Our Best of the Haute Route links together two world mountain capitals and two of the most iconic mountains in the world – Mont Blanc and the Matterhorn.
Starting from Chamonix, France, you’ll hike past Mont Blanc and head for the Matterhorn in Zermatt, Switzerland.
If you’re seeking a challenging and wilder hike than the more famous Tour du Mont Blanc, with only a few other hardy hikers, you’ll love the Haute Route.
You’ll cross mountain passes at altitudes of nearly 3000m and will pass near the bottom of glaciers. You’ll be in awe of the ever-changing scenery that includes everything from high mountain passes, green alpine pastures with happy cows, forests and quaint alpine villages in France and Switzerland.
Our Best of the Haute Route isn’t for every hiker, though. It requires very good mountain experience in terms of self-knowledge about your abilities. You should also be able to read a topographical map and be able to follow GPS tracks and assess weather changes. You should also be comfortable on technical trails. Your reward will be some of the most breathtaking landscapes on the planet!
You’ll get a real feel for mountain life in France and Switzerland. The summer route was first explored as early as the mid-19th century, so you’ll be following in the footsteps of intrepid early explorers and experiencing French and Swiss mountain culture.
The Haute Route is the trek of a lifetime for those ready to take on the challenge!
HIGHLIGHTS OF YOUR HAUTE ROUTE HIKING TOUR
✔ Hike past 2 of the most iconic mountains in the Alps, Mont Blanc and the Matterhorn.
✔ Hike in 2 countries – France and Switzerland
✔ Hike one of the most iconic long-distance trekking trails in the world.
✔ Pass through charming mountain villages in the Alps.
✔ Eat delicious meals with a regional flair from France and Switzerland.
✔ Hike dramatic mountain passes, meadows filled with wildflowers and gorgeous mountain lakes.
✔ Stay in a mountain refuge and simple hotels with astonishing views of the surrounding mountains.
On our Best of the Haute Route self-guided tour, you’ll hike the most incredible parts of the trail while skipping the parts that become problematic in case of unpredictable late or early-season snow or unpredictable weather changes.
This trip is only recommended for experienced hikers who’ve completed at least one shorter or equivalent trek before.
Day 1: Chamonix | Verbier |Cabane de Louvie via the Sentier des Chamois
We’ll arrange a taxi transfer (included in your tour) from Chamonix to the hamlet of Le Châble, Verbier. From there, you’ll take the Ruinettes cable car and start your hike from there.
You’ll follow the Bisse du Levron irrigation channel up to La Chaux (2250m), where you’ll get a wonderful view of the Grand Combin, one of the highest peaks in the Alps at an impressive 4314 m, located in the canton of Valais.
But that’s not all, you’ll also get views of the impressive Corbassière Glacier, measuring 9.8 km long with an average width of slightly more than 1 km.
And you’re just getting started! This is where the Chamois trail begins, leading to the tête de Louvie via the Col Termin (2650m) without having to cross that pass. This trail doesn’t present any major difficulties, but the route requires does cross varied terrain, including rocky areas and crossing one or two aerial sections.
- Hiking Today: 11.3 km, 650 m ascent, 600 m descent
- Accommodation: Overnight at Cabane de Louvie, in a dormitory. Dinner included and breakfast the next day.
Day 2: Cabane de Louvie – La Grande Dixence dam via Le Grand Désert
Today is an epic day with not one but two mountain passes! You’ll first climb to the Louvie Pass (2921m), then to the Prafleuri Pass (2939m). But don’t worry, you’ll get a break in between with the Grand Desert.
Located between the two mountain passes, the Grand Desert is a vast plateau made up by moraines and rocks left by the glaciers. The landscape here is very rocky, punctuated by stunning mountain lakes, cairns and markers to guide your crossing up to Prafleuri Pass.
After soaking in the stunning views from the highest point of your trek at almost 3000m, the trail goes down to the eponymous hut and later to the Grande Dixence Dam, the world’s highest gravity dam at 2,365 m (7,759 ft).
- Hiking Today: 14.5 km, 1055 m ascent, 1140 m descent
- Accommodation: overnight in a hotel in private accommodation, breakfast and dinner included.
Day 3: La Grande Dixence Dam – Evolène via Col de la Meina
You’ll avoid both Riedmatten Pass and the Pas de chèvres since both of these sections are technical and not good for hikers who are afraid of heights. Both can represent a major difficulty for those who are not sure of their footing on the unstable rocky terrain and/or fear the climbing of high vertical ladders, so you can leave your worries aside and get ready for a great day of hiking.
