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Two Days in the Dolomites – Lago di Braies and Tre Cime di Lavaredo

July 14, 2018

Lago di Braies (Pragser Wildsee) The Dolomites, Italy

Lago di Braies (Pragser Wildsee) The Dolomites, Italy

Lago di Braies (Pragser Wildsee) The Dolomites, Italy

The Dolomites

Ever since I saw photos of the Dolomites years ago, it’s been a dream of mine to visit. The turquoise coloured lakes that look as though they’re straight from Canada, the huge towering mountains, and the winding roads. Oh those winding roads. I’m not even joking when I say that I actually started to have nightmares about them on the trip!

The Dolomites are a mountain range in north-east Italy, just south of Austria and with Slovenia to the east. There’s a lot of German/Austrian influence in the area, with the majority of the population in the towns most northerly located within the Dolomites speaking German rather than Italian.

Lago di Braies (Pragser Wildsee) The Dolomites, Italy

Lago di Braies (Pragser Wildsee) The Dolomites, Italy

Lago di Braies

We started the trip from Lake Garda, driving the 3.5 hour journey to Lago di Braies, (also known as Pragser Wildsee in German). I was SO excited to see the famous lake with ‘that’ boathouse that everyone takes the famous shot of. But we arrived to thunder and lightening and a huge downpour of rain. So we sat it out in the van for a while until it stopped.

When we walked up to the lake, the boathouse was closed for filming! Everyone was walking around the barricades, so we followed until they caught up with us all and ushered everyone away so that they could start filming – though at least I got my famous shot of the lake haha!

We wanted to do the circular walk around the lake, but half of it was shut for filming and construction work! We got to the end of the lake near the huge landslide and couldn’t continue around so had to turn back again. We were a little annoyed by the whole thing, but what can you do? We still enjoyed the small walk and the views though. They were amazing! I couldn’t get over the colour of the water.

Rifugio Auronzo at Tre Cime Di Lavaredo in The Dolomites

Tre Cime di Lavaredo in The Dolomites

Tre Cime di Lavaredo in The Dolomites

Tre Cime di Lavaredo

The next day we headed to somewhere that has been on my bucket list for so so long. And we almost didn’t go! I’m such an overplanner usually, but for this trip, we had a basic route and schedule planned but nothing had really been looked into. It wasn’t until the morning that we were planning on going to Tre Cime di Lavaredo that we found out that the road to get to the car park at Rifugio Auronzo (where you set off hiking), was a toll road and cost €45 for a campervan for 24hrs (it’s a lot cheaper for cars, but I can’t remember specifically how much).

We were shocked! We debated not going because this was supposed to be a cheap holiday and we’d already spent waaaay over budget in Switzerland. But then I realised we were there. When were we ever going to be in the area again? Not anytime soon, that’s for sure. So we payed up and headed up the very steep and winding mountain road to the top (honestly, I don’t understand how busses make that trip everyday). It’s terrifying!

Tre Cime di Lavaredo in The DolomitesTre Cime di Lavaredo in The DolomitesCappella degli Alpini at Tre Cime di Lavaredo in The DolomitesTre Cime di Lavaredo in The DolomitesTre Cime di Lavaredo in The Dolomites

We followed hiking trail nº 101 which is a pretty simple route along the side of the mountain on a really flat track, going from Rifugio Auronzo, past Rifugio Lavaredo around the mountains to Rifugio Locatelli. The mountain is closed between September and the end of May, and luckily it had only just opened up (on the 25th May 2018), 5 days before we got there. Not so lucky for us is that the path wasn’t fully accessible yet with huge amounts of snow still on the track. The beginning section had been cleared, but the latter part was still in the process of being ploughed so we had a bit of a trek through snow on some parts.

The views were absolutely stunning! I just couldn’t believe the sheer size of the mountains towering above us and how perfectly vertical parts of them were. You can see Shane in a few of the photos if you look really carefully – that’s how big they were!

Tre Cime di Lavaredo in The DolomitesRifugio Lavaredo at Tre Cime Di Lavaredo in The DolomitesTre Cime di Lavaredo in The DolomitesTre Cime di Lavaredo in The DolomitesTre Cime di Lavaredo in The Dolomites

Tre Cime di Lavaredo in The Dolomites

Tre Cime di Lavaredo in The Dolomites

Hiking the Tre Cime di Lavaredo Loop – Trails 101 and 105

You can do the hike all the way around the three peaks, which is roughly 6 miles long (9.5km) and is pretty easy (even I could do it and I am SO unfit). From Rifugio Auronzo, you walk the flat trail to Rifugio Lavaredo and then follow the sings for trail 101 to the top of the hill at the side of the end peak. The views from there are stunning into the valley below, and all the mountains surrounding the area. From there, you follow the trail 101 signs to Rifugio Locatelli, where you’ll find the best views of the Tre Cimi. Once you arrive at Rifugio Locatelli, you head back down the trail until you come to a split in the path and head right along route 105. Follow this back to Rifugio Auronzo. It should take roughly 3-4hrs with a total evevation gain of roughly 400m – so not too hilly!

