Dec 02
Trekking poles and backpack with mountain in the background

A recipe for choosing a hiking destination in the Alps.

How to choose a hiking trip in the Alps

It was once written that choosing an alpine hiking tour was a bit like choosing from a dessert cart: Everything looks wonderful! In Switzerland alone, “There are more villages worthy of hiking than there are coals in proverbial Newcastle.” Some are good for a day or two, while others merit weeks of exploration.

Throw Italy, Austria, and France into the mix, and the dessert cart quickly resembles a giant smorgasbord. For those of us that can’t always go back for a second helping of vacation, there’s a bit of pressure to get it right the first time. What follows are the preliminary steps for choosing a hiking destination in the Alps.

Step 1:

Shut down the computer and grab a piece of paper. Set the paper aside because you’ll need it later.

Step 2:

Close your eyes, and imagine yourself hiking through Europe. Include all of your senses. What would you like to see, smell, do, taste, hear and feel? Think about the buttery aroma of warm, sweet croissants gently wafting through a tranquil alpine village, while the sound of a lone church bell tolls far in the distance. Imagine the cool mountain air, and the feel of your feet on of a soft forest floor as you leave the village and hike toward tall, glaciated peaks bathed in the first rays of morning sun. Every person holds a unique picture and a dream of their perfect vacation. What’s yours? Escape, if only for a moment.

Step 3:

Grab your piece of paper and write down everything that you experienced. Don’t just write what you saw, but also include what you felt, what you heard, what you tasted and what you smelled. OK. This might feel like Creative Writing Exercise 101, but I find that it really helps. Research has shown that you are more likely to make something happen if you write it down first. Some people call this the power of intention. Do you really want to go to the Alps? If the answer is yes, then it’s worth a shot.

Step 4:

Repeat Steps 1, 2 and 3 as often as you like. You might find that your first list of imaginings gave you fodder for things that you didn’t think about originally. This a great escape from reality.

Step 5:

Make your temporary escape BECOME reality. Switch on the computer and start browsing our tours. Don’t make any decisions yet. Just have fun. Let the photos and written descriptions carry you away. Research the words and phrases that you don’t understand, words like Gemütlichkeit, Südtirol and Glüwein. This is a great opportunity to learn about another corner of the world. What is the Dom, and can I have it for dessert? Compare your findings to your list from Step 3.

Step 6:

Call us, email us, or get started building your dream hike. This is very important for two main reasons.

  • A. Each person is unique. Some people think about food, and that’s all they think about. Others like culture and history. A prospective guest once told me that words like roman, stone, olives, and togas, “really got him excited.” I quickly deduced that he was not a candidate for a hike through the Berner Oberland. He ended up loving the stone houses and Roman architecture of the Engadine, though he discovered that few people wear togas there anymore. In short, writing a tour description that appeals to everybody’s perspective is a bit like a crapshoot, and we only have so much space. We could literally write multiple web pages for each tour, each page written from a particular point of view. A real conversation will allow us to discuss the things that matter to you, and to you only.
  • B. We’ve been talking about this stuff for decades and we can’t stop. We’re addicted and we need you to satisfy our addiction. The Alps are just too much fun, and a good conversation regarding some far off mountain region gives us the opportunity to enjoy our own little Step 2 over and over again. Even better, we get to share all of the wonderful experiences that we’ve had with you. What can I say? We’re Peter Pans.

Step 7:

Revisit any of these steps as often as needed. If nothing else, you might discover something that you hadn’t thought about before. Perhaps you need a way to get more helpings of vacation.

You can also get started planning your next dream hiking trip with our trip planner here.

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Travel and the Coronavirus for Ryder-Walker Guests

Ryder-Walker is monitoring the coronavirus outbreak and acknowledges that there is growing uncertainty about the safety of traveling right now. Currently, our guided and self-guided treks are on schedule to run. Should travel restrictions be implemented by local or global authorities we will post updates on this link.

For more information please visit the websites of the World Health Organization and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.