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Journeys worth taking

France, Italy, Switzerland

Tour du Mont Blanc: Half Tour (East)

The Alps

Courmayeur to Chamonix in 6 Stages

Lodging

Hotels, Refugios

Nights

7

Trip Details

Self Guided

Price

$1,750 USD per person

Transport

Baggage Transfers

Pygmy miles

2,578

Experience
Experience
Itinerary
Pygmy miles
Accommodation
Practical info

Experience

Journey

The Tour du Mont Blanc is an amazing experience. The views are breathtaking, the food locally sourced and the challenge high. Still, for some, taking two weeks off to hike the entire tour is unrealistic. 

We created this half tour itinerary to fit the busy schedules of our clients. In comparison to a "Best of" tour, it does not skip any sections via transport, allowing full immersion in your hiking experience. 

The east side of the massif is unique compared to the west side in that it still goes through all through countries. It starts in Italy, where you will hike above the Val Ferret to Rifugio Bonatti; the view from the hut is spectacular. The next day, you'll hike into Switzerland via the Grand Col Ferret, and overnight in the small hamlet of La Fouly. You'll then continue your journey through pastoral Switzerland and end the day in Champex, which features a small mountain lake. It's then up and over Alp Bovine, before coming to rest in Trient, where it's pink church adds a colorful hue to the this small town. It's then on to your final country, France, passing over Col de Balme on your way down to Argentiere. The final day may be the best of them all, with views along the the Grand Balcon Sud and an optional hike to see Lac Blanc. Your final evening is in Chamonix, where there are many shops and restaurants to explore.  

It's a short itinerary, but it packs a mighty punch!

 

Itinerary options

Adjusting the hike to your budget and preferences

BUDGET FRIENDLY

$1,600 USD per person
  • 11 NTS / 10 Stages
  • Three NTS at 3-Star Hotels
  • Eight NTS Dorms

IN COMFORT

$2,600 USD per person
  • 12 NTS / 11 Stages
  • Three NTS 4-Star hotels
  • All Private Rooms
  • Baggage Transfers

IN LUX AND STYLE

$3,575 USD per person
  • 13 NTS / 11 Stages 
  • Four NTS 5-Star Hotels
  • All Private Rooms
  • Baggage Transfers
  • Private Airport Transfers
  • One Rest Day
  • First Day Guide 

HALF TOUR: EAST

$1,750 USD per person
  • 7 NTS / 6 Stages
  • France, Italy and Switzerland
  • Great Infrastructure 
  • 4-Star Hotels and Private Rooms

HALF TOUR: WEST

$1,550 USD per person
  • 6 NTS/ 5 Stages
  • France and Italy
  • More Remote
  • 4-Star Hotels and Private Rooms
Amazing views plus great infrastructure is a winning combination.

Activities

Trekking

Trek 107 miles (170 km) around the largest mountain in Europe with an altitude gain and loss of over 6.2 miles (10 km), which is more than the height of Everest.

Wildlife Viewing

Along the trek, it is not uncommon to spot several species of wildlife native to the Alps. Of note are the chamois (a goat-antelope type species), and the marmot (looks a bit like a beaver).

And also

You will visit tiny hamlets hidden deep in the mountains, experience awe inspiring views and challenge yourself along the storied and picturesque Alps. 

Place

Take a look at a video of a happy client of Pygmy Elephant.  

Itinerary

Track

Itinerary

Day-1

Courmayeur to Rifugio Bonatti

You start your tour of with a bang! The views on this stage are some of the best of the entire tour (height gain 2,821 feet / 860 meters and height loss of 2,290 feet / 698 meters). (B,D) Overnight in private ensuite at Refugio Bonatti

Day-2

Rifugio Bonatti to La Fouly

Do you hear those cow bells? That's the sound of Switzerland. The high point of today's hike is the Grand Col Ferret (8,356 feet / 2,537 meters) and is a taxing climb that separates Italy from Switzerland (height gain of 2,936 feet / 895 meters and height loss of 4,625 feet / 1,410 meters). The TMB in Switzerland may lack some of the big mountain appeal of Italy and France, but it more than makes up for it with the idyllic landscape and quaint hamlets of the Val Ferret (the name of the valley where the TMB snakes through Switzerland).

Day-3

La Fouly to Champex

After your long hike up Col Ferret, you are rewarded with perhaps the easiest stage of the TMB (height gain of 1,394 feet / 420 meters and height loss of 1,852 feet / 565 meters). Today's hike is through a valley dotted with farms and pastoral life. It's a throwback to a different time. Take your time here and let a slower way of life fill your day.

