Tour du Mont Blanc - Self Guided
Hotels / Refugios
$1,500 USD per person
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!
Adjusting the hike to your budget and preferences
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.
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).
You will visit tiny hamlets hidden deep in the mountains, experience awe inspiring views and challenge yourself along the storied and picturesque Alps.
Take a look at a video of a happy client of Pygmy Elephant.
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
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). (B,D) Overnight in Hotel Edelweiss in La Fouly
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. (B,D) Overnight at Hotel Splendide.
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. (B, D) overnight in La Grande Ourse or Hotel de Forclaz depending on availability.
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. (B,D) Overnight at Hotel Carroune or equivalent.
Argentière to Le Brévent
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, so for those who wish to avoid these or simply would like to avoid the final push, an option exists to take the cable car down at Planpraz and avoid some 1,700 feet (518 meters) of elevation gain. The total time to Le Brévent should take around 8 hours. Congrats! You've done it. Take the lift down to Chamonix from Le Brévent and enjoy your evening at Le Morgane (B).
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 Total
You earn 1 Pygmy Mile for each $1 you spend with us.
You earn 10 Pygmy Miles for every mile that you hike. Get fit and get rewarded.
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
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.
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 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.
Located next to a beautiful alpine lake, this three star hotel gets high marks for service and large rooms.
La Grande Ourse
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 de La Couronne
Hotel de La Couronne features a cosy library and reading area, attached restaurant and en suite rooms. The restaurant features homestyle cooking and receives praise from many TMB hikers for the more than adequate breakfast. It is located about 20 minutes off the main TMB route.
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.
Pygmy Elephant will customize your trip to meet your fitness, budget and accommodation desires. However, as a frame of reference, the pricing of our base itinerary is listed below:
Approximately $1,500 per person based on double occupancy
Approximately $2,250 for single travelers
Included in the base itinerary:
- 7 nights accommodation: two nights at 4-star hotels, three nights at 3-star properties / inns, two nights at mountain huts (in private accommodation whenever possible).
- Personalized Handbook with your customized itinerary. Customers often mention how much they appreciate this handbook as part of their trek.
- Customer service: smoothing out the headaches 24/7
- Nine baggage transfers to keep you light
- 7 breakfasts, 5 dinners
- Public Transport and Lift Explanation Booklet
- Personalized Travel App with complete itinerary
- Premium GAIA GPS App and GPX File
- Cicerone Guidebook
- Two IGN Maps 3630 OT and 3531 ET
Optional Add ons
- Shared airport transfers to Chamonix from Geneva Airport and back
- Private airport pick-ups and drop-offs
- Daily Guide
- Travel Insurance
- Rest days in Chamonix, Courmayeur, Champex or anywhere in between
- Extensions to Switzerland
- Lunches and dinners in Chamonix and Courmayeur
- Cable car, public transport and taxi fees (although we can pre-order taxis and include in the price of your tour).
After initial consultation, we will adjust the itinerary to your experience, preferences and time constraints. It is possible to skip the mountain huts altogether, but this involves more transfers and more. The standard tour has a good mix of huts and hotels and is a popular choice. Still, we can customize your tour in any of the following ways:
- In Chamonix and Courmayeur, we also have 3-star and 5-star partners.
- If you are on a budget, we can include some days in shared accommodation.
- We can include more nights in huts (either in shared or private accommodation) if you prefer the lively atmosphere they provide.
- We can shorten or lengthen the number of hiking days. For example, if you are quite fit and experienced hikers, or if you are pressed for time, we can reduce the number of hike days. Depending on how we set up your itinerary, it's also possible to take some public transport to shorten some of the days.
- We can add in rest days. Some people prefer to have a day at the beginning of their tour to get over jet lag. It's also possible to schedule rest days in Courmayeur or Champex—both are great places to relax and recover.
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.
Self guided does not mean you are alone. We help you coordinate and plan your trip beforehand. Once you are on your way, we provide 24 hour customer service in case there are any issues with your bookings.
Level : Medium
Level : Medium
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.