Trekking Majella National Park - Italy
Short walks of generally 3-4 hours plus optional day excursions; level or slightly hilly terrain using well kept paths.
2. Average/ Moderate
Easy day walks with more strenuous excursions. 4-5 hours per day in hilly to mountainous areas using well kept, sometimes stony paths.
Strenuous day walks or trekking in mountainous areas. 5-7 hours per day, sometimes carrying backpacks with stuff for one night; altitude differences between 1,500-3,000 ft. (500-1,000 m.) per day.
Serious excursions in high mountains, sometimes carrying backpacks with stuff for several nights. 6-8 hours per day; altitude differences up to 3,600 ft. (1,200 m.) per day. Only for those with an excellent condition and without fear of heights.
Easy cycling in nearly flat areas; Little or no experience needed. Approx. 20-50 km daily. Bicycles with up to 3 gears will do.
2. Average / Moderate
Nearly flat to hilly areas with the occasional short climb. Approx. 30-65 km daily. Bicycles with minimum 7 gears will do.
Strenuous cycling with some steeper climbs. Some experience needed. Approx. 30-75 km daily. Bicycles with up to 21 gears needed.
Serious and strenuous in mountainous areas. Slopes are longer and/or steeper. Good physical condition needed. Experience and a mountain bike needed. Approx. 30-80 km daily.
You can choose from 4 different levels of comfort, although most of our trips are rated 2 or 3 (or a combination of the two) on our accommodation scale. We try to provide en-suite rooms where possible but on occasions this may not be possible on some tours.
We are constantly looking for hotels, B&B’s, guesthouses and mountain huts that offer a special location, ambience or atmosphere that fits the trip. Accessibility to the route and personal hospitality of the owners are part of our choice of accommodations.
A hotel, a pension or a mountain hut with all the basic facilities. Most rooms have a shared bathroom.
Fine hotels or B&B’s with basic to moderate facilities. Almost all rooms have a private bathroom.
A 3-star hotel, B&B or guesthouse. Comfortable rooms with private en-suite bathroom and often air conditioning. Some accommodations might have a swimming pool.
A 4-star chateau hotel or guesthouse. The rooms are relatively large with en-suite bathroom and air conditioning. A warm welcome and a high quality are guaranteed. Some hotels have a swimming pool or sauna.
This is a tough, self-guided hiking trip through the beautiful Majella National Park, the last piece of real wilderness in Italy. The Park has majestic, gray mountains with bare tops and flower meadows and ancient beech forests on the flanks. Wander through the habitat of otters, wolves, red deer, wild boar and chamois.
The 74,095 ha Majella National park, located in the Italian Abruzzo region, is an impressive limestone massif with over 25,500 ha of wilderness. It is a little known area not far from Rome and the Adriatic coast suitable for nature lovers and families alike. Clear streams, mountain meadow with flocks of sheep, endless beech forests, ancient attractive villages, Romanesque monasteries and solitary hermitages fill the scenery.
In Majella National Park you can still find wildlife that has become rare elsewhere in Europe. Otters play in the clear water while brown bears, wolfs, lynx, Apennine Chamois, red deer and roe deer still wonder through their natural habitat while the royal eagle soars above. The Majella National Park is a unique example of mountainous wilderness in the heart of the Apenine range. It consists mainly of a limestone massif with hundreds of caves, gorges and rivers and has 30 peaks above 2,000 metres. The park holds 22% of all European flora and lies at a crossroads of climates making it the most Southern Alpine range with over 2,100 different plant species of which 140 are endemic.
What is a PAN Park?
PAN stands for Protected Area Network. A PAN Park means you can visit the last true wilderness boarding Europe. A PAN Park stands for strictly protected, pristine wilderness, high quality tourist facilities and a sustainable development of the local economy. Majella National Park is member of the PAN Parks network, which ensures that you are visiting a park also encompassing the best of Europe’s wilderness. The park has been recognized by the PAN Parks Foundation as an excellent European protected area which offers wilderness: a huge territory with untouched nature! By participating in this trip, you will contribute to protect the last great natural areas in Europe.
