Here are some of the most common questions we hear as we talk with people making plans for the Tour du Mont Blanc, but we love new questions! If you can’t find what you are looking for on this page, feel free to give us a call or send us an email!
What's it like to hike the Tour du Mont Blanc on an Alpenwild guided tour?
Hiking the TMB with Alpenwild is the trip of a lifetime. It's the most popular trek in Europe and Alpenwild has perfected the tour. We have departures throughout the summer and each tour is guided by one of our expertly trained and certified mountain guides, along with an assistant leader. As a result, you'll benefit from Alpenwild's unmatched experience, expertise, quality and range of services not found on other trips. Like our other Alps hiking and walking trips, our TMB treks are built on a philosophy that the best and most enjoyable way to discover the Alps is on foot, with a small group of friends, and in the company of someone who knows and loves these gorgeous mountains and valleys. As a result, our clients are really guests and friends, and we find that they develop wonderful friendships along the way. Our programs are also wonderful learning and growth experiences so that you return richer, stronger, and wiser. Our goal for all guests is threefold (in this order) 1. Be safe 2. Have a great time and 3. Do your best.
Do I need prior hiking experience?
The Alps is the greatest hiking destination in the world, and it's also one of the most varied and adaptable. Even if you’ve never hiked outside of your own area, you can have a dream vacation hiking in the Alps. That being said, yes, you should be in good health and have some solid hiking experience. The TMB is one of our most challenging treks and as an experienced and fit hiker you'll certainly enjoy the trip more. You should have some experience with daily vertical ascents of 3000-4000 feet and daily mileage of 10 miles.
Do I have to carry everything on my back?
We provide luggage transfers every night on the TMB, 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. We recommend carrying things like your rain gear, water, an extra jacket, and any other personal items you need on the trail.
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 breakfast at your hotel. 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 may not always be a sit-down restaurant meal, we call it a "snack." For dinners we seek out the best restaurants or hotels 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.
Is tipping necessary? Is it appropriate to tip the trip leader?
Tipping is not expected along the TMB as it is in the US. Your trip leader will take care of any tipping for meals and other services included on your tour. Alpenwild trip leaders go out of their way to make sure your trip is enjoyable and successful—everything you want it to be. While not mandatory or obligatory, tips recognizing their efforts are appreciated. The common practice is to hand the tip to the trip leaders at the conclusion of the trip.
Does the Tour du Mont Blanc require technical climbing skills?
No. You'll be benefited by being an experienced hiker, but the entire route can be done without any climbing or even scrambling. In our experience, there are only two or three places where you need to place your hand on a rock to steady yourself during a steep ascent or descent.
Will we stay in any mountain huts?
On our guided TMB tours we do not stay in any mountain huts. Every night you will have a private room with a private bathroom. On a self-guided TMB with Alpenwild you have the choice to stay in a couple of mountain huts. Itineraries can be customized to include or bypass mountain huts as you wish. Just let our destination specialist know which you would prefer!
Will I have Wi-Fi in my room?
Nearly all hotels on Alpenwild tours include free Wi-Fi in your room or in public areas of the hotel. This is true even in small inns located in remote mountain settings.
What are the hiking stats for each day?
You can see the stats for each day on our guided TMB listed out on our itinerary. Each day’s distance ranges from 7 to 12.5 miles, vertical ascent ranges from 2325 to 4250 feet, and vertical descent ranges from 1745 to 4330 feet.
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. Our trip leaders are expert at bringing out the best in you. A call to an Alpenwild tour specialist and you'll be able to determine which tour—be it the TMB or one of our other tours—is best for you. Regardless of your level of experience or ability, we have a tour for you. And you will love it.
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. Even with as few as 8 guests, we normally have 2 guides. With our 2 guides, you'll be able to hike at your own pace and enjoy the route to its fullest.
What's the difference between walking, hiking and trekking?
The definition varies from one location to another, but generally speaking, "hiking" is just walking outdoors on a natural trail surface. "Trekking" is a hiking journey of several days from one place to another. By that definition, our TMB is a classic trek, while our Best of the Swiss Alps trip is a wonderful collection of day hikes. By calling and talking with an Alpenwild tour specialist you'll be able to determine which option is best for you.
Should I purify water on the Tour du Mont Blanc?
