What is the difference between a guided and a self-guided tour?
The obvious answer is that one is guided and one is not. Check out the following articles for a more definitive answer. They offer a comprehensive look at each style.
You Might Like a Guided Tour
You Might Like a Self-Guided Tour
What does the tour include?
For guided tours: The cost includes guiding, accommodations, breakfast and dinner, luggage transfer, and all transportation during the tour and incidental to the itinerary.
For self-guided tours: The cost includes two books filled with four-color topographical maps, written hike descriptions, cultural information, and more. (You don't need to carry both books on the trail). We designed our easy-to-follow materials so that you simply turn to page one and follow the directions. The cost also includes accommodations with breakfast and dinner on most tours. Most self-guided tours also include luggage transfer, but a few exceptions exist. Custom tours may differ in what's included from the standard tours.
What do we do about lunch?
Lunch is not included in the tour cost simply because we have such an enjoyable selection of available choices. We might visit the local market one day and build a delicious picnic filled with local flavors. We might grab lunch at an alpine mountain restaurant on another day. The flexibility allows us to sample the best in local fare, and it also allows our guests to eat whatever they have a taste for along the trail.
What's the deal with the single supplement?
Most European hotels charge a per person rate rather than per room. Therefore they charge an additional fee for single occupants because they don't make as much money as they would with two people. We simply pass along this cost, and it's the reason that we price our tours based on "double occupancy." We wish that we didn't have to do it. Some single travelers save money by booking a double room with another single group member. It can be challenging to find another group member willing to share, but we're happy to help you try.
Is luggage transfer included in the price?
The answer is "yes" for ALL guided tours and MOST self-guided tours. The few exceptions to the rule involve remote and/or custom self-guided trips. Please read the following article, What's the Deal with the Luggage?, if you'd like to know what you're paying for.
Will I have my luggage every night?
The answer depends entirely upon your trip. If you registered for the Engadine Summit Series than the answer is "yes." If you signed up for the Hiker's Haute Route then the answer is "not quite." For high alpine tours like the Hiker's Haute Route and Tour du Mont Blanc, you will have your luggage in all locations except for the remote mountain houses and/or huts. Please check our indivdual tour pages for more details, or inquire about the specific tour that interests you.
What is a hut, rifugio, berghaus, or mountain refuge?
The answer to this question depends on the trip. In general, a hut refers to a small mountain building, usually made of wood or stone, that offers a bed and a warm meal to wary travelers. The huts can be very elaborate, and they can also be very simple. In most huts, the accommodations are dormitory style with bunk beds and a communal bathroom. The meals are simple, but the wine flows abundantly. We try to incorporate a hut stay whenever we can because they provide a unique component of alpine culture, and everyone should experience an alpine hut at least once in their lives. These huts are known for their lively atmosphere, aromatic wood paneling, and convivial patrons.
Berghauses, literally translated as mountain houses, can be simple or elaborate affairs. This goes for the Italian rifugios as well. Some of these establishments offer hot showers, private rooms, and extensive menus. Check out the following blog entry for a peek. Please inquire about the the hut or berghaus on your specific tour.
How large are your groups?
Usually no more than 12 guests and two guides, though we occasionally go smaller or slightly larger. Many of our accommodations resemble small B&Bs, so we're limited by their capacity. We also believe that we can offer better guest service with a smaller guest to guide ratio. Private trips are a different matter. We've had as many as 30 guests on one of our private celebrations.
When is the best time to go?
That question is relative, but in general, the alpine hiking season runs from mid June to mid September. However, mild weather conditions, and a few shoulder season itineraries, allow us to extend the hiking season from April to the end of October. Check out the following article for a brief look at the advantages and disadvantages of hiking during certain months of spring, summer, and fall.
Does the tour cost include flights?
Unfortunately not. That would be one heck of a deal.
Do I need crampons or ice axes?
Do you have references that I may speak with?
We are delighted to provide references. Just email or give us a call.
What about news articles that mention you?
Please visit our media section and look under, Press Archives: Recent Awards and Stories. We also have many more articles on file. Just let us know what interests you.
How do I make a reservation?
We recommend an early registration in order to guarantee your spot. Private and Self-Guided tours are subject to availability and our standard guided tours fill quickly.
We require a $500 deposit per person to register for a guided or self-guided tour. Either call or email us to process your Visa, Master Card or Discover. We also accept checks and money orders. Private Guided tours require a deposit equal to 25% of the total land cost.
Upon receipt of your deposit, we will send you a confirmation letter, trip itinerary, travel insurance application, final invoice, and a pre-departure booklet including cultural information, travel instructions, equipment list and more. Self-guided travelers will receive an initial packet of general information, but the comprehensive materials including maps, hike descriptions and custom travel details generally arrive around 90 days prior to departure. We make exceptions on a case by case basis. Last minute registrations, for example, follow an expedited timeline. We invite our guests to inform us of special requirements.
Final payment is due for all trips at 90 days prior to departure. Registrants that book within 90 days of the tour's starting date must pay the full tour balance at the time of registration. Again, exceptions are made on a case by case basis.
Prices are quoted in U.S. Dollars.
What if I have to Cancel?
We understand that things happen, so we'll do every that we can to work with our guests. We invite our guests to avoid cancellation penalties by rescheduling their tours. We really don't like fees, so we are happy to apply any payments received toward rescheduling. The only exception would pertain to extremely last minute cancellations.
If rescheduling is not an option then please note the following guidelines.
For standard Guided Tours:
- Cancellations up to 90 days prior to tour departure benefit from a refund of All Payments Received minus credit card charges. Please see note regarding credit card fees below.
- Cancellations between 45 days and 90 days prior to departure result in a cancellation fee worth 25% of the total land cost.
- Cancellations within 45 days of departure will result in a cancellation fee worth 100% of the total tour cost.
For Self Guided Tours:
- Cancellations up to 45 days result in a loss of deposit only .
- Cancellations within 45 days of departure result in a cancellation fee worth 100% of the total tour cost.
For Private Guided Tours:
- Cancellations up to 90 days before tour departure result in a loss of deposit worth 25% of the tour cost.
- Cancellations within 90 days of the tour departure result in a cancellation fee worth 100% of the tour cost.
Please note. All credit card refunds will be subject to the transaction fees adminstered by the card user's bank, usually around 3.5%.