Walking the Amalfi Coast
This blog post is about the Walking the Amalfi Coast trip that I took with the tour company Exodus in October.
The Amalfi Coast is one of the most dramatic coastlines in Europe. Walking the ancient hillsides studded with lemon groves and framed by deep gorges, we descend from the Agerola Plain to the quaint towns of Positano, Ravello and of course Amalfi itself. No visit to the Bay of Naples would be complete without a trip to see the remains of Pompeii under the imposing volcanic cone of Mount Vesuvius. The best is saved till last with arguably the world’s best coastal walk: the ‘Walk of the Gods’. Away from the trails we partake in the favorite traditional pastime and sample incredible food and wine just like the Italians do!
- Day 1, Flights to Italy. The day starts with an evening flight from London Gatwick to Naples Airport Italy. It is a 2 hour 45 minute flight from London to Italy, there are also no meal services on this flight anymore so eat at airport before you leave. You will be met at the airport by your Exodus tour rep who will be holding a clipboard with Exodus on it. From there is a two-hour bus trip over to Bomerano where the hotel for the week is located. When you arrive at the hotel you will have dinner, which for me was quite late at around eleven at night.
- Day 2. Monte Tre Calli walk. For most people this will be one of the harder days of the whole week. The morning walk up to the Monte Tre Calli piles on a lot of accent in a reasonably short amount of time. I believe the pace we managed was 600m of gain in an hour. This would be significantly harder in one of the summer months as there is little to no shade while you are ascending. You stop for lunch at the top and enjoy the spectacular views. It is then a much more leisurely pace back down to hotel via a different route.
- Day 3. To Amalfi. This day is mostly a downhill one, but there a large proportion of that downhill which is on steps after lunch break. This is a very pleasant day with some amazing views over the coastline, if your group is fast enough you get an afternoon to explore Amalfi. You will get to see an odd monorail that has been build but looks like it has never been used.
- Day 4. Pompeii and Vesuvius. A bit of change today, you start off by taking a bus back to the outskirts Naples to visit Pompeii and then onto Vesuvius. At Pompeii you will have a local guide for your group. They will take you round the best parts of Pompeii and give some interesting information on the history of the site. Pompeii is a lot bigger then one would expect, there is no way you could see it all in the morning you have allocated to it. After a bite to eat it back onto the coach to Mount Vesuvius. Unfortunately for me it was shrouded in clouds the day I visited. But the entire group still wanted to walk up to the top of the crater rim. You also get to go a little way inside the create itself and feel some of the heat given off through thermal vents.
- Day 5. Valle Delle Ferriere to Ravello. For me this was my favorite day of the whole trip. You begin by getting bussed back down to Amalfi where you walk through the town and up the valley behind it. It is a nice walk up into the valley past lemon trees and abandoned paper works. The highlight has to be when you enter the Valle itself. Most people will be unable to get inside as it is a guarded and fenced area. It’s a magical place walking under waterfalls, and feeling part of nature. After the walk back out its an hour or so up to Ravello where you are given the afternoon to explore by yourself.
- Day 6. Free day. Exodus mark this day as a free day to do what you would like to do. There are a many options to choose from such as visiting Capri or Herculean or even just relaxing by the hotel pool. The tour leader will help you get to where you would like to go. I decided on a visit to Capri. The boat trip over from Amalfi was quite an experience. It is a bad sign when the staff start handing out sick bags to people that look a little green. Capri itself is very touristy and very busy. I took the funicular up and walked out of the main streets to a nice little park and read a book.
- Day 7. Walk of the Gods. This day you will walk in the opposite direction to what you have been doing previously. This walk has some evocative views of the Mediterranean. After a short stop for lunch you make you way down quite a few steps down to Positano where you have a couple of hours to explore. Before you travel back to Amalfi on a ferryboat and a bus back up to your hotel from Amalfi.
- Day 8. Travel home. This one is meant to be just flight back to London. But if you take a later Exodus trip in the year where the flight home does not leave Naples until after 22:00 then Exodus will give you an extra half day walk. For me this was a walk to San Lazzaro where we took lunch in a restaurant on a cliff overlooking the Mediterranean.
Most inspirational moment of my trip
Even though all the days were interesting in there own way for me the best day by far was the one where you get to visit the Valle delle Ferriere national park. This day starts off back in Amalfi and you slowly walk up the valley from there. At first it is mostly lemon trees but soon as you get deeper into the valley it swaps to a really quite beautiful place with waterfalls and old paperwork’s. The walk through this area ends with you passing into a fenced off protected area into an amazing grotto, where you can sit under waterfalls that surround this area.
Thoughts on the Exodus group leader
The trip that I took was so large that we were split down into three smaller groups. My tour leader was Michela a native Italian. I was very impressed with her, both with never ending supply of interesting facts about the area to her trying to get us to learn Italian words. She managed to set a very nice pace for the group, one that was pushing but within the group’s ability to maintain. The pace gave us loads of time to stop and gawk at all the amazing views.
On out last official day of walking we had just finished the walk of the Gods and were walking down to Positano when it started to rain. This was not normal rain it was torrential rain, rain that would get you wet in less than ten seconds when you stood in it. We got about halfway down and Michela stopped us at bus stop and said that we could take the bus down the rest of the way if we wanted.
No one said anything so she asked for a show of hands of those who wanted to take the bus. No one put his or her hand up even though the rain was still pouring. It was a sign of the determination of the group that all of us wanted to finish the walk even with all the rain and how soaked some of the group members were by that time.
Advice for potential travellers
- Take walking poles. There are a great many steps down on this trip and poles take quite a large amount of stress off the knees when you are descending them.
- Knee sleeves may also help too but they will make you hot especially if you are on one of the summer trips.
- Book one of the trips later in the season around October time. There are a couple of advantages to a trip this time of the year. It is a little bit cooler compared to the summer months. A couple of days are really quite exhausting with places where there is no shade and just direct sun on your back as you are ascending. In summer heat, even if you carry two liters of water you will still most likely run out. Also later in the season Exodus use flights home that leave Naples very late around 23:00 With this late a departure you get a special extra day in the Amalfi area. On my extra day we did the first part of the walk to Amalfi to a restaurant in San Lazzaro where we had lunch with cliff top views. Some took the bus back to the hotel while others decided to tackle the same walk back too.
This was my first trip with Exodus where I wanted to see how it compared to my normal tour operator with whom I have climbed both Kilimanjaro and Elburs. I have to say that I was suitably impressed with the service and itinerary. I will almost certainly be looking for another trip for next year, perhaps even two if I can manage to schedule the time of work for it.
Here is a link to the Exodus website link