Wait a minute, we need to rephrase the question! Because uncertainty doesn’t destroy OUR DESIRE TO TRAVEL. The desire to travel and to discover new things is bigger than ever before.
Especially in such situations of uncertainty and fear, the desire to escape from everyday life increases.
For this reason, the question should be: “Do we have the courage to book our vacation in such an uncertain moment?”
Let’s make a point of the situation
As a travel agency (Holimites organizes not only active vacations in the Dolomites, but also trips around the world), we would like to take stock. We probably don’t need to mention that the year 2020 is a very special travel year due to COVID-19.
When the COVID-19 emergency broke out at the beginning of the year, we were still convinced that it was only a short, temporary phase. But unfortunately, this “phase” was more persistent and protracted than presumed.
Summer season was just around the corner and the requests were almost non-existent during springtime. Even when people could theoretically travel again, the bookings had been a long time in coming.
It took some time until the season got rolling. But the desire to travel, finally conquered, in most of the people, the uncertainty. The Dolomites (thanks to the large open spaces and the fresh, healthy air) were literally assailed.
In autumn, as predicted, the number of new infections and the alarm level have risen. The uncertainty of booking and committing oneself is now more present than ever before.
So many questions and doubts
Numerous questions buzz around in our heads: how will COVID-19 develop in the future? Can I still travel at all? If so, where is it safe travel? Do I have to accept a quarantine if I want to travel? How will traveling change?
Unfortunately, also we, as a travel agency, don’t have all the answers to these questions. But we would like to support the joy of travel, the desire for adventure, and to help silence this voice of uncertainty.
You, our guests are important, so we will try to meet your needs and find an honest compromise in the event that your plans change due to COVID-19. We want to remove at least one factor, the uncertainty of how to manage the booking:
we will not charge any penalty if COVID-19 does not allow the journey. We will find alternatives and help you reorganize your trip.
Plan and book your vacation, and look forward to it! In the worst-case scenario, we will help you to rebook and rethink! Professional travel agencies with a personal touch are here for this 😉
Nobody could expect what happened this year in the Dolomites. Crowds of tourists stormed to the mountains. The queues on some trails and via ferratas were infinitely long.
Just one year ago, we talked about the risk of OVER TOURISM in the Dolomites. In spring, due to COVID-19, the expression turned to TOURISM is OVER.
When we saw the pictures taken by some tourists and posted on social media, we can definitely say that the term OVER TOURISM is correct. The long queues to reach the most popular Dolomites hotspots remind us of the long lines one would encounter at Disney Land.
As a tour operator and promoters of “Dolomites experiences,” we must also look at ourselves and say “Mea culpa“. At Holimites, we realized that this version of tourism doesn’t reflect our philosophy at all. After seeing and experiencing this sad reality, we decided that we will no longer propose our program “Instagrammable Dolomites“. This was the holiday package where we led you to visit most of the Dolomites and South Tyrolean hotspots. The link to the offer will still work for a while. We will leave it there as a warning in case we get the strange idea to propose something similar in future.
Our main goal is to transmit to our clients the real way to experience mountain life, and the beauty and the silence of this special landscape. The mountains are the ideal place for those who want to relax and charge the batteries 💚, without arguing over a parking space or queuing on the paths.
The Dolomites during high season
The person who follows the crowd will usually go no further than the crowd. The person who walks alone is likely to find himself in places no one has ever seen before.
We don’t want you to hike alone 😉. We want you to understand the advantages of entrusting the plan of your active holiday to local experts. They can show you alternative spots, and hidden pearls. These are places that you will not find in tourist guides (also written for the masses) with a walk of only 1-2 hours. We will take you to places far away from parking lots and/or ski lifts, where influencers in flip-flops, equipped with a drone and tent take the pictures, long before they would think about taking a hike.
As children, we used to go out and explore these beautiful places with our parents. Of course, we remember them, and in the meantime, we have come to learn them a second time as adults. During high season, when the majority of the tourists visit the famous Braies Lake or climb on the most popular Via Ferratas, we retreat to places where we are sure to be alone. In the late afternoon, the masses of people return to the valley – this is exactly the moment we like! We stay up in the mountains for the night, in one of the cozy hut 😊 Surrounded by a peaceful atmosphere, we can admire breathtaking sunsets and sunrises on the Dolomites peaks.
