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High Passes of the Valais

A journey to Switzerland's iconic peak
 
Explore the best of the Matterhorn region on this self-guided walking holiday, with luggage transported on most days. Stunning panoramas await as you cross dramatic mountain passes and traverse both classic routes and little-used trails.
High Passes of the Valais. 7 nights
High Passes of the Valais. 7 nights
 

Holiday information

 

A walking holiday in the Valais

The Valais in southern Switzerland is home not only to one of the country's most revered peaks, the Matterhorn, but also to a group of mountains known as the Pennine Alps. Stretching between the Simplon and Grand St Bernard passes, the range encompasses over thirty four-thousand-metre-plus peaks and thus provides stunning panoramas.

It is these awe-inspiring mountains – mere blips on the skyline when you first enter the Valais – that are your target, representing the end of your journey across southern Switzerland towards the Italian border. 
And what a journey it is. Starting in the Bernese Oberland, you enter the Valais via an ancient trading route, then cross the Rhône Valley, whose swathes of vines seem incongruous with the mountain scenery. South of this great river, more classic Alpine scenery – and spectacular high passes – await, so that arrival in Zermatt at the foot of the Matterhorn brings a real sense of achievement.
 
Gallery
 

Itinerary

The key to Inntravel holidays is flexibility. You can start on the day of your choice, and are free to add extra nights.
  • The average maximum daytime temperatures and monthly rainfall relate to the nearest weather station and are intended as a guide only.

    The best time for flowers is late June and early July.
     
    Average temperatures and rainfall
      Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
    °C 1 2 5 9 14 17 20 19 15 11 5 1
    mm 131 117 125 135 150 168 151 173 140 129 143 133
  • Arrival in Kandersteg 
    Night 1: at Belle Epoque Hotel Victoria (the first of two nights here).
    As your first night's accommodation is on the day of travel, Day 1 is your first day of walking.

    As there are substantial ascents and descents each day, where possible routes start and/or end with a cable car, bus or train ride. Some of these are included; for those which are not, we provide a half-fare card so that you can benefit from discounted tickets on most journeys. The distances given for each day are the walking distances, and do not include sections on public transport.
  • Choice of walks from Kandersteg: 10km to 20.5km

    Gasterntal via Kander Gorge: 20.5km, 7hrs; ascent/descent 625m
    We highly recommend exploring the tranquil and secluded Gastern Valley. Now a nature reserve, it is renowned as the  glacial valley in the Bernese Oberland. There is a bus that you can take to the entrance to the spectacular Kander Gorge, which you traverse before emerging into the Gastern Valley, passing numerous waterfalls en route to its far reaches. You return by following the River Kander downstream. 

    Gasterntal via Selden: 12km, 5hrs; ascent/descent 870m
    Another way to enjoy the reserve is to take a bus to Selden further into the valley, then follow an out-and-back route which winds steeply uphill, gaining some 1,000 metres of altitude, to reach the blue ice of the Kanderfirn Glacier.

    Uschene Valley: 10km, 3.5hrs; ascent 150m/descent 640m
    Another option is to explore the pretty Uschene Valley, by taking the Allmenalp cable car into the imposing mountains to the west of Kandersteg. From here, you continue along a panoramic contour into the Uschene Valley then descend to Kandersteg on foot. 

