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The Royal Trail Gran Paradiso - Italy

Background

"Intending visitors to the district should be warned that when the King of Italy is hunting around Cogne (the present King has not been there since 1885) they may find their movements impeded by fear of disturbing the game. This will seem however but a small hindrance when set against the great facilities which the royal hunting paths (passable for horses) afford to travellers on the less interesting portions of many of the ascents in this group." The Mountains of Cogne 1893

Highlights

  • Visit Roman outposts of Aosta
  • Walk along trails made for King Vittorio Emanuel II
  • Visit the Gran Paradiso base camp
  • See wild Ibex, Chamois, Marmot and more in one of Europe's rugged environments
  • Explore Turino and its colourful past

Overview

This extraordinary expedition is steeped in not only ancient Roman history and 18th century royalty but is also one of the most beautiful and wild treks in Western Europe. 

The Gran Paradiso sits in the Valle d'Aosta in northern Italy, only 45 minutes drive from Aosta itself. In 1856, King Vittorio Emanuele II unified several hunting grounds and declared the area a Royal Game Reserve. As such, the Gran Paradiso remains a rugged island of natural beauty, dominated by the only 4000m peak wholly in Italy, the Gran Paradiso.

The northern section of the park forms part of the famous Alte Via 2 which is the only part of the park that most treks take in. However the Gran Paradiso has so much more to offer than just these couple of days along the Alte Via.

Our expedition will take in the southern, western and northern sections of the Gran Paradiso, staying in the park for the entire time. Staying in the park allows us to explore the magical mountains and rugged and desolate valleys which verge on pristine wilderness. Only a stones throw from other famous European peaks, views of Monta Rosa, Matterhorn and Mont Blanc will be afforded at several passes along the way. Herds of Chamois and solitary Ibex can be seen everywhere along the route.

This is a wild part of Europe. Our accommodation will be a mix of small hotels and Rifugios, trying to avoid dorms as much as we can. Countering the ruggedness is the famous Italian hospitality and excellent food and wine. 

This expedition is perfect for those that wish to see another side of the Italian Alps, one that is remote, spectacular and steeped in history.

Routes

Day 1: Arrive in Turino and transfer to accommodation. Free time.

Day 2: Transfer to Aosta.
Aosta is situated north of the Gran Paradiso National Park and is an ancient Roman city. First established in 25 BC, Aosta is girt by towers and a wall. This beautiful town was situated where the roads of Switzerland and France converged and was an extremely important trading post throught the millenia. It is a great place to wander around and get into the north Italian way of life. We will have a private tour of this wonderful town steeped in ancient history. (B,D)

Day 3: Start trek Aosta to Cogne
Today we start our adventure with a walk from Aosta to Cogne at the base of the Gran Paradiso. This is a moderate to difficult introductory walk that will get guests started on their journey. In the afternoon we will arrive in the beautiful and quaint town of Cogne. Once a major stop for the King's hunting party, Cogne remains a tourist attraction that is satisfied by several 4 star hotels and excellent food. (B,L,D)

Day 4: Cogne to Alps Money then back to Cogne
Heading south from Cogne we head off for a day walk to Alps Money. For the first hour or so we will walk along the base of the Valnontey before turning left up the east flank of the valley. Views all the way are amazing of the Gran Paradiso massif. By lunch we reach Alps Money with vistas of several peaks forming an enormous amphitheatre at 2325m. The cascading Tribolazione glacier beneath the impressive chain of peaks from the Herbetet around to the Gran Paradiso and Roccia Viva are breathe taking. Lunch will be among several abandoned shepherd's huts. Back to Cogne for a much deserved meal. (B,L,D) 

Day 5: Cogne to Refugio Sella
Today we head off on our main journey down the Valnontey once again. The difference is we head west this time along part of the famous Alte Via 2. After passing through a wooded forest we break out into divine open plains that provide amazing views of the mountain area. The trail is the very trail King Vittorio Emanuel II used during his hunting expeditions. Along the way we will stop at a local cheese maker to taste his divine produce. By lunch we will have arrived at Refugio Sella, a typical mountain refuge used by climbers and trekkers alike. Nearby is another royal hunting lodge, scene of wild parties and now used by the park rangers.  Overnight at Refugio Sella. (B,L,D)