You won’t find remote places next to the road or at the top of a cablecar. The real mountaineers are exactly characterized in this sentiment: they don’t look for the easiest way, but for the most interesting one ⛰
The Best View Comes After the Hardest Climb
Remember that the excursions should not be organized according to the notoriety on Instagram, but by asking locals for their advice. In this way, you will find the tour best suited to your physical fitness and technical skills.
Getting out of the routine and surrounding yourself by pure nature is medicine for body and soul! We from the team Holimites know this exactly. To charge our batteries, we always look for hidden paths and remote places. Don’t worry, we will not reveal the secrets: we will keep them for ourselves, and for our special guests.
Hikers, cyclists, and nature enthusiasts have recently returned to the Dolomites. Those that were hiking with Holimites found that they were able to enjoy the nature and trails of the Alta Via 1 almost entirely by themselves.
Our Dolomites Alta Via 1
For Holimites, the summer season is on! Some days ago, our first guided tour of the summer 2020 started. Guide and guests are excited and super happy to go back in the beloved mountains. The best way to truly enjoy the beauty of nature is to do a hiking tour from hut to hut. Of course, due to the Coronavirus restrictions (COVID-19), this year our groups are smaller than in the previous years… but this doesn’t stop us!
July 10th, 08.00 am – 1st stage
The Holimites van takes us to the famous and often photographed Lake Braies, trailhead of the Dolomites Alta Via #1. It’s a sunny morning and we can’t wait to start our adventure. After the ritual photos, we start to hike uphill towards Forcella Sora Forno. And here we are, on the Sennes plateau! In the distance, some chamois are playing hide-and-seek, while the cows graze peacefully in the alpine meadows.
July 11th – 2nd stage
After a quiet night in the hut, we wake up in the morning and alas! … it’s raining! This, of course, doesn’t get in our way. Today’s stage is not too challenging, and we reached the Fanes Natural Park for lunch. The marmots welcomed us in their “parliament”. The Fanes kingdom is known because of it’s legends and myths: https://www.holimites.com/en/discover-the-dolomites/history-and-culture-005
July 12 – 3rd stage
The third stage leads us across the Fanes alp, where we can admire the particular formations and structures of the rock. For safety reasons, the path to Forcella del Lago was closed around 2 weeks ago. Therefore the Alta Via 1 slightly detours. The advantage? We pass by Rifugio Scotoni, known for it’s delicious cuisine. We stop here for lunch. In the afternoon, we hike up to Lagazuoi (2.835 m). Before going to bed we experience an amazing sunset. An explosion of colors and emotions. The combination between the soft and warm tones of a sunset and the enormous Dolomites peaks offer a magic atmosphere. The mountains are on fire. We call this phenomenon enrosadira, which happens when the Dolomite peaks take on a reddish color, which gradually turns to purple, especially at dawn and dusk. Wikipedia.
July 13 – 4th stage
We can feel the frizzy air, this morning the sun is struggling to come out, but in the end it wins the duel against the clouds. We leave Lagazuoi behind us and hike between forts and trenches to the 5 Torri area. These areas are remnants of the First World War. We are right on the frontline, which was the border between the Kingdom of Italy and the Austro-Hungarian Empire. We stop for a moment … the ruins and testimonies that we see around us, make us reflect and try to imagine the incredibly cruel moments that the soldiers must have spent in the cold winters of the war years.
July 14 – 5th stage
Today’s stage is quite challenging, but no problem! Indeed, the longer the path, the more things to discover through the Dolomites! From Rifugio Averau we ascend to Passo Giau. Hiking at the foot of the vertical walls of “Lastoi di Formin” and “Becco di Mezzodì, we reach Passo Staulanza, surrounded by the Monte Pelmo on one side, and by the Monte Civetta on the other side. In other words, we are surrounded by the huge Dolomite peaks. At the hut, the deserved reward: we could enjoy the small wellness area with saunas, kneipp and relax area. Now we are regenerated and ready for the last 4 stages of our trekking tour.
July 15 – 6th stage
From Passo Staulanza we hike uphill to the charming Coldai Lake, where we refresh our tired feet in the clear water of the glacial lake (2.172 m). We continue towards Col Rean and reach the hut. Oh, who’s waiting here for us? The shepherd with his herd of over 1000 sheep. Each year he hikes hundreds of miles across the pasture around Cadore. The shepherd told us: “It’s a hard work, but the passion and love for the animals makes it easier”.
