Since our first trip in 2004 we have ran many successful trips to the Gran Paradiso area. The walking here is superb though quite tough – 4 to 7 hours per day involving considerable uphill and downhill sections but generally this is on well made up, gentle-angled, zig zagging paths. We offer two trips: an 8 day trip that includes an ascent of Gran Paradiso and a magnificent Grand Traverse of this majestic massif in the southern Alps.
The Grand Traverse starts in Mont Avic Natural Park before entering the adjacent Gran Paradiso National Park. The trek is a quieter, tougher and wilder version of the Tour de Mont Blanc with scenery matching the best the Alps have to offer. Gran Paradiso itself is accessible to strong mountain walkers with ski poles (or ice axe) and crampons and it is the easiest 4000m summit in the Alps (excluding the Breithorn which uses cable cars most of the way).
Our route passes through areas free from ski systems and associated tourist developments and environmental damage. The Gran Paradiso is in fact one of the most strictly controlled and carefully preserved National Parks in the Alps. The route includes a variety of terrain with some high passes (up to 3000m), forested valleys, lakes and alpine pastures rich in wildlife. The area is particularly renowned for the King Ibex that has proliferated and survived here since king Vittorio Emanuele created a hunting reserve. At the same time he also established many excellent paths to allow access to the area and to some of his hunting lodges (Casa di Caccia). On several of the days you will see more ibex and chamois than other people during the trek.
A system of mountain lodges ‘rifugios’, manned by welcoming local people offer accommodation in either small rooms or occasionally in mixed dormitory; only a sleeping sheets are needed, blankets are provided. The lodges are all clean and have indoor toilets and wash rooms. Most provide hot showers. Several nights are spent in simple hotels.
Gradual acclimatisation and fitness is built up in the first few days of the trip making an ascent of Gran Paradiso a very reasonable proposition. Most of the walking is on good mountain paths. Being in a sheltered area of the main mass of Alps the weather is good and generally snow is only encountered on the ascent of Gran Paradiso.
Most of the ‘rifugios’ are not accessible by vehicle so overnight gear including a towel, a change of clothes, sheet sleeping bag, an optional sleeping mat, crampons, waterproofs and snacks have to be carried. This weight should not exceed 10kg and will be best carried in a comfortable rucksack. All meals are provided except those mentioned in the itinerary.