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Great Dolomites Traverse - Gardena to Cortina (Inn-to-inn combo hiking tour)
hiking to Vicenza hut in the Dolomites
Length: 11 days, 10 nights
Hike Rating: Moderate-Strenuous
2015 Departure:  July 4-14
Tour Cost:  $3895/person
$250 single supplement
Included:  6 nights 3-4 star hotels
4 nights huts/inns with private rooms
all breakfasts and lunches, 9 dinners
guided hikes daily
all transfers to/from trailheads
luggage transfers between villages
Bolzano-Selva taxi transfer

Dolomites tour reservation

Nothing prepares you for the otherworldly beauty of the Dolomites, whose sheer pink and yellow limestone pinnacles tower like monuments over quaint villages, flowery meadows, wooded valleys, and sun-soaked trails. Italian, Austrian, and ancient Ladin cultures intermingle peacefully in the small, scattered villages in this mountainous corner of Italy. The Dolomites also boast a surprising variety of beautiful wildflowers in the grassy meadows below the mountains. This inn-to-inn tour starts with a circuit the Val Gardena, our favorite corner of the Dolomites, before venturing east through the Badia valley to the soaring rock towers that surround Cortina d'Ampezzo. You're also welcome to join us for either half of the tour. Dolomites West covers the first 5 nights from Selva to Ortisei, while Dolomites East includes the last 6 nights from Ortisei to Cortina.

Our tour begins in Bolzano, a beautiful small city filled with plazas and museums, including the South Tyrol Museum of Archeology, where you can see Ötzi, the 5300 year old ice man found in a nearby glacier. We'll meet in Bolzano and then take a 1 hour drive to Selva. Selva is a small, sunny village at the upper end of the Gardena valley, with miles of hiking trails radiating in every direction. We'll start our tour with a loop around the Gardena valley, visiting a couple high huts along the way, before heading east through the hidden Funes valley, past the mighty Sella mountain, on the the historic mountaintop Lagazuoi, and finally to Cortina d'Ampezzo. We'll have 4 nights in high huts and mountain inns (note, there are no single rooms at the huts), and 6 nights in comfortable and casual 3-star hotels with great food. You won't want to leave! hiking the Puez Odle National Park in the Italian Dolomites

Our typical day starts with a delicious buffet breakfast at our hotel - a feast of freshly baked bread and pastries, local meats and cheeses, cereal, fruit, eggs, coffee and freshly squeezed juice - which gives us the energy needed for the task ahead. Soon we'll be out on the trail, where you'll get to choose between an easier or more strenuous hike for the day. Each morning, you'll be handed a lunch to carry, and at a mid-point along the way we'll choose a beautiful spot to stop and enjoy our picnic. We get a lot of compliments on our imaginative lunches - making them something to look forward to as well!

For our hikes, there are many route options, and a lot of flexibility most days, and we should finish each day around 4 pm, giving you time to wash up, relax, perhaps settle into the pool, or just gaze upon the outside panorama from your room balcony. After that, we'll enjoy dinner together at our hotel's fabulous restaurants. These are multi-course feasts, often featuring delicious local Austrian and Italian specialties. We will leave one dinner in Ortisei free, giving you a chance to explore on your own.

Ortisei in the Gardena valley is one of the Dolomites' prettiest villagesThe Dolomites is truly a special region. With beautiful inns and hikes, this Dolomites tour will make an unforgettable vacation.

