This area, now a region of Italy (Alto Adige in Italian and Süd Tirol in German), was once part of Austria, which is apparent in the architecture, culture, and cuisine. We believe that this Dolomite photo tour exposes us to the best of both the Austrian and Italian cultures. The alpine architecture shows wonderful attention to detail and expert craftsmanship and woodwork. The cuisine is a happy blend of Austrian and Italian flavors and includes very good local wines, great coffee, and tasty deserts (think “Strudel” and Sacher Torte).
SAVEUR Magazine writes the following about the Dolomites (a region they aptly call “Peak Italy” and not only for its soaring mountain tops): “. . . and really, unless you are anti-awe or Tyrolean-chalet-avers or constitutionally unresponsive to the self-evident charms of stunning pink-hued sunsets and green pastures fragrant with edelweiss and speck, the ubiquitous local ham, you should positively, definitely, without hesitation go to the Dolomites.”
Our sentiment exactly. Especially if you are a photographer.
The Dolomites cover quite a vast area but we base our Italian Dolomites Photo Tour out of a very manageable and photogenic sub-region. The Val Badia is the geographic center for some of the most iconic and beautiful photo ops in the world. We have the luxury to explore these vistas via van, foot, chairlifts, and gondolas. In addition to the Val Badia area, we spend two nights on the Alpe di Siusi, two nights in the Val di Funes, and one night in Cortina. This is probably the closest one can get to a breathtaking high-alpine experience without the physical exertion required if one had to hike up from the bottom of the valley. In some situations, we still need to walk little ways once we get off of the lifts to reach our final photo destinations but this is not a hiking tour. (See the Level of Physical Difficulty under the Dates | Cost | Difficulty tab.)
Imagine riding a lift up to a 9,000 feet mountain peak in the first morning light, being treated to the beauty of a high-alpine environment, and capturing it all with your camera. Then leisurely stroll down through alpine meadows filled with wildflowers of every imaginable color and shape, pausing at a mountain Refugio for lunch or apple strudel and cappuccino before finishing the easy descent or taking the lift back down.
Join us for this seven-day Italian Dolomites Photo Tour for an experience of a lifetime in this stunning and unique region of Europe!
This is a sample itinerary that is subject to change depending on weather and other circumstances beyond our control. Changes in the itinerary are always made to provide the best possible experience for our clients.
Plan on spending this evening near Venice airport or in Venice proper. This will allow you to get some rest before the tour begins and also ensure that you arrive on time for the following day’s departure. PLEASE BE IN THE AREA THE NIGHT BEFORE THE TOUR BEGINS. PLEASE DO NOT BOOK A FLIGHT ARRIVING ON the day that the tour begins AS WE CANNOT WAIT FOR DELAYED FLIGHTS AND LOST LUGGAGE ETC.
The group meets at the Courtyard by Marriot Venice Airport near the Venice Marco Polo Airport at 10 am for the 4.5-hour drive to our hotel on the majestic Alpe di Siusi, the largest high alpine plateau in Europe. This pristine alpine area is closed to car traffic. Hotel guests are only allowed to drive to their hotel but not to use vehicles to explore the plateau which makes for a wonderfully peaceful environment. Chairlifts, buses, and walking will be our methods of travel. After checking into our hotel, we head out to photograph the afternoon and early evening light (think “Alpen Glow”).
We will have the whole day to explore this wonderful area with our cameras. A sunrise shoot followed by a delightful alpine breakfast, perhaps a nap under your down comforter before heading out to explore the plateau. We will have a rustic delicious lunch with the opportunity to sample local food products at a high-mountain Refugio. The evening “alpenglow” is amazing up here. Magrit and I have found this to be one of the most serene and beautiful regions of all we have ever visited and photographed.
June 21 & 22
10 am departure for the Val di Funes our home base for the next 2 nights. This location will give us easy access to iconic photo opportunities in Santa Magdelena.
June 23 & 24
Today we make our way over a pass into the Val Badia where we will be based for 2 nights. This location allows us easy access to many photographic opportunities.
10 am departure for Cortina, our home base for exploring the amazing Tre Cime massif. After checking into our hotel we make the 45-minute drive up to the Tre Cime area. We will have dinner at one of the mountain Refugios in this area which will allow us to be in position for photographing during the magic hours late in the day and early evening.
At 10 am we depart by van for the Best Western Titian Hotel at the Venice Marco Polo airport. We should arrive by 2 pm.
