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Digital Subscriptions > Lonely Planet Traveller (UK) > July 2015 > Hiking in an Italian Alpine marvel

Hiking in an Italian Alpine marvel

A peaky blinder

Within gazing distance of the Alps’ most famed peaks, the little known Gran Paradiso National Park is Italy’s wildest area, and one of the best places in the land for a wander. Protected since 1856 – when Italy’s frst king created a hunting reserve to conserve its population of rare ibex – it’s a haven for wildlife, criss-crossed by more than 400 miles of trails and mule tracks. Summer is a fne time to explore a few of those paths, with meadows carpeted in wildfowers, and burbling waterfalls and streams a cheerful companion. Active holiday specialist UTracks offers a week-long holiday in the park, taking in some of its most striking scenery in the company of an experienced mountain guide. Beginning in France’s Alpine pastures, walkers spend six days trekking amidst Gran Paradiso’s diverse landscapes – from valleys thick with larch trees to glaciers and vivid blue lakes. From heights that often top 2,000 metres, there are expansive views over the park and nearby peaks – amongst them Mont Blanc and the Matterhorn. Nights are spent in traditional mountain refuges, where there’s hearty local cuisine on offer from local hosts, and the chance of a well-earned rest.

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