mont blanc hiking tour chamonix france

Lac Blanc, Chamonix, France

Shimmering Lac Blanc is set at the base of the spires of the Aiguille Route, near Mont Blanc. Our unique hiking journey crosses the Alps—and the borders of five countries: France, Italy, Switzerland, Germany, and Austria.

Photo by Ben Ailes

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Great Alpine Traverse route-map

Trip Details at-a-Glance

Cost From: $7495  
Length: 14 days
Arrive: Chamonix, France
Depart: Salzburg, Austria
Lodging: 5 nights hotels, 5 nights charming inns, 3 nights alpine lodges with semi-private rooms, shared baths, and hot showers
Meals: All meals included except 1 lunch and 2 dinners
Activity: Hiking / Trekking, Cultural Adventures
Trip Level: 13 hiking days on moderate to steep trails, 5-8 hours a day, altitudes between 6,000-11,500 feet, van support (for luggage or if you wish to skip a day's hike). This is a strenuous hiking trip, read “What the Trip is Like” for more details.


  • The ultimate Alps trip, with a variety of great hikes, delicious cuisine, and Europe’s best mountain scenery—nobody else offers this trip!
  • Experience the distinctive cultures and cuisines of five alpine countries
  • Hand-picked hotels include the Grand Hotel des Alpes (Chamonix) and Hotel Walther (Pontresina)

The Great Alpine Traverse was the best trip I've ever experienced! Everything was perfect—choice of hikes, food, hotels, sightseeing—you name it—it was great!!!Theresa L.—Denver, CO

Choosing the Right Trip

We work hard to help you choose the right trip for you, paying attention to your individual interests, abilities, and needs. If you have questions about the level of comfort or any of the activities described in this itinerary, please contact us.


We are proud to have an exceptionally high rate of repeat travelers. For more information, we would be happy to put you in touch with a client who has traveled with us.

Looking for the ultimate Alps odyssey? We’ve created a one-of-a-kind, five-country adventure that links the best trails of France, Italy, Switzerland, Germany, and Austria, and crosses five international borders, all on foot. Our extraordinary hikes bring you below Mont Blanc, to the Matterhorn from both the Italian and Swiss sides, and across the magnificent glacier-clad Tyrolean Alps of Germany and Austria. We connect one glorious hiking realm to another with cog rails, cable cars, and Switzerland’s famed Glacier Express. Our team of Trip Leaders brings style, camaraderie, and wonderful fun to this incredible experience of the Alps.

Itinerary at a Glance

For a more complete description, Download Full Detailed Itinerary

Days 1-4
Chamonix, France / Aosta, Italy / Zermatt, Switzerland

Our journey begins in Chamonix, where a breathtaking gondola ride brings you across the Vallée Blanche Glacier for a close look at the icy flanks of Mont Blanc. Heading into Italy and Switzerland, a dazzling amphitheater of mountains surrounds you on a hike along the Grand Balconeta trail to Cervinia, right at the foot of the Matterhorn, and down the Theodul Glacier for amazing views of this pyramidal peak.

Days 5-7
Upper Engadine

A spectacular rail journey on the Glacier Express carries you to St. Moritz in the Upper Engadine. After a hike along the Morteratsch Glacier, take a cable car to our lodge for an overnight among the high peaks.

Days 8-14
Maria Alm, Austria / Funtensee, Germany / Salzburg, Austria

Our hike along the Inn River leads among hamlets and forests, then crosses the remote Futschol Pass into Austria. From Maria Alm on the mountainous Austria-Germany border, hike into Germany to a lovely lakeside lodge. A descent through a glacier-carved landscape brings you to Königssee, encircled within near-vertical rock walls, and on to Salzburg. Depart on Day 14.

For a more complete description, Download Full Detailed Itinerary

What the Trip is Like

This trip is Level 4+, Moderate to Strenuous. Most hiking is between 6,000 and 9,000 feet. However, at times we hike at higher elevations, with a maximum of 11,500 feet at the Theodul Pass on the Italian-Swiss border. On Day 2, we ascend by cable car to 12,678 feet at the top of the Aiguille du Midi above Chamonix. There is a good bit of up-and-down hiking (often 3,000- to 4,000-foot gain or loss in elevation per day) during the 5-8 hours on the trail each day. You’ll carry just a daypack on most days, but on two hiking days, when we are staying in a mountain refuge with no road access, you must be able to carry your overnight needs in your daypack. Most medium-sized daypacks have enough room for your overnight belongings (a toothbrush, soap, small towel, and a fresh t-shirt suffice for most people).

