It’s been over a month we are in Cortina d’Ampezzo, in the Dolomites in Northern Italy, and we had the chance to do few excursions to some of the most beautiful places around.
Today we talk about stunning turquoise Lake Sorapis (Lago di Sorapis) and how to get to it hiking along trail n.215 leading to Rifugio Vandelli, at a couple of hundred meters from the lake.
Lake Sorapis is a glacial lake located at 1,900 metres above sea level. The purest water coming from the slopes of surrounding mountains give to its water a bright turquoise colour, that leaves speechless at the sight.
HOW TO REACH LAKE SORAPIS
About 15 km’s away, Cortina d’Ampezzo is the ideal starting point for a trip to Sorapis. The distance can be covered in different ways:
- by car for 9 km’s up to Passo Tre Croci, then on foot hiking the next 6 km’s along trail 215;
- by bus from Cortina former train station, getting off at 150 mt from the trail starting point;
- or even on foot straight from Cortina, leaving from 1,200 m.a.s.l. for the most adventurous and trained of you. The 15 km’s can be done in 4 hours of hike, it’s necessary to leave early in the morning.
- for those arriving from Auronzo di Cadore, it’s about 30 km’s on the road to get to Passo Tre Croci.
- Lake Sorapis, embedded among several peaks, is reachable via other trails too, more complicated and requiring more hours of hiking. In this article we focus on the easiest and more beaten track, trail 215.
Trail 215 is relatively easy to follow, even for less expert trekkers. It is about 6 km’s long and doable in two hours at medium pace, subtracting or adding half hour for the more or less trained. It is recommended to leave early in the morning, the first bus from Cortina is at 8.38 am and gets to the trail by 9 am, where lines of cars and some buses too will be already parked from a while. Especially during the Summer between June and August, the risk of encountering proper queues like at the supermarket is really high. Your pace will be affected since it’s not always easy to overtake on a two-meter-wide mountain trail.
GEAR AND DIFFERENCE IN HEIGHT
As previously said the hike itself is not that hard. Indeed the starting altitude at Passo Tre Croci is 1,800 mt. and Lake Sorapis is at 1,900 mt. Up and downhills are limited to a few points, for a total of about 200 meters of difference in height. There are a couple of river fordings, however in the Summer they are quite dry and easy to cross. Bear in mind that if it rained during the days before your trip, there might be some muddy and slippery sections. Standard trekking shoes are ideal for this hike, whilst trekking poles can be useful but not essential.
HIKING AND VIEWS OVER… THE EDGE OF THE CLIFF!
Trail 215 goes on pleasantly through the woods for the first hour, with amazing views over Cristallo mountain group, Misurina Lake and the Three Peaks of Lavaredo in the far background.
The last part becomes more exposed over the deep ravine of Rio Sorapis. Metal stairs allow to climb on the steeper ramps, and metal ropes help to keep balance in two points right on the edge of the cliff. An iron path set is not required as it is not a dangerous spot, being the trail wide enough it is possible to get over this section in complete safety. What’s more impressive is the vertical view over the deep valley, it is mandatory to always be careful and proceed with caution.
ARRIVING AT RIFUGIO VANDELLI
The last kilometer is again in the trees shade, head on towards Lake Sorapis and Rifugio Vandelli along trail 215, a couple of junctions are well indicated with signs. At some point you’ll see the roof of Rifugio Vandelli in front of you, you made it!
Lake Sorapis is just 150 mt far from the refuge, impossible to miss. The slight ascent leading to its banks gives an arrival and a first view that leaves breathless. The lake shows up before your eyes in all the splendor of its turquoise waters, framed by the white rocky faces and dominated by the nearby peaks, above all Mount Sorapis (3,200 mt) and The Finger of God (Dito di Dio, 2,600 mt).
You’ll have endless choice to pick the best point of view and enjoy the show of Mother Nature. We suggest to do a full lap of the lake, going anti clockwise you can easily get to the small beach where many stop for a pic-nic. On the opposite side it’s possible to climb some more on a slope in order to admire Lake Sorapis from above.
MASS TOURISM VS. CONSCIOUS TOURISM
We couldn’t miss the chance for an even more impressive point of view, thanks to the wings and camera of our drone, that awarded us with these unbelievable shots.
The Dolomites offer numerous places as much beautiful as they are easy to get to, such as Lake Sorapis and the Three Peaks of Lavaredo. This makes them subject to mass toursim, with buses and large groups of 30-40 people that come here in the mountains daily as it was Halong Bay, Vietnam. Unfortunately some tourists are rude and not educated to the mountain, we saw and picked up some trash around the lake. Many kids and adults too make a lot of noise, throwing rocks into the lake and diving into it as they were at a public swimming pool. Despite the crowds, it is absolutely possible to enjoy the place, find your quiet spot and make peace with yourself and with nature.
BACK TO CORTINA D’AMPEZZO
We stayed as long as we could for our circumstances. Leaving by bus at 8.40 am we got to the lake at 11 am, eating our packed lunch by the lake and having a drink by the refuge, super crowded. We started our descent at 3 pm to catch the last bus at 5.20 pm direction Cortina. As every much visited place, early in the morning and late in the afternoon are the most quiet moments of the day, if you have your own car try and avoid the peak hour!
For those of you who have more time available, you could consider to spend the night at Rifugio Vandelli. From here it is possible to leave for several trails, including the ascent to Mt. Sorapis, the hike to Faloria, and many iron paths.
We wish you an enjoyable excursion to Lake Sorapis, remember to respect nature, be patient when it’s crowded, and enjoy the sights!
WHERE TO STAY IN CORTINA D’AMPEZZO
- Hotel da Beppe Sello: cozy rooms and one of the best restaurants in town spoiled us at Beppe Sello!
- Hotel Aquila: great quality/price combo in the heart of Cortina.
- You can book all your accommodation in the Dolomites with free cancellation here.
HOW TO GET AROUND
- Dolomiti Bus: schedule and fares to travel in the Dolomites;
- Flixbus to Cortina from Venice, Verona, Milan: Flixbus.it – Book now
- Never leave home without a reliable travel insurance. Even if you trust yourself, you can’t always trust others. Better safe than sorry! Get your quote here.