Self Guided Walking Holidays & Cycling Holidays


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Gran Paradiso to Mont Blanc
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Highlights

  • Hike the best of the classic Alta Via 2 trail through Italy’s Aosta Valley
  • Challenging long-distance walking, perfect for Alpine connoisseurs
  • Share stories with fellow hikers in authentic mountain hotels and huts
  • Indulge in Italian mountain cuisine; polenta, sausage and la fontina cheese
  • Finish in chic Courmayeur, Italy’s Alpine capital at the foot of Mont Blanc

Walk the Alta Via 2 trail from Cogne to Courmayeur in Italy’s Aosta Valley on this self-guided point to point trek. This challenging long-distance hike begins at the edge of the Gran Paradiso National Park, and takes you on an unforgettable journey through Aosta to the foot of Mont Blanc.

Experience Aosta’s lesser-known Alps, sharing trails with ibex, chamois, marmots and a few local walkers. Hike through Alpine meadows, on rocky high trails, and over 5 spectacular mountain passes.
Offering a balance of comfortable nights in welcoming family run hotels and nights in classic mountain refuges, relax at the end of a tough day’s walking with a hearty home-made meal. Refuel on traditional cheesy polenta, sausages in tomato sauce and local red wine. Embrace the simple life of long-distance hiking, switch off and immerse yourself in the best of Italy’s natural paradise.

Day 1 Arrive Courmayeur, transfer to Cogne

Courmayeur is accessible by bus from Geneva airport (first to Chamonix and then to Courmayeur: 2-4 hours depending on connection times).  From Courmayeur, you will be transferred to Cogne.


Cogne is a popular town in the Aosta valley and it is easy to see why. Typically Alpine, with Italian charm, it’s a great starting point for your adventure nestled at the foot of Gran Paradiso (Italy’s highest peak at 4,061m). Enjoy an evening wandering the cobbled streets, taking in the atmosphere and enjoying an Aperol Spritz in the town centre.  


Overnight: Cogne


Day 2 Walk to Rifugio Vittorio Sella

Leave Cogne by way of the Sant Orso meadow; a beautifully green and flat expanse bursting with wildflowers and surrounded by lofty peaks. Head into the Valnontey valley, also home to the Giardino Botanico Alpino ‘Paradisia’, a large botanical garden boasting thousands of plant species.


Ascend gently through conifer wood. As you leave the tree-line, the path continues to ascend steadily on a former hunting path to reach the Rifugio V. Sella (2,588m). Take an evening stroll to nearby Lago Lauson, for a bit of ibex-spotting.


Walking: 9 km, ascent/descent: 1,405m/361m


Dinner and Overnight: Rifugio Vittorio Sella


Day 3 Walk to Eaux Rousses

A tough but rewarding day awaits. Ascend on steep zig zags, the terrain becoming increasingly rocky. A short exposed section has a reassuring cable to aid progress, before the final ascent on shale to the Col Lauson. At 3,299m it is the highest point of the entire AV2 trail. About 300m below the Col you are rewarded with fine views of Gran Paradiso.  On the descent, look out for chamois, ibex and marmots. Arrive at the hamlet of Eaux-Rousses (1,666m), your overnight location.


Walking: 17 km, ascent/descent: 744m/1662m


Dinner and Overnight: Eaux– Rousses


Day 4 Walk to Rhemes Notre Dame

Ascend past the old stone buildings of Eaux-Rousses through conifer wood alive with  squirrels and birds. As you continue to climb, views of Gran Paradiso come into sight once again, as well as of ‘La Grivola’, standing proud at 3,969m. Pass a couple of alpine lakes on your way to Col di Entrelor (3,007m), from where you can catch your first glimpse of Mont Blanc.  Follow wide zig—zags to the valley floor to reach Bruil, Rhemes Notre-Dame (1,723m), a charming village with shops and an attractive 18th Century church.


Walking: 15.5 km, ascent/descent: 1,327m/1,274m


Dinner and Overnight: Bruil, Rhemes Notre Dame


Day 5 Walk to Rifugio Chalet de l’Epée

A relatively short day of walking allows some respite after the two preceding, challenging days. Most of today is spent on the ascent to Col Fenêtre at 2,840m, but today’s short distance allows you to take your time and revel in the idyllic surrounds. From the Col, enjoy views to Gran Becca du Mont (3,213m), Testa del Ruitor (3,468m) and of course, Mont Blanc (4,810m). Descend to Chalet de l’Epée (2,370m), a family run mountain hut boasting wonderful food and a friendly atmosphere.


