Walking Holidays

Europe’s majestic mountains ~ with a genuine specialist
Organised & Self-guided Walking

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Tel. 01799 513331 - - Open Today - 9am to 5.30pmCollett's Ltd. is ABTA bonded W6883 - Travel with confidence
Organised & Self-guided Walking with a Genuine Specialist

With Up to 70% Discount for children at our chalet hotels* in August and Free Airport Transfers for children with fare paying adults, a summer walking holiday to the Dolomites is a perfect choice for a family walking holiday. A vibrant atmosphere throughout August with so much to see and do for families – active or not – and landscapes that will captivate the kids…

By Tom Collett: In August we took our children to the Dolomites for a summer holiday of walking and other alpine activity. We invited another family from our village with children of similar ages – 7 girls in total. These friends have helped us explore the Lake District on several camping breaks near Keswick. Naturally, we wanted them to see what all the fuss was about in the Dolomites. As the children were all reasonably accomplished walkers, we reckoned they would thrive in the mountains. And thrive we all did!

Our Family Holiday Slideshow – Dolomites August

Collett's Family Walking Holiday Collett's Family Walking Holiday
Collett's Family Walking Holiday Collett's Family Walking Holiday
Collett's Family Walking Holiday Collett's Family Walking Holiday
Collett's Family Walking Holiday Collett's Family Walking Holiday
Collett's Family Walking Holiday Collett's Family Walking Holiday
Collett's Family Walking Holiday Collett's Family Walking Holiday
Collett's Family Walking Holiday Collett's Family Walking Holiday
Collett's Family Walking Holiday Collett's Family Walking Holiday
Collett's Family Walking Holiday Collett's Family Walking Holiday
Collett's Family Walking Holiday Collett's Family Walking Holiday
Collett's Family Walking Holiday Collett's Family Walking Holiday
Collett's Family Walking Holiday Collett's Family Walking Holiday
Collett's Family Walking Holiday Collett's Family Walking Holiday
Collett's Family Walking Holiday Collett's Family Walking Holiday
Collett's Family Walking Holiday Collett's Family Walking Holiday
Collett's Family Walking Holiday Collett's Family Walking Holiday
Collett's Family Walking Holiday Collett's Family Walking Holiday
Collett's Family Walking Holiday Collett's Family Walking Holiday
Collett's Family Walking Holiday Collett's Family Walking Holiday
Collett's Family Walking Holiday Collett's Family Walking Holiday
Collett's Family Walking Holiday Collett's Family Walking Holiday
Collett's Family Walking Holiday Collett's Family Walking Holiday
Collett's Family Walking Holiday Collett's Family Walking Holiday
Collett's Family Walking Holiday Collett's Family Walking Holiday
Collett's Family Walking Holiday Collett's Family Walking Holiday
Collett's Family Walking Holiday Collett's Family Walking Holiday
Collett's Family Walking Holiday Collett's Family Walking Holiday
Collett's Family Walking Holiday Collett's Family Walking Holiday
Collett's Family Walking Holiday Collett's Family Walking Holiday
Collett's Family Walking Holiday Collett's Family Walking Holiday
Collett's Family Walking Holiday Collett's Family Walking Holiday
Collett's Family Walking Holiday Collett's Family Walking Holiday
Collett's Family Walking Holiday Collett's Family Walking Holiday
Collett's Family Walking Holiday Collett's Family Walking Holiday
Collett's Family Walking Holiday Collett's Family Walking Holiday
Collett's Family Walking Holiday Collett's Family Walking Holiday
Collett's Family Walking Holiday Collett's Family Walking Holiday
Collett's Family Walking Holiday Collett's Family Walking Holiday
Collett's Family Walking Holiday Collett's Family Walking Holiday
Collett's Family Walking Holiday Collett's Family Walking Holiday
Collett's Family Walking Holiday Collett's Family Walking Holiday
Collett's Family Walking Holiday Collett's Family Walking Holiday
Collett's Family Walking Holiday Collett's Family Walking Holiday
Collett's Family Walking Holiday Collett's Family Walking Holiday
Collett's Family Walking Holiday Collett's Family Walking Holiday
Collett's Family Walking Holiday Collett's Family Walking Holiday
Collett's Family Walking Holiday Collett's Family Walking Holiday
Collett's Family Walking Holiday Collett's Family Walking Holiday
Collett's Family Walking Holiday Collett's Family Walking Holiday
Collett's Family Walking Holiday Collett's Family Walking Holiday
Collett's Family Walking Holiday Collett's Family Walking Holiday
Collett's Family Walking Holiday Collett's Family Walking Holiday

This was one of the best holidays we could have wished for and it was heartwarming to witness the constant ‘purring’ of our friends, as they took in the magical scenery on a succession of breathtaking walks. When we relieved them of their map reading and navigation duties, the children lapped up the scrambling opportunities and tried to capture the fun and amazing landscapes on their cameras. They loved the remote mountain huts that punctuated every walk and, even though we had good weather, hot chocolates with cream were always the order of the day.

Our guests were apprehensive about a chalet holiday but within minutes of arriving at Haus Valentin in Badia, they were grinning like Cheshire cats, overwhelmed by the view from the sun terrace over the village and its upland pastures to the spectacular walls and turrets of Santa Croce. Inside, they wallowed in the relaxed and friendly atmosphere created by other like-minded families and guests – whilst also benefiting from the unassuming hospitality and in-depth local knowledge of the Collett’s team, all of whom embraced the children enthusiastically. I would often come down to the bar after a post-walk nap and find them playing cards or board games with the kids.