Water in the villages and towns throughout the Alps is pure and safe for drinking. Unlike in North America, Giardia is extremely rare in 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.
I live in Florida. Will I have a hard time with the altitude?
Most of our hiking in the Alps is at an elevation between 3,000 and 8,000 feet above sea level. If you're not used to the altitude, you'll certainly feel the difference. You'll probably feel easily "winded," and may want to take a slower pace initially. At elevations above 8,000 feet you may even 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.
I've never really done much in the way of strenuous 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 needs. 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. However, the group does need to keep a certain pace in order to ensure that they reach their next accommodation in a timely manner! Talk to your guide if you have any reservations about hiking.
What is the pace for hiking the Tour du Mont Blanc?
Again, it's very much tailored to the capabilities of the hikers in the group. Since we normally have two guides with each group, we can accommodate a wide range of paces. While we generally stay within close range, faster hikers are free to move at their own pace and wait for the group at a pre-arranged destination. Our trip leaders don't rest until all hikers have arrived safely in the village. That being said, you can expect around a pace of 2.5 miles an hour on flat sections, 1,200 feet of up per hour, and 2,000 feet of down per hour.
What gear do I need to bring? What group gear do you provide?
Prior to departure, we'll provide you with a detailed packing list for hiking and/or for travel, tailored to your adventure, which is also available on our website. You will be responsible for bringing your own clothing, daypack, and other personal outdoor gear such as trekking poles and raingear. Group gear provided by your Alpenwild trip leader includes a first aid kit, navigational aids (maps, compass, and guides), and trail snacks.
I'm a vegetarian. Can you accommodate special dietary needs?
Yes. You'll find the diet in the Alps is based around dairy products, with a good variety of fresh fruits and vegetables during the summer season. Just let your guide know of your dietary preferences and we should be able to find excellent meals that satisfy your preferences. Over the years we have successfully accommodated guests with celiac disease, nut allergies, lactose intolerance, and many other specific allergies. Vegan dietary preferences on the other hand are very difficult to accommodate on this trip because of the offerings available in the area.
Which airport should I fly into for the Tour du Mont Blanc?
You should fly in and out of the Geneva Airport. Your TMB will start and end in Chamonix (for guided groups) which is about a 90-minute shuttle ride from the Geneva Airport. Alpenwild will arrange that shuttle service for you.
Any surprises I can plan for now?
Because you’ll be trekking through three countries, be prepared to see some differences in culture, signage, language, and food. You’ll likely hear French and Italian along the journey but French is considered the “official language” of the Tour du Mont Blanc. Bedding arrangements in many European hotels are a bit different than the U.S. The standard double room consists of two European single beds (each 90 cm x 200 cm) which are typically set closely together for a couple resulting in a bed about the same size as an American king bed (200 cm x 200 cm). Most hotels do not have air conditioning as the fresh mountain breeze blowing through the window is enough to cool you on a summer’s night.
What can help me connect with the people along the route?
Learn a few words of French and perhaps Italian. Simple greetings along the trail of “Bonjour” or “Buongiorno” will bring a ready smile from the locals. Buy local produce, cheese, wine, chocolate, and crafts and comment on their quality. Never drop a piece of litter.
What is the best way to change money? Can I use my credit card?
France and Italy deal in Euros while Switzerland deals in Swiss Francs. It’s easy to find ATM machines and change money in small towns and villages. Credit cards are widely accepted throughout France, Italy, and Switzerland so you’ll have no trouble using them in hotels, restaurants, and shops. Be aware that many U.S. credit card companies tack on a 3% foreign transaction fee, so it can be a more expensive transaction. Before you leave, ask your bank or credit card company about ATM and credit card fees.
Can I use my cell phone along the Tour du Mont Blanc?
If you plan to bring a cell phone, iPhone, or similar mobile device to the Alps, you’ll be delighted with the great coverage throughout the Alps. Check with your service provider before departing the US to find out what international roaming options and costs are available through your plan.
Will I need a converter to charge batteries or power my phone?
There are two basic standards for electrical voltage and frequency around the world: France, Italy, and Switzerland operate on the European standard of 220-240 volts at 50Hz and use the Europlug with two round prongs. An adapter will enable you to easily charge your phone, camera, batteries, or laptop. Today, most appliances are dual voltage so no other adapter is needed. The hotels where you’ll be staying normally have hairdryers—so no need to bring one.