Walking: 7.5 km, ascent/descent: 1169m/529m


Overnight and Dinner: Rifugio Chalet de L’Epée


Day 6 Walk to Planaval

A relaxing day of walking awaits. Leave Chalet de l’Epée behind and continue on the AV2. The trail is flanked by meadows alive with the sound of alpine cow bells and marmot whistles. A steady descent brings you to the village of Valgrisenche (1,664m), a great place to stock up on snacks and other necessities. Walk alongside the Dom di Valgrisenche torrent all the way to tiny Planaval; a traditional hamlet made up of picturesque stone buildings with slate roofs.


Walking: 12 km, ascent/descent: 126m/936m


Dinner & Overnight: Planaval


Day 7 Walk to Rifugio Deffeyes

Start early from Planaval and begin to tackle the first of today’s two major ascents.Follow a meandering river upstream. In the distance is the Testa del Ruitor and its sprawling glacier. The going gets steep before arriving at the Col de la Crosatie at 2,838m. Enjoy a break here and take in the grandeur of the Mont Blanc range.


Descend to the valley floor and pass grazing alpine cows. Re-ascend through shady forest trails, which soon become stony slopes. There is a boulder section which will require some very light scrambling (but no exposure) to reach ’Haut Pas’at 2,860m. Enjoy more fabulous views over the Aosta Valley and to the icy peak of Monte Rosa. A gentle descent brings you to today’s destination; Rifugio Deffeyes.


Walking: 17.5 km, ascent/descent: 2269 m/1339m


Overnight and Dinner: Rifugio Deffeyes


Day 8 Walk to La Thuile

Descend on a former mule path to picturesque Lac du Glacier (2,140m). Continue to descend through woodland; getting closer to the thundering torrent that comes from the Ruitor Glacier. Take a short detour to view the three thundering waterfalls it creates. Come to La Joux (1,603m) a small alpine farm and the beginning of your return to civilization! Arrive in La Thuile, a famous ski resort which is equally as bustling and charming in the summer months as in the winter.


Walking: 9.5 km, ascent/descent 17m/1051m


Overnight: La Thuile


Day 9 Walk to La Visaille, bus to Courmayeur

The final day of the trail is a long one, but worth the effort as you revel in the full glory of the Mont Blanc massif. Climb to the Col des Chavannes (2,603m) and enjoy superlative views over the Val Veny and  Mont Blanc.  


Descend to Rifugio Elisabetta (2,197m) where you can stop for an espresso and a piece of home-made cake. Follow a quiet jeep track alongside the turquoise-blue waters of the Fiume Dom di Veny to La Visaille and catch a bus to Courmayeur.


Nestled at the foot of Mont Blanc, Courmayeur is a chic outdoor town offering a plethora of shops, cafés, restaurants and bars—the perfect place to celebrate the end of your AV2 adventure!


Walking: 24 km, ascent/descent 1345m/1120m


Overnight: Courmayeur


Day 10 Onward Travel

Check out of your hotel after breakfast for your onward travel. Alternatively, if you have time to spare we highly recommend an additional night in Courmayeur, giving you a chance to explore more of what this town has to offer. We can also organise extra nights in Chamonix, which may be helpful depending on your travel arrangements.




Accommodation

Stay 4 nights in comfortable 3* hotels/guesthouses in private en-suite rooms, 2 nights in comfortable mountain hotels in  private en-suite rooms and 3 nights in mixed sex dorms in mountain huts with shared bathroom facilities.  Below you will find an example of the accommodation we normally use along the route.


Single Rooms & Solo Walkers

This trip is not available to solo walkers due to the nature of the terrain. Single rooms and double rooms for single occupancy are available on 6 nights (not available in mountain huts) should someone in your party wish to have their own room, again a supplement is payable.


Meals

Breakfasts are included each day. Breakfast in the hotels is a buffet selection with lots of sweet treats like pastries, home made jams fruit and cereals. Savoury tastes are also catered for with bread, cheese, ham and eggs are usually available.Breakfasts in the mountain hotels and huts tend to be very basic; bread, butter, jams, coffee, tea and orange juice.  If you prefer something more substantial before walking, we recommend carrying a few energy bars with you each day and supplement your breakfast with one of these.


Packed lunch items can be bought locally from supermarkets or the local boulangerie. If you are staying in a hut or small town without these facilities, order a packed lunch with them upon arrival.  