    Uschene Valley via Alpschelegrat: 13.5km, 5hrs; ascent 555m/descent 1045m
    We also provide notes for a longer and more challenging route in the Uschene Valley which takes you via the high mountain pass of Alpschelegrat for superior views, before dropping down into the valley.
    Gasterntal via Kander Gorge: 20.5km
    Yet another option is to explore Oeschinensee
    Gasterntal via Selden: 12km
    Uschene Valley: 10km
  • Kandersteg to Leukerbad: 14km, 5hrs; ascent 545m/descent 1035m
    Setting off from Kandersteg, you take the bus and cable car to Sunnbüel and from here ascend towards the Gemmi Pass (2,270 metres) via the Schwarenbach Hotel where Sherlock Holmes 'stayed' on his way to meet Moriarty. The pass has been an important trading route since Roman times, and marks the border between the Bernese Oberland and the Valais. An impressive path zigzags down the mountainside to the spa town of Leukerbad or, to give you time to make the most of the thermal baths, you could take the cable car (opens 29 June - included). Your base in Leukerbad is the Parkhotel Quellenhof.
    Kandersteg to Leukerbad: 14km
  • Leukerbad to Salgesch: 13.5km, 4hrs; ascent 355m/descent 1175m
    Today you leave the heights of the Bernese Oberland for the vineyards of the Rhône Valley. As you leave Leukerbad, you climb through dramatic cliffs before gradually descending to Salgesch and the Hotel Arkanum.
    Leukerbad to Salgesch: 13.5km
    Walk the Gemmi Pass into the Valais
  • Salgesch to Gruben: 12.5km, 4.5hrs; ascent 1250m/descent 800m
    Today's walk starts with a short train ride (included) eastwards along the Rhône Valley to connect with the cable car from the picturesque village of Turtmann up into the mountains which lie to the south. You rise through forest then traverse the rock-strewn western slopes of the remote Turtmann Valley, one of the least developed valleys of the Pennine Alps, to reach the historic Hotel Schwarzhorn near Gruben. Given its isolated location, you'll need to bring an overnight bag with you.
    Salgesch to Gruben: 12.5km
  • Gruben to Zermatt: 17km, 7hrs; ascent 1120m/descent 1840m; shorter option using cable car: 13km, 5hrs; ascent 1120m/descent 1100m
    With Italy not far away, this demanding but thoroughly exhilarating route takes you to the highest point yet: the Augstbord Pass at 2,893 metres. As you descend, views open over the Mischabel massif of 4,000-metre peaks and glaciers, including the mighty Dom – the third-highest mountain in the Alps. You pass through a small hamlet perched high above the Matter Valley, from where you can either descend on foot or by cable car to the village of St Niklaus to catch the train (included) for the final leg up the valley to Zermatt. The vistas throughout the day have been superb, but the best is saved until last: as you make your way to the elegant Hotel la Ginabelle, you finally get to see the Matterhorn.
    Gruben to Zermatt: 17km
    Augstbord Pass
  • Choice of walks from Zermatt: 15km or 15.5km

    Circular walk via lakes: 15.5km, 5hrs; ascent 495m/descent 1070m
    Having spent the last few days anticipating your arrival in the walker's paradise of Zermatt, it's only right that you have a final day of walking here on the slopes surrounding the iconic Matterhorn. This first option starts with a classic cog railway ride to Riffelalp, and explores the lakes to the east of Zermatt below the Findel Glacier. Be sure to bring your camera; on a clear day the pyramidal form of the Matterhorn is perfectly reflected in the glassy waters of Stellisee. The descent back to town takes you through ancient hamlets and forest, and passes some of the region's finest mountain restaurants. There is the option of taking the lift from Sunnegga to reduce the descent.

    Circular walk via Trockener Steg: 15km, 5hrs; ascent 270m/descent 1560m
    The second option takes you within touching distance of the glaciers which sweep down from the border with Italy. After a gondola ride to Trockener Steg at nearly 3,000 metres, you cross a stark landscape dotted with glacial lakes and dominated by the classic Matterhorn east-face view, which looms ever larger as you come within one kilometre of this iconic mountain – a fitting finale to your week.
    Circular walk via lakes: 15.5km
    Lake above Zermatt
 

Accommodation

You mostly stay in 3 and 4-star hotels, meaning that you can relax in comfort at the end of each day's walk. So that you can enjoy the best routes, the holiday also features a splendidly located mountain guesthouse. Due to its remote location, we do not transport your luggage to it, so you'll need to carry an overnight bag with you. You needn't pack much, however, as it is a relaxed, informal place, and there's no need to dress up for the evening meal.
 

Extend your stay

 
Prices & travel options
All prices are in £ sterling (GBP). If you'd like to see what they equate to in your currency, use the converter.
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  • 7 nights: 27 June 2020 - 02 October 2020

    Start any day except Thursday | End by latest date(s) shown above

    Starting Price Single room
    27 Jun - 4 Jul 2020 £1395 £165
    5 Jul - 23 Aug 2020 £1445 £165
    24 - 31 Aug 2020 £1395 £165
    1 - 25 Sep 2020 £1365 £160
    3rd & 4th person discount -£35
    Single traveller supplement £35

    Includes accommodation, meals and services integral to the holiday as described, plus walking notes and maps, but no travel from the UK, nor any connecting travel from the airport unless stated below.