Day-4

Champex to Trient or Col de Forclaz

The main route snakes its way up and offers views of the Martigny valley below. Although not as hard as some sections, it is a challenging stage. An alternative to Fenêtre d’Arpette should be considered in clear weather and is on of the highest points reached on the TMB at 8,743 feet (2,665 meters). Total hiking time for the main route is 5 to 6 hours and for the alternate it is 7 to 8 hours.

Day-5

Trient to Argentière

Ah Cherie, you have made it back to France (height gain of 3,507 feet / 1,069 meters and height loss of 3,864 feet / 1,178 meters). The trip from Trient to Argentièreis not particularly difficult and you catch the first glimpse of the rounded peak of Mont Blanc since you left Italy. In France, you return to the Vallée de l'Arve, which appears at the foot of the Monarch of the Alps (Mont Blanc). Today's hike should take between 6 and 7 hours.

Day-6

Argentière to Planpraz

We've saved one of the most interesting treks with perhaps the most splendid views for last. The main route uses a number of ladder and chain systems to ascend to Tête aux Vents. If you have vertigo or are jittery with heights, there is an alternative route via Col des Montets that avoids the ladder section. After reaching Tête aux Vents, the route levels off and it is a more subdued downward sloping walk to Refuge La Flégère(4 hours). The refuge is a nice spot to sit and take lunch and gather your strength for the final push to Le Brévent, where you started your hike. Le Brévent (8,287 feet / 2,526 meters) has long been considered the best view point of Mont Blanc and is where many people stood to witness the historic first climb of the mountain. The final ascent to Le Brévent includes two ladders near the top, optionally, take the cable car down at Planpraz and avoid some 1,700 feet (518 meters) of elevation gain. Congrats! You've done it. Take the lift down to Chamonix and enjoy your evening.

Day-7

Chamonix

After a leisurely breakfast, you have the day open until your flight to enjoy the town. Alternatively, why not have a spa day? You've earned it. Optional transfer to Geneva airport. Ciao! Au revoir!

Pygmy miles

Pygmy Miles Total

Challenge
Hiking
Bicycle
Sustainability
Miscellaneous
2050pygmy miles

Base Miles

You earn 1 Pygmy Mile for each $1 you spend with us.

60pygmy miles

Hiking Distance

You earn 10 Pygmy Miles for every mile that you hike. Get fit and get rewarded.

468pygmy miles

Benefit Local Communities

A 25% bonus is given for supporting the economies of small hamlets, villages and locally owned refugios that may otherwise be missed if not for making the trek.

Total Pygmy Miles

2578pygmy miles

Accommodation

 

Lo Scoiattolo

Courmayeur

This small, 3-star boutique hotel offers 22 rooms divided into single rooms, standard double rooms as well as comfort double rooms with extended services and junior suites, all surrounded by spacious balconies. Lo Scoiattolo has a restaurant, bar and small spa on site.

Rifugio Bonatti

Rifugio Bonatti

Located at 6,640 feet (2, 025 meters) above sea level, this high mountain hut is a shining example of what a modern refuge should do. It features both dormitories and private rooms with en suite facilities. The food is grand and so are the views. Not everyone speaks English, but enough of the staff does to make it comfortable.

Hotel Edelweiss

La Fouly

Hotel Edelweiss is a bed and breakfast hotel featuring a modern and updated lobby and dining area. Located directly on the TMB, the hotel strikes a good combination of hospitality, comfort and location. Wi-Fi is available downstairs. Dorms and private rooms with showers are available.

Hotel Splendide

Champex

Located next to a beautiful alpine lake, this three star hotel gets high marks for service and large rooms.

La Grande Ourse

Trient

La Grande Ourse has both private rooms with shared bathrooms and small dormitories of up to 8 people. The rooms have been refurbished and provide a comfortable night’s sleep. Dining is together in the communal dining area.

Hotel les Grands Montets

Argentière

Hotel Grands Montets is a four star hotel in Argentiere. "Renovations began in 2000 and soon the inside pool was built as well as a fitness and spa area, including a sauna, hammam, and massage parlor. All shared areas were renovated using old wood, stone, warm shades and antique furniture in order to recreate the cosy and homely atmosphere of an alpine chalet." - Hotel Les Grands Montets

Hotel le Morgane

Chamonix

In the heart of Chamonix, the style and the concept of the 4 star Boutique Hotel Le Morgane differs from traditional alpine hotels. Located in central downtown, Le Morgane will be your base for your first and last night on tour.

