Rifugio Passo Duran and Rifugio Fontana. Although other daily distances on your itinerary are as lengthy as this one, this walk has a particularly steep descent at the end of it, so you may prefer to do 2 days of shorter walking. If you wish to do this please talk to our experts.


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

Bag transfer is available as an optional extra. Due to the remoteness
of some of the huts, it is not possible to transfer bags to each
overnight location. If you opt for bag transfer, bags cannot be
delivered to Rifugio Averau/Nuvolau, Rifugio Vazzoler and Rifugio Fontana.
On these days, simply carry a few overnight things in your day pack to
see you through.  


If you choose not to opt for baggage transfer,
you will 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.


Meals

Breakfast is included each morning. Dinner is not included in Cortina or Belluno as there are plenty of restaurants to choose from.Whilst staying in the rifugi dinner is included (excluding drinks). This is always simple, hearty fare.


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 Cortina / from Belluno

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.


From Belluno to Venice: From Belluno you can take a train (changing at Conegliano) to Venice Santa Lucia station (approx. 2h30); see www.trenitalia.com for timetables. From here, take a bus from Venice Mestre to Venice Marco Polo Airport (35 mins). See timetable.


To return from Belluno to Cortina: Dolomiti Bus Lines 9 and 30 run between Belluno and Cortina, if you need to return there to collect any additional luggage (we can request if luggage be left at your first hotel in Cortina—subject to prior agreement). Journey time takes just over 1 hr. For timetables, see www.dolomitibus.it/dolomitibus/jsp/orari


Included

  • Accommodation for 2 nights in a comfortable 3* hotel (en suite room), and for 5 nights in mountain huts (mixed-sex dormitory accommodation)
  • 7 Breakfasts
  • 5 Dinners (in the mountain huts/Rifugios)
  • Route descriptions, guide book, Tabacco maps and a pre departure information pack
  • 24-hour assistance by phone

Excluded

  • Baggage transfers (can be included as an optional extra)
  • Getting to Cortina and from Belluno
  • Travel Insurance
  • Lunches, dinners in Cortina and Belluno, 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

  • Baggage transfers
  • Single room supplement (if applicable); available for accommodation in Cortina and Belluno 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?

If you have included baggage transfers in your tour (optional extra) - Your main baggage will be transferred from your accommodation as per your itinerary and moved onto your next overnight accommodation (except for Rifugio Nuvolau/Averau, Rifugio Vazzoler and Rifugio Fontana due to their remote locations).

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.

Absolutely fantastic trip

5

If you like walking in stunning scenery then this one is very hard to beat! The refugios are an experience (a good one!) and you will meet like minded people from all over the world. On top of all that it is a real adventure in a rugged landscape and a very rewarding challenge.

Malcolm

Belfast

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Outstanding

5

The Alta Via South 1 is spectacular. The terrain and distances are challenging, but very doable. I am 67 and didn't have any significant problems. Each day is more breathtakingly beautiful than the day before. I recommend taking the bus out of Cortina and doing the alternate walk to your first rifugio. While it shortens the day by quite a bit, the walk is gorgeous and you will have time to venture to Cinque Torri and enjoy the views. Also, breakfasts along the way are mostly bread/jams, cereal & juice. Not much protein offered. Lunches will be available on some days at rifugios along the route. Otherwise lunches made at the rifugios for packing are simple bread/cheese/speck (with no condiments or spreads). We had a little confusion with MACS's notes. I recommend reading them carefully the night before. While most all the rifugios have WIFI, don't count on them for offline-downloading your maps from the app each evening. The signal is week at certain locations. Lastly, the section from Pramperet to Fontana is exposed, but honestly, it was barely more challenging than other sections. Don't be discouraged by the superlative description of the heights. As with other sections, you simply need to pay close attention to your footing. It was a wonderful walk.

d

Montana

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Incredible trip!

5

This was an incredible trip! Macs Adventure put together a great itinerary. Their documents along with the maps made for an easy trail to navigate. Every place we stayed had a unique character and feel. There were no issues with any of the rifugi. They all expected us from Macs Adventure. I only said the trip was "exhausting" because you need to be in good shape for long days. It is a good exhausting though. You will sleep well and eat well. It is an amazing trip.

phish jeremy

Tacoma, WA

true

I would definitely go with Macs again

5

The AV1 was a very challenging and strenuous trek. We are in our 50's and one in her 60's all in very good shape and hike a fair amount. It was described as moderate to strenuous which is probably fair. The days were long but so worth every step. The views were spectacular and never ending. The rifugios were wonderful with very hospitable people and the food was amazing.

Sheila

United States

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Great trip

5

It was a great trip, very well organized, good info. The hike was hard, had to watch footing all the time, but views were fantastic!

Jolene

Phoenix Arizona

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Challenging but Rewarding Hike

4

My two friends and I found the trail challenging - 55% uphill, 40% downhill, 5% flat by our estimates - but overall a wonderful, once in a lifetime experience. The instructions/ description of the trail by Macs needs more detail for a majority of the sections, but that didn't stop us from enjoying the extremely varied landscape, warm refugios, and new friends along the way!

Carla the Trekker

San Francisco

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Outstanding views, and a few navigational challenges!

4

Well organized by Mac Advenures. This was our second trek with their assistance and the service has been quite exceptional.

Danmoe

Toronto, Canada

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Dolomites Alta Via 1 South

4.7 7

100.0

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