There is so much for families to see and do in the Dolomites, especially in August, when the area is at its most vibrant. With Collett’s, the many options are well presented and assistance in making arrangements is always at hand. We did a lot of walking in beautiful weather, but we also hired bikes, went ice skating, tried the high ropes garden, joined a painting day and passed through exquisite Tyrolean villages. It was as happy, healthy, fun and wholesome as a holiday could be. The slideshow above is just a small snapshot of it.

If you want to inspire your children (and have a memorable family holiday at the same time), why not take them walking in the Dolomites this summer? With discounts and free transfers for the kids, it is an affordable way of having the family walking holiday of a lifetime.

Contact us now by phone on 01799 513331 or enquire here.

Dolomites Family Discounts in August - Hosted Chalets

One or two children sharing a room with parentsAugust Only70% off
Families with 2 or 3 children using two bedroomsAugust Only25% off

*A child is aged 18 or less at the time of travel.
*Family discounts apply only when at least two people are paying full price.
*Children get a free Airport Transfer when accompanied by a fare paying adult.
*Excludes Chalet Roch.

A Classic Collett's Walking Holiday

in the Italian Dolomites

In Summer 2018 I decided to go on a walking holiday. I had recently turned 50 and a recent visit to the doctor had revealed I had high cholesterol. I had heard much about the health benefits of a good walk and so a walking holiday in the mountains was to replace my usual beer and beach extravaganza. My goodness, my eyes were opened wide to a new joy. Ok, I probably chose the most beautiful place on earth for this holiday, the Italian Dolomites. That was a sheer coincidence. I stumbled across a walking holiday website and I was lulled into it by the photos. Anyway, it was the start of a process that has made a huge difference to my well-being and outlook on life.

You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to know that walking is a good way to lose weight and lower blood pressure, thereby reducing the risk of cardiovascular diseases and strokes. But did you know (1) that the extra oxygen and glucose it takes to the brain can make you more intelligent and sharp-minded? (2) that it helps control blood sugar levels and might therefore protect you from diabetes? (3) that it maintains your bone density and therefore staves off arthritis and osteoperosis? … and (4) it can significantly improve digestion and give you a much happier gut. Not bad credentials, eh?

Some photos from my holiday in the Dolomites

Walking for Health Benefits
Walking for Health Benefits
Walking for Health Benefits
Walking for Health Benefits
Walking for Health Benefits

If I’m honest, whilst I am delighted to know about all the above, as a convert to walking (I am already booked to go walking in the Pyrenees next summer) I want to simply say how good I feel every time I go for a walk, whether it’s in the mountains or round the local park. That in itself is the greatest benefit I have experienced since my walking holiday with Collett’s in Italy’s fantastic Dolomites. I am now happy and I think positively. My glass is half-full and I crave my weekends with other walkers discovering the beauty of the UK.

Thanks to Jon Milligan, a Collett’s guest from September 2018, for his letter.

Contact us now on 01799 513331 or view our Walking Holiday Destinations page for more information.

I’ve just got back from a week at Haus Valentin in Badia and was lucky enough to spend the whole week road cycling in glorious weather. We went on a family holiday with Collett’s in Corvara a couple of years ago, but this time I went on my own, rented a car at Venice Marco Polo and a bike for the week from ‘TopBike’ in Badia. By removing the parcel shelf and folding the seats I was able to pop the front wheel off and easily transport the bike, which meant I could tackle all the great climbs in the area whilst keeping the distances manageable.

First off, after collecting the bike, was Passo delle Erbe from San Martino in Badia. A lovely quiet climb except for the odd car club and groups of motorbikes, with coffee and studel at the top – 4400ft including the 750ft of re-ascent on the way down. I still had time in the afternoon for a quick hike up the interesting Sass de Stria above Falzarego. https://www.strava.com/routes/14002906.

Climbing Everest with Collett’s on a bike!

Cycling the Dolomites with Collett's Cycling the Dolomites with Collett's
Cycling the Dolomites with Collett's Cycling the Dolomites with Collett's
Hotel Romantik Spielman - Luxury Hotel in the Austrian Alps Hotel Romantik Spielman - Luxury Hotel in the Austrian Alps
Cycling the Dolomites with Collett's Cycling the Dolomites with Collett's
Cycling the Dolomites with Collett's Cycling the Dolomites with Collett's
Cycling the Dolomites with Collett's Cycling the Dolomites with Collett's
Cycling the Dolomites with Collett's Cycling the Dolomites with Collett's
Cycling the Dolomites with Collett's Cycling the Dolomites with Collett's
Cycling the Dolomites with Collett's Cycling the Dolomites with Collett's
Cycling the Dolomites with Collett's Cycling the Dolomites with Collett's
Cycling the Dolomites with Collett's Cycling the Dolomites with Collett's
Cycling the Dolomites with Collett's Cycling the Dolomites with Collett's
Cycling the Dolomites with Collett's Cycling the Dolomites with Collett's
Cycling the Dolomites with Collett's Cycling the Dolomites with Collett's
Cycling the Dolomites with Collett's Cycling the Dolomites with Collett's
Cycling the Dolomites with Collett's Cycling the Dolomites with Collett's
Cycling the Dolomites with Collett's Cycling the Dolomites with Collett's
Cycling the Dolomites with Collett's Cycling the Dolomites with Collett's
Cycling the Dolomites with Collett's Cycling the Dolomites with Collett's
Cycling the Dolomites with Collett's Cycling the Dolomites with Collett's
Cycling the Dolomites with Collett's Cycling the Dolomites with Collett's
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Cycling the Dolomites with Collett's Cycling the Dolomites with Collett's
Cycling the Dolomites with Collett's Cycling the Dolomites with Collett's
Cycling the Dolomites with Collett's Cycling the Dolomites with Collett's
Cycling the Dolomites with Collett's Cycling the Dolomites with Collett's
Cycling the Dolomites with Collett's Cycling the Dolomites with Collett's
Cycling the Dolomites with Collett's Cycling the Dolomites with Collett's
Cycling the Dolomites with Collett's Cycling the Dolomites with Collett's
Cycling the Dolomites with Collett's Cycling the Dolomites with Collett's
Cycling the Dolomites with Collett's Cycling the Dolomites with Collett's
Cycling the Dolomites with Collett's Cycling the Dolomites with Collett's