Practical info

When

jan
feb
mar
apr
may
jun
jul
aug
sep
oct
nov
dec
not available
average
optimal

The trek is only possible in the summer months, when the passes are clear of snow and ice. In late June, the Tour du Mont Blanc shows off its color with wild flowers, but there is no presence of snow and ice on the passes. Heavy travel periods are between the middle of July and the end of August. September can be a great time for the TMB, when the temperature is a bit cooler and there are fewer hikers on the road.

How

Self guided

Self guided does not mean you are alone. We help you coordinate and plan your trip beforehand. Once you are on the trail, we provide 24-hour customer service in case there are any urgent issues with your bookings.

Service Category

Pygmy Itineraries

PYGMY ITINERARY BENEFITS

  • Price Transparency: see where your money is going with line-item pricing
  • Never Lose Your Deposit Guarantee: 50% refund, 50% credit to future trip
  • Customized Handbook with Journey Details: maps, elevation profiles, tips and more
  • Destination Book Digital Travel App: everything in your handbook, in digital form
  • One Year Premium GAIA GPS Membership: your GPS routes, on your phone
  • Complete Itinerary Customization: build the trip you want to take
  • Special Meal Requests: we'll help you stick to your diet of choice
  • Before-You-Go Email Series: helpful emails to get you prepared for your trek
  • Transportation Options Information: timetables, routes and contact info
  • 24/7 Phone Support for Urgent Issues: give us a call if anything goes wrong
  • WhatsApp Support (9 AM to 5 PM, ET): rapid response to your inquiries
  • Email Support (24-hour turnaround): answers for not-so-urgent questions
  • Virtual Pre-Hike Briefing: one-on-one briefing with your travel consultant
  • Baggage Transfers (where applicable): your bags, delivered to your accommodation

Challenge Level

Technical Ability

Level : Medium

Mental Strength

Level : Medium

Physical Conditioning

Level : High

  • According to the La Chamoniarde, a society dedicated to the prevention and rescue of mountain activities in France, the Tour Du Mont Blanc "... is adapted to any well-trained hiker used to hiking on mountain trails and familiar with carrying a backpack. This well-maintained and well-marked route can be tricky if hiked before the end of June/ early July, when mountain passes may still be covered in snow (light crampons, trekking poles, and ice axe may come in handy)". If you have little previous trekking experience, a group tour or privately guided tour is suggested. When the passes are free of snow, no technical mountaineering equipment is necessary. Still, you should be able to use a compass and a map. As such, the tour is rated as medium for technical ability.
  • Mental Strength is rated at medium because one must keep good spirits to complete the trip without transfers. Furthermore, the communal nature of the mountain huts can be loved... or hated. It depends on the mind frame of the traveler.
  • Lastly, physical conditioning is rated at high if no transfers are taken. Using public transport, ski lifts and private transport, the physical conditioning can be reduced significantly. We can provide a thorough explanation of transport options on the route.

Price

Approximately $1,500 per person, based on double occupancy

Approximately $2,250 for single travelers

After initial consultation, we will customize your itinerary to meet your fitness level, budget, accommodation wishes and schedule. Depending on the journey, it might be possible to skip stages, rearrange their order, substitute accommodations, and add or subtract transfers. Find more information on the base itinerary and possible customizations below.

 

Base itinerary

  • 2 nights in 4-star hotels
  • 3 nights in 3-star hotels or inns
  • 2 nights in mountain huts (in private accommodation, where possible).
  • 7 breakfasts, 5 dinners
  • Turn-By-Turn Guidebook
  • Two IGN maps

CUSTOMIZATIONS

  • Convert to 3-star or 5-star accommodation in Chamonix or Courmayeur
  • Convert private accommodation to shared accommodation
  • Include more nights in huts, either in shared or private accommodation
  • Increase or decrease number of hiking days, depending on fitness and motivation
  • Add public transport to shorten stages
  • Add in rest days 

 

Optional Add-ons

  • Shared airport transfers between Chamonix and Geneva Airport
  • Private airport pick-ups and drop-offs
  • Daily guide
  • Travel insurance
  • Rest days in Chamonix, Courmayeur, Champex or anywhere in between
  • Extensions to Switzerland

Not included

  • Airfare
  • Lunches
  • Dinners in Chamonix and Courmayeur
  • In-situ transportation fees

Talk to our Adventure Expert

Our Managing Director, Andrew, has been to over 40 countries in his quest for the perfect adventure. He has biked the death road in Bolivia, trekked 500 miles across northern Spain on the Camino de Santiago, cycled from Brussels to Florence and hiked the five sacred mountains of China. Pygmy Elephant is how he spreads his love for adventure and self discovery in the world.