haute route hiking tour alps chamonix zermatt france switzerland

High trail above Zermatt

The Haute Route connects Chamonix, France, and Zermatt, Switzerland, crossing the most spectacular hiking trails in the French and Swiss Alps for one of the great mountains hikes of the world.

Photo by Martin N Johansen

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Hiking the Haute Route

Spectacular High Alps Traverse from Chamonix to Zermatt

Hiking the Haute Route route-map

Trip Details at-a-Glance

Cost From: $6195  
Length: 12 days
Arrive: Chamonix, France
Depart: Zermatt, Switzerland
Lodging: 9 nights hotels and country inns, 2 nights mountain lodges with hot showers
Meals: All meals included except 3 lunches
Activity: Hiking / Trekking, Cultural Adventures
Trip Level: 10 hiking days on moderate to steep trails, 5-8 hours a day, altitudes between 6,000-9,600 feet, van support (for luggage or tired feet), team of up to 3 Trip Leaders
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Highlights

  • Experience one of the world’s classic mountain traverses from Chamonix to Zermatt—done right!
  • Hike remote and pristine trails, with views of some of the highest peaks in the Alps
  • Discover the distinctive alpine cultures and cuisines of France and Switzerland


Flawlessly operated and run. This trip is obviously very well thought out.Roger W.—San Francisco, CA

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.

References

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.

Departure Notes

Once you have signed up on the trip, we send a complete packing list, relevant health information, and required travel documents.

The celebrated Haute Route is a spectacular high-level hiking traverse across the French and Swiss Alps from Chamonix, France, to Zermatt, Switzerland. Ten of the 12 highest peaks in the Alps, including Mont Blanc and the crooked spire of the Matterhorn, rise along this magnificent “high route,” along with plentiful glaciers, cool mountain tarns, and meadows full of wildflowers. Our flawless version of this classic route provides a nonstop panorama of stunning alpine scenery and a quintessential hiking experience of the Alps. Perfectly paced hiking days are superbly complemented by overnights in charming hotels in delightfully quaint villages, with two nights in hike-in lodges to savor sunset alpenglow on the high peaks.

Itinerary at a Glance

For a more complete description, Download Full Detailed Itinerary

Days 1-3
Chamonix, France / Champex, Switzerland

Departing Chamonix, cross the Col de Balme and descend through pine forests to the Col de la Forclaz. A steep but gorgeous hike skirting the Trient Glacier brings you to the top of a rocky notch, the Fenêtre d’Arpette, then down to the wild and rugged Val d’Arpette.

Days 4-7
Cabane Mont Fort to Val d’Arolla

From a mountain chalet set facing the enormous Mont Blanc massif, we take a “secret” trail past lakes and glaciers and cross three alpine passes en route to the remote Prafleuri Refuge. An ascent of the Col de Reidmatten (9,577’), with its dazzling mountain-and-glacier vistas, brings you down to Arolla, an ideal spot for an invaluable rest day (or more optional hikes!).

Days 8-9
Grimentz / Gruben

Our trail leads through a traditional area of the Valais canton and across two passes, both of which offer tremendous views of icy peaks, including the Dent Blanche (14,290’)—this is one of the most outstanding vistas in the Alps.

Days 10-12
Zermatt

A climb to the Augstbordpass (9,495’) grants superb views of the 14,000-foot-high Mischabel Range. We then head to Zermatt, surrounded by glaciers and a dozen 13,000-foot peaks, including the mighty Matterhorn. Options on Day 11 include a hike to the Hornli Hut, where climbers set out to scale the peak. Depart on Day 12.

For a more complete description, Download Full Detailed Itinerary

What the Trip is Like

The trip is Level 5+, Strenuous. Good hiking experience is essential. Most hiking is between 6,000 and 8,000 feet, and the maximum elevation reached is 9,700 feet. There is a good bit of up-and-down during the 6-8 hours of daily hiking, with 3,000- to 4,000-foot elevation gain and loss per day. At lower elevations the trails are usually packed dirt, but at higher elevations they are often much rockier, with occasional sections of glacial snow, loose scree, and large boulders. On some days you will encounter sections of narrow trails with exposure. You will also occasionally need to use your hands to scramble over and between a jumble of boulders. Your experienced mountain guides are very safety conscious and are there to assist you if needed on the few tricky parts that you will come across on the trail.

You’ll carry just a daypack on most days, but on one three-day, two-night stretch, it is impossible for our support vehicle to reach our mountain refuges at night. For this period, you must carry in a daypack/rucksack the clothing and toiletries you need for those three days. There is no “group” gear to carry, and most medium-sized daypacks have enough room for extra belongings (a toothbrush, soap, small towel, and a fresh t-shirt will suffice for most people).