Unfortunately, when we went there was still SO much snow that side of the mountain and on the trail path that we couldn’t actually get through the trail. The trail was only what people had made themselves by standing on the snow, and it was only a foot or so wide. We didn’t have any hiking poles to support us and I really didn’t fancy attempting it as it was, so we actually ended up giving the rest of the trail a miss and heading back to the van the way we came.

I was SO gutted that I didn’t get to do the loop and get to the best viewpoint at Rif. Locatelli, but I felt better knowing that I wouldn’t have been comfortable hiking through the slushy snowy trail. If it was later in the season or the trail had been cleared then it would have been no problem!

Tre Cime di Lavaredo in The DolomitesTre Cime di Lavaredo in The DolomitesTre Cime di Lavaredo in The DolomitesCamping at Tre Cime di Lavaredo in The Dolomites

We arrived back at the van late in the afternoon and decided to spend the night there rather than paying all that money to park and then find a campsite on top of it. The views were amazing, and we spent most of the evening just staring out of the windows and taking in all the views. Then the fog suddenly started rolling in and the mountains were gone just as the sun went down. It’s amazing how fast the weather can change up in the mountains!

It was the perfect night, with the most amazing views and I’m so glad we had the van to be able to stay there (no tent camping is allowed). It was definitely the best day/night of our trip!

Have you been to the Dolomites? Is it on your bucket list?

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  • Reply
    Jess
    July 15, 2018 at 1:47 pm

    Gorgeous photos!! They really wanna make me go to the Dolomites myself asap 🙂 Sounds like you had a lovely time even though not everything went to plan what with road tolls and closed off routes around the lake and stuff. Still a great experience I imagine 🙂 xx

    Jess | http://www.jess-inretrospect.blogspot.com

    • Reply
      April
      July 16, 2018 at 9:13 pm

      Yesss it was still SO amazing to see in person and I’m glad we sucked it up and paid the extortionate toll road for those amazing views!
      xo April

  • Reply
    Lucy
    July 16, 2018 at 7:51 am

    Oh I’m so glad you did end up exploring the Tre Cime! It would have been a shame to miss them. We went to the Dolomites last summer and did the hike from the Dolomitenhof Hotel on the other side of the valley and it was spectacular (if horrifically strenuous haha). I need to catch up on your posts from this holiday, it looks like you had an incredible time xxx
    Lucy @ La Lingua | Life, Travel, Italy

    • Reply
      April
      July 16, 2018 at 9:14 pm

      Oh man, I think if we decided to skip the Tre Cime I honestly would have come back home regretting it SO much, so I’m glad we did it! 🙂 Your photos of the area are actually some of the ones that inspired me to visit! I really need to get fitter, because I’d love to do some of the longer hikes in the area!
      xo April

      • Reply
        Lucy
        July 18, 2018 at 1:59 pm

        Ah I’m so glad to hear that!! 🙂 And oh man, I thought I was going to die the day we did that hike, even though I’d tried working on my fitness in preparation, I was still the slowest of the group (although I sped up once I unhooked my stupid sports bra which was stopping me breathing haha!) and had to resort to visualising the first Harry Potter film line by line to take my mind off things ahaha! xxx

  • Reply
    Sarah Shumate
    July 16, 2018 at 7:16 pm

    What a magical place! Your photos are just beautiful. I’d love to visit the Dolomites, but given that we’re back in the US, it would probably be more economical to just visit Canada. 🙂 (You’re so right, a lot of these pictures do remind me of those I’ve seen in Canada!)

    I’m so sorry you didn’t get to complete the loop, I know how frustrating that is when you’ve come so far to do something and then the weather holds you back. That happened to us a couple times in Scotland!

    • Reply
      April
      July 16, 2018 at 9:18 pm

      Canada is SO high on my bucket list, but I feel like I got a taster for it here haha! I’m so jealous that you’re so close to Canada now though! To be fair, we didn’t really plan anything very well on this trip (and we’re lucky that the route was even open having opened 5 days before), so I can’t complain too much really! I’d love to go back though and do some of the other trails around the area as the views were amazing!
      xo April

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