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Since 2019, Camille and Thomas have been travelling aboard their old 1988 campervan, Leon.
Having set off for Mongolia, COVID delayed their adventure but they weren't defeated.
Full time vanlifers, they continued to tootle along in search of the most beautiful scenery and wonderful hikes. This week, they are taking us on a micro-adventure in the Dolomites.
One of the most beautiful mountain landscapes in the world is in South Tyrol: the Dolomites.
So we didn't hesitate packing our bags and turn the van keys in the direction of Italy.
And the plan?
A breath of fresh air, hikes and spectacular scenery.
For this 3-day van micro-adventure in the Dolomites, we will tour the province of Belluno in the Veneto region where the Tre Cime di Lavaredo, the Lago di Sorapis and the Lago di Braie are hidden.
The Dolomites have tempted us for a very long time so the moment has come for us to experience what promises to be a memorable adventure.
And why not you too?
3:30 a.m. and the alarm goes off (yes, it stings a little).
Breakfast, head torches and a yawn later, here we are on the way to the Tre Cime Di Lavaredo.
The hike starts at the Auronzo lodge (paid parking), however when it's closed you can depart from the Antorno lake 6 km lower.
That’s what happened to us!
At the Antorno lake, parking is free and if you're on a van road trip, I promise you will have a nice view from the window.
The Tre Cime hike starts in the woods and it climbs from the very beginning.
In total, a little over 8 km of walking including 600 m of positive elevation awaits us.
The trail then runs through forest, light-coloured rocks and the rest snow, it's wonderful.
At this time of day, our steps seem to amuse the birds who are barely awake.
Does that mean anything to you?
The Lago di Braie is most certainly the lake that will appear first if you type “what to do on my van road trip in the Dolomites? ”.
And we understand why!
As is often the case in the Dolomites, this magnificent alpine lake is surrounded by a landscape worthy of a postcard or even a painting.
However, what makes Lago di Braie one of the most beautiful lakes in the Dolomites is its intense blue water that reflects the surrounding mountain peaks when there is no wind.
It was clear that our road trip with Leon had to stop off here.
The Lago di Braie is just next to our camp so we let ourselves have a lie-in. Wake up alarm: 5:00 a.m. We wake up impatient and excited, just like when the last season of Game of Thrones was released. To be honest, we stopped ourselves from going to look at the lake on arrival last night as we wanted to keep it a complete surprise.
And it was.
You will understand, we love an early morning stroll. So on this beautiful sunny morning, we walked the three and half kilometres or so around the lake to not miss a moment of this amazing sight. The stroll is relaxing; through the firs, we look out for the smallest detail, the slightest reflection.
The lights are magnificent and softly embrace the surrounding landscape. Each area is beautiful to look at and I don't think we’ve ever taken as many breaks as we have in the Dolomites. Our breathing starts to speed up as we feel the positive elevation. The trail changes colour from green to yellow as the sun hits the ground. As we go along, you get the impression the trail is narrowing, wait... It’s not an impression.
Advice to those with vertigo that this route may prove difficult. A little before arriving at the lake, the trail becomes more and more narrow along the cliffside and it's impossible to walk side by side. A little adventure within an adventure. Good luck, it's worth it, promise.
After almost two and a half hours of walking, I begin to hear running water so we aren’t too far away. The excitement silences us and believe me, that’s rare. 200 m, 100 m, 50 m... we’re there.
I have no words...
Now I understand why they say that the Lago di Sorapis hike is the most beautiful in the Dolomites.
Whether it's the route to get to the lake or the lake and its surrounding, it's completely magic.
We take the time to look from every angle, crawl in between the rock, sit down for several minutes and have breakfast (yes, we love eating). We feel wonderfully well here. Believe me, I will remember this apple and this sandwich forever.
It's 08:00 a.m. and other hikers start to arrive, a few smiles are exchanged that proudly say “it’s beautiful, isn’t it? ” and it's time for us to leave this place of dreams.
I could have stayed forever.
I look over our shoulder one last time at the Lago di Sorapis and I’m already nostalgic.
The return trail unties our tongues, the excitement is still palpable, we can hear “no, but have you seen the colour of this water? ”, “I’ve rarely seen such a beautiful place”, “I already miss it”.
While writing this, we already miss the Sorapis lake.
We already miss the Tre Cime and the Lago di Braie.
We already miss this 3-day van road trip, three days of freedom, three days of fresh air.
Without hesitation, the Dolomites have to be seen and seen again.
Am I going over the top?
You tell me!