Altitude is not usually a problem for people on these trips. The itinerary is developed to take you gently to higher altitude, giving you plenty of time to acclimatize. However, some people still find they get a few problems when they first reach high altitude. Slight headache and sleeplessness in the refuges are the most common problems.

Getting in Shape
We strongly urge you to “train up” for your trip. The best training for hiking is hiking, especially over hills or rough terrain. Next best are running, swimming, bicycling or other sports exercise (stair-climbing machines are excellent preparation for hiking uphill). It’s important to take time to build up muscle and endurance prior to your trip. Try to incorporate exercise into your daily schedule at least a couple of months before departure. Your feet should also be well prepared—make sure your hiking boots are sturdy and thoroughly broken-in.

Most of the hotels we stay in are rustic, well located for hikers, and continuously busy in the summer hiking season. Please note these are hikers’ hotels, not five-star resorts. The rooms are clean and comfortable, but not always of uniform size or amenities. Other hotels are very nice. Our Trip Leaders try their best to assign rooms in a fair way so that all participants experience an equal advantage throughout the trip as a whole. Single rooms are offered when possible, but those who pay the Single Supplement may have to share a room for up to five nights during the trip.

On three nights (Day 7, Day 10, Day 12), we stay in mountain refuges with shared baths (no private baths). Hot water and showers are available in all three mountain refuges. Bunks, mattresses, and blankets are provided. The bedding at the refuges is quite clean, but there are no individual sheets, soap, or towels available. If you prefer to bring your own sleeping bag liner, you can carry it in your daypack on these overnights.

Life on the Trail in the Alps
All meals are included except one dinner and two lunches. Some lunches are picnics on the trail and others are in local restaurants or alpine huts. Most evenings we have dinner at our hotel—hearty alpine fare. Vegetarians please note that we will accommodate dietary needs as best as possible, but it is a good idea to bring along protein bars and other supplements.

We use many forms of transportation as we travel during the trip, so we ask that you restrict your luggage to one piece, plus your daypack/rucksack. A support vehicle will transport the group’s luggage each day, except for the night we stay in a mountain refuge with no road access.

Explanation of Trip Levels


Departures & Leaders

Jun 27-Jul 10, 2016  James Fuss
Jul 27-Aug 9, 2016
Aug 28-Sep 10, 2016

*There may be up to 3 leaders on any departure. Please call for details.

Trip Cost

Prices are for 2016
$7495 (13-14 members)
$7795 (11-12 members)
$8095 (7-10 members)
more on pricing

Trip Payment Schedule

At time of reservation: $600
90 days prior to departure: Balance

Cancellation and Transfer Fee Schedule

Up to 91 days prior to departure: No charge!
61-90 days prior to departure: 25% of trip cost
46-60 days prior to departure: 50% of trip cost
45 days or less: 100% of trip cost

Trip Cost Includes:

  • Expert leadership of at least two Wilderness Travel Trip Leaders (and often three, depending on group size)
  • Accommodations in hotels and three non-consecutive nights in mountain refuges
  • All meals included except 1 lunch and 2 dinners
  • A glass of wine or beer with dinner
  • Airport transfer from Geneva to Chamonix
  • Glacier Express train excursion (including champagne picnic lunch)
  • Cable cars and telepheriques required to reach trailheads and overnight destinations

Trip Cost Does Not Include:

International airfare, any meals not specified after each itinerary day in the Full Trip Brochure, airport departure taxes, optional tipping or gratuities to leaders or staff, additional hotel nights that may be necessary due to airline schedule changes or other factors; pre-trip expenses of medical immunizations (if any), travel insurance, or passports and visas; and other expenses of a personal nature (alcoholic beverages, laundry, etc.).

Arrival & Departure Information

You are responsible for your own transportation to the arrival and from the departure cities listed below. For more detailed information, including transfers, please download the Detailed Itinerary.

Please do not purchase your tickets until you are confirmed on the trip. Once your tickets have been purchased, please send us a copy of your airline schedule.

