Around the Mont Blanc Massif in 11 Stages
Self Guided with First-Day Guide
From $3,775 USD per person
Private Transport, Baggage Transfers
The Tour du Mont Blanc is one of the few world class treks that can be done staying at least partially in five star hotels. In this itinerary, we take in the best of the Alps. The five star hotels here are world class and offer a hard won treat after a long day on the trail.
After arriving at the airport, you will be picked up in a private car and transferred to Chamonix. You'll have the afternoon to recuperate from jet lag. Perhaps you can take in the spa at Hotel Mont Blanc or visit the Michelin star restaurant, Albert 1er, in town. The following day, your "first day guide" will meet you at the hotel to give you a briefing on the tour and answer any questions you may have. Although this is a self guided tour, we include the first day guide in order to better appreciate the region and context of this great hike.
From your second day on you will be hiking on your own. Someone from Pygmy Elephant is reachable by text or phone 24 hours a day. At all of the following accommodations on the tour, we will secure you the highest quality room available. At a minimum, a private room will be waiting for you after your day's hike.
Once you reach the half way point of the tour, you will visit your second five star hotel, the Grand Hotel Courmayeur. You have an extra rest day here, so make sure to check out the spa and downtown area. It's then on tackle the second half of the tour, returning to Hotel Mont Blanc for your final evening.
We customize the tour to fit your budget and preference. Below are our three most popular choices, but please note that we can combine any of the elements of the below itineraries to tailor it to you and your group.
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.
The Tour du Mont Blanc is a long distance trekking trail passing through France, Switzerland and Italy. The complete circuit is approximately 107 miles and has an altitude gain and loss of 6.2 miles (10 km), which is more than the height of Everest. The trail can be completed by marathon runners, however, it is comfortably hiked in 11 days (for the very fit, 7 or 8 days will provide a decent challenge).
Transfer and overnight in Chamonix
After arriving at Geneva Airport, you will be transferred to your hotel in Chamonix. Enjoy the onsite spa and pool during the day. Get plenty of rest, because tomorrow your journey begins. Overnight at Hotel Mont Blanc or similar 5-star hotel.
Chamonix to Les Houches (5 HOURS | 12.9 KM / 8 MI | ELEVATION ⇅ - 2,104 M / 6,902 FEET)
Climb on the gondola to ride from Chamonix Valley to Planpraz. On your very first day, weather permitting you will have a clear view of Mont Blanc. After savoring the view, you will make your way downhill to Les Houches (3,300 feet / 1,007 meters). If you would like another evening at Hotel Mont Blanc, we can arrange transport back to Chamonix.
Les Houches to Les Contamines (6 HOURS | 17 KM / 10.6 MI | ELEVATION ⇅ - 1,626 M / 5,335 FEET)
Today’s hike via Bionnassay will take you over your first col (or saddle) at Col de Voza (5,423 feet / 1,653 meters). Although there are some stretches of road walking today, you will be rewarded with a view of the spiky aiguilles that guard Mont Blanc and a view of Dôme du Goûter with an impressive glacier ripping down its side. For more experienced hikers, an alternative route via Refuge de Miage offers even more breathtaking high mountain views.
Les Contamines to Les Chapieux (7 HOURS | 20.1 KM / 12.5 MI | ELEVATION ⇅ - 2,274 M / 7,461 FEET)
On this beautiful yet difficult stage, you will be heading over Col du Bonhomme. Please note that you are now entering a more wild section of the TMB - there will be no ATMs until you reach Courmayeur. Still, there are quite a few shelters along the way. After passing by Refuge Nant Borrant and Refuge de la Balme, you will reach Col du Bonhomme. From there, it is still another 2 km to go before you reach Refuge de la Croix du Bonhomme. Stop in and have a Belgian beer or perhaps a home-made cake from Coco, to gather your strength. You then descend 5.3 km to Les Chapieux within 1.5 to 2 hours.