Dinner is included at each overnight location with the exception of Cogne, La Thuile and Courmayeur. Dinner in the mountain hotels and huts tend to be a convivial affair, and you will be seated with the other guests. Meal times are a real highlight , and you can enjoy the company of people from all over the world while you dine on good honest home cooked food. Dinner is typically soup with bread, a main course consisting of meat and rice or pasta, a side salad or vegetables, followed by dessert or cheese. If you have any dietary requirements, please tell us upon booking and we can arrange this with the huts.




In Cogne, La Thuile and Courmayeur dinner is not included so you are free to choose from the available options. Dining options in these towns are plentiful and you will be spoilt for choice.







 

 

 




Hotel du Gran Paradis - Cogne

Hotel du Gran Paradis is located in the heart of Cogne’s old town. A warm welcome awaits from the Gerard family at their boutique hotel. Decorated in typical Alpine style, the hotel has a small spa area. Take advantage of the jacuzzi, steam room and sauna.


 

 

 


 

 

 



Rifugio Vittorio Sella



Rifugio Vittorio Sella

This mountain hut benefits from a fantastic location high up in the Valnontey Valley. The hut sleeps 150 people in varying dorm room sizes. Dinner and breakfast are taken in the large dining room, and are communal, so you will be sat with fellow walkers. No wifi.


 

 

 


 

 

 




Hostellerie du Paradis - Eaux Rousses

A simple yet comfortable 3* hotel located in rural Eaux Rousses, in the heart of the Gran Paradiso National Park. Rooms are private with en-suite bathrooms. No wifi.


 

 

 


 

 

 




Chez Lydia - Rhemes

A friendly, warm welcome awaits at this traditional family-run hotel. Rooms are basic, but comfortable and clean with private bathroom facilities. Enjoy a delicious 3-course homemade meal, washed down with some local wine or an ice-cold beer, sheer bliss after a long day on the trail..


 

 

 


 

 

 



Rifugio Chalet de L'Epée



Rifugio Chalet de L'Epée

A popular local rifugio run by the friendly Gerbelle family. The hut has 80 beds in spacious dorms ranging from 4-18 beds in size. Wifi and hot water is available. Dinner is a veritable feast with 5 lovingly-made courses


 

 

 


 

 

 




Hotel Paramont - Planaval

A small mountain hotel located in rural Planaval. Family run, the rooms are decorated in typical alpine, wooden style and have private en-suite bathroom facilities. There is a cosy lounge area perfect for relaxing with a book after a day on the trails.


 

 

 


 

 

 



Rifugio Deffeyes



Rifugio Deffeyes

A basic but comfortable mountain hut located in a spectacular location with views of the Ruitor glacier. Hot showers are available for 5 euros. Food is typical mountain-hut fare, but plentiful and filling.


 

 

 


 

 

 




Hotel Chateau Blanc - La Thuile

A charming mountain hotel in the heart of La Thuile. Decorated in typical Alpine style, the friendly and attentive staff are waiting to welcome you. This hotel is a real treat—particularly after a night in a mountain hut! Breakfast is particularly good, with lots of fresh, locally sourced products such as Aosta ham, yoghurt and homemade cake.


 

 

 


 

 

 




Hotel Bouton d'Or - Courmayeur

One of our favourite hotels in Courmayeur. Patrizia and Andrea are your lovely hosts and are fountains of knowledge when it comes to the local area. Relax in the beautiful bar area and enjoy the vintage and antique decorations. Breakfast is a true event and the best buffet in the Alps; Andrea’s handmade pastries and cakes are the best way to start the day!


 

 

 

Time of Year & Availability

You can start your adventure on any day between mid-July and mid September.


The busiest time of the season is the month of August when almost all of Italy take their holidays! However, even in the high season, these trails are relatively quiet. July is ideal if you wish to catch the wildflowers in full bloom and September is usually very quiet and calm.


At the beginning of the season, there may be snow remaining on some sections of the path, however this will not normally require any specialist equipment.


Grade & Terrain

This trip is graded strenuous with the average daily distance being 14km. All days have significant ascent and descent and the paths are a mixture of woodland trails, rocky mountain paths, moraine, scree, gravel tracks and paved country roads. There are some exposed sections which require a head for heights, particularly on the sections from Rifugio Sella to Rifugio L’Epee. Another challenging day of the trail is day 7 which involves a walk of 17.5 km and an ascent of 2,269 m and descent of 1,339m. For experienced hikers, and with an early start and steady pace, it is a long but rewarding day. There is some light scrambling on the route and there are cables, ropes and chains to aid ascent/descent in some places. . Please be aware that on the highest passes, there may be some residual snow lying in patches, but this will not require any special equipment or skills; just a steady foot and experience. Walking poles are essential for this tour. To get the most of this trip, you should be in good physical shape and be an experienced walker, having already done some Alpine walking.


