Ultimate Haute Route

From Chamonix to Zermatt, with Two Alpine Hike-In Lodges

Overview

A legendary trail traces the highest French and Swiss mountains between Chamonix and Zermatt by way of glaciers, cool mountain tarns, and meadows full of wildflowers. It’s the Haute Route, pioneered in the mid-19th century by the British Alpine Club and today one of Europe’s favorite long-distance hikes. Our classic version, with 10 hiking days, features two overnights in remote hike-in lodges so we can savor alpenglow on the high peaks and enjoy alpine camaraderie with fellow hikers. At the start and finish, we explore two of the great mountaineering centers in the world—Chamonix, above which towers the highest massif in Western Europe, and Zermatt, dominated by the crooked spire of the Matterhorn.

Itinerary at a Glance

Days 1-3
Chamonix, France / Champex, Switzerland

Departing Chamonix, we hike across the Col de Balme and descend through pine forests to the Col de la Forclaz. As we follow a forested trail used by shepherds for centuries, we take in sweeping views of the Rhone Valley on our way to Champex, a village in the French-speaking Swiss canton of Valais.

Grand Hotel des Alpes
Chamonix, France
Day 1 (1 night)
Hotel du Col de la Forclaz
Trient, Switzerland
Day 2 (1 night)
Martigny Boutique Hotel
Martigny, Switzerland
Day 2 (1 night)
Hotel du Glacier
Champex, Switzerland
Day 3 (1 night)
Days 4-7
Cabane Mont Fort / Val d’Arolla

From a mountain chalet that faces the enormous face of the 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 us down to Arolla, an ideal spot for an invaluable rest day (or more optional hikes!).

Cabane Mont Fort
Verbier, Switzerland
Day 4 (1 night)
Grand Hotel Kurhaus
Arolla, Switzerland
Days 6 to 7 (2 nights)
Days 8-9
Grimentz / Gruben

Our trail leads through a traditional area of the Valais and across two passes, both of which bring tremendous views of icy peaks, including the pyramid of the Dent Blanche (14,290')—it’s one of the most famous vistas in the Alps.

Hotel Alpina
Grimentz, Switzerland
Day 8 (1 night)
Hotel Schwarzhorn
Gruben, Switzerland
Day 9 (1 night)
Days 10-12
Zermatt

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

Parkhotel Beau Site
Zermatt, Switzerland
Days 10 to 11 (2 nights)
Hotel Sonne
Zermatt, Switzerland
Days 10 to 11 (2 nights)

Highlights

Highlights

Experience one of the planet’s great mountain hikes—with 10 amazing hiking days
Enjoy two overnights in classic hike-in lodges for alpenglow over the high peaks and mountain camaraderie
A team of experienced and knowledgeable Trip Leaders who know the Alps as home
Explore Chamonix and Zermatt, two of the most famous mountain towns in the world

Details

Length: 12 days
Cost From: $6695  
Arrive: Chamonix, France
Depart: Zermatt, Switzerland
Lodging: 9 nights hotels or country inns, 2 nights small hike-in lodges
Meals: All meals included except 1 dinner and 2 lunches as indicated in the Detailed Itinerary (B=Breakfast, L=Lunch, D=Dinner)
Activity: Hiking / Trekking
Trip Level:

A mix of easy to moderate walks and hikes, 2-4 hours a day, 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.