    Included travel: cable car to Leukerbad, train from Salgesch to Turtmann and train from St Niklaus and Zermatt. A Swiss Half-Fare Card is also included providing you with half price tickets for trains, bus and boat journeys and up to 50% reduction on private railways and cable cars.

    Book your flights through us and we'll find the best route and times to suit you. Please contact us to find out more about our flight booking service. We can also book connecting travel - see below.

    7 nights: 27 June 2020 - 02 October 2020

    Start any day except Thursday | End by latest date(s) shown above

    Starting Price Single room
    27 Jun - 4 Jul 2020 £1745 £165
    5 Jul - 23 Aug 2020 £1795 £165
    24 - 31 Aug 2020 £1745 £165
    1 - 25 Sep 2020 £1695 £160
    3rd & 4th person discount -£35
    Single traveller supplement £35

    Includes all elements in the 'walk price', plus standard-class travel by Eurostar from London St Pancras or Ebbsfleet International to Lille or Paris, with onward travel as described below.

    Included travel from the UK: UK–Paris (Eurostar),Paris–Kandersteg (TGV/regional rail), approx. duration 10h plus 0h05 walk to the hotel. Home, Zermatt–Paris (TGV/regional rail), Paris–UK (Eurostar), approx. duration 11h15 plus 0h02 taxi transfer.

    A Swiss Card is included, providing you with half price tickets for trains, bus and boat journeys and up to 50% reduction on private railways and cable cars.

    If you book your holiday less than 6 months in advance of your travel date, seats may no longer be available at the tariffs on which our prices are based, but we may be able to offer you seats on the same services at a supplement.

  • Room upgrades (£ per person per night)

    Belle Epoque Hotel Victoria, Kandersteg
    Mini-suite: 27 Jun - 02 Oct 2020 £38
    Hotel la Ginabelle, Zermatt
    'Comfort' with Matterhorn view: 27 Jun - 02 Oct 2020 £15
    Superior with Matterhorn view 4*s: 27 Jun - 02 Oct 2020 £25

    Extra nights (£ per person per night) in a double or single room

    Belle Epoque Hotel Victoria, Kandersteg (with dinner) Double room Single room
    27 Jun - 04 Jul 2020 £115 £125
    05 Jul - 23 Aug 2020 £132 £142
    24 Aug - 13 Sep 2020 £115 £125
    14 Sep - 02 Oct 2020 £106 £116
    Parkhotel Quellenhof, Leukerbad (with dinner) Double room Single room
    27 Jun - 02 Oct 2020 £134 £160
    Hotel la Ginabelle, Zermatt (with dinner) Double room Single room
    27 Jun - 15 Aug 2020 £155 £182
    16 Aug - 02 Oct 2020 £150 £177
  • RECOMMENDED AIRPORT(S):
    Zürich, Geneva, Bäsel

    Travelling from the UK

    Travelling from outside the UK

    If you are flying from outside Europe,  we recommend flying via Zürich or Geneva. To discuss onward connecting travel to the start of your holiday, please contact us.

    Outward route Airline
    Aberdeen - Zurich (via Frankfurt) Lufthansa 
    Aberdeen - Zurich (via Paris) Air France 
    Outward route Airline
    Birmingham - Zurich Swiss 
    Outward route Airline
    Bournemouth - Geneva easyJet 
    Outward route Airline
    Bristol - Basel easyJet 
    Bristol - Geneva easyJet 
    Bristol - Zurich (via Amsterdam Schiphol) KLM 
    Outward route Airline
    Edinburgh - Basel easyJet 
    Edinburgh - Geneva easyJet 
    Edinburgh - Zurich Swiss 
    Outward route Airline
    Glasgow - Geneva easyJet 
    Outward route Airline
    Leeds Bradford - Zurich (via Amsterdam Schiphol) KLM 
    Outward route Airline
    Liverpool - Geneva easyJet 
    Outward route Airline
    London City - Geneva British Airways,  Swiss 
    London City - Zurich British Airways,  Swiss 
    Outward route Airline
    Gatwick - Basel easyJet 
    Gatwick - Geneva British Airways,  easyJet,  Swiss 
    Gatwick - Zurich easyJet,  Swiss 
    Outward route Airline
    Heathrow - Basel British Airways 
    Heathrow - Geneva British Airways,  Swiss 
    Heathrow - Zurich British Airways,  Swiss 
    Outward route Airline
    Luton - Basel easyJet 
    Luton - Geneva easyJet 
    Luton - Zurich easyJet,  Vueling 
    Outward route Airline
    Manchester - Basel easyJet 
    Manchester - Geneva easyJet 
    Manchester - Zurich Swiss 
    Manchester - Zurich (via Frankfurt) Lufthansa 
    Manchester - Zurich (via Munich) Lufthansa 
    Outward route Airline
    Newcastle - Geneva easyJet 
    Newcastle - Zurich (via Amsterdam Schiphol) KLM 
    Newcastle - Zurich (via Paris CDG) Air France 
    Outward route Airline
    Norwich - Zurich (via Amsterdam Schiphol) KLM 
    Travelling from outside the UK

