Alpenglow Gay Hiking in the Swiss Alps

alpine lake on HE Travel gay Swiss Alps hiking tour

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A Gay Travel Switzerland Hiking Tour

Physical Challenge:

Everyone in Switzerland seems to hike, and once you’ve experienced a week in the Alps, you’ll understand why. You’ll have new panoramas every day: hike through fields of wildflowers and tiny alpine hamlets, past waterfalls and alongside cold, clear mountain streams.

  • Awake in a high mountain hut as the rosy glow of the morning sun — Alpenglow — lights the Matterhorn.
  • Hike through a mountain meadow sprinkled with wildflowers.
  • Climb to the top of ice-and-snow covered Breithorn, on an optional day excursion.
  • Hike (weather and trail conditions permitting) to the summit of the Oberrothorn, at 3415 meters one of the highest peaks here that doesn’t require special climbing skills.
  • Enjoy a traditional hiker’s lunch of “Bratwurst mit Rosti” at the remote Monte Rosa hut, below the glaciers that line Switzerland’s highest peak.

A week of Alpine hikes on a small, friendly, gay group tour

The Matterhorn is a constant yet ever-changing presence in the alpine village of Zermatt. One day coyly hiding behind the clouds, the next, a proud white pyramid against a blue sky.

Our gay hiking trip in Switzerland introduces travelers to the beauty of the Valais region surrounding Zermatt, often going far and high into the alps on all-day hikes. Our group will stay in the lovely mountain village of Zermatt, just a few hours’ travel from Geneva or Milan, yet a world apart. Each day, you can join a larger group on a hike, or head out independently. Most people find it enjoyable to stay with the main group some days, and to hike more independently, with one or two friends, a few times.

We’ll spend one night at a mountain hut, allowing us to reach some remote locations that would be inaccessible on a single day’s hike.

The schedule below relates a typical week. Our actual sequence of hikes may change based on weather and other conditions. And, of course, you always have the choice of trying a different itinerary, alone or with new friends.

Day 1: Arrival

Stopping for lunch while on the HE Travel gay Swiss Alps hiking tour

Your adventure starts with the train ride as you travel up to mile-high Zermatt. The steep cog railway edges along a river valley, past thundering waterfalls, snow-covered peaks, and the onion-domed church in tiny St. Niklaus.

The track ends in Zermatt, a car-free village of just 4,000 year-round residents. Our apartments are a 10-minute walk if you’re traveling light; or take a small electric taxi. We’re staying in holiday apartments owned by one of the original families to settle Zermatt. You won’t be living out of your suitcase in a hotel room: These apartments have a living room, kitchen, and many have spectacular views. (In addition to 2- and 3-bedroom apartments, we have some studio apartments also available for a slight surcharge.)

Early arrivals will enjoy exploring Zermatt. You’ll share the streets with tourists just up for a day of mountain air, European hikers dressed in the traditional knickers, mountain climbers gearing up for an expedition, and the occasional herd of goats. At 6:00, we’ll meet for a reception and orientation, followed by a traditional Swiss dinner.

A short after-dinner walk ascends one of the trails overlooking Zermatt. As the Milky Way and thousands of stars twinkle above, and you gaze down on the lights of our little village, you’ll feel a bit of the magic that lies ahead this week.


Day 2: Sunnegga and Riffelalp

Crossing a stone bridge while on HE Travel gay Swiss Alps hiking tour

Today’s hike starts with a steep climb not far from our chalet, then it levels off at the meadows of Sunnegga with panoramic views of the valley below and the moutains across the valley.

From Sunnegga, we pass through the small hamlets of Ze Gassent and Findeln and hike past Mosjessee (a dammed lake), on our way to Riffelalp, where we usually have lunch.

After lunch you have a choice of taking the train down from Riffelalp or hiking on one of several paths back to Zermatt.


Day 3: Tasch Alp

A steep and rocky trail on HE Travel gay Swiss Alps hiking tour

Today’s route easily accommodates several levels of ability. The official route starts with a climb up to Taschalp, between Zermatt and Tasch (the next town down the train line), a rise of about 700 meters. Those who want an easier day can take the train to Tasch (a 3-minute ride through a tunnel) or hike on a more level route.

We’ll all meet up at Taschalp for lunch. On a clear day you can see several peaks from here including Zinalrothorn, Schalihorn and the largest, Weisshorn.

After lunch we’ll head to Tufteren, where you have the choice of starting your descent to Zermatt or continuing on to the Sunnegga station to descend by the unique in-the-mountain funicular.

Dinner is on your own this evening.


Day 4: Gorgeous Gorges

wooded trail on HE Travel gay Swiss Alps hiking tour

Today is a free day to take a Gorge Adventure, take a day trip to nearby Italy, or to explore one of the other mountains surrounding Zermatt that we won’t get to on this week’s hikes.


Days 5-6: Overnight in a Mountain Hut

yellow butterfly on a purple flower on HE Travel gay Swiss Alps hiking tour

Today’s hike leads us along meandering trails to a mountain hut (actually more like a dormitory) where we spend the night. Since we don’t have to return to Zermatt for the night, we are able to hike farther than no other days. There are several huts on the mountainsides above Zermatt, and we will choose which one to stay at based on availability for the size of our group. Bedding, dinner and breakfast are provided at the hut, but you will need to carry your personal overnight items. Please note that in the event of weather that impacts the safety of the trails leading to our hut we may need to return to our chateau for the night, and forego our stay in the hut.