Day 1 Arrive in Italy and transfer by train to Bolzano, your gateway to the Dolomites. Bolzano is a pleasant city with large squares, outdoor markets, and a captivating natural history museum (home of the famous Ötzi iceman). From here, you'll take private taxi transfer to Selva, surrounded by stunning scenery at the upper end of the Gardena valley. We'll enjoy a wonderful welcome dinner and settle in to our comfortable and friendly 3-star hotel for the night. (Hotel Krone)
Days 2-3 Hiking hut-to-hut, we'll start with a circuit of the towering Sassolungo mountain group, to the Plattkofel hut, a comfortable mountain inn tucked at the base of jagged, imposing rock spires. After a night here, we'll continue on a mellow high-level traverse above the Alpe di Siusi, the largest mountain meadow in the Alps, to Schlern hut, an historic mountain inn atop the mighty Schlern peak, with breathtaking views in every direction. We'll have private rooms at both stops, but no showers at Schlern hut. (rifugios Plattkofel and Schlernhaus)
Days 4-5 We have our choice of either a rugged descent through a narrow gorge or an easier descent across the vast meadows of the Alpe di Siusi, where we'll catch a bus or cable car down to Ortisei. On our 2nd day, we might take a dayhike through high scenic meadows, where we can look back on almost our entire route so far. Or for a more adventurous outing, meet up with a local guide for a via ferrata climb on one of the local routes In the evening, you can unwind and enjoy the excellent cuisine at our tasteful 3-star hotel. This marks the end of our Dolomites West tour, and beginning of the Dolomites East hike. Dinner is on your own your first night in Ortisei. (Hotel Stetteneck)
Spend a night in the wondrously secret Val di Funes on our hut-to-hut Dolomites tour Day 6 Leaving Ortisei, we'll hike into the beautiful and quiet Val di Funes to the Genova hut. This gorgeous valley is not to be missed, with quiet meadows and extensive views of the towering Puez-Odle mountain group. (rifugio Genova)
Day 7 A dramatic hike through high, rocky landscapes brings us to the Gardena pass, where the massive Sella mountain dominates. From here, a scenic descent or a short bus transfer brings us to Corvara in the traditional Alta Badia region. Stay comfortable and friendly hotel in this pleasant village. (Hotel Villa Eden)
Day 8 We have a number or great choices for a dayhike from Corvara. Perhaps an energetic ascent up into the high rocky plateau of the Sella, to the rifugio Boe. An easier option leads us through gentle, scenic meadows of Pralongia, with constant panoramic views of the entire region. Stay in Corvara a 2nd night. (Hotel Villa Eden)
Day 9 Today's dramatic walk takes us high above the valley to the rifugio Lagazuoi, a hut perched at the summit of a mountain with incredible views and rich history. This was the scene of fierce fighting in WWI, and many tunnels and artifacts remain to this day. This is also our simplest night, with dormitory only at the hut (rifugio Lagazuoi)
Day 10 Finally, we'll cap our trip with a long descent on a quiet, lightly-traveled route through the Fanes National Park. This surprising descent is filled with waterfalls, and promises yet another memorable day. We'll finish in Cortina d'Ampezzo, the lively town at the heart of the eastern Dolomites for a final, celebratory evening. (Hotel Cortina or de la Poste)
Day 11 Today we say arrivederci, and depart for our post-tour destinations.

Dolomites tour reservation

Arrive: Plan to arrive in Italy the day the tour meets at the latest (flights from the US would depart the day before). The closest airports are Innsbruck, Verona and Venice, but Munich is also convenient. There is a train station at the airport that will take you to Bolzano/Bozen. This tour includes taxi pickup in Bolzano.
Depart: Plan departure for the day after the tour finishes at the earliest. If you have a morning flight, plan on a night at a hotel in your departure city. There is a bus station in Cortina with connections to many destinations.

See our Dolomites photo gallery

Dates don't work? Check out our self-guided Dolomites Val Gardena Traverse, which can be modified to mirror this itinerary, or ask about a private guided departure for your family or group.

A refreshing hiking break in the Val Gardena on our hut-to-hut through the Dolomites Dolomites Traverse, West and East

Dolomites West:   July 4-9
Length: 6 days, 5 nights
Hike Rating: Moderate-Strenuous,
Tour Cost:   $2495 per person
$200 single supplement

Dolomites East:   July 8-14
Length: 7 days, 6 nights
Hike Rating: Moderate-Strenuous,

Tour Cost:   $2895 per person
$200 single supplement

Dolomites tour reservation

For those without the time to devote to the full Dolomites Traverse tour, you are welcome to join us for half the tour. Our Dolomites West starts in Selva, and crosses the Gardena valley on the way to Ortisei. Dolomites East picks up in Ortisei, and heads east from there to Cortina d'Ampezzo. Both stand alone as a beautiful tour in their own right, with plenty of great hiking, wonderful views, and a great mix of village hotels and high, remote inns.

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