Active holidays are a unique option for families to create great memories together. Bonding over scenic hikes in nature, learning about teamwork, facing fears, and resting in the evenings under the vast and starry sky are just some of the perks of an outdoor adventure with the family that both parents and kids can enjoy.
Auriane and Quentin are a Belgian couple who love the mountains, where they can quickly disconnect from everyday life and reconnect with a sense of vitality and adventure. They wanted to share this love for the mountains with their kids Juan (10), Clémence (8), and Diego (6) on a thrilling family-friendly holiday that would take them out of their comfort zone and into the wilderness of the stunning Dolomites.
IFMGA mountain guide, Marika, has lived in the Fassa Valley in the Dolomites all her life and was the perfect choice to lead the way on an exciting and flexible program that allowed them to put their capacities to test and come together in nature. The 4-day multi-adventure itinerary that they chose allowed them to explore WWI tunnels, discover rugged landscapes and terrains on long and relaxing hikes, enjoy the excitement of rock climbing and via ferrata excursions, and even catch sight of marmots.
The huts in the Dolomites are also a cozy, comfortable option to spend quality time with the family at the end of the day. The family-friendly program that Marika offers takes into account the distance between huts, and hiking from one to the next takes around two hours each, a reasonable challenge for all ages! The exceptional mountain views and cuisine are an added bonus.
At Explore-Share, we spoke with Auriane and Marika and they shared some of the highlights of this great experience with us, as well as travel tips and excellent pictures. Read on and start planning your own memorable family-friendly active holiday with your family!
The Dolomites are a top spot for exploration and discovery, and a great option to plan an adventure holiday with the family. The stunning range in northeastern Italy is a UNESCO world heritage site and gets its name from the carbonate rock dolomite that can be found in its mountains. Because the front line between the Italian and Austro-Hungarian forces ran through the Dolomites during WWI, it is also a place of great historical relevance with many via ferrata routes that were created during the war.
Hiking, rock climbing, via ferrata, nature discovery, and history make the Dolomites an interesting place for everyone and a renowned destination for outdoor adventures. Furthermore, there are plenty of well-equipped mountain huts on the way where those who are tired can rest while the others in the group go on optional excursions. This makes it a good location for flexible itineraries that are suitable for all, an important detail when traveling with the family. Also, the food at the huts is great too, especially the Casunziei all’ Ampezzana (i.e. beetroot ravioli)!
The route that Marika took the family on started from Falzarego Pass. The first day, they went to a WWI tunnel, then on a 2-hour hike on the Sass de Stria loop, and, finally, the kids also enjoyed some single pitch rock climbing in the afternoon. For Marika, it was a good day to get an idea of everyone’s level.
On the second day, they went hiking from the Col Gallina hut to the Scoiattoli hut to drop off backpacks before heading to Nuvolau peak, which at 2574m is a popular hiking destination with stunning views. Later on, a Cinque Torri single pitch climb was in order, a Dolomites classic.
Highlights of the third day included the Averau via ferrata with amazing views from the top, and then a 2-hour hike to Passo Giau and then to Malga Giau. Finally, on the last day of the family adventure, they all headed to the Via Ferrata Ra Gusela before enjoying lunch at Averau and returning to the Col Gallina hut in the afternoon.
Although it was a short 4-day program, Auriane highlights that it felt like they were gone longer because they were able to fully disconnect. Furthermore, the variety of activities kept everyone on their feet and entertained.
What did the kids enjoy the most? Auriane shared that the three kids really liked the via ferrata and the diversity of challenges between climbing on the rocks and climbing with the help of steel equipment such as cables and ladders. Passing through the WWI tunnel was another highlight, and they really enjoyed Marika’s explanations about the unique history of the place.
When planning an outdoor adventure with the family, going with a certified local guide is key. Not only will a guide be able to point everyone in the right direction, but they will also be able to help out with logistics including itineraries and huts, take care of issues regarding safety, share their knowledge about the local history and culture, and also make local recommendations.
Before the trip, Auriane was concerned about the food, about possible health or medical issues that could arise, and that the hikes would be too demanding for the children. However, once there, Auriane stresses that Marika was a great and very professional guide that allowed her to enjoy the experience without any worries. In her words: “As a parent, you get the most out of your time”. Additionally, she found that going with a guide allowed the kids to surpass their limits, which they might not have been able to do otherwise. Marika on her end was impressed by the children’s motivation to hike.
The whole family developed a deep bond with Marika, and it ended up being both an exciting adventure in the mountains as well as a heartwarming experience.
Joining a multi-day outdoor adventure with your family involves a bit of planning, but most of all, an enthusiastic and proactive mindset. Depending on their motivation, children as young as 5 years old can join an experience like this one in the Dolomites and there are plenty of options all across Europe to go hiking with kids. In fact, Auriane and Quentin’s youngest child is just six years old and he was totally up for the challenge.
In terms of group size, it depends on the activities your plan on carrying out. If you would like to try some of the via ferratas in the Dolomites, then there should be no more than 5 participants per guide. However, if it’s just hiking, then the group to guide ratio rises up to 8 people per guide.
As for equipment such as hiking shoes, jackets, gloves, etc, Auriane bought them all at Decathlon in Belgium.
Auriane insists that this is an experience you have to try at least once. Going with a local guide will ensure your whole family’s safety and guarantee your full enjoyment as they will be able to tailor the trip to everyone’s fitness and energy levels. In fact, they enjoyed it so much that they are already planning more outdoor adventures together!
Once back in Belgium, the kids will be joining a summer climbing course. Although they had already tried some indoor climbing, they had never gone rock climbing outdoors, and after the experience with Marika in the Dolomites, they decided they wanted to continue. Climbing in a natural environment is a great way for children to experiment in nature, work on their coordination skills, and much more.
You can read more about rock climbing for kids here.
The family is also planning another hut to hut adventure soon. Although the destination is not yet decided, Slovenia is a great option where some of our best guides lead amazing adventures in the Julian Alps, such as this 6-day family-friendly trek with an optional ascent to Mount Triglav. Whatever their final choice is, at Explore-Share we will be happy to assist them in finding a certified guide to make their experience every bit as memorable as their 4-day multi-activity adventure in the Dolomites with Marika.
Check out all of the hiking, rock climbing and via ferrata programs in the Dolomites featured on Explore-Share and start planning your own adventure, or try our free concierge service to help you find the perfect trip for you and your family!
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