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89Outline itineraryDay 1Fly Venice and transferto the Fassa Valley.Day 2/7A programme ofbotanical day walksfrom our base in theFassa Valley. Day 8Fly London.AccommodationA friendly and comfortable family-run hotel (with private facilities), withfine views over the Fassa Valley.FoodAll included in the price.GradingDay walks only. Grade B. FocusPlants.LeaderJessica Turner.Single room supplement£160.ExtensionsAvailable on request, with orwithout car rental. Web quick search: ITA08LIECHTENSTEINSWITZERLANDAUSTRIACATINACCIOPORDOIPASSMARMOLADAVIGO DI FASSAHOTELVAL DIFASSAROLLE PASSNATIONAL PARKOF PANEVEGGIOBRENTAGROUPTRENTOFROM/TOVERONA/VENICETHEITALIAN DOLOMITESBook direct on 01962 733051or see page 284 for Booking InformationThe Italian DolomitesAn 8-day botanical holiday exploring the Dolomites Mountains of north-eastern Italy.Wednesday 19th June - Wednesday 26th June Cost: £1,295Many believe the landscape of theItalian Dolomites to be amongst themost beautiful in the country.Situated in north-eastern Italy, it is amountainous region of the eastern Alpswith a particularly unique scenic beautyand distinctive character. The mountainstake their name from the predominantmineral - dolomite - from which they areformed, a type of crystalline magnesiumlimestone. Although these mountains arenot as high as those in the central Alps,they are very dramatic, characterised bytheir towering pinnacles and castellations,and constant changes in rock colour as thecrystals catch and reflect the light. Thecolours of the dolomite rocks stem fromtheir formation as coral colonies andsedimentary deposits. The sediments werelaid over non-calcareous primary rocks(granite) which have been exposed bytectonic movement and now present dark rounded mountain slopes with acidicconditions, that contrast markedly with the neighbouring, needle-like, limestoneformations.This holiday will take the turn-of-the-centuryalpine botanist, Reginald Farrer's book 'TheDolomites' as its pivot. Following in Farrer'sfootsteps, we will have opportunities toexplore both the limestone and the graniticmountains which present both dramaticscenery as well as fascinating habitats foralpine plants. We have been operating thisholiday in the Dolomites since 1997,focusing on the abundant and varied florawhich is representative of the eastern Alps but further enriched by several speciesconsidered to be endemic to theDolomites. Although snow has fallen in themonth of June in this region, we hope thatby visiting during the latter part of June wewill enjoy fine, sunny weather, with longdays and clear skies.We begin our holiday with a flight fromLondon to Verona or Venice, and inprivately hired minibuses drive north to theFassa Valley where we will be basedthroughout the week in a wonderfullyfriendly, family-run hotel, blessed withexceptional mountain views. Our drivenorth from the airport will take us into theprovince of Trentino and the DolomitesMountains, and during the initial part of thisjourney the vegetation will reflect theinfluence of the Mediterranean climate,before we get further north into the AdigeValley, where vineyards and low altitudemountain vegetation will appear. Thisrelaxing week is set amongst themountains but does not involve anystrenuous mountaineering. There will beample opportunity to slowly explore the richmeadows of the valleys with theirspectacular flora of orchids - includingthe Military, Dwarf, Marsh and ScentedOrchids - fine Pedicularisspecies,Pulsatillas, Lilium bulbiferum var. croceumand other flowering herbs.The Fassa Valley itself lies midway alongFarrer's circuitous route, and within reachof the renowned Marmolada and theCatinaccio ranges on which the differenthabitats, each with its own characteristicflora, are to be found. Spectacular amongstthe walks on limestone will be ourexploration of the Catinaccio group (alsoknown as the Rosengarten range), wherepinnacles rise up above precipices andscrees, on which the fragrant