Tucked away in the Southern Italian Alps near the French border, lies the beautiful Val Maira with its tranquil villages, chapels and churches settled in an uncontaminated landscape. Val Maira is now slowly being discovered as a walker's paradise. You will not find busy roads, ski slopes and mass tourism, but pristine mountain scenery, lots of sun, small charming accommodation and delicious food.
♦ Wonderful mountain trails and breathtaking views
♦ Roman and Gothic churches and chapels
♦ Delicious local food (Occitane and Italian cuisine)
♦ Large variety of flora and fauna
Day 1: San Michele Prazzo
Arrive in the village of San Michele Prazzo at 1370m altitude and take some time to visit the beautifully painted Parish Church. You will be picked up from the bus stop in Prazzo Inferiore and transferred to the first accommodation.
Day 2: San Michele Prazzo
Today you have two options for a walk:
A) Lou Viol Dal Genesté San Michele round walk
The day’s walk is on the southern slopes above San Michele and follows part of the “Lou Viol Dal Genestè". This circular route takes you into contact with nature, from forests of larch and spruce to grasslands and rocky crags, and Genestè (growing broom).
Distance: 10 km , +564/- 592 , 4 h,
B) Transfer to Campiglione and walk to San Michele di Prazzo
A short transfer will lead you to the to the hamlet of Campiglione, where you will take on today’s walk, a quite easy but nonetheless extremely panoramic route since it is possible to admire the beauty of the main peaks of Val Maira and also the Monviso, from where the Po, the longest river in Italy, has its headwaters The walk runs entirely on paths and dirt roads; you will reach a considerable height (2481 meters), giving you plenty of unforgettable landscapes.
Distance: 14 km , +779/- 1106 , 5 h,
Day 3: San Michele - Ponte Maira
A challenging hike high above the valley with beautiful views.
From the top of the of the mountain you will start a gentle descent that will lead you to the tiny village of Ussolo (if you don’t feel like walking anymore, we can arrange a transfer from there), before taking on the demanding ascent to Colle Sarasin, that will offer you a wonderful view over the valley. A long descent through woods will arrive to arrive to Ponte Maira and enjoy a well-deserved delicious home-made cake.
Distance: 17km , +1046/-986 , 7h.
Day 4: Ponte Maira
Today you have two options for a hike:
A) Chiappera round walk, incl. Rocca Provenzale
A short morning transfer will lead you to Chiappera, the last restored village of Val Maira at 1620m altitude, where the day’s walk starts. The village has a bar and a beautiful church with frescoes.
The initial climb to the striking Rocca Provenzale is tough, but after Colle Greguri (2309m) it becomes a leisurely walk back to Chiappera, where you will be picked up and taken back to the accommodation.
Distance: 10 km , +906/-723 , 4h.
B) Ponte Maira round walk via Chiappera
The walk is very easy, running on tracks and forest paths. The first part of the route until Chiappera, an ancient village beautifully restored, is very panoramic, with the way back mainly through the forest so you can avoid the hot weather in the summer; with a short detour it is possible to see the spring of the Maira, one of the right tributaries of the Po river.
Distance: 10,5 km , +489/-489 , 4h.
Day 5: Ponte Maira round walk
Another short transfer in the morning will lead you this time to Sorgente Maira where today’s walk on the Sentiero Frassati starts. This itinerary goes past a few smaller and larger mountain lakes, such as the deep blue Lago Apzoi at 2300m altitude, as well as a series of bunkers that Mussolini had built on the border with France. It is possible to walk back to Ponte Maira or you can take a transfer from Sorgenti Maira (to be paid on the spot).
Distance: 13km , +945/-932 , 6h.
Day 6: Ponte Maira - Marmora
The “tour of the hamlets” of Marmora is an easy walk on ancient mule tracks and in small part, on asphalt. From Vernetti, the bigger hamlet of Marmora, the path winds through a beautiful mountain landscape with meadows, fields and forests, touching eleven of the seventeen small villages of the municipality, most of them inhabitated, where you can admire hidden painting masterpieces of local paintes, like Giovanni Baleison and Giors Boneto and the typical architecture of the valley. San Sebastiano, Tolosano, Urzio, Reinero are only some of jewels that you will encounter along the way. After you reach Brieis, a descent will gently lead back to the start point, offering you wonderful sights of the valley of Canosio.