Sunday was Dolomites Bike Day when they close the roads to traffic over Campolongo, Falzarego and Valparolo passes, so I joined up with some other Collett’s cyclists at Corvara and enjoyed a relaxed circuit with no traffic – https://www.strava.com/routes/14002743 with 5400ft of ascent.

On Monday I drove over to Cortina d’Ampezzo and cycled over Passo Tre Croci, past Misurina and right up to the road end at Tre Cime – a brutal climb after the toll booth which was scarily steep on the way down! The route loops round the back of Monte Cristallo with a lovely descent back into Cortina – https://www.strava.com/routes/14002695 with 5600ft of ascent. On the way back to Badia I had time to explore the Goiginger tunnels on the side of Sass di Stria.

On Tuesday I decided to tackle Passo Giau, which is definitely a step up from the regular Dolomites passes (except for the traumatising Tre Cime!). Starting from the outskirts of Cortina I went up over Passo Falzarego then skirted across to Codalonga on the very scenic SP251. Giau was pretty hard going – I had to have a little lie down and a gel on the way up. https://www.strava.com/routes/14002674 6600ft of ascent. For some reason I stopped in La Villa on the way back and went down and up the Mür dl Giat – a sharp little climb used in the Maratona : https://www.strava.com/routes/14002853. Attacking it with all the power of a middle-aged mediocre cyclist who’s just climbed Passo Giau, I posted 5834th place on Strava – a result destined to tumble further when the Maratona passes up it in July.

On Wednesday I granted myself the morning off (the bike) with a hike up the airy Kaiserjäger trail to the top of the Picollo Lagazuoi and back round via Forcella Salares. In the afternoon I polished off the Sella Ronda anti-clockwise for another 5900ft https://www.strava.com/routes/14002645. The last couple of hours were gorgeous with very quiet roads and the sun setting on the Fanes, and I still made it back to Badia just in time for the main course in Ustaria Posta.

For my last day I drove over to Arabba and went up Passo Pordoi before dropping down to Canazei for the climb up Passo Fedaia under the dramatic Marmolada. Luckily I’d read the Collett’s laminate and swapped the direction so that I went down the 18% side rather than up it! I forked off before Caprile on the charming SP563 through Digonera with lovely gentle zig-zags back up to the Arabba road for a final 8000ft of ascent : https://www.strava.com/routes/14001956.

I’m a bit sceptical about the amount of climbing reported by Strava – I’ve used my recorded activities rather than the activities converted to routes which seem to inflate the figures yet further, but it looks like I’ve done in excess of 30,000ft in 6 days. If you like climbing then the Dolomites is a superb destination for road cycling – spectacular in every sense.

Thanks to Peter Bevan, a Collett’s guest from June 2018, for his superb blog.

Contact us now on 01799 513331 or view our Road Cycling page for more information.

Our hosted chalet on the flanks of Sassongher in Corvara

  • Warm hospitality, fantastic views from a tranquil location, excellent food and good company
  • Attractive en suite bedrooms, sociable dinners
  • Rely on the local knowledge of our hosts and walk organisers
  • Superb evening meals in a nearby restaurant

Ciasa Roch – Corvara
Chalet Roch, Corvara, Italy

Ciasa Roch provides modern and comfortable accommodation with fourteen delightful en suite double bedrooms, many with balconies, and a pleasant bar are on the ground floor where we meet for ‘Office Hour’. Attractive and tranquil location with wonderful views under the impressive southern flanks of Sassongher (2665m). Owned by our friend Petra, Ciasa Roch is run as a B&B guesthouse, and dinner is served to our half board guests in a nearby restaurant. Ciasa Roch has a prime location just 10 minutes walk from the village centre.

From Corvara you can take the Col Alt chairlift up onto the Pralongià Plateau where low level walkers will thrive amongst the flower meadows. The Pralongià Plateau is a labyrinth of gentle walks interspersed with quaint and hospitable mountain huts, each with sensational views and excellent food which is refreshingly cheaply priced. There are many challenging moderate and high level walks that can be found right from the door.