tufts ofThlaspi rotundifoliumare abundant, compact and robust. Here we can also hope to find Potentilla nitida,Valeriana supinaand Valeriana saliunca,Campanula zoysii,Soldanella alpina,Ranunculus seguieri,Anemone baldensisaswell as creeping willows, Mountain Avensand Edelweiss in the rocks. Otherlimestone-loving plants will be seenelsewhere, for example, in the region of thePordoi Pass, Androsaceobtusifolia(chamaejasme), Androsace hausmanniiandAndrosace helveticahave all been reported,as well as Ranunculus keupferi, and on theslopes of the Marmolada itself, we hope tolocate the rare Primula tyrolensis.During two days of the holiday we willconcentrate our explorations on theNational Park of Panevéggio. Here, on thelower slopes, magnificent spruce forestsshelter Daphne striata,Anemone trifoliaandCypripedium calceolus, whilst above theforest lies the high Rolle Pass, and views ofthe magical Cimon della Pala, described byFarrer as 'the mountain of mountains'. Wewill spend time on the limestone Castelláz,and on the screes beneath the Cimon dellaPala, where amongst the rich limestoneflora we can expect to find Carlinaacanthifolia,Primula halleriand hopefullyCampanula morettiana, as well as manyother species particular to this habitat.On the nearby granite mountain ofCavallazza, south of Rolle Pass, Farrer wassure Eritrichium nanumwould be found. Wewill look! The flora on this acid substratewill be less rich than that on the limestonebut nonetheless we can expect to find suchspecies as Rhododendron ferrugineum,Loiseleuria procumbens, the erect Huperziaselago, Fir Clubmoss, Soldanella pusilla,Primula glutinosaand Primula minima.Above all, we will enjoy a week ofwonderful botanical walks amongst someof the most spectacular scenery in Italy.Odle-Geisler peaks, DolomitesCampanula barbataMartagon Lily

As early as 1856 the Gran Paradisomountains in the Italian Alps wereafforded protection as a wildlifereserve by Italy's King Vittorio Emmanuel IIto protect their herds of Ibex. By 1922 thereserve had become Italy's first nationalpark, and today it covers 720 squarekilometres. On the creation of theadjoining Vanoise National Park by theFrench in 1963, the largest protected areain Western Europe was formed. On this 2-centre holiday we aim to enjoy dailynatural history walks amongst the beautifulAlpine valleys, forests and high peaks ofthis spectacular region, focusing on theiralpine flora, birdlife, butterflies and, ofcourse, such mammals as Ibex, Chamoisand Alpine Marmots. The area's geology isalso very varied, one of the reasons for theoutstanding flora which includes suchspecial 'alpines' as the pink-floweredAethionema thomasianum, an endemic ofthe Aosta Alps growing on calcareousscrees; Astragalus centralpinus, the centralAlpine milk vetch found in the high alpinemeadows; Campanula alpestris(Large-flowered Bellflower), to be found onlimestone rocks and screes, and Saxifragaretusa, a compact saxifrage with pinkflowers favouring acid rocks. Many otheralpine species of saxifrages, sedums,vetches, composites, campanulas and ofcourse various gentians and orchids also occur here.We will be based for our first three nightsin Cogne, a small and friendly Italian townin the Val di Cogne, high above the AostaValley and surrounded by gentle greenmeadows and towering, glacier-coveredmountains. The region is both Italian andFrench speaking, though each valley tendsto have its own dialect, and the area isnoted for its Valdostane cuisine, whichincludes plenty of Chamois, venison,excellent local cheeses and Valle d'Aostawines. We will then cross the border tospend our last four nights at Lanslevillard,a French village near Mount Cenis, one ofthe finest sites for Alpine flowers. Fromboth these bases we will explore the trailsof the Gran Paradiso and Vanoise NationalParks, and enjoy the exceptional variety ofbirds, plants and butterflies of the region. On one day we will walk from Valnontey, asmall village in the Gran Paradiso, alongthe beautiful valley of the Torrent