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Cyprus (south)


Sardinia: the mountains and the south

FRANCE: The Cévennes and Vercors

ROMANIA: The Transylvanian Area

The Dolomites, north Italy

The Pontic Alps of north-east Turkey

South Africa: Drakensberg & Kruger


How to Book

Sunvil, Our Booking Agent

June 19th – - 27th 2014

The Dolomites, north Italy

Price: £ 1475 inc flights, £1245 ex. flights

Leader: Bob Gibbons

The Dolomite mountain range is one of the most extraordinary and dramatic places in Europe. Limestone peaks of quite exceptional beauty tower above a sea of forests and flowery pastures, yet it is readily accessible thanks to a network of roads and passes. In this 9-day, 2-centre tour, we get to see some of the finest parts of the Dolomites, and should see a wonderful range of flowers, butterflies and birds.

King-of-the-Alps, Eritrichium nanum, and Moss Campion Silene acaulis. photo © Bob Gibbons
King-of-the-Alps, Eritrichium nanum, and Moss Campion Silene acaulis
We leave Gatwick to arrive in Venice by late morning, from where we transfer to our first hotel in Selva, in the upper reaches of the beautiful Val Gardena. From here, we can easily reach the spectacular Valle Lunga on foot, and visit the high passes around the Sella group of mountains. As we drive over the passes, we can stop anywhere that takes our fancy – in ancient woods with wintergreens, coral-root orchid and other flowers, by a boggy flush with marsh orchids, butterworts and copper butterflies, or amongst the endless flowery pastures and meadows, alive with orange lilies, orchids, gentians, pasque-flowers, mountain sainfoin, and abundant insects. On outcrops of dolomite by the roadside, there are clumps of the lovely blue Paederota bonarota, beautiful rose-pink Hairy Alpenrose and the even more beautiful Dwarf Alpenrose Rhodothamnus chamaecistus, and other choice flowers.
Bluish Paederota, Paederota bonarota on limestone: photo © Bob Gibbons
Bluish Paederota, Paederota bonarota on limestone
Nutcrackers are common in the woods, and alpine choughs may come down to share our picnics! For those who feel like it, we can climb further on foot above the Pordoi pass, in the hope of seeing King-of-the-alps, Snowdon lily, saxifrages, pasque flowers, primulas and much else, on the more acid rocks in this area.
After 4 nights in Selva, we transfer to our second hotel, superbly situated on a lake at Misurina, nestling below the amazing Drei Zinnen (Tre Cime) range, high above Cortina. The views are spectacular, and there are marvellous walks in flowery habitats all around the hotel, at a rather higher altitude than Selva. This gives us a chance to explore the more eastern parts of the Dolomites; on one day, if the weather is reasonable, we'll go up the high toll road to the peaks of Drei Zinnen, which should be superb for flowers such as cushions of the gorgeous pink Potentilla nitida (a dolomite speciality), dwarf alpenrose, several species of Primula, saxifrages, gentians, Monte Baldo anemone, and tiny flowery cushions of the endemic Androsace hausmannii and many others.
Beautiful flowery montane hay meadow, with Yellow Rattle etc. on the Passo Tre Croci, near Cortina, The Dolomites: photo © Bob Gibbons
Beautiful flowery montane hay meadow, with Yellow Rattle etc. on the Passo Tre Croci, near Cortina, The Dolomites.
On another day, we can walk up through the lovely woods and flowery pastures of the Val di Fanes where we should see lady's slipper orchid (which is abundant in this area), louseworts, alpine clematis and many other flowers, together with a host of mid-altitude butterflies. There’s an excellent walk up an easy trail towards Monte Piana directly from the hotel, where, in addition to many commoner species, we might see the special Devil’s claw Physoplexis comosa or the attractive balm-leaved archangel Lamium orvala. On the 9th day, we return to Venice for an evening flight home.

 Dwarf Alpenrose, Rhodothamnus chamaecistus on the Tre Cime de Lavaredo, Dolomites, Italy.: photo © Bob Gibbons
Dwarf Alpenrose, Rhodothamnus chamaecistus on the Tre Cime de Lavaredo, Dolomites, Italy.
The flowers of the Dolomites are quite outstanding, not just in their variety, but also in their sheer exuberant abundance, almost always with spectacular views beyond. Despite the steep terrain, most of the habitats are easily accessible via good roads and well-maintained trails.

The tour price includes flights and all transport during the week, half-board, and services of leaders throughout, including pre-tour information and post-tour lists. ∆ tour grade, though most days easy.

Tour code: NHT/14/06

Price: £ 1475 inc flights, £1245 ex flights

Single room supplement: £80

Deposit: £400 plus insurance

Bookings to Sunvil

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