A journey through Italy’s oldest National Park

Over the course of 9 days we explore the heart of the Gran Paradiso National Park, Italy’s largest and oldest nature reserve, covering nearly 70,000 hectares with an elevation between 800 – 4061m. The park, located in the Graian Alps (a mountain range in the western part of the Alps), between the Valle d’Aosta and Piemonte regions, was created in 1922, in recognition of the need to conserve a mountain environment suitable for the survival of the ibex, which has come close to extinction several times in recent centuries. Fortunately, today not only are the ibex happily flourishing, the park also abounds in chamoix and marmots, as well as foxes, wolves, badgers, ermine etc. and over 100 bird species, including Eurasian eagle-owls, rock ptarmigans, alpine accentors, choughs, golden eagles, and the lammergeier, or bearded vulture, just to name a few.

In the mid-1800s around 350km (217 miles) of wide tracks and bridle paths were commissioned by King Vittorio Emanuele II, along with five hunting lodges and mountain huts, manned by a veritable army of gamekeepers (converted poachers), beaters and porters. Many of these tracks are still in use today and on several occasions will lead us to some of the most spectacular and wild corners of the park.

After an initiation to the eastern edge of the park on Day 2, we focus on its central area for the rest of the trip, where we carry out what is essentially a continuous route that has been creatively and painstakingly devised to almost entirely eliminate the use of vehicles and avoid changing hotels every night, without sacrificing the quality of the walks. This was no easy task in such a mountainous area, where most, if not all, established continuous routes involve staying in mountain huts, carrying one’s own kit and long steep ascents followed by knee-breaking descents.

This trip is all about the strikingly beautiful mountain scenery, including flower-filled alpine meadows and pastures, glacial valleys, pristine forests, waterfalls, streams, rivers, lakes, high mountain passes and peaks, cirques, moraines, plateaux, shrines, shepherds huts, hunting lodges, hamlets and villages etc. It also provides an interesting glimpse into both the history and present-day reality of life in what is one of the lesser known and less developed areas of the Italian Alps. The walking is challenging, but exceptionally rewarding and very well-balanced in terms of distance, elevation gain and overall difficulty. 

For a detailed itinerary and/or further information, please contact us at [email protected]

KEY INFORMATION

Fitness Level4
DatesJuly 09 – 17, 2024
Days9
Cost pp.
Single S.
€ 3.390,00
€ 450,00
AirportTurin or Milan

The fitness level for all trips is classified according to the average distance and elevation gain of the walks offered, with fitness levels ranging from 1-5, see here for more details.