Valnontey,towards the impressive glaciers that capthe park. A wayside botanical gardenintroduces us to many of the alpine plantsthat we hope to find during the week. In thedelightful forests of beech, larch, spruceand Arolla Pine above, we will look forFirecrests, Coal Tits, Serins, Citril Finches,Crossbills and, with luck, Bonelli's Warblersand the elusive Black Woodpecker, beforewe reach the alpine meadows above thetreeline where Choughs, Alpine Choughs, Lammergeiers, Golden Eagles and otherbirds of prey may all be seen overhead,and Wheatears, Ring Ouzels, Dippers,Black Redstarts, Rock Buntings and WaterPipits all breed. On other days we willexplore further valleys and also themeadows and screes of the Col de Petit St.Bernard where we look for Alpine and SmallWhite Orchid, the various prostrate willowssuch as Salix breviserrata, S. reticulata, S.serpyllifoliaand S. herbacea, Alpenrose andCreeping Azalea. Typically, at the high pointof each day's walk, we will break the daywith a leisurely and delicious picnic lunch;a time to appreciate the abundance ofalpine flowers and the clouds of attendantbutterflies, and scan the slopes around usfor views of Ibex and Chamois . and noisyAlpine Marmots. We will also look out forPeregrine, Golden Eagle and Lammergeier,as well as two specialities of the highestslopes, Snowfinch and Alpine Accentor. Next we cross into France to spend ourlast four nights in the Vanoise NationalPark. France's first national park lies in theHaute Savoie, just to the south of lordlyMont Blanc, and also holds an impressivediversity of wildlife. Chamois, Alpine Ibexand Alpine Marmots are all found here,whilst amongst 125 species of breedingbirds are Lammergeier and the enigmaticWallcreeper. It is, however, the flora that ismost spectacular and, in the alpinemeadows, we will look for such plantspecialities as Mount Cenis Restharrow(Ononis cristata), Edelweiss(Leontopodium alpinum), Erigeronuniflorus, and both Primula pedemontanaand Primula hirsuta. Alpine specialities ofthe screes and rocks include Blunt-leavedRock Jasmine (Androsace obtusifolia),Hairy Rock Jasmine (Androsacepubescens), Androsace alpina,Phyteumaglobulariifolium, the Glacier Buttercup(Ranunculus glacialis), Petrocallispyrenaicaand Mount Cenis Bellflower(Campanula cenisia).To complete our week we will visit the area of Mount Cenis, renowned for itsalpine flora. Amongst the species we willlook for here are the two mountainpansies, Viola calcarataand Viola cenisi;the yellow-flowered Erysimum helveticumand pink-flowered Androsace carneafound in the rocky crevices, whilst thescrees hold Mount Baldo Anemone(Anemone baldensis). Other plants we will look for are Alpine Pasque Flower(Pulsatillas alpina), many species ofgentian, including the diminutive SnowGentian (G. nivalis), various campanulasand rampions, the handsome False WhiteHelleborine (Veratrum album), and Frogand Alpine Orchids.The Italian & French AlpsAn 8-day holiday focusing on the Alpine plants, birds, mammals and butterflies of Italy'sGran Paradiso National Park and the adjoining Vanoise National Park in France.Wednesday 26th June - Wednesday 3rd July Cost: £1,295 Outline itineraryDay 1Fly Turin and transfer toCogne.Day 2/3Botanical andbirdwatching walks inthe Gran ParadisoNational Park, fromCogne.Day 4/7Botanical andbirdwatching walks inthe Vanoise NationalPark, from Lanslevillard.Day 8Transfer to Turin and flyLondon. AccommodationA 2-centre holiday based incomfortable, family-run hotels; allrooms have private facilities. FoodAll included in the price.GradingGrade B. Day walks only, some onsteep ground. All walks areoptional. FocusAlpine plants, birds, mammals andbutterflies. LeaderPhil Thompson.Single room supplement£160.ExtensionsCity breaks in Turin available onrequest.Web quick search: ITA0790Call now or visit www.naturetrek.co.ukfor your free Trip ItineraryGULF OF GENOA SWITZERLAND ITALY FRANCE TURIN LANSLEVILLARDVANOISE NATIONAL PARK COGNE GRAN PARADISO NATIONAL PARK Sempervivum arachnoideumValnontey