    If you are flying from outside Europe,  we recommend flying via Zürich or Geneva. To discuss onward connecting travel to the start of your holiday, please contact us.

    This list of flight options should be used as a guide only, and you should check each airline’s website for current routes, frequency and schedules. Not all flights operate daily, and may not run for the entire season. You should also heed the latest flight arrival time and earliest flight departure time stated in the connecting travel section, as it may not be possible to arrange connecting travel outside these times. Please do not book your flights until we have confirmed your accommodation to you. Alternatively, our expert reservations team will be happy to offer advice and to make flight bookings for you. We charge £30 per person for our flight booking service (£50 for India and Nepal). Your flights are then covered by our package-booking conditions, which give you greater protection in the event of delay or cancellation, as well as providing ATOL cover.

  • Prices below are based on 2 people travelling together. If you are travelling solo or as a party of 3 or more and our arrangements include a taxi, please contact us for prices; additional passengers often pay less.

    If purchasing outward connecting travel through Inntravel, the homeward travel is at no extra cost.

    Connecting travel options - flying via Zürich

    Outward route Price per person Latest flight
    arrival time
    rail Zürich airport to Kandersteg (2h30), walk to hotel (0h05) £16 1730
    Homeward route Price per person Earliest flight
    departure time
    hotel transfer to station (0h02), rail Zermatt to Zürich airport (3h40) £0 1400

    Connecting travel options - flying via Geneva

    Outward route Price per person Latest flight
    arrival time
    rail Geneva airport to Kandersteg (3h15), walk to hotel (0h05) £16 1730
    Homeward route Price per person Earliest flight
    departure time
    hotel transfer to station (0h02), rail Zermatt to Geneva airport (3h55) £0 1400

    Connecting travel options - flying via Basel

    Outward route Price per person Latest flight
    arrival time
    bus Basel airport to Basel SBB (0h20), rail Basel SBB to Kandersteg (2h10), walk to hotel (0h05) £16 1530
    Homeward route Price per person Earliest flight
    departure time
    hotel transfer to station (0h02), rail Zermatt to Basel SBB (3h20), bus Basel SBB to Basel airport (0h20) £0 1430
What is included
  • 7 nights
  • 7 dinners
    2 picnics
    7 breakfasts
  • luggage transported on most days (1 bag per person)
  • route notes and maps
  • half-fare card
  • some train/cable car journeys, as specified in the itinerary
 
Reviews

If you've experienced this holiday first hand, why not write a review?

We are keen for as many customers as possible to review their holiday. To make it easier to do so, we include a specific review section on our post-holiday questionnaire, and this is what we publish here, unedited. Read our full review policy >

 

FAQs

If you have any questions relating to this or any other Inntravel holiday, our friendly travel experts will be happy to help. You might also find our General FAQs section helpful.
  • We’ll send you route notes and maps 2-3 weeks before your holiday. The route notes not only contain directions to get from hotel to hotel, but also include practical information about places of interest and eateries along each route, plus cultural information about the area. If/when you are moving between hotels, you leave your luggage in reception as you leave, and it will be transferred ahead to your next accommodation, meaning that all you need to take with you are a camera, sun cream, drinks, food and waterproofs.