Your trail leaves the Grande Dixence Dam and descends into the Hérémence Valley to the place called Motôt, a point at 1905m. The path crosses the Merdéré River and reaches the alpine pastures of Novèlé (2082m) later on.
You’ll then hike up to Meina Pass (2702m) and then continue on to the alpine valley of Val d’Hérens, formed by the Hérens glacier, which retreated at the end of the last ice age.
You’ll descend from the pass to reach the very pretty hamlet of La Meina. From here, you’ll take a chairlift for an enjoyable scenic descent to the village of Lannaz where you’ll spend the night.
- Hiking Today: 15.5km, 1045 m Ascent, 1065 m Descent
- Accommodation: Overnight in a 1* hotel, breakfast and dinner included
Day 4: La Sage – Zinal via Col de Thorens, Lac de Moiry
From La Sage in the Val d’Hérens, you’ll make your way to the charming mountain village of Zinal. You’ll first hike up to the high mountain pass, the Col de Torrent (2918 m).
From here, you’ll get stunning views of the Moiry Lake Dam, a high-altitude reservoir bordered by mountains in the municipality of You will then get to the dam by crossing the Alpine pastures of Thorens, where you’ll see lots of happy Swiss cows and hear their charming bells.
From the Moiry Lake Dam, the local shuttle service will take you to the village of Zinal where you will spend the night.
- Hiking Today: 11.1 km, 1205 m Ascent, 700 m Descent
- Accommodation: Overnight in a 3* hotel, breakfast and dinner included
Day 5: Zinal – Gruben via Col de La Forcletta
The climb to the Col de La Forcletta (2874m) is long but fortunately, it’s varied to keep you entertained. A steep path in the forest leads to a long, pleasant balcony above the Val de Zinal, for incredible views and a great place to catch your breath before carrying om to a welcoming alpine pasture area on the final steep slope.
A dive into the Turtmanntal (Val Turtmann) is like a jump out of time. Inaccessible in winter, this is the wildest valley in the Swiss canton of Valais.
You’ll also get a glimpse of the Augstbord Pass, a mountain pass you’ll hike up to tomorrow, as well as the Turtmann Glacier, a 5 km long glacier situated in the Pennine Alps surrounded by the towering Bishorn Peak (4153m) on one side and the Weisshorn (4506 m)on the other.
- Hiking Today: 23.8 km, 1530 m Ascent, 1390 m Descent
- Accommodation: Overnight in a 1* hotel, breakfast and dinner included
Day 6: Gruben – St Niklaus – Zermatt
This day is the last one before reaching the famous swiss alpine city of Zermatt. The hiking path reaches the mountain hamlet of Jungu. From here, you’ll take a small cable car down to St-Niklaus.
From there you’ll take a train to Täsch, and then another one to your final destination of Zermatt.
- Hiking Today: 13km, 1130 m Ascent, 970 m Descent
- Accommodation: Overnight in a 3* hotel, breakfast included (dinner isn’t included, but there are many options in Zermatt)
Day 7: Zermatt
Zermatt, like Chamonix, has many great activities to offer. For the last day of the tour, we suggest taking the lift to the Klein Matterhorn at almost 4000m on top of the Zermatt Resort. It’s also on the border with Italy and in addition to views of the Matterhorn, you’ll also get views of Monte Rosa and all the 4000m peaks which is just spectacular. Alternatively, you can do a short hike to the wonderful little alpine village of Zmutt above Zermatt.
- Hiking Today: 1 hr to 3 hrs (optional)
COST OF THE 7-DAY HAUTE ROUTE SELF-GUIDED HIKING TOUR:
€1579 per person based on double occupancy
30% is due at the time of booking.
✔ 6 nights of accommodation: 1 night in a dorm, 1 night in a basic hotel, 2 nights in a 1-star hotel and 2 nights in a 3-star hotel
✔ 5 dinners (not included in Zermatt but there are plenty of restaurants nearby).
✔ 6 breakfasts
✔Transfer from Chamonix to Le Châble (Verbier) on Day 1
✔ In-person pre-tour briefing in Chamonix
✔ Detailed route description, walking distances and GPX tracks
✔ Unlimited email support pre-tour
✔ Phone support while on your tour in case of emergency
✔ 1 transfer in a private van from Chamonix to the trailhead in Fionnay on Day 1
WHAT’S NOT INCLUDED
- Travel insurance is required. (We recommend HeyMondo. Plus, you’ll get a 5% discount for being a Monkeys and Mountains reader.)
