The Leader in the Alps
For over 20 years, Alpenwild has been the leader in hiking and trekking adventures in the Alps. Whenever people ask what our most popular trips are, I always note that our most strenuous treks are our most popular trips. People who want to experience the Alps at its best are looking for an authentic, immersive, and challenging trek. Sure, there are great vacations to be enjoyed on a village-based hub-and-spoke vacation with some vigorous and iconic day-hikes, but it’s the classic treks of the Alps that bring Alpenwild guests back year after year.
Alpenwild’s Most Popular Trek
The most popular Alpenwild trek is the Chamonix-Zermatt Haute Route, the classic trek from the Mont Blanc to the Matterhorn. This trek sees Alpenwild guided groups every day of the summer. In a typical summer Alpenwild will offer the Chamonix-Zermatt Haute Route about 25 times on a guided basis, with many more additional groups doing that trek on a self-guided basis.
Alpenwild offers two versions of the Haute Route, the Classic Haute Route and the Deluxe Haute Route. Both start in Chamonix and conclude in Zermatt, but the Deluxe Haute Route bypasses the huts, includes a rest day and softens some of the most demanding ascents and descents.
Other Treks and How to Enjoy Them
But know that if you’ve already hiked the Haute Route and fallen in love with Alps trekking, there are many more great treks you’ll want to add to your bucket list. Each comes with its special appeal, unique charm, and undeniable bragging rights. Each is offered at least once every summer and can be offered both on a scheduled small group departure open to the public, or on a private basis for you and a group of friends or family. Each of these tours is also adaptable and can be adjusted—shortened or lengthened—to fit your personal interests or schedule. Many of these tours can be offered on a self-guided basis as well, so be sure to talk with an Alpenwild Destination Specialist so that you’ll find the treks that’s perfectly suited to what you want to do.
Let’s start with the Haute Route so that you’ll have a more complete basis of comparison:
Why go: The Haute Route is the classic trekking route leading from Chamonix, France to Zermatt, Switzerland, liking Mont Blanc, the highest peak in the Alps, to the Matterhorn, the most iconic peak of the Alps.
Along the way you’ll pass twelve of the thirteen highest peaks in the Alps, most located along the Swiss-Italian border. The Haute Route isn’t a single route or trail, but a network of trails with many variations and options.
Why go: If you want to experience the Haute Route, but want to bypass the huts, and stay instead in small hotels and have luggage transfers every night, then the Deluxe Haute Route is for you. We’ve included a rest day at a spa hotel, with laundry service, and first class rail. We softened some of the ascent and descents to create a kinder, gentler route. The Haute Route has a new standard of luxury.
Why go: Follow in the footsteps of Horace-Bénédict de Saussure, a Swiss geologist and physicist, who in 1767 walked around the entire Mont Blanc massif looking for a possible route to the summit. The Mont Blanc massif dominates an area 60 miles by 20 miles and holds 11 summits over 4000 meters. Its flanking valleys cradle some of the longest glaciers in the Alps, and along the way you’ll pass through three countries—France, Italy, and Switzerland. This is the most popular trek in the Alps, and can be crowded at times.
Why go: The National Route 1 Via Alpina spans Switzerland from East to West—from Liechtenstein and the Rhine Valley to Montreux and the shores of Lake Geneva with the peaks of the Mont Blanc range ahead. The entire route covers 370km/230 miles and features 19 stages.
Admittedly, few hikers are ready to take on this challenge, so Alpenwild conveniently splits the route into two 12-day treks with the eastern portion, from Vaduz Liechtenstein to Grindelwald designated as the Via Alpina. This eastern portion, traversing the Glarner Alps and the Central Swiss Alps includes some iconic Alps scenery, to be sure, but without the crowds found in the Bernese Alps.
Why go: The western portion of the Via Alpina picks up where the eastern portion concludes, in the famous Lauterbrunnen Valley. This western portion is called the Bernese Oberland Traverse, since stays entirely within the Bernese Alps and concludes in Gstaad on the western fringe of the Bernese Alps.
Those wanting to complete the entire Via Alpina, and get their hiking passport stamped for every stage of the route, can complete the final stages into Montreux and end on the palm-lined shores of Lake Geneva.
Why go: Starting in Grindelwald below the North Face of the Eiger, the route crosses the Jungfrau Region with the highest concentration of glaciers in the Alps. The route continues through the deep-cut Lauterbrunnen Valley where 72 waterfalls plunge off the upper rim. After a night in Griesalp, a remote alpine hamlet with a surprisingly luxurious hotel.
You’ll skirt the shore of the Öeschinensee, the most beautiful lake in Switzerland, before dropping into Kandersteg for the evening. Then we follow the favored route of Jules Verne and Mark Twain over the Gemmi Pass into the thermal spa resort of Leukerbad above the Rhone Valley. We cross the Europabrücke, the longest pedestrian suspension bridge in the world before entering Zermatt. The grand conclusion features the Gornergrat cogwheel railway, where at the Gornergrat summit you’ll be surrounded by more 4000-meter peaks than anywhere else in the Alps.
Why go: Walking across England from the Irish Sea on the west to the North Sea on the east may not be in the Alps—or even alpine in its culture and terrain, but it has no shortage of epic scenery and cultural appeal. Along the way you’ll climb England’s highest peak and traverse three treasured national parks: lake District, Yorkshire Dales, and the North York Moors. Warning—Don’t let the gentle landscape and charming pastoral setting fool you. This may be the most strenuous trek Alpenwild offers.
Alta Via 1
Why go: Consider this a bit of a teaser. The Alta Via 1 does not yet appear on the Alpenwild website. But stay tuned, because it will soon be announced and offered as a guided tour for 2024. The Alta Via 1 through the Dolomites is Italy’s most famous and popular long-distance route.
The route boast spectacular alpine vistas and includes stays at both nice hotels and some of Italy’s most welcoming rifugios, known for their superb cuisine and high standard of comfort. Although the Alta Via 1 demands a moderate level of fitness, it is well waymarked makes for an ideal introduction to trekking in the Dolomites.
Tour of the Giants
Why go: The Tor des Géants as it’s known in the patois of Italy’s Aosta Valley is also new for 2024. The route parallels the Haute Route, but on the sunny south-facing slopes of the Monte Rosa and the Matterhorn.
While in Cervinia, on the Italian side of the Matterhorn, we take the new Matterhorn Alpine Crossing into Zermatt for a day of hiking and exploring the glaciers and valleys surrounding the Matterhorn—both Swiss and Italian. The Tour of the Giants concludes in the exquisite Gran Paradiso National Park, part of the Mont Blanc Range and home to Gran Paradiso, the only 4,000-meter peak lying wholly within Italy.