Common Questions about Hiking in the Alps
What's the Difference Between Hiking, Walking, and Trekking?
On an Alpenwild trip, “walking” is in cities, villages, and short jaunts on paved or well-maintained paths to dramatic vistas. “Hiking” is traveling along a well-marked trail, sometimes steep but never overly challenging. “Trekking” is a journey of several days from one place to another and may include more challenging terrain or some scrambling. Although, there may be some overlap, Alpenwild has tours in all three categories. Here’s a sampling.
Call an Alpenwild tour specialist and you'll be able to determine which option is best for you.
Do I Need Prior Hiking Experience?
Not necessarily. The Swiss Alps is the greatest hiking destination in the world and it's also one of the most adaptable. This is the value of having an Alpenwild Trip Leader with you. They will adapt on the spot as needed. As long as you’re in pretty good shape, walk regularly, and enjoy experiencing beautiful alpine scenery at a walking pace, you will enjoy an Alpenwild Adventure.
I've Really Never Done Much in the Way of Hiking or Outdoor Adventure. Will I be Able to Keep up?
Because we keep our group sizes small, we're able to easily adapt to individual need. On some hikes you may want to take the tram up and hike down or vice versa. At the start of each day we carefully explain the distance, elevation gain, timetable, and options.
What is the Typical Group Size?
We keep our group size small-typically between 6 and 12 guests—so that you can receive the highest level of service and attention.
What if our Group Has a Mix of Slow and Fast Hikers?
Every group has hikers with varied paces. Even a husband and wife may differ greatly in speed and endurance. Many Alpenwild tours have an option of using other modes of transport if someone wants to take “a day off.” Most of our trips are adaptable to various skill levels, so high-performance hikers are able to get in all the energetic hiking they want while meeting the needs of those who desire an easier route or a slower pace. A call to an Alpenwild tour specialist and you'll be able to determine which option is best for you. Our trip leaders are expert at bringing out the best in you. If you can play 18 holes of golf or walk 3 miles a day, a hiking tour in the Alps is well within your reach. Regardless of your level of experience or ability, we have a tour for you. And you will love it.
Do I Have to Carry Everything on my Back?
We provide luggage transfers on all of our treks and inn-to-inn tours, so you can walk with just the items you need, knowing that your luggage will be waiting for you at the hotel when you arrive. On the Haute Route, and the Exploring the Jungfrau trips you won't have access to your luggage while in the huts; but after your hut stay, you arrive at a hotel knowing that your bags will be there waiting for you.
How Many Miles per Day do we Walk?
That depends on the tour you're taking. On the Haute Route, our most strenuous tour, we hike 7-12 miles and gain an average of 3,500 vertical feet per day. Each hiking or walking tour is rated easy, moderate, or strenuous, based on how physcally challenging it is. If you have any questions, call and we can answer specifics about the level of physical activity and skill requirements for each trip. We are committed to finding the adventure that's right for you
Should I Purify Water in the Alps?
Water in the villages and towns throughout the Alps is pure and safe for drinking. Unlike in North America, Giardia is extremely rare in Swiss alpine streams and most guests feel comfortable drinking the water without purifying it. We've never had reports of any problems from drinking it. Still, for your protection, we bring water purification with us which you're always welcome to use. For more information, see our Haute Route Essentials video series which explains this and other topics in greater detail.
I Live in Florida. Will I Have a Hard Time With the Altitude?
Good question. Most of our hiking in the Swiss Alps is at an elevation between 3,000 and 8,000 feet above sea level. On the Haute Route we cross a pass each day at an elevation nearing 10,000 feet. If you're not used to the altitude, you'll certainly feel the difference, feel easily "winded," and may need to take a slower pace initially. Some hikers, when above 8,000 feet may notice some nausea, a headache, or loss of appetite. These are normal symptoms of altitude sickness and should disappear as you descend into the valley or acclimatize to the elevation. Some people are more susecptible than others and it does not seem to be related to coming from a low elevation.
I Live in Colorado. What Makes Hiking in the Alps so Much Better?
Simply put, the Swiss Alps is the finest supported hiking destination in the world. You can hike for days on end and never have to carry a tent, sleeping bag, stove, or food. The vertical profile, glaciers, mountain scenery, meadows, waterfalls and dense forests are more spectacular than nearly any hiking destination in North America.
What Does "BSD" Mean in the Itinerary?
It means that a Breakfast, Snack, and Dinner are all included in the tour price. Each day you'll have a full Swiss breakfast at your hotel or mountain hut.
While we're walking in the mountains or out during the day, we're not often near a place where we can stop for a lunch-besides most people don't want to hang around a restaurant ordering and waiting for food, when they could be out enjoying the Alps. So we provide trail snacks and we generally stop around lunch time for a wonderful mountain picnic which often includes fresh bread, local cheese purchased on the alp, sausage or traditional air-cured meats, fruit, chocolate and other local treats. It's always a highlight, and no one goes hungry. Most other outfitters would call this a "lunch", but since it's not a sit-down restaurant meal, we call it a "snack"
Dinners in the huts are filling and well prepared, while in the towns and villages we seek out the best restaurants available—with an emphasis on small, locally-owned restaurants and traditional cuisine—and the food is exquisite! Many guests rave about the quality of the dining experience, plus it's a great time to socialize, meet the locals, and share stories of the day's highlights.
With All That Hiking, Will I Lose Weight?
With all that delicious Swiss cuisine, it's not likely. Don't even try.
Which is the Best Hiking Area? The Jungfrau, Valais, Appenzell, the Dolomites, or the Engadine?
We love them all. Each region has unique charm, breathtaking beauty, and natural wonders. They never grow old. And even our guides, who have hiked these areas repeatedly, can never agree on a favorite. That's why we keep returning every year.
With so Many Options, How do I Choose?
Figure out what you and your travel companions want to see, do, and experience. Then identify the level of challenge and exertion you want. Challenging or comfortable; active or relaxed. Then read the trip descriptions. If you’re still stumped, give us a call. We are experts at matching your dream to one of our tours.