    For more detailed information, see our walking holidays in Europe page.
  • We can book a wide range of airlines and routes from the UK. As well as being more convenient for you to book all elements of your holiday together, it also means that we’ll accept liability for your travel arrangements, so if things go wrong, such as the airline going bust, we’ll make suitable alternative arrangements for you. For Europe and Morocco, there’s a £30 booking fee per person (£15 for children aged 2-11). For India and Nepal, the booking fee is £50 per person. More information on flights >
  • We can’t book flights that originate outside the UK, but if you wanted book your own flights to London (or elsewhere in the UK), we can make all onward travel arrangements (including flights) from there. Alternatively, if you are booking your own flights to an airport in continental Europe that’s appropriate for your holiday, we can book onward rail travel and/or taxis. More information about how we can tailor holidays for customers outside the UK >
  • Since our holidays are self-guided, we recommend calling us for a chat about your plans before making a booking, especially if it’s the first time you’ve booked with us.
    The price panel shows the supplement for a single room and also the single traveller charge (this covers (luggage) transfers and other costs which are usually shared between two people).
  • Once you’ve decided on your exact itinerary (our travel experts will be happy to offer advice), you need to provide us with your party’s details, either by phone or via our booking form. At this point we also ask you to pay a deposit so that we can secure a room for you immediately on confirming availability with the hotel(s). If it turns out that we can’t secure the accommodation for the holiday you’ve requested, or offer an acceptable alternative, we’ll refund your deposit promptly and in full. After booking your accommodation and other key elements, we'll then book your travel (or you can do so if you’re making your own arrangements) and send you a Booking Confirmation and Invoice.
  • Yes, it’s something we insist on, even for holidays in the UK. The vast majority of holidays go smoothly, but when things go wrong, it can be expensive to put them right. Buying a new pair of walking boots after your suitcase is stolen mightn’t seem so bad, but the bill for being airlifted down from a mountain with a broken leg or flown home while still recovering from an illness or accident can cost tens of thousands of pounds.

    You don’t have to buy our policy (if you live outside Europe you’ll definitely need to make your own arrangements, as the policy is only for UK and EU residents), but you do need to make sure that you’re covered for medical emergencies and repatriation. We also recommend that you are covered for other eventualities, such as cancellation and loss of luggage and passports.
  • It is your responsibility to ensure you are in possession of the correct travel documents, with the correct validity. If you’re a UK citizen, you need a full British passport to travel to Switzerland, but not a visa (if you are travelling after 31 October 2019, see the Brexit question below for more information). If you are a citizen of another country, you’ll need to check requirements with the national embassy or your own consulate.

    Current information regarding vaccinations and travel health advice can be found through the following NHS link: www.fitfortravel.nhs.uk/advice/ You must make sure you have adequate insurance cover for illness, accidents and repatriation (see the insurance question). UK citizens should also obtain a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) by applying at a Post Office or at www.ehic.org.uk. The EHIC allows reciprocal health care but should not be seen as a substitute for travel insurance. EHICs may cease to be valid in the event of a no-deal Brexit.
  • The official languages are German, spoken in the majority of the country; French, spoken in the south-west; Italian, spoken in the south-east; and Romansch, mostly limited to the Engadine valley. The currency is the Franc. Swiss time is GMT/UTC + 1. It uses Daylight Saving Time, so in summer is on BST + 1.
  • Even in the event of a no-deal Brexit, it’s been confirmed that flights will continue as normal and that you won’t need a visa to go on holiday (the limit on stays is 90 days). What you will need if there’s no deal is a passport that is valid for at least 6 months beyond the date of your arrival (extra months added because you renewed your passport early do not count) and adequate travel insurance to cover you for accidents and illness in case reciprocal health deals are suspended. If you are driving while on holiday, you will probably need an International Driving Permit (plus a Green Card if you are taking your own car to Europe). More information >
  • The UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) provides up-to-date, country-by-country travel advice, as well as information on security, local laws, passports and visas for UK citizens.
    If you live outside the UK, see our essential travel information page for a list of relevant websites.
  • You are the best judge of your child’s/children’s capabilities. We are happy to take bookings for families of older children/teenagers if they walk regularly, love the outdoors and are comfortable with the distances and ascent/descent involved. Please note that the bedrooms at most of the accommodation we use will normally only sleep a maximum of 3 people, and sometimes only 2.
Last fetch time is : 11/11/2019 2:54:12 PM