  • Halfboard or B&B
  • Excellent 3 course evening meals
  • Complimentary wine with dinner
  • Continental breakfast
  • En suite bedrooms
  • Bar & Breakfast Room
  • Attractive garden
  • WIFI Internet
  • Arrive and depart anyday

Further Information
Chalet Roch, CorvaraCorvaraChalet Roch, Corvara

Ciasa Roch – Corvara

Perfect Village Location

Chalet Roch is owned and managed by our ever-welcoming friend, Petra, with a little help from Erika, her mother. The chalet enjoys a pleasant and tranquil location in the village and you will enjoy amazing views of Sassonger, Santa Croce and the towering flanks of the Sella massif. Each morning a good continental breakfast is served in the bar before guests venture out into the mountains. It is an easy and pleasant stroll into the pretty village centre of Corvara with its cafes, bars, shops, ice rink and more. Nestled spectacularly under the vast and dramatic walls of the Sella massif, Corvara is a beautiful alpine resort for walkers, cyclists and anyone who simply enjoys spectacular mountain views and warm hospitality.

Comfortable bedrooms

Bedrooms here are large and comfortable and all have en suite bathrooms. Doubles, Twins, Triples and even one quad room are available – the majority with balconies.

Evenings in Ciasa Roch – Office Hour & Dinner

We hold Office Hour in the bar at Ciasa Roch, every evening (not Wednesday) between 6 and 7pm. Here you can chat with our hosts about organised itineraries for the following day, or pore over piste maps to create your own self guided itineraries… or simply enjoy a sociable drink in the company of other like-minded guests. After dinner, guests staying on a half board basis will take a short stroll to a nearby restaurant where we have a large table booked each night (except Weds), where along with a couple of our resort team you will enjoy a delicious 3 course meal with wine included

At dinner the atmosphere around the table is informal and it is easy to unwind: people with largely common interests (and inspired by a beautiful day in the mountains) talk and laugh over good food and drink until well after coffee has been served. Over the years we have regularly been overwhelmed by the heartwarming and friendly atmosphere that prevails in our chalets. Frankly, it is a delight to witness the friendships that are built on these chalet holidays. Goodbyes amongst guests and hosts are often quite emotional!

You can stay in Ciasa Roch on a halfboard basis.

  • Free and optional walks with our wildflower experts
  • Our flower walkers know where to find the rare and celebrated species

Overview
Dolomites Wildflower Holidays and Botanical Tours with Collett's Mountain Holidays

Wildflower Walks in the Dolomites

The Italian Dolomites are a ‘mecca’ for alpine wildflowers and our two resorts are nestled close to some celebrated floral sites, such as the Pordoi Pass, the Bindelweg and the Vallunga. We offer free and optional flower walks 5 days a week. These are offered alongside our programme of high level, moderate and easier walks on a Collett’s walking holiday in the Dolomites. Simply drop into Office Hour each evening to obtain details and sign up. Click here for our Summer 2018 Wildflower Report.

Flora & Flower Walks
Wildflower Walks & Alpine Flowers in Italy with Collett'sWildflower Walking Holidays in the South Tyrol

Walk in Europe’s best floral sites

Organised walks, daily in June & July – not Weds. or Sats.

This is an outstanding area for wildflowers and it is one of life’s great pleasures to walk among them. Throughout June and July you can join our own flower walkers on free and optional daily excursions (not Wednesdays or Saturdays) into the profuse flower meadows and other places where classic and rare species flourish. Over the years we have documented the locations of the classic and rare species and this invaluable knowledge grows each year, providing so much pleasure for flower enthusiasts.

The Dolomites present a slightly different geology from the main alpine chain and many rare species are at their best here, notably Campanula morettiana, Eritrichium nanum, Paederota bonarota, Papaver rhaeticum, Potentilla nitida, Ranunculus seguieri and the very beautiful Physoplexis comosa. Some of the most renowned floral sites in the Alps are the nearby Bindelweg, Belvedere, Pordoi, Sella Massif and Val Gardena. Habitats vary from vivid and profuse upland meadows teeming with orchids and wildflowers to rocky outcrops where countless alpine gems thrive in the most perfect of settings. In spring, as the snow retreats to the highest peaks, crocuses and hepaticas appear and the flower season begins. By mid June, the alpine pastures are smothered in startling colour – the yellows of the arnicas, geums and poppies – the pinks, mauves and reds of the soldanellas, daphne, primulas andrhododendrons -the stunning blues of the campanulas and gentians and, in its high mountain home, the ‘King of the Alps’, Eritrichium nanum. July enhances this botanical array with edelweiss, lilies, potentillas and orchids, creating a truly floral paradise under a high summer sun.

Click here for our Summer 2018 Wildflower Report.

Accommodation
Walking Holiday Accommodation in the Dolomites

At a glance - our walking holiday accommodation in the Dolomites

Click here for more detail and photography

As with everything at Collett’s, we offer you choice and flexibility where accommodation is concerned. Whether you are driven by budget or by a desire to self indulge, all our accommodation is delightful and we should have something just right. Whatever you choose, you are always a guest of Collett's. You are therefore welcome at Office Hour, where you can sign up to any of the organised walks that take your fancy, plan self guided walking, book locally supplied activities or acquire information on places of interest. You are also welcome to drop in anytime to one of our chalet hotels for help or local information.