- Learn about nature conservation
- Hike through pure European wilderness
- Take a rest in Caramanico Terme, a well known spa town
- Visit the medieval village of Pacentro
- Total distance: 72 or 74 km, 45 or 46 mi.
The indicated routes on Google Maps are approximate.
Day 1 Arrive in Pretoro
Arrive in Pescara airport or Chieti train station and take a public bus to Pretoro, unless you have booked an optional transfer. If you arrive early, take a stroll in the tiny streets of this nice medieval village, located at 600 m altitude on the slopes of the Majella Massif. Enjoy having a glass of wine sitting on the bench of the panoramic terrace in front of the accommodation.
Day 2 Hiking trip: through the Foro Valley, in the afternoon there are faunal introduction activities with a local guide
Distance: 11 km, 7 mi, ↑500 m, ↓500 m, 4.5 hrs. This day’s walk takes you into the deep wooded Foro Valley. Along steep cliffs you reach an undulating terrain with overgrown land (meadows, fields and orchards). From this semi-open area, you have great views of the Majella and Gran Sasso Peaks (9,553 ft / 2,912 m), which is the highest peak in Italy outside the Alps. After the walk, on the way back to Pretoro, you pass the Wolf Study and Environmental Education Centre “Il Grande Faggio”, where you are given an introduction of 1.5-2 hours of the PAN Park Association, about the wolves and other animals that live in the Majella National Park.
Day 3 Hiking tour: from Pretoro to Passo Lanciano and faunal observation at sunset
Distance: shorter route 16 km, 10 mi, ↑780 m, ↓200 m, 6.5 hrs; longer route 17 km, 11 mi, ↑950 m, ↓200 m, 7 hrs. From Pretoro walk up the village (or optional transfer) and begin a steep climb. First through half-open terrain, then through a dense forest. The route is well marked but the trail is sometimes hard to see. You come out on an open level with great views of the Maielletta Mountains. You stay in a good hotel in Passo Lanciano, a small ski hamlet in the beech woods, uninspiring in summer, but the only place where you can overnight. At sunset, enjoy a faunal observation with local expert guide near Passo Lanciano. This guided excursion takes about 1.5 - 2 hours.
Day 4 Hiking trip: from Passo Lanciano to Decontra
Distance: shorter route 16 km, 10 mi, ↑575 m, ↓1,075 m, 6.5 hrs; longer route 17 km, 11 mi, ↑450 m, ↓950 m, 6 hrs. The walk today is beautiful, but can only be done with good visibility. You start with a climb (or optional transfer) to Mamma Rosa at 5,905 ft (1,800 m) altitude, overlooking the Orfento Valley with the highest the Monte Amaro (highest peak of the Majella) at the back (9,163 ft / 2,793 m). The day’s walk can be extended with a visit to the Hermit cave of San Giovanni (one hour extra).
In case of bad weather you can walk from Mamma Rosa to Decontra through the valley. You can extend this walk with a visit of the Santo Spirito Sanctuary, that you encounter along the way and, at the end, with the visit of the San Bartolomeo Hermitage, the most beautiful hermit of the Majella National Park. Today’s destination is the mountain hamlet of Decontra, a charming and magical place that seems unaffected by time.
Day 5 Hiking trip: from Decontra to Caramanico Terme through the Orfento Valley
Distance: 12 km, 7 mi, ↑450 m, ↓450 m, 4.5 hrs. Through scenic trails, you plunge into the deep and narrow Orfento Valley, formed by the erosive action of the homonymous river through the millennia. This has contributed to the creation of one of the most singular and spectacular areas in the Apennines, both from an aesthetic and naturalistic point of view. Because of its natural characteristics, the valley is a protected and restricted area. Climbing up the valley, you reach Caramanico Terme, the well known spa town. Here you can stop for lunch and for a visit of the Park Information Centre. In the afternoon walk up back to Decontra.
