Two countries, two charming regions with strong cultural ties, and one incredibly historic pass linking them—welcome to Switzerland’s sunny Valais and Italy’s Val d’Aosta and our enchanting hiking adventure, named by Outside magazine as one of the Best Trips of 2014! From mountain villages in the heart of the Alps, you’ll hike the picturesque Val de Bagnes (the Swiss raclette capital), enjoy a walk with the famed rescue dogs atop the St. Bernard Pass, hike right across the border into Italy’s castle-dotted Aosta Valley, and revel in Gran Paradiso National Park’s stunning mountain-and-glacier scenery. Great food and wines abound on both sides of the pass, and you’ll sample the best while enjoying overnights in historic chalets in spectacular alpine settings including lovely Etroubles, one of the piu belli borghi d’Italia.
One of the best small group adventures I have ever been on.
— Verna K., Naples, FL
Martigny, Switzerland / Val de Bagnes / Commeire
Our hikes bring you along the vineyards of the Valais, with wine tasting en route, and through the pastoral Val de Bagnes, home to pampered Hérens cows known as “the queens of the Valais.” At a local fromagerie, you’ll savor some of the region’s fragrant rustic cheeses, then hike right to our charming hotel in the tiny, well-preserved medieval village of Commeire.
Champex / Grand St. Bernard Pass / Val d’Aosta, Italy / Gran Paradiso
From lakeside Champex, an alpine hike leads you to the Cabane d’Orny, just below the Orny Glacier, for breathtaking Mont Blanc views. At the remote Grand St. Bernard Pass (8,100’), traversed by centuries of travelers, portions of the Roman road still exist and you’ll walk in the footsteps of Caesar and Napoleon, visit the medieval pilgrim hospice, and enjoy a walk with the famed St. Bernard mountain dogs who were trained to rescue stranded travelers (these four-legged heroes are still raised here). A pilgrim trail brings you across the Alps and down to the beloved Val d’Aosta, home to ancient vineyards and some of the highest peaks in the Alps.
Val d’Aosta / Gran Paradiso National Park
Our hikes bring you into the high meadows of Gran Paradiso National Park, with its backdrop of glaciers and craggy peaks, and through charming villages, including Gressoney-La-Trinité, one of the centers of German Walser culture. Depart on Day 10.