Our Chalet Hotels

Our chalet hotels are immensely popular. They combine the relaxed feeling of being ‘at home’ with the bonus of being well looked after and superbly fed. Add to this the really pleasant social dynamic that prevails when guests have had an inspirational day out and then sit down for a delicious three course dinner (with wine included) in the good company of other guests, who have largely similar interests. Many guests return year after year for this genuinely charming atmosphere, not to mention the beautiful locations, attractive en suite bedrooms, access to local information and our warm ever-present hospitality.

Two Exquisite Mountain Hotels

In the Dolomites, we feature two exquisite mountain hotels, both in beautiful locations. One is in Badia, the other in Corvara. Both are run seamlessly by the families that own them and you can expect really lovely accommodation, sublime food and outstanding service plus a heart-warming focus on your comfort and well-being – nothing is too much trouble. Both hotels are close to one of our chalet hotels, so it is easy for you to wander along to an Office Hour should you wish to sign up to an organised walk or get information for self guiding or other days out.

Self-Catering

If you would prefer to self cater, we have various apartments in and around Badia and Corvara. All of them are within easy walking distance of the shops and village amenities. Wherever you stay it is easy to wander to one of our chalet hotels and drop in on Office Hour, should you wish to sign up to an organised walk or get information for self guiding or other days out.

More about our Walking Holiday Accommodation in the Dolomites

Mountain Flowers – The Dolomites
Alpine Flower book for the Dolomites

A superb alpine flower book
by Cliff Booker & David Charlton

User-friendly and minimal technical language
Beautiful photography and stunning close-ups
The perfect companion for mountain flower enthusiasts

At last! A superb, beautifully illustrated, inexpensive and user-friendly reference book for flower enthusiasts visiting the Dolomites. Collett’s Moutain Holidays has teamed up with our longest-standing and popular flower walk organisers, Cliff Booker and David Charlton, to produce a handy-sized, ring-bound pocket book. It will surely enhance the experience of anyone visiting the Dolomites to enjoy the magnificent and diverse flora. Using a minimum of technical language and featuring stunning photographic close-ups, ‘Mountain Flowers – The Dolomites’ is available exclusively through Collett’s Mountain Holidays.

You can buy a copy at £9.95 (plus £2.50 UK P&P) when booking your holiday or use our order form here or call us on 01799 513331.

The winter is drawing to an end with our final week of guests. The snow is receding from the lower slopes and with the changing of the clocks the warm afternoon sun is a perfect opportunity to enjoy a spritz after a day of spring skiing. This is undoubtedly one of my favourite times of year. The warmer weather brings with it a gentle breeze, a sign that the winter has run its course, time to turn one’s attention to the summer ahead. Here in the Dolomites it won’t be long before the snow covered hills become flower filled meadows.

That said, there is still plenty of good skiing to be had and we have been out on the mountain most days making the most of the last week of the season.

 

Last week we went to check out a Dolomites favourite, the Hidden Valley. Starting at a height of 2,752m, the run stretches an impressive 11km, winding its way down from the top of the Lagazuoi cable car back down to Armentarola where you can re-join the Dolomites Superski area. Lagazuoi holds historical importance after its involvement in WW1 as part of the Austrian front. Because of this it is also a popular destination in summer, as it is possible to climb the full height of the mountain inside the tunnels dug out by soldiers approximately one hundred years ago. If this doesn’t appeal then the cable car will whisk hikers and skiers alike, over sheer Dolomite cliffs, to the top of the mountain.

Lagazuoi Rifugio

From here we made a visit to the Lagazuoi Rifugiowhich offers incredible panoramic views of some of the most impressive and recognisable peaks in the Dolomites. We enjoyed the sun and a quick expresso before stretching our legs on the black run that twists its way down from the summit, back down to the cable car again.

Then it was time to head down the Hidden Valley itself. With the best weather we could have hoped for and the sun on our backs we started our descent, stopping from place to place to take in the views. It is completely and utterly isolated from civilisation and the reason behind the name becomes apparent very quickly. The run is a mixture of gentle, undulating tracks higher up where the valley is wide, then is frequented by slightly wider and steeper pitches as you drop down lower between impressive high walls. Ice falls cling to the rocks either side and glint in the light that falls through the gaps in the peaks.

Rifugio Scotoni

Rifugio Scotoni is a welcome stop for many, sitting roughly half way down the valley. It has an excellent reputation for its food, including an enormous mixed grill! This is another attraction to the area that can be enjoyed all year round –I first visited on one of our summer walks to the area.

Just a bit further on and the slope flattens out into Capanna Alpina, a tree filled basin with another pleasant Rifugio nestled at its base. With a bit of a skate the group pushed on to one of the biggest attractions of the day. The horses!

Getting back to the resort

Getting out of the Hidden Valley and back to resort by your own steam would be quite an undertaking as the terrain almost completely flattens. Therefore upon arrival at the bottom a collection of horses and carts stand in wait for skiers. For the price of just €2.50 each, up to fifty skiers can take hold of two long, knotted pieces of rope and hold on determinedly as the horses pull you back to the resort! Admittedly I was a little nervous at first but as soon as we were moving and away I started to enjoy the novelty of it all, and soon enough it was time to jump back onto the lift and ski back into resort.

All in all it’s easy to see why the Hidden Valley is a favourite for many who visit the Dolomites. With fantastic views, lovely skiing and impressive surroundings on offer, it all culminates in a truly memorable way to end the day -Who else can claim to have been towed through the mountains by horse and cart with skis still on foot?

