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The week-long trek from Stelvio National Park through the Dolomites to Lake Garda will treat you to the richest diversity of landscapes and sights that the Alps have to offer.
Our itinerary takes us across glaciers and windswept passes of the Ortler-Cevedale group where we make our way along seldom-traveled trails amid snow-capped mountains. After descending into the warm and verdant valley Val di Sole (“The Valley of the Sun”), we head off into the Brenta Dolomites to see a completely different kind of mountains – the Dolomites, which formed as coral reefs in a prehistoric ocean. Reddish and arid, they feature multiple mountain tops huddled together and gorges stretching for miles. We spend three days in the Brenta Dolomites and cross this mountain range in its central part, roughly along the line traced between the resort towns of Madonna di Campiglio and Molveno. On reaching Molveno, we find ourselves in the local climate of the picture-perfect Lake Molveno that lends its name to an eponymous Alpine resort at an elevation of 900 meters above sea level. Weather permitting, we will take a dip in the lake before the bus takes us to Riva del Garda.
Lake Garda welcomes us with a warm southerly wind, a horizon dotted with sails, and mountain tops of the surrounding ridges that come aglow at sunset. The hike takes us down from mountain passes and Stelvio glaciers at elevations of over 3,000 m into the Mediterranean climate of Lake Garda at only 60 meters above sea level.
Day 1: Val di Sole
We arrive in Val di Sole valley and check in at our base camp hotel in the town of Malé. It is a typical Alpine township at the center of the valley. That same night at the hotel, we meet the guide and other fellow hikers.
Day 2: Monte Cevedale
Ascent 1000 m, descent 400 m. Hiking distance 10 km. 5 - 6 hours hiking.
Our trip begins at an elevation of about 2,000 meters in a highland area where we arrive in the morning right after breakfast. As we venture deeper into the mountain range, we traverse slopes facing the region's biggest glaciers extending from the Cevedale Peak into the gorge down below us. Today's itinerary is planned so we can reach a mountain hut by midday and choose one of the loop hikes for the second half of the day over lunch. There are two options: a hike to the Forcola glacier that offers a marvelous panorama of the Ortler group, or an ascent to isolated highland lakes nestled in a hollow under the cusp of the ridge.
Day 3: Careser lake and glacier
Ascent 600 m, descent 900 m. Hiking distance 13 km. 6 - 7 hours hiking.
Today’s itinerary includes two particularly interesting landmarks - the Careser Glacier and a lake of the same name. The lake is set at an elevation of 2,603 m. It was formed by a dam built back in 1931 along with a small power plant that runs to this day. Our trail runs over slopes above the lake before turning up toward the Careser Glacier which we will cross near the very ridge at elevations of 3,000 - 3,200 m. The Careser Glacier is the biggest albeit also the easiest glacier to cross on our route. As we approach the glacier, it remains hidden until we almost step on it, at which point it opens up unexpectedly in a wide front that completely blocks our view of the horizon. It takes roughly an hour to cross the glacier. Once on the other side, we descend to the inn.
Day 4: Corvo Lakes
Ascent 500 m, descent 1600 m. Hiking distance 14 km. 6 - 7 hours hiking.
Today we head towards the Corvo Lakes on a trail that takes us over warm southern slopes and lake hollows sheltered against the wind. We get to ascend to the ridge of the eastern Cevedale range that separates Trentino from South Tirol. Proceeding along the ridge, we skirt several peaks and descend to a group of lakes the biggest of which is Lago Corvo. The trail from the ridge down to the lakes runs over a very exposed slope that offers a splendid view of picture-perfect panoramas. On the other side of the lakes we come upon a mountain inn where we take a rest break. After cooling off, we descend into the valley.
Day 5: Ascent to Brenta Dolomites
Ascent 1000 m, no descent. Hiking distance 10 km. 6 - 7 hours hiking.
In the morning we travel by private bus to the foot of the Brenta Dolomites where our we start our ascent from the gorges of Vallesinella Valley, which is famous for its cascading waterfalls. Vallesinella gorges are overgrown by a dense mixed forest that conceals hundreds of wellsprings. The springs feed the mountain streams cascading down the slopes. Here waterfalls gush down from gorge escarpments and rivulets combine into churning streams which we will cross via suspended bridges. The gorges radiate a freshness and a pleasant chill even on the hottest of days. Passed the green belt we step in the typical Dolomites highlands and finish the day at an altitude of 2,600 m.
Day 6: Via Delle Bocchette
Ascent 400 m, descent 700 m. Hiking distance 8 km. 5 - 6 hours hiking.
Via delle Bocchette is one of the most fascinating via ferratas (protected climbing routes) not just in the Dolomites but in all of the Alps. We walk it from north to south, which is simpler than the other way around (in which case we would be finishing 250 meters below the starting point). This via ferrata meanders among the countless towers of the Brenta Dolomites, runs along fully exposed steep eastern cliffs, and passes through a narrow channel cut through the rock wall. Walking the length of Via delle Bocchette is a real adventure that is guaranteed to leave memorable impressions.
Day 7: Lake Molveno
No ascent, descent 1600 m. Hiking distance 11 km. 5 - 6 hours hiking.