- Transfers, ~ €70 pp. We provide you with the information, but they’re not included in the price.
- Lunches, snacks and personal items.
- Accommodation the night before your tour starts and on the last day of your trip.
- Anything not indicated in inclusions.
Note: All times, distances and elevations are approximate. The times indicated above don’t include breaks. Allow more time than you think you’ll need. The hiking can be rugged, so this tour is only for experienced hikers.
Please carefully check the difference in elevation gains and times to make sure you have the ability to do this tour. It’s not technical but it does require a good degree of fitness. There may be snow in some sections in July and in September (but it’s possible at all times). Ensure that you’re comfortable hiking in snow if you book your tour at these times. Contact us before booking if you have any doubts or questions.
The Haute Route is available from July 15th to Sept 1st. Depending on the year (and the amount of snow) it may be possible earlier. Contact us for the most up-to-date conditions.
Self-Guided Tour Details
On our Haute Route self-guided hiking tours, you get the flexibility and freedom of starting your day when you choose. You hike at your own pace and take breaks whenever your heart (or lungs) desire. But without the pain and time-consuming planning and booking accommodations in two different countries in two different languages.
We’ll take care of booking your accommodation at our preferred providers, meet with you in person in Chamonix to answer any of your last-minute questions and provide you with the most up-to-date trail conditions. You’ll also receive GPS tracks and route information. Should your run into an emergency on your trip, we’re only a phone call away.
We’re there for you both prior to and during your trip if you have any questions. But keep in mind that these are self-guided trips so you also need to use your judgment and arrange your own transfers (unless otherwise indicated).
Luggage Storage and Luggage Transfers
Luggage transfer is NOT available on this trip as it is EXTREMELY expensive, so we don’t offer it as an option.
Many accommodations in Chamonix will store your luggage for you while you trek. Check with the hotel before you confirm your booking that they’ll do this.
Grade & Terrain and Required Fitness Level
Grade 3 (middle). We recommend that you are in good shape and active. Otherwise, you likely will find it too challenging.
The distances and ascents/descents are approximations, as are the hiking times. These don’t include breaks. We’ve used the times indicated on the hiking signposts on the trail to be consistent, but most people find it takes them longer than the times indicated.
The itineraries shown may change slightly based on the available accommodation for your self-guided tour.
Some sections may be covered in snow, so you should be comfortable hiking in snow.
Lunches are not included. They can be ordered from your mountain hut (refuge) or hotel the night before for an additional fee. You’ll also need to bring your own snacks.
Travel insurance is required and not included. We recommend HeyMondo (get a 5% discount for being a Monkeys and Mountains reader).
since it includes mountain rescue and repatriation insurance which are required and not covered by all insurance policies.
You’ll be staying in a mix of 1 night in a dorm in a mountain hut, 1 night in a basic hotel, 2 nights in a 1-star hotel
and 2 nights in a 3-star hotel
In the mountain hut, you’ll be staying in a dormitory which includes shared bathroom facilities. Accommodation is simple yet clean.
There’s usually a strict lights-out policy at around 10:00 pm, and hikers are up at approximately the same time to eat a light breakfast served between limited hours. Staying in a mountain hut is a great way to connect with fellow hikers. Huts are usually right on the trail or close to it.
For the rest of the tour, you’ll be staying in small hotels ranging from 1 to 3 stars.
Payment Schedule and Refunds
30% of the payment is due at the time of booking. As soon as we receive your deposit, we will start making the arrangements for your accommodation. If for some reason we’re not able to find suitable accommodation for your self-guided tour, you’ll receive a full refund.
The remaining balance is due 45 days before the onset of the trip. If you’re booking within 45 days, payment will be charged as indicated above.
✅ Great value for money
✅ Freedom to hike on your own schedule with the people you choose
✅ To avoid the hassles of booking accommodations that have to be booked by phone or email (there’s no central booking system to check availability)
✅ Alternative routes(when available) to make your hike easier when your legs have had enough
✅ Our insider knowledge to reserve the best accommodations based on what’s important to you (i.e. location, comfort, etc)
✅ Tours that are designed by hikers for hikers. We combine our knowledge and experience with our local partners to provide you with an amazing hiking tour.
Related Reading: What To Do in Zermatt, Switzerland