For more information or to book your trip to the Dolomites go to our Dolomites landing page.

Join Collett’s Beth Lloyd on days 1 – 4 of a 7-day ski safari in the Dolomites as she gets to grips with the slopes, samples some wonderful food and enjoys a visit from a baby deer.

Day 1

And so it began! The ski safari team for the week had all been collected from Venice airport and everyone was settled in well for the first night in Chalet Baita. Nestled on the corner of a hairpin bend, surrounded by forests that lead up past Castello and the Falzarego pass, Baita presents a welcome and homely atmosphere. The owners are friendly and attentive, the décor traditional and quirky, there is even a fat, friendly cat wondering about the ground floor giving the place a truly homely feel. It didn’t take long after moving into the rooms for the group to relocate to the bar area to get to know each other over a few drinks. There were seventeen of us in total and so the jumble of names and back stories had us all busy well into the evening. Nibbles were bought to the table and before too long our ski instructors for the week, Diego and Pietro, a fine double act, arrived to give us the low down for the week to come. After our mini office hour we moved through to the next room for an incredible home cooked dinner of Barley soup followed by Sirloin steak cooked in a salt and hay crust –a traditional, local dish that had the whole group piling on the compliments to our hosts. It was beautifully cooked and very tasty. Desert was a classic tiramisu, lovely. We then retired to the bar for a digestive and more chatting. Despite the long day that many had travelling from home to the mountains, the atmosphere had been one of excitement for the rest of the week, and as the snow continued to fall outside it was hard to imagine why anyone wouldn’t be looking forward to it!

 

Day 2

The first day drew to an end with a chalet full of tired, full and happy people. We travelled far, starting in Arraba after sorting our ski hire. The snow that had been promised arrived and changed the view considerably. The trees had become laden with fresh powdery flakes and the pistes covered in a decent blanket too. This proved for some more challenging conditions in the afternoon, with moguls and choppy slopes making for tired legs all round. We headed over to Corvara first and the Pralongia plateau before dropping down into San Cassiano to catch a taxi up to the Falzarego pass. A short ski took us along to Cinque Torri, with the famous towers enveloped by low lying cloud. We had a long lunch at refugio Averau, sampling many lovely dishes including a carrot gnocci and some local wine too. After lunch we skied down through the Cinque Torri area and caught a bus down to the Tofana ski area, but not before a quick snowball fight, instigated by those pesky ski instructors! Diego and Pietro are both jokers and a great double act fuelled by a very long friendship. Throughout the week they were forever messing around, keeping us entertained in the worst of weather and at any time we found ourselves waiting at a lift or bus stop.

We left the majority of the Tofana slopes until the next morning and retired to the hotel Cantoniere where we would be spending the night. At first impressions this building doesn’t inspire much confidence. From the outside it is a distinctive, old red house standing alone on the hillside, but what it hides underground in a modern extension is just amazing. The rooms are fresh and clean and the bar and communal areas very welcoming. We all had a delightful three course meal, but retired early to bed on the most part feeling a little stuffed!

Day 3

Well if we thought it had snowed a lot the day before…! We woke to the gentle swaying of trees sodden with snow. Big flakes, clumped together were falling at a fair rate and had seemed to have been doing so most of the night. The Cantoniere hotel was completely enveloped in a winter wonderland! Sleepy faces appeared one by one to negotiate the extensive spread of cakes, breads, fruit and cereals that had been laid on for breakfast. The owner popped in and out, bringing the coffees of people’s choice which seemed to help clear some of the sleepy dust. At a leisurely pace we got ourselves ready and met at the front of the hotel.

The instructors told us how we had a short ski through the woods to reunite with the main ski area. The forest was magical with the snow dampening down sounds and giving almost a slow motion effect as it fell. We joined the Tofana area again and went in search of the ladies world cup black run! The slopes were quiet, the cloud was still quite low and the visibility not the easiest but at least we had it to ourselves. The run in question lies between two pillars of rock, which became known to the group as the gates of Modor! It’s an impressive setting for a race, that’s for sure, and everyone gave it a good shot in the less than ideal conditions. After a little more exploring we sought some warmth in a refugio for coffee then descended into Cortina to cross the valley toward Faloria! A short bus journey through the centre of town took us to the bottom of the main cable car, which we found was closed due to technical difficulties… But that was no problem! Alternative transport was arranged and soon enough we were at our lunch stop.

After some well-deserved and warming food we skied the rest of the afternoon away amongst the trees where the visibility was much better –despite the ever continuing snow! We even played on some off the steeper, off piste slopes which was great! Smiles all round! With weary legs we caught our transfer off the slopes and away from Cortina, next stop San Candido and Hotel Capriolo where we would be staying for the next two nights! San Candido is a beautiful town, the buildings are old and traditional, with numerous churches dotted about amongst the shops and bars. I headed down for an evening walk and bumped into the instructors, joining them for a drink in a local bar, and chatting with them about the day.

After this it was back to the hotel for dinner. The hotel was much bigger than our previous nights of accommodation but didn’t fail to be just as welcoming. There was a bar area and large dining room as well as sofas for taking the weight off of those tired legs. The staff were all very helpful and friendly too. Dinner was much appreciated by all after the hard work put in on the slopes and was followed by a few grappas in the bar, looking over the maps to see what ground we had covered on the trip so far.