July 16 – 7th stage
The view that we have this morning is breathtaking. The impressive wall of Monte Civetta seems to touch the sky, while on the other side, the 1.300 m vertical cliff face down to the Alleghe Lake. We cross the Zoldo Dolomiti, and reach Passo Duran, at the bottom of the Moiazza massif.
July 17 – 8th stage
We continue our way southwards and we realize that the landscape becomes more wild and savage. Our hearts fill with joy when we see the variety of flowers on the trail – a special gift from nature! We reach Pian de Fontana, a rustic and cozy hut. The luxury of simplicity is what we feel in this welcoming place.
July 18 – 9th stage
Last stage of our Alta Via 1 of the Dolomites: 1.640 m elevation loss. We start early in the morning, in order to avoid the warmest hours of the day. Tired, but satisfied we arrive at La Pissa. In a little canyon we have some time to cool down before the Holimites van picks us up and takes us back to Alta Badia.
Well, what should we say… another fantastic trekking week in our beautiful Dolomites comes to an end. A hut-to-hut tour means not just hiking in the mountains, but also allows you to experience nature, meet other cultures and make new friends. Nature gives you the possibility to come down, relax and take a break from everyday life 😊 It’s a re-birth for body and soul. As Nietzsche said:
“We like to be out in nature so much because it has no opinion about us.”
Despite the restrictions caused by the CoronaVirus, we now have the certainty that we can continue with the work we love. This makes us very happy and proud as we have never stopped and always believed in what we do 💙
If you are looking for one of the common packing lists for a hiking trip, this is not the right place. We wanted to create a list of the 5 non-material things you have to take with you during a trekking in the Dolomites. Maybe you might think they are less important, but in our opinion, these are the main attitudes to “take with you” during a trek 🙂
“Common sense is the best thing in the world. Each one thinks he is so well provided for that even those who are never content with all the other things are used to not wanting more of it than they have.” (Renato Cartesio)
Common sense must already be applied in the preparation of any kind of trip. Once you set your route, first ask yourself whether the program is suitable for your physical condition. Don’t be afraid to ask locals for help: it’s likely they will know whether a certain path is passable, if the route is technical, or they may have valuable information about the weather in the area.
No app will be able to tell you exactly how the weather will change from morning to afternoon, but the farmer, mowing the grass during your walk will know.
Flexibility / adaptability
One of the best guidelines for trekking in the Dolomites is flexibility. We spend countless hours considering options. We do this not only for logistics on our end, but above all, for your safety. While on the trek, you may encounter a change of plans that was not listed on the itinerary, for example: due to a change in weather, you may be forced to walk down the valley, and skip a night in a rifugio that has been booked for weeks or months in advance.
Be adaptable. You most likely won’t get a private room in the huts to yourself. Set the expectation that you’ll be sharing spaces with other people in dormitories, sleeping in bunk beds. (Which is also why we recommend wearing earplugs, and a sleeping mask for those who like sleeping in total darkness 😉). Those who follow specific diets will not always be able to find the food they are used to eating, and will need to be flexible with what is available. The food supply in huts often doesn’t arrive by wheeled vehicles – in the best case, a hut will have their own cableway or supplies, but in some areas the refueling is done by helicopter.
Talking about lie in the huts: don’t be surprised if there isn’t 5G/LTE on your hike from hut to hut, and you most likely won’t have an internet speed off one trillion megabytes per second In the few riufugi that do offer WiFi service. Expect to be “out of pocket” while in the mountains.
From a true story:
The client comes to the hut and orders a sandwich. Once at the table he takes the first bite and asks the hut owner: “Don’t you have today’s bread?” The hut owner responds: “If you want today’s bread, you have to come back tomorrow!”
Respect could be part of the paragraph dedicated to common sense, but we think it is better to dedicate a space to it. Respect begins with greeting the other people you meet along the paths. A nice “GOOD MORNING” when you meet someone or a “THANK YOU” when someone gives you way, is always welcome. Also because on a trekking in the Dolomites, many times you will meet the same people in the huts, where beautiful friendships can be born.
