We knocked at their door and tiptoeing we came in.
We’re at the brown bear’s place, in the West side of the Dolomites, nearly 30km far from Trento. Andalo, Fai della Paganella and Molveno, are the closest town. Huge mountains surround our extraordinary meeting with the ancestral animals that live in Spormaggiore Animal Refuge. They are waiting for families with kids to be met, loved and protected.
Boots soles are crunching over the leaves lying on the path. Scents of the forest all around. The sounds of civilization are long gone and your immediately widened mind goes back at childhood. We’re about to meet the animals encountered in books of fairy tales, the protagonists who made our childish nights an amazing adventure for the more audacious or a nightmare for the less daring.
Just a short path distance the visitors from “the land lord“.
Kids, moms and dads, everyone is so curious and can’t wait to rummage through the trees in search of the first sighting. Three wolves are well camouflaged in the bush, they seem to have fun observing us trying to see who locates them for first. We watch the wolves from a complete safety position and with movements that are so familiar if you have a dog, they stage a perfect play.
Sissi, the leader of the pack, is on the lookout. Luna wanders seraphic, intrigued by our noses pressed against the window and Vanessa, the weak link of the bunch, eschews the looks.
A few steps away from these beautiful wolves, we meet the prince of this park. The brown bear, the largest mammal that lives in the Alps. But we should instead talk about two young ladies and their Grand’ma, as suggested by the park tour leadear, as these furry teddy bears, a mix of Baloo and Winnie the Pooh, are Bel, called for her age the grandmother of Europe and the two little sisters Cleo and Cora, that were born in the Shrine of St. Romedio in the close Val di Non.
Owls, wild cats and farm animals also live n the park, and soon bobcats, foxes and otters will join Spormaggiore Animal Refuge team.
What we like
Beech, spruce and larch are the natural frame where all the animals live. This is not a zoo, but a real natural reserve! The refuge has nothing to do with the fences artifacts that visitors usually visit in town. Bushy and wider opened areas are well mixed up and offer visitors an atmosphere of total relaxation. The perfect environmental conditions of the forest of Spormaggiore Animal Refuge allowed to reintroduce these two protected species.
Good to know
- How to get there: A22 highway (San Michele all’Adige exit) then follow Fai della Paganella along the County Road SP64, then SS 21 until Spormaggiore.
- Parking areas: free parking area close to Castel Belfort ruins. The park entrance is 10 minutes walk along an easy path through the woods, that can be hiked over by stroller as well.
- Tickets: kids under 3y free, adults 8 €, reduced rate 7€. If you are a family with 2 children, you should buy the Family Ticket 18 € . If you have a Tourist Card, your ticket will cost 7€ (adults) and 6€ (kids from 4 to 14).
- Opening Hours: From June 12th to July 7th the refuge opens from 9.30 to 13.00 & from 14.30 to 18.30; from July 8th to September 8th the park open from 9.30 to 18.30; from September 9th to 30th the opening hours are from 9.30 to 13.00 and from 14.30 to 18.30.
- Pets: Dogs are welcome, but only on a leash and please remind that you are in a wildlife environment!!
- Kids facilities: A huge playground and baby changing room are on site.
- In the nearby: you can’t miss the visit at the ruins of Castel Belfort and the Apicoltura Castel Belfort (Beekeeping) that are immediately outside the park entrance
Information & Booking
Spormaggiore Animal Refuge Park
We highly recommend to check the weather conditions as well as the opening hours on site or directly on the Park website.