2016 Departures

Meeting Place:
Chamonix, France
Date: Day 1

Suggested Arrival Airport:
Geneva, Switzerland (airport code GVA)
Suggested flight arrival time: anytime prior to Day 1
Salzburg, Austria
Date: Day 15

Suggested Airport for Departure:
Salzburg, Austria or Munich, Germany (airport code SZG or MUC)
Suggested flight departure time: Salzburg—anytime; Munich—no earlier than 11:00 am

Grand Hotel des Alpes

Grand Hotel des Alpes

Day 1 (1 night), Chamonix, France

A truly wonderful hotel that WT groups have enjoyed for years, the elegant Grand Hotel is right in the center of Chamonix, set back on a lovely ...
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HB Aosta Hotel

HB Aosta Hotel

Day 2 (1 night), Aosta, Italy

The recently renovated HB Aosta enjoys a wonderful location, set at the beginning of the main pedestrian zone in Aosta's historic city center.
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Chalet Valdotain

Chalet Valdotain

Day 3 (1 night), Cervinia, Italy

This chalet-style hotel surrounded by larch forests has cozy wood-paneled rooms, a superb restaurant, and an indoor swimming pool with hydromassage. ...
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Hotels in Zermatt

Day 4 (1 night), Zermatt, Switzerland

In Zermatt, we stay at one of the following properties:

Hotel Walther

Hotel Walther

Days 5 to 6 (2 nights), Pontresina, Switzerland

There’s stellar service at this family-owned Relais & Chateaux property, along with beautifully appointed rooms, full spa services, and a ...
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Berghaus Diavolezza

Berghaus Diavolezza

Day 7 (1 night), Pontresina, Switzerland

Accessible only on foot or by ski lift, the Berghaus Diavolezza offers comfort in an absolutely spectacular location. More like a hotel than a ...
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Hotel Meisser

Hotel Meisser

Days 8 to 9 (2 nights), Guarda, Switzerland

In the gorgeous little mountain village of Guarda, the Meisser is a historic family-owned inn now run by the fifth generation of the same Swiss ...
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Jamtal Hutte

Jamtal Hutte

Day 10 (1 night), Galtur, Austria

With a commanding location at 5,000 feet at the junction of three alpine valleys, this simple hike-in lodge is very comfortable and recently ...
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Alpenland Sporthotel

Alpenland Sporthotel

Day 11 (1 night), Maria Alm, Austria

The Alpenland is a modern resort hotel with excellent facilities, including a beautiful pool and sauna. It's in Maria Alm, a quaint village nestled ...
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Karlingerhaus Hutte

Karlingerhaus Hutte

Day 12 (1 night), Funtensee, Germany

A stone hike-in lodge open only in summer, Karlinger Haus is set on the shores of a small lake called the Funtensee. The lodge is very simple, with ...
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Star Inn Hotel Salzburg Gablerbrau

Star Inn Hotel Salzburg Gablerbrau

Day 13 (1 night), Salzburg, Austria

Ideally located on Linzergasse, an ancient shopping street lined with little stores and cafes, the Gablerbrau is within walking distance to many ...
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Note: Listed above are our signature accommodations for this trip. Although it is highly unlikely, we may make substitutions when necessary.

Our Trip Leaders

Here are the Trip Leaders scheduled for this journey (please note that leader assignments are subject to change).

Giuseppe Aruta

With an extensive background in geology and deep roots in his Italian heritage, Giuseppe Aruta leads guests through the Medieval Hilltowns, the Dolomites and Italy’s Lake District, paying special attention to how people travel through their sense of taste, experiencing the wondrous world of ...
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Tony Farina

Tony Farina, a native of the San Francisco Bay Area, earned his degree in Outdoor Experiential Education, with a minor in Liberal Arts, from Prescott College in Arizona, a school known for its programs in environmental studies and adventure education. His passion for travel, mountains, and sea ...
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Laurence Frison

Traveler, hiker, skier, and guide by passion, and graphic designer by trade, Laurence (Lolo) Frison embodies the life of an adventurer. She spent a decade exploring the world from Africa to Australia, including a three-month road trip from Vancouver to Los Angeles, and has specialized in guiding ...
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James Fuss

Departure Dates: June 27-July 10, 2016

James Fuss is a trekking guide, photographer, cyclist, and chef extraordinaire. Born and raised in South Australia, James found his wanderlust early on family camping trips across Australia. His love of the culinary arts is deep-rooted as well, and as a young chef, he headed off to Europe to ...
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Annie Hawkins

Annie Hawkins, born and raised in a small village in Burgundy, is a passionate world traveler and one of our most enchanting Trip Leaders. After studying art history in Provence, Annie moved to California, where she led adventure tours in the American Southwest and realized that leading adventure ...
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Sebastiano Leone