Navigation, Route Notes & Maps

All of the walks are way-marked to varying degrees, some walks better than others. We provide you with turn-by-turn instructions for each walk, maps and access to our GPS smartphone navigation app, so you will have no problem finding your way.


Baggage Transfers

Bag transfer is included in this trip. We ask that you limit your baggage to one bag per person with a maximum weight of 20kg per person. Your bags cannot be transferred to Rifugio V.Sella, Chalet Rifugio de L’Epée or Rifugio Deffeyes due to the remoteness of the huts. You will need to carry your overnight things on these days and you will be reunited with your main bag the following day.


Travel Insurance

It is a requirement of booking this tour with Macs Adventure that you have suitable travel insurance which covers you for the activity, emergency evacuation and hospital care.


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 trousers), sun hat and sunscreen. Your information pack has a detailed equipment list which ncludes 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 day pack.

Getting to and from Courmayeur

A transfer from Courmayeur to Cogne is included in the cost of your trip.


To reach Courmayeur, fly into Geneva airport. From Geneva, take a shuttle to Chamonix (can be booked through a company such as Mountain Dropoffs) From Chamonix, take a public bus through the Mont Blanc tunnel to Courmayeur. Mountain Dropoffs can also organise shuttle transfers from the airport directly to Courmayeur, but these can be very expensive. If you are travelling in a group it may be worthwhile.


You will be picked up in Courmayeur and taken to your hotel in Cogne (1 hour transfer).


Your tour finishes in Courmayeur, from here, retrace your steps and journey through the Mont Blanc tunnel by bus back to Chamonix, from where you can travel on to Geneva airport.


We can also organise extra nights in Chamonix and/or Courmayeur should you require this.


Included

  • 4 nights in 3-star hotels/guesthouses, 2 nights in mountain hotels, 3 nights in mixed sex dorms in mountain huts
  • 6 dinners
  • 9 breakfasts
  • Transfer from Courmayeur to Cogne on Day 1
  • Bag transfers (except on days 2, 5 & 7)
  • Route notes, maps, GPX tracks, access to our GPS app & info pack
  • 24-7 Emergency telephone support from our UK office.

Excluded

  • Travel insurance (required)
  • Travel to and from Courmayeur
  • 3 Dinners and all lunches
  • Drinks and snacks
  • Personal equipment

Extras

  • Additional nights before, during or after the walk
  • Single Room Supplements (single rooms available on 6 nights only)

How fit do I need to be?

To get the most of this trip, you should be in good physical shape and be an experienced walker, having already done some Alpine walking. This trip is graded strenuous with the average daily distance being 14km. Most days have significant ascent and descent and the paths are a mixture of woodland trails, rocky mountain paths, moraine, scree, gravel tracks and paved country roads. There are some short exposed sections. The most challenging day of the trail is day 7 which involves a walk of 19km and an ascent of 2,000m and descent of  1,115m. For experienced hikers, and with an early start and steady pace, it is a long but rewarding  day. There is some very light scrambling on the route and there are cables, ropes and chains to aid ascent/descent in some places. Please be aware that on the highest passes, there may be some residual snow lying in patches, but this will not require any special equipment or skills; just a steady foot and experience. Walking poles are essential for this tour.

Which is the best airport to fly to?

The closest airport is Geneva which is served by flights from throughout Europe and around the world. See the travel section for more information.

How far in advance do I need to book?

We suggest you book as soon as your plans are finalised. This is a very popular hiking area with quite a short season. You will find up to date availability on our website and we will always try and accommodate your plans.

What personal equipment do I need?

You will need good walking shoes/boots (ideally waterproof), comfortable walking clothes, waterproof jacket and trousers a day pack and hats/gloves etc. Your information pack has a detailed equipment list which includes standard walking gear such as good walking boots or shoes, warm and waterproof clothes and a day pack. A detailed kit list is included in your information pack.

How do the baggage transfers work?

Bag transfer is included in this trip. We ask that you limit your baggage to one bag per person with a maximum weight of 20kg per person. Your bags cannot be transferred to Rifugio V.Sella, Chalet Rifugio de L’Epée or Rifugio Deffeyes due to the remoteness of the huts. You will need to carry your overnight things on these days and you will be reunited with your main bag the following day.

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