Once you have arrived in the hut, do not pretend to be in a hotel with all the luxury and flexibility. In the huts there are timetables to be respected. If the hut indicates that dinner is served at 7.00 pm, it is better to be on time and respect it.
Guests often may not realize the behind-the-scenes logistical challenges of operating a hut high in the mountains: as already discussed, there are many creative solutions for getting food and supplies for tired mountain travelers. However, buying food just to try, and then sending back half a plate of uneaten food is a NO-GO. We want our guests to understand, and respect the hard work that makes a system like this work.
From food we move on to respect for nature. Leaving tissue to cover “your needs” is NOT a sense of respect. Of course, we know that when you have to run… run! In this case, some foresight. The ideal act is certainly what every good dog owner does with his friend; he collects and then throws it in the most suitable place.
Here we could start a long discussion about using plastic bags but, since it is all nature, we propose to bring some sheets of toilet paper with you. We do not use paper towels, which are thicker and not as biodegradable.
do “your need” in a well sheltered place
cover with toilet paper and put a rock on it so that the wind doesn’t blow it away, still better if you find nice leaves instead of toilet paper
During the trekking in the Dolomites, you should be aware of what you’re doing. You should be aware of the decisions you are making, but also of the natural beauty you see around you. And, while we’re at it – the framing of that beautiful flower or landscape you are photographing for your Instagram post!
the numbers, the mileage of the stages, the difference in altitude
for a moment. Look around and ask yourself “What
am I doing? What
am I looking at?” and live the moment
consciously immersing yourself in the mountains as the wise Goethe
“The mountains are quiet masters and silent disciples.”
Where are you going if you don’t have a good mood? During a hut-to-hut trek of several days, it can certainly happen to have a few bad days: the ones where you have blisters on your feet that hurt, or after a few days of incessant rain. Also in these situations, try to find a positive vibe. This is even easier when you travel with a group of people, and maybe a guide who knows how to bring out the best in every situation.
Dolomites: the Covid-19 emergency brings a lot of uncertainties in our life. Here in South Tyrol, Phase 2 started some days ago. What exactly this means is also a big question.
We are getting our freedom back step by step. Enterprises and shops are now permitted to open their doors, and social life move slowly and finds its way back to normality. Hairdressers and beauty salons need to be patient for another couple of weeks. And what about mountain huts and hotels? There is no answer for them yet, but they are working on that.
We of Holimites want to take this new beginning as an opportunity, and to make the best out of it. If plan A isn’t manageable, we try it with plan B. If plan B fails, no worry, there are still 24 more letters in the alphabet.
One thing is sure: life after Covid-19 will no longer be the same. This can sound scary to us, as we are used to having things “under control,” but we can use this time to examine the things that are really important to us.
Quality over quantity – the Dolomites offer a lot of space
We and our guests don’t need anything else! Crowded streets and shops are missing in the Dolomites, which makes it for us easier to keep the required distances. Nonetheless, we are conscious that this will be an extraordinary summer season. Extraordinary doesn’t need to be worse, it will just be different.
Every single guest should be valued. This has been the guiding line for long time in our small, family-owned businesses. It shouldn’t just be: “the guest of room 111”, but “Mrs. Jones or Family Smith,” and at the end of their vacation maybe: “Harry, Jessica and Emily.”
Time to treasure the small things!
Let us not take away the serenity and the joy of making vacation in the Dolomites. It’s ALL ABOUT THE SMALL THINGS and about giving things a different appreciation.
We keep the focus on three simple things
On the adventurous and spontaneous part of us. All of us know that the best things in life happen without any plan. Let us just enjoy day by day. Stop planning everything in advance and start to take the day as it comes.
On sustainability: let’s improve our quality of life. Let us consciously pay attention to the quality of things. Let us treat our valuable resources with care and respect. Let’s try to do more for ourselves and more for nature itself. For example, let’s try to avoid water in plastic bottles, the best (and most sustainable) water in the Dolomites comes directly from the tap.
On authenticity and the desire to go more towards “being” instead of appearance. Let’s just put all the cards on the table. The Dolomites are unique and beautiful. It is only up to us humans to love them as they really are. Let’s not try to change them, try make them adapt to our needs making a amusement park out of them.
What could be more authentic than participating in a tour from hut to hut (like the motto: “back to the roots”) with us? While getting to learn our local knowledge, culture and traditions?