Day 7: Oberrothorn

riding scooters on the HE Travel gay Swiss Alps hiking tour

Today we hike to one of the highest peaks of our week, Oberrothorn. You’ll want to bring a fleece or sweater and rain jacket for this climb, since a sunny day in Zermatt can turn into a very cold rain at the peak. Before leaving town we’ll have a chance to stop for picnic supplies or a sandwich, so that we can enjoy lunch at the top while admring the view. We’ll again start our journey at the Sunnegga lift, then hike across to Blauherd, where we get our tickets up to Unterrothorn. Once there our high Alpine hike begins as we work our way to the top (typically 70-90 minutes). Once at the summit we’ll have our lunch.

For the descent, you’ll have several choices, depending on whether you want to hike all the way back to Zermatt at the bottom of the valley, or use a combination of lifts and hikes. Whichever route you choose, the scenery is superb in every direction, and you’ll be able to see several of the locations of our earlier hikes.

golden clouds above Matterhorn on HE Travel gay Swiss Alps hiking tour

As dusk approaches and for one last time you watch the sunset line start at the floor of the valley and gradually work its way up the eastern slopes, you’ll be able to take a deep breath of the clear air, and bring back memories of your invigorating hikes amidst the splendor of the Swiss Alps!


Day 8: Departure

too cloudy to see the matterhorn on the HE Travel gay Swiss Alps hiking tour

Our week officially ends after breakfast. If you have early connections, you can rise and depart as early as you’d like. There’s one final treat in store for those who have made advance reservations: A ride to St. Moritz or Chur on the Glacier Express. This train shows off Swiss engineering and Swiss mountains, as it meanders over Alpine rivers and through mountain tunnels, with ever-changing panoramas unfolding through the picture windows of the cars. Our pre-trip newsletters make it easy to hook up with others who might enjoy this excursion with you.

If you’ve got extra holiday time to spend in Europe, we suggest you save it for after the trip, rather than before: Chances are, others from this week’s adventure will welcome company as they travel and explore the culture and gay life in Geneva, Zurich, Berne, and other Swiss cities.

Price includes: 7 nights lodging in a comfortable studio, 2- or 3-bedroom apartment with kitchen (small surcharge applies for studio apartments); Continental breakfast each day; Four memorable dinners; An overnight stay at a mountain hut, subject to availability (huts have shared sleeping accommodations; the apartments remain available on this night, for those who prefer); Welcome packet with map; Cablecar or cog railroad rides on two days.  HE Travel provides complimentary Medical & Evacuation Insurance for every US Resident on our group tours who does not have other coverage.

Not included: Transportation to and from Zermatt (easily accessible via excellent public transportation); Meals not listed here; Gratuities for guides.

Optional Tour Choices:

TBA Single bedroom in shared apartment (for solo travelers who wish to enjoy a private bedroom but share a bathroom)
TBA Single supplement with upgrade to studio apartment (private bedroom and bathroom)
TBA Studio apartment upgrade for a couple (per person)

“Pierre [our guide] put great thought and effort into making sure that we had an excellent experience that made the most of our time in Zermatt – spectacular trails and views from the first day, and it even got better after that.” — Chad Nelson, Neward, DE

“Each day I looked forward to more breathtaking scenery, good exercise, a hearty meal, and the company of interesting travel companions of all ages and from many parts of the world.” — Kyle Thompson, Honolulu, HI

“If you ever imagined a world where being gay is the norm, this is the closest you will ever get. Great exercise, great discussion on the trail, great scenery. I’ve taken this trip three times, and invited friends to join me.” — Justin Hecht, San Francisco, CA

Most of our trips draw more single travelers than couples. When couples do join us, it’s usually because they’re looking forward to interacting with a gay group; if they wanted a holiday by themselves, they wouldn’t have signed up to travel with us. Furthermore, the activities included with our trips serve as natural ice-breakers. Within a day, you’ll be traveling with friends. You don’t need to pay the single supplement if you’re traveling alone. We’ll be happy to match you with a roommate. Pay the single supplement only if you want a bedroom to yourself.

For selected trips, including cruises, we will charge half the single supplement if you request a roommate but we can’t match you with someone.

This tour starts and ends in Zermatt, Switzerland. As for most of our trips, the official starting time is 6:00 pm on our official “start date”. At that time we’ll have a reception and orientation, followed by dinner. It ends after breakfast on the last day. You can arrive earlier or depart later, but please note that (as of this writing) check-in time is 4:00 pm, and check-out time is 9:00 am. Our pre-trip newsletter will keep you posted on any changes in these times, as well as tips on what to do with luggage if your travel schedule allows you to fit some activities on your arrival or departure dates.

Physical Challenge Level 2

Alpenglow has been set up to be most enjoyable for people with hiking experience, who are comfortable on all-day hikes (6 or 7 hours a day), with frequent breaks, over rolling terrain. By splitting off from the group, or simply enjoying some of the other activities offered in Zermatt, you could still enjoy the week.

We currently offer two hiking trips in Switzerland: Alpenglow and Grindelwald.

Each is designed so that those wanting shorter or easier hikes can have a good time, while avid hikers will never run out of new trails to explore. However, there are differences that may help you select the best holiday for you. Typically, most of our group heads out together in the morning, and during the day, our guide suggests options for those who want a shorter, or longer, day.

Grindelwald easily accommodates both lower and higher levels of hiking energy and enthusiasm. It’s notably well situated for anyone who hopes to take several day trips that don’t involve hiking. From Grindelwald, it’s simple to catch a train to the medieval town of Thun, to nearby Interlaken, or for a steamship ride on Lake Brienz.

Alpenglow was planned to take advantage of trails around Zermatt that go further from the cog-rail and tram lines. The hiking routes we plan each day will be most fun for those able to hike five or six hours a day, with plenty of stops. If you want shorter hikes, however, that’s not a problem. Some days you can start out with the group and our guide will suggest ways to easier routes. Other days, our guide will help you plan a shorter but scenic hike you can do independently.

For answers to your additional questions, please email or call 305-294-8174

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