Day 6: Refugio Sella to Eaux Rousses
We continue on our journey along the Alte Via 2, over Col Loson (the highest non-glaciated pass in the whole park) at 3300m about 2 hours from Refugio Sella. The climb itself is quite gentle, explained by the fact that is was once the trail that used by the King's hunting parties. From here we head down this enormous valley with giant cliffs towering above towards the beautiful Valsavarenche. Lunch will be had on route. The trail finishes with a walled in path over the bridge that crosses the Torrente Savara. Eaux Rousses is named after the red rock behind the hamlet that is stained by water trickling down from a spring containing iron. (B,L,D)

Day 7: Eaux Rousses to Rifugio Federico Chabod
While Pont is only just up the valley we will head back up the mountain towards the Gran Paradiso to get a taste of climbing life. From Eaux Rousses, we head up towards Pont and then up towards Rifugio Federico Chabod, a base for climbers taking on the Gran Paradiso summit. Here we will spend the night however if the weather permits we can take a walk closer to the glaciers that hamng above the Rifugio. This is a short day but a wonderful place to spend the night. (B,L,D)

Day 8: Rifugio Federico Chabod to Pont via Rifugio Vittorio Emanuele
After breakfast we will traverse across the mountain towards Rifugio Vittorio Emanuele for lunch. There are great views from here of the surrounding mountains and an excellent lunch out on a verandah. After lunch we will head down into the valley and overnight in Pont. We will have a chance to explore the valley with short walks with great views of the Gran Paradiso. (B,L,D)

 

Day 9: Pont to Ceresole Reale
Today we head out of the Valsavarenche via a beautiful trail towards Gran Collet at 2832m. Amazing views of the massif will be had along this trail. Then down into the sparse valley below, the Piano del Nivolet, where we will have lunch at Rifugio Savoia which was the original hunting house of King Vittorio Emanuele. After lunch we will trek over Col Nivollet and transfered down to Ceresole Reale.(B,L,D)

 

Day 10: Ceresole Reale to Mua and back to Ceresole Reale
Back up into the mountains for a day hike. This morning we will take the bus back up to Col Nivolet and start our journey on the best restored Kings' Trail. This will be a dramatic day with a high pass and then lunch by a high altitude lake; Lac Lillet. Then its a long down over 1400m to Mua where we will be picked up and transfered back to Ceresole Reale. Overnight in Ceresole Reale.  (B,L,D)

Day 11: Ceresole Reale to Noasca
From Ceresole Reale we head back into the mountains for the final day. We will do a beautiful traverse from our home for the last 2 days to Noasca, a charming town full of history. This is an intriguing days hike in the Valle dell'Orco along 17th century paths and unique alpine villages. We will also have the opportunity to taste and purchase the local cheese specialty, toma. Overnight Noasca (B,L,D)

Day 12: Noasca to Turin
We will transfer from Noasca to Turin which will only take an hour or so. Turin's tree lined boulevards are reminiscent of Paris and its' cafe' culture is second to none. Turin is a beautiful town, steeped in history (it is the home of the modern Italian state) and a must see on any visit to Italy. (B)

Day 13: Turin to Next Destination
After breakfast we will part ways from this wonderful Royal Trail of the Gran Paradiso (B)

Note : For those that wish to stay extra nights in Turino we can arrange this. The hotel is the Grand Sitea.  We can also arrange for ongoing train tickets to and from Turino.

Inclusions

  • Led by qualified guide
  • All accommodation in towns and on the mountain
  • Transfers to and from Rome via high speed train
  • All meals as outlined in Itinerary
  • All transfers to and from the Gran Paradiso National Park
  • Park permits
  • Welcome dinner and Celebration dinner
  • Town tours in Aosta and Turino

Exclusions

  • International airfares
  • Travel Insurance
  • Summit trek of Gran Paradiso

Maps