We strongly urge you to “train up” for your trip. These are challenging hikes, so you must be in top physical condition. (Of course, you are always free to skip a day’s hike and travel to the next destination in the support vehicle, which transports the group’s luggage from day to day.) 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.

Altitude is not usually a problem for people on these trips. The itineraries are worked out 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 huts are the most common problems.

Accommodations are in comfortable small hotels and inns, 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 are not always of uniform size or amenities. 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. In a few of the hotels, there are shared bathrooms (no private baths), and the huts also have dorm-style shared bedrooms. Single rooms are offered when possible, but those who pay the Single Supplement may have to share a room for up to four nights during the trip.

On most nights we have dinners at our hotels. Please note that in Europe, the dinner hour is considerably later than what it is in the U.S. We do our best to secure early reservations for our groups, but most often the evening meal will be at 7:30 pm.

Explanation of Trip Levels

 

Departures & Leaders

2014
Sep 1-12, 2014

2015
Jul 14-25, 2015
Jul 31-Aug 11, 2015  Tim Burford
Aug 17-28, 2015  Sean Morrissey
Sep 1-12, 2015  Clive Roberts

Trip Cost

Prices are for 2015
$6195 (11-14 members)
$6695 (6-10 members)
Single supplement: $530
Forced single supplement: $330
more on pricing

Trip Cost Includes:

  • Expert leadership of at least two Wilderness Travel Trip Leaders (and sometimes three, depending on group size)
  • Accommodations in hotels, inns, and refuges
  • All meals included except 3 lunches
  • Van support and luggage transfer
  • Land transportation, transfers between overnight stops
  • Cable cars, funiculars, and cog rails to and from trailheads for scheduled hikes

Trip Cost Does Not Include:

International airfare, airport transfers, 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 made necessary by airline schedule changes or other factors, pre-trip expenses such as immunizations (if any), travel insurance, or passports and visas; and other expenses of a personal nature (alcoholic beverages, laundry, etc.).

Trip Payment Schedule

At time of reservation: $500
120 days prior to departure: 20%
60 days prior to departure: Balance

Cancellation and Transfer Fee Schedule

More than 90 days prior to departure: No charge!
46-90 days prior to departure: 25% of trip cost
45 days or less: 100% of trip cost

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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Hotel du Col de la Forclaz

Hotel du Col de la Forclaz

Day 2 (1 night), Trient, Switzerland

Sitting right on the mountain pass where the road leads west to France or east to Switzerland, this is a mountain accommodation with simple rooms ...
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Hotel du Glacier

Hotel du Glacier

Day 3 (1 night), Champex, Switzerland

The comfortable Hotel du Glacier sits on the main and only street of the pretty little village of Champex. The same lovely couple has owned it for ...
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Cabane Mont Fort

Cabane Mont Fort

Day 4 (1 night), Verbier, Switzerland

Sensational views are all around us at Cabane Mont Fort, a superbly located mountain lodge at 8,000 feet owned by the Swiss Alpine Club. The old ...
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Prafleuri Hut

Prafleuri Hut

Day 5 (1 night), Swiss Alps, Switzerland

Set in an isolated spot at 8,600 feet between Verbier and Arolla, the newly built Prafleuri Hut (or Cabane de Prafleuri in French) allows us to ...
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Grand Hotel & Kurhaus

Grand Hotel & Kurhaus

Days 6 to 7 (2 nights), Arolla, Switzerland

This historic Victorian stone hotel at 6,000 feet on the Haute Route trail sits apart from the little village of Arolla in a forest clearing. Built ...
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Hotel Bella Tola

Hotel Bella Tola

Day 8 (1 night), Grimentz, Switzerland

This family-run Belle Epoque hotel dating to 1859 is located near the village of St. Luc and offers the atmosphere of a country estate along with ...
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Hotel Schwarzhorn

Hotel Schwarzhorn

Day 9 (1 night), Gruben, Switzerland

In Gruben, a classic stop on the hikers’ Haute Route, the stone-built Hotel Schwarzhorn is the only accommodation in this tiny mountain ...
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Hotels in Zermatt

Days 10 to 11 (2 nights), Zermatt, Switzerland

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

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).

