- Walking tour exploring the Aosta Valley and Gran Paradiso National Park
- Hike classic walks in the Alps’ best kept secret valleys
- Immerse yourself in the mountaineering culture of Pont and Cogne
- Spot ibex and listen to the whistles of marmots
- Indulge in typical Italian mountain fare; polenta, sausage, fontina cheese and pizza
Immerse yourself in Italian mountain life on this twin centre hiking adventure in the Aosta Valley. The Gran Paradiso National Park is Italy’s oldest, founded in 1922, this side of the Alps really is a natural paradise. Expect peaceful Alpine meadows, steep woodland trails and mountain paths with views to glaciers, snowy peaks and powerful waterfalls. Relax at the end of the walking day in your comfortable and welcoming hand-picked hotel.
Start your adventure in Pont, a hamlet at the foot of the Gran Paradiso mountain. A simple place, there are many wonderful walks starting right at the hotel’s door. You will be transferred to Cogne, a pleasant contrast to Pont. This bustling town is still only a stone’s throw away from some of the best walks in the park. Enjoy a multitude of authentic Valdôtain restaurants, serving up hearty plates of creamy polenta, venison stew, fontina and tome cheese dishes, and of course, delicious pizza.
Day 1: Arrive Aosta (or Courmayeur) and transfer to Pont
The Aosta Valley is best reached via Turin/Torino airport. From Turin, take a train to Aosta (3– 4hours) from where you will be picked up and taken to Pont by private transfer (1 hour).
Another option is to fly to Geneva airport, and travel from there to Courmayeur. More details can be found in the ‘Travel Information’ section.
Pont (1,960m) is a small hamlet which lies at the end of the Valsavarenche valley. Considered ‘base camp’ for a summit of Gran Paradiso, those who congregate here in the summer have one thing in common - a love of the great outdoors. Check into your comfortable 3* hotel and enjoy a home-made evening meal.
Dinner & Overnight: Pont, Valsavarenche
Day 2: The King’s Path
This hike is a great introductory walk to the area. Start with a steady ascent on an old King’s hunting path. The path is wide and the gradient gentle, it is lined with thistles and flowers, butterflies and bees are in abundance and the noise of crickets follows you as you walk. As you gradually gain height, stop every now and then to look back toward the Gran Paradiso massif, as well as views to tumbling waterfalls on the opposite valley wall.
Zig zag up Alpine meadows to reach a series of abandoned huts. You are likely to catch glimpses of marmot’s tales as they scurry around. Continue on the balcony path for a while, before starting the steep descent back to Pont.
Walk: 14km, 700m Ascent, 700m Descent
Dinner & Overnight: Pont, Valsavarenche
Day 3: At the Foot of Gran Paradiso
Ascend from Pont to the Rifugio Vittorio Emanuele II (2,732m), a popular local mountain hut .Take a break or even enjoy lunch at the hut.
Descend the way you came, or continue on the panoramic path to the Rifugio Chabod (2,750m). The path undulates followed by a final short ascent to reach the hut which occupies an amazing position, with sweeping views to the Gran Paradiso massif. Take a pair of binoculars for some ibex-spotting, they are known to lounge around the rocky ridges nearby. Descend to Pravieux (1,871m), from where you follow the road back to Pont.
Walk: 10 or 18 km, 1180m Ascent, 1180m Descent
Dinner & Overnight: Pont, Valsavarenche
Day 4: Transfer to Cogne, day at leisure
Enjoy a relaxing day off the trails. Your private taxi transfer will pick you up from your hotel and take you to your hotel in Cogne.
Cogne is a popular town in the Aosta valley and it is easy to see why. Typically Alpine, with an Italian charm, it’s a great base for exploring nearby walks. A former mining town, it is now most famous for being the ‘capital’ of the Gran Paradiso National Park. Enjoy an afternoon wandering the cobbled streets, taking in the atmosphere and enjoying an Aperol Spritz in the town centre.
