Wild Photography Holidays - Photography & Adventure Travel: Italy – The Best of the Dolomites with James Rushforth


Italy – The Best of the Dolomites with James Rushforth

Highlights include…

  • Tre Cime di Lavaredo towers
  • Jagged snow capped mountains
  • Astrophotography opportunities
  • Beautifully located hotels
  • Traditional local food
  • Picturesque villages
  • Tranquil lakes, streams and rivers
  • Alpine meadows
  • Traditional Tyrolean architecture
  • Arrival in Venice
  • Striking autumn colours
  • UNESCO World Heritage Site


Introducing one of the most breathtaking mountain ranges in the world. Located in northern Italy, the majestic spires of the Dolomites are widely regarded as the most photogenic mountain range on the planet, indeed it is rare to see an international landscape photography competition without at least one finalist image featuring these stunning natural formations. The area is characterised by impossibly steep towers, spires, pinnacles, jagged ridges and sharp pinnacles that thrust skyward from the picturesque villages and alpine meadows below.

Our journey begins in the floating architectural masterpiece of Venice, and if time constraints allow, guests are encouraged to arrive a couple of days early to fully take advantage of Venice’s many photographic opportunities.

Wild Photography Holidays will provide an airport transfer service from Venice Marco Polo Airport for the three-hour journey to the Dolomites and the world-famous Alpe di Siusi alpine plateau. Over the next week, we will traverse this magical mountain range from north to south exploring the Ampezzo, Cadini di Misurina, Sesto, Puez Odle and Sella groups. We will drive over the exposed heights of the Falzarego, Giau and Erbe passes before sampling the Tyrolean culture of the Badia, Funes and Gardena valleys. Expect to photograph the mountain landscapes of the Tofane, Cinque Torri, Cristallo, Antelao, Sassolungo and of course the iconic Tre Cime di Lavaredo towers. These stunning peaks are complimented by tranquil lakes, streams, waterfalls and a wide variety of traditional Tyrolean architecture. Clear skies permitting, there are a number of excellent astrophotography opportunities with some stunning foregrounds and backdrops.

October is a special time to experience the Dolomites as the autumn colours are spectacular once the larches turn a vibrant orange and then yellow.

Photographic Tutors and Guides

This photographic holiday will be led by James Rushforth, author of five guidebooks to the region covering photography, ski touring, climbing and Via Ferrata. James has lived in the Dolomites for the last 10 years and has an intimate connection with the region.
All images in the gallery on this page are by James Rushforth.

Brief Itinerary

For full details please download the trip description PDF

Day 1-4: Arrive Venice and Alpe di Siusi

WPH will provide an airport transfer service from Venice Marco Polo Airport. The journey to the Dolomites takes three hours as we drive through the many vineyards of the Venetian plains to reach the world-famous Alpe di Siusi plateau above the Val Gardena.

Spanning an area of 6000 hectares (or 56 square kilometres), the Alpe di Siusi is Europe’s largest high-altitude alpine meadow. The vast plateau harbours some 800 different species of wildflower and is liberally studded with rustic wooden huts, babbling streams and small ponds. Set against the superbly proportioned Sassolungo group, an epitome of the Dolomitic ideal of what a mountain should look like, there is a nearly infinite number of creative photo opportunities to be had here. To take full advantage of the scale of this landscape we will spend several days shooting many viewpoints here with special permission to drive on the plateau to cover as much ground as possible.

During our stay in the Northern Dolomites, we’ll also take the opportunity to explore the much coveted Val di Funes, photographing Chiesa di Santa Maddalena at sunset. The church, surrounded by traditional farmsteads, rolling meadows and woodland, backdropped against the dramatic north-west faces of the Odle / Geisler peaks, provides a picture-perfect scene that is amongst the most iconic in the Dolomites.

Day 5: Onwards to Cortina d’Ampezzo

Our adventure continues as we drive towards probably the most high-profile town in the Dolomites – the beautiful Cortina d’Ampezzo. After a hearty breakfast, we descend briefly westwards, dropping down into the Valle Isarco, a region famous for its white wine as a favourable microclimate comprised of hot summer days and cool nights at vintage time ensuring the grapes reach maturity with high sugar content. The medieval town of Chiusa, dominated by the Benedictine nunnery ‘Monastero di Sabiona’ and a member of ‘I Borghi più belli d’Italia’, a private association promoting the most beautiful villages in Italy, makes for an excellent stop on the way.

Then we turn back east, traversing the narrow and scenically stunning Passo delle Erbe – passing underneath the mighty Sass de Putia to reach the Val Badia. After pausing to photograph a series of secluded watermills, we continue to Lago di Braies, an idyllic lake that provided the setting for the Italian television series ‘Un passo dal cielo’. While the characteristic stilted boathouse at the northern end of the lake provides the classic vantage point, compositions abound as we traverse the turquoise waters backdropped by the Croda del Becco mountains which are said to house a gateway to the underworld, hence the Ladin name ‘Sass dla Porta’ (gate rock). 

A final drive east along the Val Pusteria leads to the Sesto Dolomites, Lago di Dobbiaco, Lago di Landro and ultimately Cortina d’Ampezzo – our home and base for the remainder of the trip. 

Day 6-8: Cortina d’Ampezzo

Built astride the River Boite, Cortina provides a suitably grand finale to this magical traverse of the Dolomites. Perfectly situated between the Falzarego and Giau passes while lying close to the Parco delle Dolomiti d’Ampezzo – an intricate network of peaks, valleys, streams and forest covering some 37,000 hectares of alpine wilderness – the location is superb. Over the next few days, we will explore the famous five towers of Cinque Torri, photograph reflections of the Tofane in the crystal waters of Lago Limides, take a Jeep ride up to the remote Croda da Lago and hike to the trio of monoliths that make up the Tre Cime – home to one of the six great north faces of the Alps and an iconic symbol of the Dolomites.

Day 9: Homeward Flights

After breakfast guests will be transferred back to Venice Marco Polo International Airport for homeward flights. The journey back is shorter and takes approximately two hours. WPH services finish upon arrival at the airport.

Pickup Arrangements

Pickup will be from Venice Piazzale Roma at 11:00 am and Venice Marco Polo Airport at 11:30 am. There are excellent public transport links into Venice from the airport (water bus, water taxi, public bus) and there are many superb hotels and agriturismos in the immediate vicinity.
Guests are encouraged to arrive the previous evening to ensure the group is not kept waiting for any delayed flights. 

Pickup Times:

Venice Piazzale Roma – 11:00
Venice Marco Polo Airport – 11:30

What’s Included

  • Airport transfer
  • 8 nights accommodation
  • All Meals
  • All transport
  • Photographic tutors/tuition

What’s not Included

  • International flights
  • Alcoholic beverages
  • Travel Insurance
  • Anything else not listed as included


We will stay in a variety of high-quality accommodations, always located in beautiful surroundings and offering good access to our chosen photo locations.


The longest walk is one hour to the Tre Cime north faces (it has 200m of height gain). For the remainder of our locations, the walking time is around 15 minutes. There are closer options and excellent viewpoints for the Tre Cime north faces day.

Complete Itinerary and Full Details

This page is only a brief summary. A complete itinerary and more details can be found in our trip description PDF
It is important that you read this full day-to-day description and further information for this holiday before making your booking.