Santiago Bejarano

Departure Dates: September 1-12, 2014

Santiago Bejarano trained in Environmental Sciences in his native Ecuador and began his guiding career by bringing visitors to the jungle and highlands of Ecuador and the storied Galapagos Islands, where he worked as a naturalist. He later moved to Britain, where he lives with his British wife and ...
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Tim Burford

Departure Dates: July 31-August 11, 2015

Tim Burford has written hiking guidebooks to many regions, from Romania to Chile to Alaska, and is the author of the authoritative Travel Guide to Georgia (the former Soviet Union), published by Bradt, UK. Tim’s great passion is for the mountains, trails, and cultures of Central ...
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Sean Morrissey

Departure Dates: August 17-28, 2015

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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Tanya Perret

Departure Dates: September 1-12, 2014

Tanya Perret, born in Bath, England, has had a passion for the mountains for as long as she can remember. A keen mountaineer, she has climbed both Mont Blanc and the Matterhorn and holds British Association of International Mountain Leader guiding qualifications. For the past 15 years, Tanya has ...
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Stephan Renard

Departure Dates: September 1-12, 2014

Stephan Renard was born in Grenoble in the French Alps and grew up in the wild and remote Vercors region of the Rhone Alps, where he gained his passion for hiking, climbing, and skiing. A professional mountain leader and ski instructor since his youth, he loves outdoor pursuits of every kind and ...
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Clive Roberts

Departure Dates: September 1-12, 2015

Clive Roberts, from Ireland, is a seasoned guide with a contagious passion for the mountains. When not guiding for us, he teaches mountaineering and climbing skills. Clive has guided all over Europe and Nepal and speaks French, German, and Nepali. In his free time, he enjoys canoeing, woodworking, ...
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Hashmat Singh

Departure Dates: July 14-25, 2015

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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Leila Thompson

Departure Dates: July 14-25, 2015

Leila Thompson has made the mountains her focus since she was 18, when she moved to Yosemite to climb, hike, and learn to guide backcountry adventures. Later in Oregon, she added the crafts of backcountry skiing and whitewater guiding to her skills. She began exclusively leading trips for us in ...
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Client Comments

Flawlessly operated and run. This trip is obviously very well thought out. Roger W., San Francisco, CA Everything clicked smoothly to make this the best vacation I've ever had. This was my first trip of this kind and I could tell early on that WT is a well-oiled wheel—a very smooth operation. Anne W., Boulder, CO Five stars for trip design and quality of Trip Leaders. So fantastic I doubt that any other trip could match it. Every day was special—even the rest days! Audrey van C., Cowies Hill, South Africa This was an experience of a lifetime. The scenery is mind-blowing. Outstanding Trip Leaders, hard-working, meticulous, good fun. Jon Van C., Cowies Hill, South Africa I love the hiking and the scenery, but I particularly appreciate the feeling on WT trips that I am traveling with friends—both the Trip Leaders whom I have now known for years in some cases, and the new friends I’ve made along the way. Maryann M., Los Angeles, CA We enjoyed our experience immensely and have taken away many fabulous memories. One of the highlights of the trip for us was the fabulous group of people -- and the many laughs we had along the way. Lorraine B., Sydney, Australia This was my first Wilderness Travel adventure and I thought it was fantastic. It clearly met and exceeded my expectations! Stephen F., San Diego, CA The most beautiful scenery we have seen on a multi day trek. Every day just kept getting better. Challenging, but fun hikes. A great adventure. Jodi and Tim L., Honolulu, HI This was an absolutely fabulous, memorable trip. The guides had clearly honed the itinerary to incorporate the best parts of the Haute Route for us, with a tremendous variety of scenery and spectacular hikes. I've been recommending this trip to all my friends. Well done everyone! Inge K., Concord, MA
Excellent trip, thanks to the outstanding guides and the stunning hikes. Deborah T., Napa, CA The three leaders were a magical combination—a great mix of personalities and interests. They not only made the trip a seamless, perfect experience for us but they also added humor and joy to the experience. What a great trip! Jeanna F., Paradise Valley, AZ Superbly organized and flawlessly delivered. Our guides were very experienced and went way out of their way to ensure this was a 'best ever' experience. Can't praise WT or our guides enough. We loved the entire experience. Thank you so much! Robin F., Bellingham, WA Excellent group and guides, fantastic trip. It ended too soon! Anthony D., Pollock Pines, CA A wonderful trip... Spectacular scenery! I enjoyed the small group of 6 as it made it more personable and flexible. Robyn F., Epping, Australia The Haute Route had been on my husband's bucket list for years. The hikes were perfect, a great mix of mountains and meadows and beautiful scenery. Elizabeth W., Chagrin Falls, OH This was an amazing trip, and exceeded my expectations at every level. Well organized, well planned, well executed—and the scenery was amazing. Thank you! Irene R., Steilacoom, WA