Day 6 Hiking trip: from Sant'Eufemia to Pacentro via Lama Bianca and the San Leonardo Pass
Distance: 17 km, 11 mi, ↑650 m, ↓800 m, 6 hrs. A short transfer takes you to the start of the walk in the village of Sant’Eufemia or, if you want to shorten the walk, in Lama Bianca or Passo San Leonardo. The walk is a gradual climb predominated by the spectacular views of and from the Morrone Mountain that sits majestically behind Caramanico Terme. All along the walk, on forest trails and mountain pastures, you have magnificent views of the soaring peaks of the Majella massif, the Gran Sasso (9,186 ft / 2,800 m), the highest mountain outside the Italian Alps and the Monti della Laga. Once over the San Leonardo Pass the steep descent down to the tower filled medieval village of Pacentro offers great views on the mountains of the Abruzzo National Park and the town of Sulmona.
Day 7 Departure
This fabulous wilderness trekking and our services end after breakfast. Make your own way to the airport by public transports. Arrivederci!
- 3 nights on breakfast basis in a comfortable B&B or hotel (for an image selection, please see Flickr)
- 3 nights on halfboard basis (drinks excluded) in a comfortable B&B or hotel
- Packet lunch on day 4
- Luggage transfer from Pretoro to Pacentro from day 3 to day 6
- Transfer from the hotel in Passo Lanciano to the observation spot in Piane di Tarica on day 3
- Transfer from Decontra to the start of the walk in Sant’Eufemia (or Lama Bianca or Passo San Leonardo) on day 6
- Day 2: Afternoon faunal introduction activity with expert English speaking local guide, snack and coffee included.
- Day 3: Faunal observation at sunset with expert English speaking local guide
- Road book in English
- Official Tourist Map 1:50.000 of the Majella National Park
- 24/7 day help telephone line
- Pan Parks Foundation Donation
- Flights and public transportation
- Travel insurance
- Car rental
- Lunches on day 1, 2, 3, 5 and 6 are not included
- Dinners on day 1, 2, 3 and 6 are not included
- No beverages (no aerated & alcoholic beverages, or bottle water, or tea or coffee)
- Sightseeing or entrance fees of any kind not specified in the program
- Any items or transfers not mentioned in the program
Optional services (to be booked in advance):
- Additional night(s) at any of the accommodations (please use booking remarks field)
- Arrival transfer from Pescara Airport or Chieti Train Station to Pretoro
- Transfer from Pretoro to the start of the walk to Passo Lanciano on day 3 (you can ask for it on the spot as you go with the luggage transfer supplier).
- Transfer from Passo Lanciano to Mamma Rosa on Day 4 (you can ask for it on the spot as you go with the luggage transfer supplier).
- Transfer from Pacentro to Sulmona train station on day 7. You can also take a taxi and pay for it on the spot.
- Transfer from Pacentro to the airport (Pescara or Rome) on day 7
- Single supplement
This is a demanding trip as the walks are pretty tough in mountainous areas with big height differences. The trails are on dirt roads, tracks, mountain trails and sometimes on small sections of asphalt. The trails are not always well marked or visible. The snow melts in the higher areas in late May and in June and July the mountain slopes are in bloom. Late September the woods have wonderful color combinations and often there is beautiful autumn weather making it a good time to visit the park. Outside of the high season (August) is very quiet.
The emphasis in this journey is the incredible nature of the Majella National Park, but also the local culture is not amiss. Every day you have a choice of visit to flora and/or fauna conservation areas as well as a selection of walks you can make each day. The walks through grasslands, forests and the rugged mountain landscape are of varying lengths, some are on gently slopping trails while others are on hilly, mountainous terrain. As some descents are quite steep, walking sticks can be useful. You travel on your own walking through the park using the information packet provided.
How to get there:
You can fly to Pescara airport www.abruzzo-airport.it and Rome Fiumicino or Ciampino airports www.adr.it We recommend you booking your flight after the arrangement has been confirmed. From Rome Fiumicino (FCO) and Rome Ciampino (CIA) to Caramanico Terme is 220 km, while Palena is 230 km away.
A car is needed to undertake this trip that is provided in the packet or you can use your own car. All accommodations where you stay during this trip have parking facilities. If you travel by car from the West (Rome), take the A24-A25 highway and Exit at Torre de' Passeri- Casauria and follow Directions to Caramanico Terme. If you travel by car from the North Adriatic highway, take the A14 then at Pescara take the A25 highway and Exit at Alanno-Scafa and follow Directions to Caramanico Terme.