Day 4

The perfect day. Fresh snow, blue skies and perfectly groomed pistes. We woke just in time to see a dramatic sunrise over San Candido and we treated to our first view of mountains since the trip began and like they say, absence makes the heart grow fonder. Croda Rossa stood proudly across the valley, its jagged peaks accentuated by the fresh snowfall of yesterday. The good weather had people considerably more motivated than previous mornings and before too long everyone had gathered at the front of the building with skis at the ready. We had a short ride on the train to the bottom of our slopes for the day, exploring the areas of Sexten and Vierschach. We split into two groups at the top of the first gondola and headed off to explore. I joined Pietro’s group for the morning. With the good visibility we could all really start to focus on technique more –rather than just trying to negotiate the best way down soft, moguly slopes! He started to tweak peoples’ posture and performance whilst leading us around the resorts’ long runs. We headed over to the steepest black in northern Italy, Holzier, which everyone survived in style, and then went for coffee.

It really felt like the group bonded that day. Without the distraction of weather, or midday transfers, everyone could just ski and enjoy the mountains at their best. Everyone seemed comfortable in each other’s company and happy to help each other out, a good team. After coffee we headed over to a race course to do some video analysis, not before bumping into a baby reindeer… yes an actual reindeer who was roaming the slopes. One can only assume he’d gotten out of an enclosure somewhere as they’re not all that native to the Dolomites… He was also very tame.

The whole group met for lunch in the sun at a refugio at the bottom of the pistes and then divided again for round two in the afternoon. I joined Diego for this session as we did a few more runs and headed back towards our day’s start point before last lifts. Our lift back to the hotel wasn’t due to arrive for another hour as we cruised onto the last piste of the day so we went to another sunny refugio and did a bit of Apres –would be rude not to!

The Apres continued when we got back, throughout dinner and beyond which was all a great laugh.

Click here for days 4 – 7. If this has inspired you to try the real thing book a ski safari in the Dolomites now. 

It’s all about bikes here in the Alta Badia. What with the Giro d’Italia passing through last month, the Maratona on the horizon next month and a weekend of cycle events just passed, the valleys and passes are full of visitors and locals stretching their legs. Despite some slightly turbulent weather over the last few days, both the Hero mountain bike race and the Sella Ronda bike day went ahead without issue and the local towns and villages have enjoyed the attention from riders all over the world. Both of the events have an impressive reputation due the impeccable organisation involved and spectacular backdrop.

The Hero Südtirol Dolomites

The Hero Südtirol Dolomites, which went ahead on Saturday, June 18, claims the impressive title of Europe’s hardest mountain bike race. With two optional routes riders can choose between 60km with 3,200m of ascent or 86km with 4,500m. The itineraries wind their way through some of the Dolomites most well-known towns and passes, circumnavigating the Sella massif. Riders are expected to burn around 4,000 calories whilst riding at altitude so many train for weeks, if not months before, to be in condition for the race… and with good reason! For the pro competition the winners of each category are entitled to €3,000. Peak prizes (like the Tour de France’s king of the mountain) are handed out as well to the first man and women to the top of the designated passes. Those competing in the ‘hobby’ competition can also be in the running to win bikes and other merchandise from sponsors.

This year’s event saw some pretty cold and wet conditions and many riders finished the day caked in mud –arguably the sign of a good mountain bike day. Our own George Murray gave it a crack and despite getting pretty chilly in the rainy weather he returned unscathed and in good spirits.

 

The Sellaronda Bike Day

The Sellaronda Bike Day is an all the more relaxed affair but nevertheless has become one of the Dolomites best known sporting events. On the day the roads that link the four passes of the Sella, Campolongo, Gardena, Sella and Pordoi, are closed to traffic meaning cyclists can ride without worry! There’s no limit to the amount of participants and riders can go on for as long as they like. It is also free to join in and anyone can do at anytime from anywhere on the course. For one rotation of the Sellaronda elevation gain is around 1,800m over 70km. The day is always taken in good humour with all ages participating. In years gone past not only conventional road bikes have been ridden but also e-bikes (electronic assisted bikes), unicycles and even a penny farthing has been spotted! The local bike rental shops are very busy over the lead up to the event and it is recommended to pre-book your bike if you want to hire one out!

Colletts presented its own motley team of riders this year from chalet teams Verena, Angelo and Haus Valentin! Some with the gear and some not, they set off from Corvara and made it back in time for tea. You don’t need the lycra and a light weight bike –though it helps –all you really need is the determination (and maybe a waterproof).

The Maratona dles Dolomites

The Maratona on the other hand really is a lycra day. This serious bike event has been running since 1987 and has seen ever increasing success and popularity. In its very first year there were but 166 participants who set out on a 175km course that started and finished in Pedraces. Only one of those riders was a lady, arriving but an hour behind the winner. Now almost thirty years later the race is capped at approximately 9,000 riders and athletes from all over the world apply to compete.

Originally participant numbers weren’t capped but in 2005 organisers had to introduce a draw system and only those with their name chosen could compete. This was initially controversial but eventually accepted by everyone. Applicant numbers usually double that of the cap so it’s easy to see why the draw system and cap had to be introduced. Professional athletes are invited to the event and are not part of the draw system. Charity entries can also be bought at Gold (€250), Platinum (€500) and Crystal levels (€1500). The Marantona supports the following charities:

  • Südtiroler Sporthilfe –supporting young talents who cannot afford to finance their competitions.
  • Association of Groups of Belluno –a non-profit organisation who support disabilities in Uganda.
  • Alex Zanardi BIMBINGAMBA association –which make artificial limbs who have undergone amputations and don’t have access to proper healthcare.