Today's itinerary takes us over the eastern slopes of the Brenta Dolomites. We descend an impressive 1,600 meters from the highlands to Lake Molveno. The trek to the lake follows a pleasant and uncrowded trail running under the peaks of the Brenta Dolomites and offering spectacular views of this mountain group. As we make our descent through the gorge, Lake Molveno opens up before our own eyes, nestled in a hollow between the Brenta Dolomites and the nearby Paganella range. On a bright day, Lake Molveno takes on an intense sky-blue color, especially when seen from the elevation of our trail. A small resort town with a wide beach sits on the shore of the lake. Dipping into the refreshing waters of Lake Molveno seems like the natural thing to do, and we won't deny ourselves this pleasure. From there we will take a private bus to Lake Garda – the final destination of our hike. Lake Garda is very different even from Lake Molveno. It features a standard Mediterranean climate, a string of old resort towns, and countless beaches.
Day 8: Riva del Garda
Ouur hike brought us from the glaciers of Stelvio into the warm Mediterranean climate of Garda. If you aren't in a hurry to get to the airport, you can spend today relaxing on the beaches Riva del Garda or simply take a stroll through this ancient port town. Riva has a rich history that lives on in the Roman digs, a 12th century keep, and narrow streets dating from the times of the Venetian Republic.
The closest airport to the Stelvio-Ortler region is Verona. It takes around 4 hours to arrive by train and bus from the Verona airport to the valleys of Stelvio: Val di Sole, Val Venosta and the city of Merano.
Other possible airports are Venice, Bologna, Innsbruck, Munich and Milan.
We can help you plan the logistics and provide you with train and bus schedules: please contact us before you buy the plane tickets.
Good hiking boots with a possibility to attach crampons are a must for the our hiking trips with glaciers crossings. You must have warm clothes with your: waterproof and windproof jacket, fleece jacket, long trekking pants and a cap. A raincoat, poncho or other type of rainwear is necessary. The packing list includes personal sanitary items, light clean footwear to use in the huts, sunglasses and water bottles or bladders for a total capacity of at least 2 liters. Please refer to the recommended gear and clothing list that we email you when you book the trip and make sure you bring all items that are indicated as obligatory. For detailed information on the gear and clothing please read Trekking gear.
The first and last nights of your trip are in one of our basecamp hotels. While hiking, you will stay overnight in the mountain huts. You can count on the following services in the mountain huts: a bed in a shared room or in a private room (must be booked in advance), shower with hot water, toilets, meals, and a possibility to buy take away water and snacks such as sandwiches and chocolate. Shared rooms are equipped with bunk beds with mattresses, pillows and blankets. Bed linen is not provided in shared bedrooms: you must have a sleeping bag liner with you. Typically, it is a light cotton bag. Warm sleeping bag is unnecessary, since there are blankets in the bedrooms. In private rooms you are often offered bed linen, thus a sleeping bag liner is not required. If you book private rooms, we inform you on whether you need to bring a sleeping bag liner. Most huts have a heating system, but it is normally not required in the summer months. You will need clean footwear for the huts: light slides are an ideal solution. For detailed information on the huts please read Mountain Huts in the Alps.
In hut-to-hut hiking tours you are served a breakfast and a dinner in the huts and mountain hotels on the route.
Normally, the breakfast is served from 7am to 9am. It usually includes an unlimited quantity of coffee and tea, bread, butter, jam, honey and chocolate spread. In addition, some huts offer ham, cheese and muesli for breakfast. After breakfast we recommend filling your thermos with hot water or tea: ask the staff, and it will be for free in most huts.
The dinner time in the mountain huts is 7pm or 7:30pm for all guests. A typical dinner in a hut is very rich and includes a starter, the first course (such as pasta, risotto, dumplings), the second course (meat with a side dish) and a dessert. Any drinks at dinner (water, wine, beer, tea, coffee) are not free and should be ordered and paid separately.
Lunch. During most day crossings there will be no huts on the way where you could stop for lunch. We recommend taking a packed lunch from the hut in the morning. A typical packed lunch includes 1 or 2 sandwiches, yoghurt, chocolate bar, water, and it normally costs 7 - 8 euros. Tell the staff in the evening that you would like to take a packed lunch. Alternatively, on some days of the route, you can reach the next mountain hut in 4-5 hours and have lunch there.
Our guided hiking tours are led by professional guides, each with years of guiding and wilderness experience and with passion for mountains. They permanently work in the region of the exact hiking tour, have professional licenses, are experts in emergency situations, regularly upgrade their qualifications and work in accordance with national regulations.
Mountains are a natural environment with a high level of risk, so we insistently ask all participants to read the safety rules and emergency procedures: Safety considerations. If you have questions about the safety rules, please contact us +39 0463 63 60 80.
Insurance. It is important to have an appropriate insurance that covers the hiking activity. You don't need to include the climbing activity in your insurance, unless you are planning to climb during the hike.
Visa. We will provide you with a booking confirmation for all days of your trip. If you need the Italian visa, you can enclose this document with your visa application.
The hiking route goes mainly along the highlands where the weather conditions can change dramatically throughout the day. On open slopes at a level of 2,400 m (7,870 ft) and above, the temperature in a warm day doesn’t exceed 15° C (59° F). On the passes at 3,000 m (9,840 ft), the day temperature maximum is 10° C (34° F). It is warmer in the high-altitude valleys below the level of 2,700 m (8,860 ft) which are closed from the wind flows and on the sunny slopes. In a cool day at 2,700 m (8,860 ft) and above sparse snow can fall even in August, but this happens extremely rare. Nights in the highlands are always cold, frosts are possible throughout the summer at an elevation of 2900 m (9,510 ft) and above.
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