Imagine walking through the Italian Dolomites at night, your senses heightened by the darkness, your path lit only by the moon. It’s an option open to guests of ADLER Dolomiti (www.adler-dolomiti.com/en/), which has introduced night hiking for summer 2018 as part of its programme of daily walks led by in-house guide Thaddäus Moroder, which are offered on a complimentary basis. The hikes will take place, weather permitting, when there is a full moon that is on 28 June, 27 July and 27 August, adding a whole new dimension to a walk through the UNESCO World Heritage Site of the Dolomites.
At 5pm, the group will set off from the Adler Dolomiti on the first stage of the hike, taking the cable car up to Seceda at 2,410 metres, where they will stop to admire the glow of the setting sun on the rocks of the Dolomites, at one moment a vibrant yellow, the next a deep pinky red, giving eyes time to gradually get used to the changing light before the night sets in.
Starting to walk, the path lit only by the full moon (which is part of the thrill, seeing what your eyes can pick out of the darkness once they’ve had time to adjust), the group will pass through the Puez Geisler nature reserve, taking in the Mastlé meadows and walking up to the Forcella de Sieles, which shines a fluorescent white under the light of the moon at just over 2,500m. The group will then reach the Puez plateau, renowned for its lunar landscape that looks all the more mysterious lit only by the moon and a star-filled sky.
Once the Puez plateau is crossed, transfers will be waiting at Passo Gardena at around midnight to take the group back to the hotel. It really will be an enchanting experience, not just for the visual imagery, but also for the peace and tranquillity that comes at night when all the other hikers have long gone home, which makes the likelihood of seeing animals all the more likely.
The hike is open to all those of reasonable fitness who are sure of foot and happy walking at altitude; there is one passage that is more difficult, particularly as the path is not as well lit as during the day, but overall it is not a particularly tough route. The group will be limited to 10 people, so that Thaddäus can keep a close eye on all participants.
The total hiking time will be around four hours, as the group will stop for dinner at the Sofie Hut on Seceda. The cost of dinner and the cost of the lift ticket up to Seceda are the only costs incurred by guests; however, they will need their own hiking shoes and a backpack. Head torches, if required (dependent on cloud cover), can be borrowed from ADLER Dolomiti.
If, however, you would rather be tucked up in bed than walking through the night, an autumn hiking trip might be more to your liking. Come September, the trails that criss-cross the Dolomites are captivating: the larch trees that clad the lower slopes turn a golden yellow, while the peaks are still topped with snow, the trails are relatively empty once the summer crowds have headed home, and the air is crisp and fresh with temperatures hovering around a very pleasant 20°C (68°F).
The Dolomites, a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2009, are one of the world’s best-loved walking areas thanks to the dramatic scenery and wide range of routes on offer, from easy, family-friendly hikes to the challenging via ferrata (literally, iron roads, which were created during the First World War to assist troop movement).
Adler Dolomiti in Ortisei, the capital of Val Gardena, provides the perfect base from which to explore the area, not least because two guided walks are offered daily by the hotel on a complimentary basis. The routes of these hikes changes daily, so one day you could be enjoying a family-friendly, four-and-a-half hour walk across Europe’s highest pastures and the next you could be enjoying wonderful panoramic views on a demanding and varied ascent in the direction of Rasciesa.
Whichever route you take, it will form a part of the 13,000 kilometres of natural, well-marked trails in the region that lead through apple orchards, along irrigation channels, Alpine mountain paths and sweet chestnut groves, and across high meadows, while affording stunning views of the Dolomites’ pinky-grey craggy limestone peaks and virgin forests that pepper the landscape. Wildlife is abundant too – it’s possible to see marmots, eagles, white partridges and chamoix among others.
Returning to the Adler Dolomiti after a hard day’s exertions, guests can enjoy complimentary use of the hotel’s 9000 square metres of private parkland and the largest wellness facility in the Dolomites, with three distinct zones: Dolasilla for beauty & vitality, Aguana where the pools, including thermals, are located, and Adler Fit with a full programme of activities – yoga’s always popular for stretching out muscles after a long hike uphill!
The Adler Dolomiti’s Autumn Sunshine Walking Special is valid from 16 September to 4 November and includes:
• 2 daily guided hikes – a main hike and an easy-going leisure hike – with guides Thaddäus and Pauli
• packed lunch for those walks where there is no mountain restaurant en route
• backpacks, telescopic poles and maps provided free of charge
• a hearty snack on your return
• photo service by download
• 1 wine tasting
Prices start from Euros 408 for a three-day weekend break, per person sharing a double room on a half-board basis. For those wishing to do the full moon hike, summer rates at ADLER Dolomiti start from €1009 for a week-long stay, per person sharing a double room, on a half-board basis; book online at www.adler-dolomiti.com or call reservations on +39 0471 775 001.