While the full Hiker’s Haute Route from Chamonix to Zermatt is a long and strenuous tour, we’ve designed this Haute Route Highlights tour as a more moderate trip, with dayhikes in both Chamonix and Zermatt bookending a spectacular 3-day inn-to-inn stretch. After a short shuttle from the Geneva airport (included in your tour), we’ll meet in Chamonix, at the foot of Mont Blanc, and the next day we’ll take a scenic dayhike high above the valley. Then a transfer to Switzerland brings us to a remote corner of the Swiss Valais, where we ascend to one of our favorite Haute Route huts, the Dix, surrounded by a sea of glaciers. Quiet trails, a couple of high passes, and stunning mountain scenery then lead us through Arolla to Grimentz. Finally we finish with another transfer to Zermatt for 2 nights there, and a spectacular final dayhike beneath the Matterhorn. Our luggage will be transferred separately and will be with us for 6 nights. If you don’t want to spend multiple days in huts, but would still like to experience the wild, remote beauty of the Haute Route, this is a great way to tackle the heart of one of the world’s classic hikes.
Our typical day starts with a continental buffet breakfast at our inn – delicious fresh baked bread, local cheeses, cereal, fruit, coffee and juice – which gives us the energy needed for a full day of inn-to-inn hiking. Soon we’ll be out on the trail for 6-8 hours, where often you’ll get to choose between an easier or more strenuous hike for the day. Each morning, you’ll be handed a lunch to carry, and at a mid-point along the way we’ll choose a beautiful spot to stop and enjoy our picnic. We get a lot of compliments on our imaginative lunches – making them something to look forward to as well!
We should finish our hike around 4-5 pm, giving you time to wash up and relax. You will have your own bedroom every night except for the 1 hut night. Each evening we’ll enjoy dinner together at our inn. These are multi-course feasts, often featuring local French and Swiss specialties, and will definitely be hearty, filling, well-earned and very delicious. We will leave one night in Chamonix free, where you will have a chance to explore on your own.
Chamonix – Arrive in Europe and transfer by shuttle van to our meeting point in Chamonix. The trip is easy and very scenic.
If you arrive early, you can ask us to book a few extra days on your own in Chamonix at the start of the trip. We’ll meet for dinner and talk about the trip to come. Relax in the evening at our comfortable village hotel.
Chamonix – We’ll start with one of the classic hikes in the region, up to Lac Blanc for an introductory dayhike.
This high-mountain lake sits in the Aiguilles Rouges Nature Preserve, a rugged ridge across the valley from Mont Blanc, and commands some of the greatest mountain views anywhere. We’ll make good use of local cablecars to enjoy more time hiking near the lake, and keep an eye open for bouquetin – a mountain goat with long curved horns that are frequently sighted in this region. Return to Chamonix for a 2nd night. Dinner will be on your own this night in Chamonix.
Dix hut – After a morning transfer the Grand Dixence reservoir, we’ll hike up along the lake and to the top of the valley to Dix hut, spectacularly perched on a lonely rock outcrop and surrounded by glaciers and mountains.
See our first distant views of the Matterhorn on this 4 hour hike, and enjoy the remote high-mountain atmosphere. Our accommodations tonight are typical for an alpine club hut, with dormitory rooms with 8-10 beds, bathrooms down the hall and no showers. Enjoy a hearty, filling dinner and the kind of camaraderie that is only found in huts like these.
Arolla – After breakfast at the hut, we continue with a short, easy glacier traverse, cross the steep Col du Riedmatten pass, as a new panorama of mountains unfolds around us.
From here, we descend to the tiny village of Arolla and our comfortable village hotel. The Pas de chevres pass, now outfitted with new, more solid ladders, is also a option.
Grimentz – A long, steep climb leads to the beautiful Val d’Anniviers and more stunning mountain scenery.
We’ll descend to the Moiry reservoir and then on to the village of Grimentz, a postcard-perfect village of dark timbered houses bursting with colorful geraniums.
Zermatt – From Grimentz, we’ll take a morning transfer to Zermatt, the classic mountain village at the base of the Matterhorn. It’s nice to start with a walking tour of the village that takes you past 400 year-old houses and into the history of this fascinating town.
Afterwards, take a short hike to the meadows above Zermatt for views of the surrounding mountains, perhaps to the centuries-old hamlets of Zum See and Zmutt, before returning to the wonderful spa and friendly reception at the Hotel Europe.
Zermatt – Taking quiet trails through fields and forest, we have a range of choices up to the wide ridge of Gornergrat, past marmots and small glacial lakes, to what has to be one of the finest viewpoints in Europe.
The jumbled mass of the Gorner glacier stretches out before us, and behind that, Dom, Monte Rosa, the Breithorn, and the Matterhorn form a spectacular backdrop. Return to the hotel for a final, celebratory dinner.
After breakfast at our hotel, we’ll say our good-byes and leave for our post-trip destinations.
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