Today there are three routes of varying difficulty. The main Maratona course is 138km with 4,230m of altitude gain. The middle course is 106km with 3,130m altitude taken in and the Sellaronda course is 55km with 1,780m. Participants can choose which length course they like and will receive the Maratona jersey and medallion on completion of the day.

Each year has a theme since the year 2000 beginning with ‘Living is an Art’. In the years since themes have included magic, angels, colours, harmony, forgiveness and ecological motivations. Making the competition as environmentally friendly has always been a focus for the organisers. In 2009 the theme was energy and a shuttle service was set up to reduce pollution in the Alta Badia and surprisingly in that same year one of the first competitors to cross the line was disqualified for throwing waste away during the race. By 2010 the event boasted a 70% carbon neutral certification. Many changes have been made each year including closing the route to cars, using electric powered vehicles, eliminating individual plastic wrapping of the official jerseys and introducing the eco-pocket on the side of the jersey to reduce the amount of rubbish thrown out by riders. Even the post-race proceedings have become eco-centric with completely recyclable cups and plates at the finish line refreshment station. Numbered slips are also given out to all the riders at the finish line once they hand their bottles back for recycling. Over the years cleaning staff have seen a 50% reduction in waste on the roads and the event’s carbon neutrality index in 2012 was 80%. The Maratona leads by example as one of the world’s most beautiful and eco-friendly bike races. May it go on for many years to come.

The Dolomites is put firmly on the map by supporting so many brilliant sporting events in both the summer and winter. With the terrain on offer through this UNESCO world heritage site it’s not surprising that people travel far and wide year after year to attend such events. Whether you’re a professional rider or just enjoy riding your bike on the daily commute there’s something here for everyone. Book a holiday to the Dolomites with Colletts now.

Here at Collett’s, our walking holidays in the Dolomites offer a variety of mountain activities for our guests to get stuck into. Day to day our team organise days out in the mountains. The main attraction is walking, but we also offer flower and war history excursions, road cycling and even watercolour painting days. The Dolomites is a perfect setting for all of these activities, not to mention many self-guided activities such as Via Ferrata, high ropes courses, horse riding and even glacier treks with the local mountain guides.

The painting days hold a special place in my heart after taking on the role of the resort artist last summer. Guests of all abilities are invited to join a relaxed day in the outdoors, surrounded by stunning vistas and no shortage of inspiration. Short walk-ins to the locations and usually close proximity to a coffee shop or rifugio make for a relaxed yet productive day whether you’re a keen painter or just looking to rest those legs after a few days of walking.

The Artists Three!

Painting with Collett's in the Dolomites - Rifugio Valporola Painting with Collett's in the Dolomites - Rifugio Valporola
Painting with Collett's in the Dolomites - Rifugio Valporola Painting with Collett's in the Dolomites - Rifugio Valporola
Painting with Collett's in the Dolomites - Lago Valporola Painting with Collett's in the Dolomites - Lago Valporola
Watercolour Painting with Collett's in the Dolomites Watercolour Painting with Collett's in the Dolomites
Painting with Collett's in the Dolomites - Rifugio Valporola and Lake Painting with Collett's in the Dolomites - Rifugio Valporola and Lake
Painting with Collett's in the Dolomites - Santa Croce in the Alta Badia Painting with Collett's in the Dolomites - Santa Croce in the Alta Badia

This year we have a new resort artist, Keith. He will be offering painting days five days a week and free of charge, along with informal tuition for anyone who comes along.

“I’m really looking forward to meeting the painters this season. I’m interested in how they’ll respond to the environment and their ideas that follow,” Keith told me.

As part of the role he will visit many locations all over the Dolomites, so today we took the opportunity to get the paints out and check some of them out.

Joined by another of our previous resort artists, Chris, we artists three set off to explore our favourite painting haunts. With perfect weather in the valley the bright yellow meadows and towering steely cliffs seemed to be showing their best for us. We drove through the Alta Badia visiting Armentarola and Capanna Alpina at the base of the Hidden Valley (A popular ski run in winter). Then we climbed up to the head of the Valparola Pass and settled at the Rifugio Valparola for a coffee and some painting. From here one can find impressive views to the north (towards the Austrian border) and south (for views of Col de Lana and Lagazuoi). We settled with painting the lake and receding mountains as background. As is always the way on any painting day we each had a different way of approaching the composition and enjoyed discussing our different techniques. After a time we all had a finished piece. Three completely different paintings of the same view.

As the wind picked up a little from the south we packed away and jumped back in the van. We dropped in on a few more spots on our way back to Badia, arriving at Haus Valentin happy with the day.

It may have been the biggest collection of resort artists painting in one place at the same time! I certainly enjoyed the three of us being able to paint together and share ideas.
Now the torch can be passed to Keith this summer and we are sure Keith will be a welcome and inspiring addition to our walking holidays in Europe’s most dramatic peaks!

See Painting & Walking Holidays in the Dolomites for more information.

Collett’s blogs are written by our resort diarist, photographer and walker, Beth Lloyd. If you are out on a walk with her you are sure to be included in her photographs in one of her weekly blogs.