Les Chapieux to Cabane du Combal (6 HOURS | 16.9 KM / 10.5 MI | 1,522 M / 4,993 FEET)
The day starts with a gradual ascent in the Viille des Glaciers. There is a new trail off to the side of the road, located around 20 minutes from Les Chapieux. It takes about two hours to get to Refuge des Mottets. Afterwards, there will be a lot of elevation gain as you will be passing over Col de la Seigne, which has a height of 2,509 meters (8,232 feet). At the top, you will have a view of both France and Italy that is quite stunning! It’s then a steady descent down to Refugio Elisabetta, which sits at 2,195 meters (7,201 feet) above sea level on the side of a mountain. You can then descend further into the Val Veny, along the waters of Lake Combal. At the end of the lake, in a privileged position, sits Cabane du Combal. If you have time constraints or wish to avoid staying in a mountain hut, you can combine this stage with the next one and overnight in Courmayeur.
Cabane du Combal to Courmayeur (5 HOURS | 13.2 KM / 8.3 MI | 1,774 M / 5,820 FEET)
Ciao bella! You are in Italy. Today's hike begins with undulating terrain and ends with a downhill section to reach Courmayeur in the valley. A stunning day of scenery awaits you, with views of Glacier de Miage, Lac Combal and Mont Blanc itself. Courmayeur is the Italian equivalent of Chamonix and enjoys a rich history of alpine climbers, as evidenced by the varied sculptures hanging out by the central cathedral. Today, it is a high class resort town both in the winter and summer.
Rest Day in Courmayeur
Today, you have a free day to explore Courmayeur. This small resort town is the Italian gateway to the Mont Blanc Massif. Popular tourist attractions are the botanical garden and the Skyway Monte Bianco, which links up with Téléphérique de l'Aiguille du Midi (via Vallee Blanche Aerial Tramway) to give tourists access to Chamonix, France over the Alps.
COURMAYEUR TO RIFUGIO BONATTI (5 HOURS | 11.7 KM / 7.3 MI | ELEVATION ⇅ - 1,337 M / 4,387 FEET)
It keeps getting better—today’s views of the Monte Bianco from the Italian side might be the best of the tour. After an initial climb out of Courmayeur that gains most of your elevation for the day, the main route follows an easy route along Mont de la Saxe with views of Mont Blanc and ice of the Val Ferret. For the more hearty walkers, two higher elevation alternatives exist; however, the main route will take you about 5 hours to complete. Your day ends at Rifugio Bonatti, possibly the nicest and most well-equipped refuge on the tour.
RIFUGIO BONATTI TO LA FOULY (6.5 HOURS | 18.1 KM / 11.3 MI | ELEVATION ⇅ - 2,133 M / 6,998 FEET)
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), which is a taxing climb that separates Italy from Switzerland. 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 Swiss valley through which the TMB snakes.
La Fouly to Champex (4.5 HOURS | 14.1 KM / 8.8 MI | ELEVATION ⇅ - 1,079 M / 3.540 FEET)
After your long hike up Col Ferret, you are rewarded with perhaps the easiest stage of the TMB. 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.
Champex to Trient (5.75 HOURS | 16.3 KM / 10.1 MI | ELEVATION ⇅ - 1,661 M / 5,450 FEET)
The main route snakes its way up and offers views of the Martigny valley below. Although not as hard as some sections, it is still a challenging stage. Consider climbing to Fenêtre d’Arpette in clear weather. It is one of the highest points reached on the TMB at 8,743 feet (2,665 meters). Total hiking time for the alternate route is 7 to 8 hours.
Trient to Argentière (6.5 HOURS | 16.4 KM / 10.2 MI | ELEVATION ⇅ - 2,439 M / 8,002 FEET)
Ah chérie, you have made it back to France! The trip from Trient to Argentière is 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 Mont Blanc, the Monarch of the Alps.