Day 5: Lillaz Waterfalls Walk
A pleasant stroll starting directly from the centre of Cogne. Follow a shady riverside path as it gently ascends, following the glacial waters of the Torrente Grand’ Eyvia. The path soon opens up into a large Alpine meadow, before reaching the village of Lillaz. Continue to the waterfalls, and follow the short but steep path to the top for the best views. You will find tranquil spots for a break, and opportunity to dip weary feet into the refreshingly cold waters. Descend the opposite side of the waterfalls, eventually returning to Lillaz. Return to Cogne on foot, or by one of the local free summer buses.
Walk: 9km, 200m Ascent, 200m Descent
Day 6: Walk to Alpe Money
Take a local bus from Cogne to the hamlet of Valnontey. Ascend gently through conifer wood and alongside a white water torrent. As you leave the tree-line, the path becomes more varied and adventurous, sometimes an easy mountain path, sometimes rocky and scrambling, and some very small sections with rope and foot steps to aid ascent/descent. Once you reach Alpe Money, an old pasture with a collection of abandoned huts, views of the impressive collection of peaks (the Herbetet, Roccia Viva and the Gran Paradiso), as well as the Money and Tribolazione glaciers are outstanding.
Walk: 13 km, 735m Ascent, 735m Descent
Day 7: Walk to Lago di Loie or to Lago di Lauson
Head back to the town of Lillaz by bus, from where you will once again walk past the Lillaz waterfalls to gain height and complete the Lago di Loie circuit. The objective of today’s hike is the blue-green Lake di Loie, a great picnic spot, and for the brave, a very quick swim!
Alternatively, return to the Valnontey Valley for a hike up to Rifugio Vittorio Sella (2,584m), one of the classic huts in the area. On the way, visit the Alpine Botanic Gardens, a must for any budding botanist.
Continue onto Lake di Lauson (2, 656m), a picturesque mountain lake, whose waters often reflect the surrounding peaks. Enjoy a picnic here while keeping an eye out for the local wildlife.
Walk: Lago di Loie: 11 km, 840m Ascent/Descent
Lago di Lauson: 13 km, 1005m Ascent/Descent
Day 8: Onward Travel
Check out of your hotel and head to the bus station for your onward travel. We can also arrange extra nights in nearby Aosta and Courmayeur if you have more time to explore the area.
7 nights accommodation in 3* hotels is included in your trip. Hotels are hand-picked and offer a warm welcome to walkers.
There is the chance to upgrade to a 4* hotel in Cogne, if you feel like treating yourself.
You will find an example of the accommodation we normally use below. If these accommodations are not available we will use a hotel of a similar of better standard than those described. The Hotel Gran Paradiso is the only hotel in Pont.
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 should someone in your party wish to have their own room, again a supplement is payable.
7 breakfasts and 3 dinners (in Pont) are included.
Breakfast is always buffet-style with various options available. Italians are fans of sweet breakfasts with bread, jams, pastries, cakes, yoghurt and muesli available. Usually there are also local meats and cheeses, eggs and fruit on offer.
Dinners are included in Pont and you can expect hearty Italian and Valdotain specialities. Expect the full Italian experience with antipasto, primo, secondi and dolci courses. 2nd and 3rd courses are chosen in the morning at breakfast
Hotel Gran Paradiso - Pont
Hotel Gran Paradiso is a comfortable, simple 3* hotel located at the foot of the Gran Paradiso massif. It is the perfect base for nature lovers, and is a unique place to stay. The hotel has 18 rooms, a restaurant and a comfy lounge and bar area with views to the mountains. All rooms are on-suite, and some even have balconies looking onto the surrounding vistas (subject to availability). Enjoy a hearty, delicious dinner at the on-site restaurant after a long day on the trails.
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. Open to guests from 16.00-20.00, it’s a great place to relax your muscles after a day of walking. Take advantage of the jacuzzi, steam room and sauna.
