Are you considering an Alps trekking holiday this summer? Then two of the best are the Tour du Mont Blanc and the Walker’s Haute Route. But how do you choose between these two classic multi-day treks?
In essence it all boils down to what you’re looking to achieve and experience during your trek. So to help you out we have created the following guide that compares and contrasts the two. We’ve broken it down into useful categories, so you can see exactly how these two legendary treks measure up.
There is no doubt that the Haute Route is harder than the Tour du Mont Blanc (TMB). There are higher cols, with several clocking in at just under 3000m and the terrain is more rugged. In addition, there are fewer sign posts to guide trekkers and overall everything just feels that little bit wilder than the TMB.
This means that for some, the Haute Route would be better with a guide leading the way. While the TMB is more suited to self-guided tours. That isn’t set in stone, but it depends more on what kind of experience you are looking for. Some people go self-guided on the Haute Route and use a guide for the 2-3 more remote days of the trek.
The Haute Route has two proper mountain days, from the Mont Fort hut to Arolla via the Grand Desert. So, trekkers need to be tough, fit and able to do long days without too many rest stops. It’s important to be able to navigate for this section, because in fog or snow it would be easy to get lost – there’s often no trace of a path.
As well as being a little busier and better sign-posted, the TMB has more opportunities to make life a little easier if required. That means there are bus links and cable cars that let you cut a few corners or miss out harder sections. This makes it a better option for families and trekkers with slightly lower fitness levels.
Any Alps trekking holiday will come with its fair share of stunning views and vistas. But these two treks are exceptional – both regularly make it into lists of the best treks in Europe.
The Walker’s Haute Route is a linear journey from Mont Blanc to the Matterhorn. There are stunning views of both mountains along the way plus a host of other spectacular 4000m peaks.
The TMB of course offers many different views of Mont Blanc. It is a circuit, taking in France, Italy and Switzerland, so expect lots of variety in terms of scenery but also culture, food and hospitality.
The first thing to know about the accommodation is that both routes have an excellent range of options. This includes everything from comfortable hotels to basic huts.
So both treks can be done either on a budget or in relative comfort, depending on your needs and purse strings. Furthermore, you can enjoy either rustic refuges in dormitory-style accommodation, or some top-quality hotels.
Both trips can be done over 10 to 14 days, but there are also shorter versions taking seven days with a few transfers along the way. So, whether you have a single week or a fortnight to play with, each trek can fit around you.
There are numerous different versions of the TMB that suit different timescales, budgets and ability levels. The classic tour completes the circuit in ten days using cable cars and the occasional transfer for a more comfortable trekking experience.
You can also take on the highlights tour, or ‘Best of’. This is a shorter versions of the classic but still covering all the best parts of the trek.
If you are feeling more adventurous, then you can take on the Ultimate TMB route, with optional summits along the way. There are also self-guided and private tours available.
The Haute Route also has plenty of options. Again, the most popular route is the classic, which takes ten days only using one short cable car journey.
There is a shorter highlights trek, and self-guided options too. Or you can take a more leisurely two weeks and add in some rest days along the way.
One big difference about the Haute Route, is that there is also a “Glacier” version. For more experienced trekkers looking for a challenge, you stay high up in the mountains and specialist equipment is required.
Owing to its popularity, better signposting and bigger choice of accommodation, the TMB is slightly cheaper. Therefore it is the better value of the two treks.
However, where you stay makes up a lot of the cost of an Alps trekking holiday, and both of these have a wide range of accommodation options. Coupled with the range of routes it means that both treks are suitable for all types of budget.
There are low cost basic huts on both routes, helping to keep costs down. But if your budget allows, you can splash out on more comfortable options. Or even go deluxe, staying in 4* and 5* hotels wherever possible.
Ultimately the price difference between the two is small. The classic ten day version of the TMB is only around a hundred pounds cheaper than the classic Haute route. So, there is not much to choose between them in terms of value for money.
For a little extra both tours offer luggage transport along the way. So you can pack for a holiday, but only carry with you what you need each day. This makes the whole experience that little bit more pleasant.
These two excellent treks have their differences and which one you choose depends on personal preference. But they also have a fair few similarities.
First, both treks start in the mountain town of Chamonix, which is well connected to Geneva for flights from the UK. Both can be done as guided group trips, guided private trips, or self-guided treks.
The guide books for both of these treks are good, but they are limited. They don’t include the best places to stay, top spots to stop for lunch, where to fill up your water, or alternative routes if the weather is bad (very useful).
And that’s where specialists such as Cloud 9 Adventure come in. They’ve done both of these treks hundreds of times and have vast amounts of trekking and mountain experience.
They are continually updating their itineraries and routes to reflect the changing terrain, hotels, mountain restaurants and cable car options. Their guides spend all summer trekking every step of the way, so they know when conditions change.
All of this means that whatever trek you choose, Cloud 9 Adventure will provide the best Alps trekking holiday. The TMB costs £2245 and Haute route £2395. Both include all your accommodation, breakfast and evening meals, luggage portage plus a qualified and experienced guide.
To find out more visit: www.cloud9adventure.com