Distance: 9 km , +510 / -502 , 3h.
Day 7: Marmora
You have two options to choose from :
A) Transfer to Grange Ciampasso and Altopiano della Gardetta loop walk
Today’s walk is definitely one of the highlights of the entire trip.A short transfer (about 20 minutes) will lead you to Grange Ciampasso, on an old military road built for the World War II. Along the way you will see many abandoned fortresses, wanted by Benito Mussolini to protect the Italian borders from the France side. With a short detour you can reach to Rifugio Gardetta (at 2380 m), an old military shelter converted into hut. At the end of the round tour, a taxi transfer will drive you back to your accommodation in Marmora.
Distance: 15 km , +421/+428 , 5h
B) Transfer to Grange Selvest and Lago Nero loop; incl. transfer back to Marmora
A car transfer (about 35 minutes) will drive you to the parking lot 2 km after the hamlet of Preit, in front of Grange Selvest, from where you will start today’s walk to one of the most beautiful lakes of the Val Maira, the “Black Lake”, beautifully set at 2227 meters in a panorama with stunning views over Rocca La Meja and the Monviso. The path is well marked, you will walk through pastures surrounded by larches; the descent from the lake passes along a gravestone in honour of 23 young “Alpini” soldiers that were killed by an avalanche on the 30th January 1937. The walk ends on the same parking lot from where you started; a short transfer will lead you to your next accommodation in Marmora.
Distance: 10 km, +663/-745, 4h.
Day 8: Transfer to Prazzo bus stop for departure
After breakfast, you will be driven to the bus stop in Prazzo Inferiore, from where you can take the bus to Dronero.End of services.
►Best arrival & departure airport: Torino or Nice airports
From Torino airport - Take the train to Torino Porta Nuova (city center) and change there for the train to Cuneo.
From Nice (Nizza) airport - Take the shuttle bus to the Nice-Ville station and and then get on the Train des Merveille to Cuneo.
From Cuneo to the first accommodation
There are only a few direct busses from Cuneo to Prazzo.So you have to take a bus to Dronero (20 km) and change here for a bus to to Prazzo Inferiore (30 km) where you will be picked up and taken to the first accommodation in San Michele (5 km).It is possible to pre-book a transfer from Cuneo or Dronero to the accommodation.
►This walk is graded introductory to moderate. We expect participants to take responsibility for their fitness and preparations on a consistent basis prior to departure and INCREASE the regular weekly training schedule in the two months leading up to departure. That way, when you start walking, you will feel relaxed and comfortable and strong, having done more than sufficient preparation for the trip. You will also have more energy to enjoy the views, take photos and explore the sights in your spare time, rather than just make it to the next hotel. As a minimum, we recommend 40 minutes of aerobic type exercise; running, swimming, biking, hill walking, or gym work two to three times a week for two to six months leading up to your walk. Note the best training is the activity that you are actually going to be doing; walking up and down hill, and cross-country. Practice this as much as possible.
►Luggage transfer is included in your package; this is normally provided by the accommodation itself or by a local taxi.
Please clearly mark all your belongings with your name and put a small note with the name of the next accommodation in order to indicate where the bags should go to next (check your accommodation list). Also ask the accommodation owner where the bags should be left in the morning. Labelling your belongings prevents mix ups, delays and loss.
Bags should be ready and at the reception or store room by 9:00 hrs.
If you are unable to walk, you can always ask, if the luggage transporter can take you with him when transporting your baggage, but this is not always possible and sometimes you have to pay a small fee locally. In some countries there are special insurances for transporting peoples and sometimes the car is not suited for transporting persons.
When you travel with public transport you always take your luggage with you unless specified differently.