Daily van transportation to photo locations and all chairlifts and gondolas
Round trip shuttle between Venice and the Dolomites
All entrance fees
Jim’s & Magrit’s expertise in guiding and photographic instruction
Level of physical difficulty: 4 out of 5
One person’s walk in the park is another person’s challenge. With that said, the difficulty and challenges of this photo tour depend on each individual’s level of physical fitness and perception of difficulty. We rate this tour a 4 out of 5 as we encounter some uphill and downhill walking on uneven terrain to get to the vantage points for some photo opportunities. The maximum you can expect is a 1-mile hike, to the Tre Cime saddle and back 1 mile, with some uphill & downhill stretches on the trail. The elevation gain is only 400 feet. This is when we hike to the backside of the Tre Cime for an early dinner at a mountain Refugio and sunset photography. Also, as of 2019, we can no longer drive to the viewpoint of the famous Santa Magdalena photo op. We now must park in the village and walk about a mile uphill to the location. Other photo opportunities are close to the van, gondola, or chairlift. Also keep in mind that with the higher elevations of up to 9,000 feet, the difficulty can be magnified for some.
One of the greatest benefits of participating in our Italian Dolomites Photo Tour is that we have access to magnificent high-alpine locations via chairlifts, gondolas, and our van, which would otherwise not be accessible to the average person. Again, in some situations, we still need to walk, sometimes uphill, once we get out of the van or off the lift.
To get the most out of the tour we suggest that you prepare by walking every day for a few weeks before you arrive. Take the stairs instead of the elevator, walk to the store, etc.
If you have any concerns please contact us directly. We’d be happy to advise you based on our experience.
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Temperature range for this time of year: 50 to 69º F
Average monthly rainfall for this time of year: 1″. We have experienced some torrential afternoon showers and thunderstorms.
Please pack light, as we will not have room in the van for more than one piece of luggage plus a camera bag for each of us. Magrit & I both travel for 4-5 months with 25-26 inch Travel Pro Max Lite luggage. Most airlines are now charging for more than one piece of checked baggage. Keep in mind that laundry services are usually available.
While we have experienced whole weeks with stellar blue skies and warm weather, keep in mind that you will be in a high-alpine environment where thunderstorms, high winds, and cold temperatures are possible. With that in mind, please bring these items in addition to your camera and lenses:
– Lightweight rain jacket and rain pants. You don’t have to go all out here, but if we have some wet weather and it is not raining too hard we can still go out and get some good photos. * A waterproof & breathable rain parka with a hood is mandatory. We like the Outdoor Research Helium rainjackets and rainpants. Very lightweight and affordable.
– A lightweight fleece or down layer for underneath the shell. Magrit & I both travel with lightweight down vests and jackets. Uniqlo offers affordable down layers. We like down jackets with hoods.
– A hat for sun and rain protection
– A camera backpack with enough room for carrying your camera equipment as well as protective clothing
– A lightweight stocking cap and a lightweight pair of gloves
– A lightweight but sturdy tripod that will properly support your camera and lenses: Please contact us if you are unsure about your tripod or for suggestions about what to purchase. We have a lot to say about tripods as we have seen many inadequate models on our tours. We highly suggest a ball head that is Arca-Swiss compatible (this has to do with the quick release plates that you mount to your camera body and large lenses). We also suggest an L-bracket plate if you want to shoot panoramas in the vertical mode or, in general, often shoot verticals. Really Right Stuff and the cheaper Sunway are all good sources.
– A circular polarizer
– A 10-stop neutral density filter or variable neutral density filter if you want to play with the effect of blurring fast-moving clouds. Please be aware that the cheaper variable neutral density filters may not work well.
– A headlamp: Home Depot has some quite adequate and inexpensive models. I like to purchase from REI.
– Motion sickness pills if you suffer from windy roads while driving
– Lightweight but sturdy shoes for walking: We use Salomon trail running shoes and do not worry about waterproof features.
– An extra pair of shoes or sandals for evenings
– Pants made of stretchy quick-dry material (recommended)
– Small travel umbrella which can be used for rain and sun.
We find that the general-purpose zoom, 24-70mm 0r 24-105mm on a full-frame sensor, is the most commonly used lens. We are not suggesting that you need to bring a full-frame camera but rather the equivalent range for your particular sensor size. An ultra-wide, 16-35mm zoom on a full-frame sensor is useful as well. Anything longer than 70-200 is not recommended/needed.