Innovation and a strong cultural component have always been hallmarks of sea kayak adventure specialist Tofino Expeditions.  Their newest 10-day tour marries two life-list Italian destinations while engaging guests in alpine lake kayaking in the heart of the Dolomites before paddling alongside vaporetti and gondolas in the canals of Venice.

The beauty of Venice and the grandeur of Dolomites have been dazzling visitors for centuries. These two premier Italian destinations and UNESCO World Heritage Sites are linked through history as much of Venice stands on pilings made from timber cut in the nearby Dolomites. Tofino Expeditions’ Kayaking Venice and the Dolomites links mountain and sea with an emphasis on local culture and cuisine. Two departure dates have been set for 2017; Sept. 12-21 and Sept. 25- Oct. 4, at $4,595 per person, double. See: https://www.tofino.com/italy/kayaking-venice-and-the-dolomites/

kayaking the canals of Venice

Between kayaking and hiking forays in the mountains, followed by the baptism of the senses that is Venice, there’s time left over to toast all that’s beautiful over Cicchetti e Prosecco.

“The kayaker’s view of Venice is at once both splendid and intimate and provides remarkable photographic opportunities. Guests paddle the Grand Canal passing the palaces and great houses of Venice at its peak. They turn into side canals of the Rialto sestiere (district), entering the heart of this water city where every turn offers a new view and interplay of light and water. Minute details are visible from a perspective that most visitors never see,” said Grant Thompson, owner/founder of Tofino Expeditions (http://www.tofino.com/). “We stop at tiny campos (squares) and use the same water stairs that Venetians have used to alight from gondolas for centuries (the technique we’ve developed to do that easily from a kayak is a trade secret).”

Before Venice, however, guests will marvel at The Marmarole, one of the wildest areas in the Dolomites and a region that inspired Titian. Thompson promised that his guests will marvel again when they find themselves lodging at one on of the best locations in Venice, on San Giorgio Maggiore Island at Compagnia della Vela Venezia, one of Italy’s oldest (and private) yacht clubs just steps away from Church of San Giorgio Maggiore, designed by Palladio and home of Tintoretto masterpieces.

“This island, well removed from the throngs of Piazza San Marco, enjoys the kind of peace and elbow room that well-heeled visitors can enjoy on Giudecca, just a few minutes away by water and home of the fabled Fortuny workshop,” he explained. His guests use the sailing dinghy ramp at the club to land kayaks. Guest rooms are state of the art, Italian-designed, waterfront rooms that the Compagnia has built for the use of visiting sailing students and racers. “It is truly one the best and most unique accommodations in all of Venice.”

The Dolomites

Both the Dolomites and Venice are UNESCO World Heritage Sites that for centuries have been linked as favorites of tourists, adventurers and art lovers. This tour utilizes in Venice Hotel Antica Fenice (near the airport and Santa Lucia train station) for arrival and departure nights and on the return from the mountains. This is also where guests are introduced to the art of using kayaks in the canals of Venice. They then transfer to Hotel Belvedere in Pieve di Cadore, home base for the alpine experience to come that includes kayaking Lago Centro di Cadore, Lago Santa Caterina near Cortina d’ Ampezzo (think a cable car ride up and flower-filled hike down), and Lago Misurina accessing hikes in Tre Cime di Lavaredo.

Lunch on Day 5 is at Ai Lares Agriturismo (http://www.rifugidelcadore.it/) where guests may enjoy gnocchi with savory fresh wild mushrooms and locally made cheeses like Groviera followed by ricotta fresca with wildflower honey for desert. Moving into the southern foothills of the Dolomites, guests are now in the Veneto where they visit a family-owned artisanal winery http://www.proseccotonidoro.com that makes some of the very best examples of prosecco, the sparkling wine that is the basis of for Italy’s de facto national cocktail the Aperol Spritz.

The Venice portion of this itinerary builds on Tofino Expeditions’ prior experience of kayaking holidays in Venice (one of its trips, Kayaking Venice and The Laguna, received “Best Tours in Europe – 50 Trips of a Lifetime,” by National Geographic Traveler).

“Like the sleek fast gondolini, sea kayaks are ideally suited to exploring the canals and experiencing the special Venetian relationship with water. This trip encompasses sights and experiences quintessentially Venetian,” said Thompson. “Guests explore the various sestieri (districts), each with its distinct character and special history, in ways that few visitors ever experience.”

Eating well – and locally – is a feature of Tofino Expeditions. In Venice Thompson’s guests enjoy Trattoria alla Vedova Cà D’Oro, a bacaro (standing bar) so popular with the locals that on nice evenings a crowd fills the narrow alley while drinking wine and eating polpeti, small crispy fried meatballs, a house specialty. They also sample traditional Venetian food: bavette al nero di seppia (spaghetti with squid ink sauce) and spaghetti alla busera (spaghetti with scampi).

“Our best tip is to find where the gondoleri go. There are so many tiny local spots and again the custom is to spill out, sip wine and nibble canal side,” he advised.

For more details on Thompson’s love of kayaking in Venice please see: https://www.tofino.com/italy/kayaking-venice-and-the-laguna/tofino-expeditions-offers-kayaking-in-venice/

For tour information, availability and reservations please contact Tofino Expeditions by phone: 800-677-0877 or (541) 389-6091; email: info@tofino.com; or visit online at http://www.tofino.com/. Request or download a catalog online at: https://www.tofino.com/#catalog

About Tofino Expeditions

Grant Thompson, owner/director, founded this family company in 1988 as a single fleet sea kayaking tour company in the small fishing town of Tofino on the west coast of Vancouver Island, Canada. Since pioneering guided paddling tours of Vancouver Island’s west coast, a bucket list destination for international paddlers, Tofino Expeditions has carefully expanded and now offers guided commercial sea kayaking tours in Baja California, Mexico, and other world-class coastlines, including UNESCO World Heritage Sites: Norway, Sardinia, the Amazon rainforest, the Costa Verde, Brazil, Cinque Terre and the Italian Riviera, Venice and the Venice Laguna, Halong Bay in Vietnam, Croatia’s Dalmatian Coast and the Galapagos Islands.

These nature-and culture-oriented trips are enjoyed by educated travelers who share a passion for kayaking and who appreciate the authenticity and hospitality they find after disembarking on often remote coastlines. Luxury comes in the form of local connections, intimate knowledge and special access thanks to local guides who also educate clients on safety and kayaking skills that allows even the inexperienced to feel confident and secure on the water.

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