Argentière to Planpraz (6 HOURS | 14.2 KM / 8.9 MI | 1,825 M / 5,988 FEET)
Today has some of the best views of the entire tour. The route to Refuge de la Flégère follows a series of ladders and metal steps hammered into stone and takes about 3.5 hours. Next, continue 2 hours on the Grand Balcon Süd until you reach the cable car at the Planpraz station. There is little hydration on this stage, so make sure to fill up before leaving Argentière. The alternate route is a bit steeper and gains elevation quicker than the main route. Located soon after the merging of the Col des Montets route and the main TMB trail, there is detour that goes to Lac Blanc. The lake provides a picturesque view of Mont Blanc with the lake set in the foreground – a good spot for a picture of the peak reflecting off the shimmering blue water. Congrats! You've done it.
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. Transfer to Geneva airport provided. 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.
Ascend More Feet Than Everest
The complete circuit is approximately 107 miles (170 km) and has an altitude gain and loss of over 6.2 miles (10 km), which is more than the height of Everest. If you make it all the way to the end, Pygmy Elephant will reward you with a 25% bonus.
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
Hotel Mont Blanc
Hotel Mont Blanc impresses with spacious rooms and interiors designed by the renown French interior architect Sybille de Margerie. Margerie combined the style of Chamonix with contemporary luxuries. After a day in the mountains, head to the outdoor heated pool heated, which stretches over 14 meters with a spectacular view of the Mont-Blanc. Alternatively, relax in the 250m2 spa and hammam and soothe your tired muscles.
Hotel du Bois
The three star Hotel Du Bois in the heart of Les Houches offers a spa, restaurant and pool. If you need a drink, pull up a stool at Barry's Bar or head out to the garden for a drink in the Alpine sun.
Hotel La Chemenaz
Located in Les Contamines, the Chalet-Hotel La Chemenaz offers 4-star accommodation facing the Mont Blanc range. Onsite facilities include restaurant, bar and spa. Pygmy Elephants offers an upgrade to a suite free of charge on availability.
Auberge de la Nova
This refugio sits serenely in the hamlet of Les Chapieux. It features both dormitories and private rooms with en suite facilities.
Cabane du Combal
This mountain hut is located in a beautiful location, on the banks of a pristine river fed by glaciers. Although it is a hut, it features spacious, private rooms with ensuite bathrooms.
Grand Hotel Courmayeur
The five star Grand Hotel Courmayeur is a luxury hotel located in downtown Courmayeur. The service and hospitality is warm, and the staff are willing to go the extra mile to assist clients. Restaurant La Fourchette is located on site and is sure to please with attentive staff and innovative dishes. The Spa Elysium is 500 sq meters of paradise that will get your wary muscles ready for a new round of trekking.
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.
Hotel La Grande Ourse
The private ensuite rooms have been refurbished and provide a comfortable night’s sleep. The small touches of Clarins products show the caretakers attention to detail. In 2019, a new bar was built for hikers to enjoy a pint or spirit after a long day.
Hotel Grands Montets
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
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 may be 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 the trail, we provide 24-hour customer service in case there are any urgent issues with your bookings.
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
- 24/7 WhatsApp Support: get in touch with someone, day or night
- Pygmy Elephant Swag: show off in Pygmy Elephant style
- Transfer Booking to Start or End Location, or Between Accommodations
- Add-ons or Substitutions within 60 Days of Arrival (with applicable fees)
Level : Medium
Level : Medium
Level : High
- According to 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.
Approximately $3,775 per person, based on double occupancy
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.
- 4 nights in 5-star hotels
- 2 nights in 4-star hotels
- 3 nights in 3-star hotels
- 3 nights in inns or 1-star hotels
- 1 night in high mountain hut in private accommodation
- 13 breakfasts, 9 dinners
- Private transfer from and to Geneva Airport
- First-day guide for trekking from Planpraz to Les Houches
- Rest day in Courmayeur
- Turn-by-Turn guidebook
- Maps for west and east portions of tour
- Additional rest days in Chamonix, Courmayeur, Champex or anywhere in between
- Substitute hotel in Courmayeur for mountain hut (add transfer)
- Substitute hotel in Courmayeur for Chalet Val Ferret (add transfer)
- Substitute hotel in Chamonix for Les Houches (add transfer)
- Substitute hotel in Chamonix for Argentière (add transfer)
- 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
- Lunches and dinners in Chamonix and Courmayeur
- In-situ transportation fees