Sebastiano Leone knows that traveling through Italy is always better when you’re being led by your senses. From guiding hiking and cultural trips that offer incredible views and insights to Italy’s colorful history, not to mention knowing the local hotspots to sip and savor authentic ...
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Sean Morrissey

Sean Morrissey was born and raised in London but also spent time in Ireland with relatives while growing up (he holds both Irish and British passports). He moved to Australia at age 20, worked there for two years, then heeded the call of the mountains and became a professional guide, working in ...
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Hashmat Singh

Hashmat Singh has led over 100 journeys on three continents for us since 1990. He holds a BA in History from Delhi University and is a noted photographer. His book, Trekking in the Himalaya (Roli Books), features photographic essays from Ladakh to Bhutan. Born an army brat, Hashmat traveled ...
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Stewart Wheelhouse

Stewart Wheelhouse, a Welshman by birth, has spent the past 23 years leading adventures and expeditions throughout the world. He has traveled the length of Africa, written guidebooks on cycling through Europe, and led expeditions in Asia and Australia. A wonderful storyteller and traveling ...
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Daniel Windham

Daniel Windham, born in Georgia's foothills, discovered his passion for the mountains at an early age while backpacking on the Appalachian Trail. After moving to northern Italy, becoming a mountain guide, and running a mountain hut with his Italian wife, he returned (via a couple of years in Costa ...
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Client Comments

The Great Alpine Traverse was the best trip I've ever experienced! Everything was perfect—choice of hikes, food, hotels, sightseeing—you name it—it was great!!! Theresa L., Denver, CO This trip was over-the-top on hiking and luxury—you don’t often have both. The countries were glorious, the guides were tops. Teresa M., Parker, CO This is the best value for the money we have ever received for a tour. We will certainly be looking at WT in the future for other trips. Rich and Nancy G., Lester Prairie, Minnesota I would highly recommend this trip to anyone who wants an overview of these countries and who enjoys a good workout at the same time! It was physically challenging, but not overly so. The scenery was magnificent and the camaraderie was great. Joan P., South Deerfield, MA A spectacular trip! Great hiking every day, often at altitude and always beautiful, and everything perfectly planned and executed. This trip really delivered. I loved every minute! I have traveled extensively and this was one of my best trips ever! Nancy F., New York, NY A wonderful trip and terrific introduction to the local culture, history, and breathtaking natural beauty of the Alps! Paul P., South Deerfield, MA As my 21st WT trip, I rate this near the top of all time favorites (my favorite being the one where I met my husband!). It had it all—a variety of nice hiking trails, picturesque hamlets and villages scattered through five European countries, an assortment of activities, local cuisine, and nice provincial hotels with lots of character. The 'perfect' trip! Diane S., Vista, CA The trip leaders, splendid hiking trails, fine choreography of the trip itinerary, regional cuisines, and mix of accommodations (from luxury hotels to spectacularly located mountain lodges) made for a wonderful travel experience. Barbara and Don T., Windsor, Ontario
A fabulous trip. Amazing hikes, wonderful leaders. A really top notch trip! Victoria O., Boulder, CO Great group and excellent guides, incredible scenery and excellent weather. A recipe for an excellent trip. Robert M., Santa Paula, CA Excellent does not come close to describing my experiences on this trip. The Alps are truly spectacular, but seeing them and experiencing them with Mike and James and Tony made it an extraordinary trip for me.  It was the best time of my life! Susan I., Boulder, CO What a great itinerary! The scenery, sights, and diverse areas made it a fantastic trip. Lisa D., Long Beach, CA Fantastic all around. Incredible itinerary design. Great food. Loved the variety of hikes, transportation, and lodging. Fabulous guides, fun fellow clients. One of the best trips ever! Kate F., Santa Monica, CA This was such an incredible trip! I cannot describe how wonderful the leaders, participants, itinerary, and the entire experience was. The best travel experience I have ever had! Sara H., Calabasas, CA A super trip...spectacular scenery, guides with lots of experience and good leadership skills, wonderful variety of transportation, delicious regional food, and memories to last a lifetime! Rollie A., Fort Collins, CO Excellent doesn't begin to express my joy of this trip. My biggest complaint is I can't stop dreaming about it at night, and it wakes me up! Linda S., Novato, CA Amazing—an incredible mix of experiences and scenery, well designed, scouted, planned, and coordinated. It exceeded expectations and I loved every moment! George C., Fair Oaks, CA