Self Guided Hikes
Tour du Mont Blanc - Self Guided (hotels and refugios)
Hotels / Refugios
12 - 14
From $2,250 (per person)
Looking down on the Chamonix Valley, the village homes. You can almost grab them between your finger and thumb. The food on your journey has been hearty: melted cheeses, meat raised high in the mountains and red wine. As if you need the extra help. After each day, you are exhausted in a way that makes sleep a beautiful embrace.
Standing on top of the world, you have a certain sense of accomplishment for hiking over 100 miles around the tallest mountain in Europe. And you did it by yourself. The stories shared by fellow travelers in the Alps will be missed, but the memories of your day will be in the Alps will live on.
Pygmy Elephant's 12 night itinerary features a mixture of mountain refuges and boutique hotels, striking a balance of high mountain vistas and luxury while spending the night in the valleys. Depending on your preferences, experience and time constraints, we will customize the journey to your needs .
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 Mont Blanc Tour 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 completed 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 boutique hotel in Chamonix. Enjoy the onsite spa and pool during the day. Get plenty of rest, because tomorrow your journey begins. Overnight at Le Morgane or similar 4 star hotel.
Chamonix to Les Houches
Climb on the gondola to ride from Chamonix Valley to the top of Le Brevent at 8,284 Feet (2,525 meters). 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 Houche (3,300 feet / 1,007 meters). At three hours, todays hike is short in order to ease your body into the physical demands of mountain hiking. (B,D) Overnight at Hotel du Bois or similar 3 star hotel.
Les Houches to Les Contamine
Todays hike via Bionnassay will take between 5 and 6 hours and. You will cross over your first Col (or saddle) at Col de Voza (5,423 feet / 1,653 meters). Although there are some streches of road walking today, you will be rewarded with spiky Aiguilles that guard Mont Blanc and a view of Dome du Gouter 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. (B, D) Overnight at La Chemenaz or similar 3 star hotel.
Les Contamine to Refuge Mottets
The planned route is a 7 to 8 hour hike via a TMB alternative crossing over Col des Fours (total height gain of 5170 feet / 1579 meters and loss of 2,874 feet / 876 meters). This alternative gives superior views and avoids a longs stretch of road in the Ville des Glaciers. If weather is bad or there is snow on the pass, the main route (to Les Chapieux) is the better option. (B,D) Overnight at Refuge des Mottets in private ensuite accommodation.
Refuge des Mottets to Rifugio Elisabetta
Since you bypassed Les Chepieux the day before, you have a fairly easy 3 hour day in front of you passing over Col de la Seigne (total height gain 3,280 feet / 1,000 meters total loss 846 feet / 258 meters). If you have time constraints or wish to avoid staying in a communal dorm, you can combine this stage with the next one and overnight in Courmayeur. (B,D) Overnight at Rifugio Elisabetta.
Rifugio Elisabetta to Courmayeur
Ciao Bella! You are in Italy. Today's hike begins with an undulating terrain and ends with a downhill section to reach Courmayeur in the valley (height gain 1,509 feet / 460 meters and height loss of 5,118 / 1,560 meters). A stunning day of scenery lies before 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. You could do worse than spending an extra day here (please mention the request your inquiry).
Courmayeur to Rifugio Bonatti
It keeps getting better - today views of the Mont Biano from the Italian side might be the best of the tour (height gain 2,821 feet / 860 meters and height loss of 2,290 feet / 698 meters). After an initial climb out of Courmayeur which 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 the day to your resting point at Rifugio Bonatti, possibly the nicest and most well equipped refuge on the tour. (B,D) Overnight in private ensuite at Refugio Bonatti (spaces limited, inquire early to reserve spot).
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 (8356 feet / 2537 meters) and is a taxing climb that separates Italy from Switzerland (height gain 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 by gone 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 1,394 feet / 420 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 it's way up and gives views of the Martigny valley below. Although not as hard as some sections, it is a challenging stage. An alternative to Fenette de Arpette should be considered in clear weather and is on of the highest points reached on the TMB at 8743 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 Grand Ourse or Hotel de Forclaz depending on availability.
Trient to Argentiere
Ah Cherie, you have made it back to France (height gain 3,507 feet / 1,069 meters height loss 3,864 feet / 1,178 meters). The trip from Trient to Argentiere 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 Vallee de l'Arve, which appears at the foot of the Monarch of the Alps. Today's hike should take between 6 and 7 hours. (B,D) Overnight at Hotel Carroune or equivalent.
Argentiere to Le Brevent
We've saved one of the most interesting treks with the perhaps the most splendid views for last. The main route uses a number of ladder and chain systems to ascend to Tete 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 Tete aux Vents, the route levels off and it is a more subdued downward sloping walk to Refuge La Flegere (4 hours). The refuge is a nice spot to sit and take lunch and gather your strength for the final push to Le Brevent, where you started your hike. Le Brevent (8,287 feet / 2526 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 Brevent includes two ladders near the top, so for those wishing to avoid these or simply would like to avoid the final push, an option exists to take the cable car down at Plan Praz and avoid some 1,700 feet of elevation gain. The total time to Le Brevent should take around 8 hours. Congrats! You've done it. Take the lift down to Chamonix from Le Brevent and enjoy your evening at Le Morgane (B)
After a leisured 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! and Au revoir!
Ask for the complete planning
That was easy!
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.
Generates benefit for 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
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.
Hotel du Bois
Three star hotel in the heart of Les Houches offering a spa, restaurant and pool.
Located in Les Contamine, the Chalet-Hotel La Chemenaz offers three star accommodation facing the Mont Blanc range. On site facilities include restaurant, bar and spa. Pygmy Elephants offers an upgrade to a suite free of charge on availability.
This refugio sits serenely at the bottom of Col de la Seigne. It features both dormitories and private rooms with ensuite facilities. Once a dairy farm, the main lodge is decorated with old cheese making tools and even one of the dormitories is a converted cow barn.
Elisabetta is a quintessential Italian mountain refuge. It's best to avoid the large dormitories where the snores of fellow trekking comrades can keep you up into the wee hours. There are a few 4 to 7 person dorm rooms which are much quieter and the better choice plus one double room which usually sells out fast. All of that said, the food, wine, atmosphere and views more than make up for the communal sleeping arrangements (options exist to bypass and stay in private rooms).
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 (2025 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 ensuite 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. Wifi is available downstairs. Dorms and private rooms with showers are available. picture credit www.tripadvisor.co.uk
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 nights 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 ensuite rooms. The restaurant features homestyle cooking and receives praise from many TMB hikers (along with the more than adequate breakfast). It is located about 20 minutes off the main TMB route.
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 $ 2,250 per person based on double occupancy
Approximately $ 2,950 for single travelers
Included in the base itinerary:
- 12 nights accommodation - three nights at 4 star hotels, five nights at three star properties / inns, four nights at high 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
- 12 Breakfasts, 9 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 - first day or round for over Bonhomme Pass early in the season
- Travel Insurance
- Rest days in Chamonix, Courmayeur, Champex or anywhere in between
- Extensions to Switzerland
- Lunches and Dinner 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 all together, but this involves more transfers and more.
- In Chamonix and Courmayeur, we also have three star and five 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 jetlag. 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 need for snow and ice on the passes. Heavy periods are between 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 less hikers on the road.
Self guided does not mean you are alone. We help you coordinate and plan your trip before hand. Once you are on your way, we provide 24 hr 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, an ice axe may come handy)". If you have little previous trekking experienced, 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 considering if no transfers are taken. Using public transport, ski lifts and private hire, the physical conditioning can be reduced significantly. We can provide a thorough explanation of transport options on route.