Reaching New Altitudes: Discovering Merano 2000

I’ve had this dream of hiking in the Alps for quite some time: something of a mixture of the magnificent views  from the Sound of Music and an active and sweaty sports holiday. The dream came true in August. We spent our holiday in Northern Italy, in Trento, and did day trips in different directions. One destination was the summit Merano 2000. My highlights and tips, here you go:

So what is it about?
Merano 2000 is a hiking and recreational area with numerous panoramic hiking trails. A cable car (Via Val di Nova) will take you up to the summit in seven minutes. Quite a quick ride from the ground level to the mountains. There is a wide range of routes (altogether 19 of them) from a brisk stroll along a gravel path to more demanding vertical rises towards the mountain peaks. The place also has tens of kilometers of mountain biking trails.

Why go?
Because: the views, the workout and the views. And the bonus reason: the delicious apple strudel bigger than your head. The views to the Dolomites (which is an UNESCO World Heritage site) are stunning.


The trekking trails are clearly signposted all the way. We did the hike from Piffing to the Kuhleiten hut. It consisted of the following parts: first an easy trail along a gravel path (trail number 3). Then a more demanding ascent marked as only for experts (oops): we did some improvising here and took a little shortcut – we ended up almost crawling on all fours up the hill. The rest of the way we then decided to follow the marked path, which was a moderately heavy trail. I’d say that the more arduous paths require a good physique and that the given time estimates in the wooden signs are  mostly accurate.

For whom?
For so many: for those who enjoy the outdoors, gorgeous scenery, being active and summer adventures. For couples, entire families with children, for all ages really. All in all, it is an excellent outdoor holiday option for those, who relax best by staying in motion.

Note, that during the high season the last cable car heads back down at 6 o’clock pm, which is relatively early as there would be daylight still for a few more hours. On Fridays, the ropeway operates until 9 o’clock pm.

The biggest surprise?
What surprised me was the big number of (a total of 19) Hütten (mountain huts) and the wide selection they had: you can try the traditional treats of the local gastronomy, for example a Gulaschsuppe, Käseknödel or then my favourite, Südtiroler Apfelstrudel. A piece of warm apple pie with whipped cream (how else) tastes close to heavenly in the refreshing mountain air. The language used is German and the prices are very reasonable. A strong recommendation to these refreshing and tasty oases. Some of the huts even have an Übernachtungsmöglichkeit (gotta love German), that is, the possibility for overnight accommodation.

How much?
The cable car ride cost 27 Euros for two people (round trip): this was the happy hour price (valid from 2 o’clock onwards), the normal price being 20 euros per person. The snacks in the huts were affordable.

What to remember?
First, sunscreen. Take it from someone whose lips were peeling for several days after the holiday: remember to put sunblock on your lips as well. Other necessities: comfortable and sturdy shoes, a hat, a water bottle and a camera to capture all that beauty. And also a sweater with long sleeves: it is quite chilly and windy high up there (says someone who insisted on enjoying her espresso in a sports tank top, and in goose bumps).

I am a girl who loves to be by the water (sea, lakes, ponds, waterfalls, any water source really) but now the mountains definitely have a strong hold of me. When and where to next, those are the questions once again.

Have fun, viel Spaß, up there!

Trekking the Ruta del Cares

We had two hiking days planned for our trip: one was the Ruta del Cares at the Picos de Europa and the other a tasting sample of the Camino de Santiago.

The Ruta del Cares was breathtaking and also really a proper hike. I consider myself to be fit and after the day I was both really happy and tired. We had heard recommendations that the route is worth doing and indeed we stopped many many times along the way to admire the stunning scenery.

The 12 km long route starts at Poncebos and ends in Caín. The walking time estimate is three hours. We went to Caín and back and this took us a little less than seven hours including a restful lunch break and many stops for taking photographs. The path is carved in to the mountain rocks and down below you can see the bright Cares river flow. The fall down in many parts is hundreds of meters. The first 45 minutes is a good climb upwards. After this the path is pretty much level and you can fully enjoy the way and the view.

Along the way we met fellow hikers (but there was no crowd) and also some goats and goatlings and saw eagles circle in the sky. Our friends told us that they had even seen vultures. It’s good to bring water with you but along the route there are points where you can reach to take the cold and fresh water of the mountain river. Take also a snack, sun screen and a shirt with long sleeves. I’d also recommend to start the day early enough.

The route is verdant and gorgeous with waterfalls and wild flowers, the gorge and the peaks. Definitely worth the trek. In Caín you can relax and dip your feet into the cool river and either have a picnic lunch on a patch of green or order the menu del dia at one of the restaurants before you start your hike back.

This was a very good day.