Hotel Sant'Orso - Cogne
Conveniently located in Cogne’s cobbled-street centre, it is the sister-hotel of Hotel du Gran Paradis. It also benefits from views over the beautiful Sant’Orso meadows and its abundance of alpine flowers. Relax on the sun loungers in the garden with the most incredible views. Spa facilities include a heated panoramic pool, a heated mini pool with massage jets, sauna, Turkish baths, salt cave and relaxation areas.
Time of Year & Availability
You can start your Gran Paradiso adventure on any day between the end of June until mid September. The busiest time of the season is the month of August when almost all of France/Italy take their holidays! June/July are 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 tour is rated moderate. Distances vary from 9– 20km, and the ascent/descent is considerable, ranging between 200 and 1000m a day. Walks can be shortened simply by turning back when you have had enough, but to get the most from this tour you should be in good physical shape. The terrain is alpine, and paths are a mixture of woodland trails, rocky mountain paths, gravel tracks, boulder strewn-paths and faint, narrow grassy trails. There are sections of easy scrambling, and on the hike to Alpe Money there are very short sections with rope/footholds to help over some tricky terrain, although there is no exposure. There are a couple of easy river crossings.
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.
Bag transfer is not required for this tour. You will take your luggage with you on transfers from Aosta-Pont and from Pont-Cogne.
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.
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 Aosta and from Cogne
By Air: Fly into Turin (Torino) Airport from where you can take a local bus, train or taxi to Turin centre. From here, take a bus or train to Aosta (total journey time 3-4 hours). From Aosta, you will be picked up and taken to Pont (about 1 hour drive).
If required, we can arrange an extra night in Aosta for you.
Alternatively, you could 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 bus through the Mont Blanc tunnel to Courmayeur.
From here you will be picked up and taken to Pont (about 1 hour drive). If you would like to be picked up in Courmayeur instead of Aosta, there is a supplement payable. Please ask us for more information.
If required, we can arrange an extra night in Chamonix/Courmayeur for you.
Leaving Cogne, to return to Turin airport, you must travel via Aosta. We can arrange a taxi transfer for you, or you can take a local bus (approx. 1 hour). Check www.svap.it for more information. Buses run every couple of hours throughout the day. From Aosta, there are regular buses to Turin. Check www.savda.itfor more information.
- 7 Nights accommodation in 3* hotels
- 7 Breakfasts
- 3 Dinners (in Pont)
- Transfer from Aosta to Pont (Day 1) and from Pont to Cogne (Day 4)
- Detailed information pack, route notes, maps, GPS tracks and access to the Macs Adventure smartphone navigation app
- 24/7 telephone support from our UK office
- Travel insurance (required)
- Travel to Aosta and from Cogne
- 4 Dinners and all lunches
- Drinks and snacks
- Personal equipment
- Additional nights before, during or after the walk
- Single Room Supplement(s)
- Upgrade to 4* Hotel in Cogne
- Supplement for day 1 transfer from Courmayeur instead of Aosta
How fit do I need to be?
This tour is rated moderate. Distances vary from 9– 20km, and the ascent/descent is considerable, usually between 600-800m each day. Walks can be shortened simply by turning back when you have had enough, but to get the most from this tour you should be in good physical shape. The terrain is alpine, and paths are a mixture of woodland trails, rocky mountain paths, gravel tracks, boulder strewn-paths and faint, narrow grassy trails. There are sections of easy scrambling, and on the hike to Alpe Money there are very short sections with rope/footholds to help over some tricky terrain, although there is no exposure. There are a couple of easy river crossings.
Which is the best airport to fly to?
The closest airport is Turin 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?
As there are only 2 accommodations on this tour, there is just 2 transfers included for you and your luggage from Aosta (or Courmayeur upon request) to Pont, and from Pont to Cogne. We ask that you limit your luggage to 1 piece per person weighing no more than 20kgs.