Tour des Combins

A superb quieter alternative to walking the Tour du Mont Blanc




From $1,460 Land only

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Holiday Overview


  • Walk a complete circuit of the Gran Combin in Switzerland
  • Walking beside the immense Glacier de Corbassiere
  • Quiet and unspoiled Alpine wilderness walking holiday
  • Visit to the Grand St Bernard Monastery

The Tour des Combins is a relatively new long distance path which describes a complete walking circuit of one of the most famous peaks in the Alps, the Grand Combin (4314m). Over 6 days of walking we travel through high Alpine meadows where edelweiss grows and climb up beside one of the largest glaciers in Europe, the Glacier de Corbassiere. Above this glacier we reach the Col du Grand St Bernard and the monastery which became famous for the dogs who would go out in wild conditions with a barrel of brandy strapped to their collars to find lost mountaineers. A great alternative walking holiday to the Tour du Mont Blanc, the beauty of this circuit around the Combin is that so few people are walking it - at the moment! Be one of the first to complete this new trekking circuit and enjoy sensational mountain scenery without the crowds.

Is this holiday for you?

The Tour des Combins is a new KE Alpine walk which is set to become a classic. This circuit of Switzerland's famous peak does not involve glacial travel but there is a fair amount of ascent and descent as we travel through a quiet wilderness area. It is not practicable to provide vehicle support for this circuit as nights are spent in inaccessible mountain refuges so this is an unsupported trek. You will have to carry all of your own equipment from the start of the trip to the finish. In practice, especially considering that neither sleeping bag nor camping mattress are needed for this trip, you should be able to keep the packed weight of your rucksack to as little as 8 kg. On average, we will walk for approximately 6 - 8 hours each day, with some longer days.

Brief Itinerary

View in full
  • Meet at the group hotel in the village of Bourg St Pierre (1632m) in the Swiss canton of Valais.
  • Walk through Alpine meadows and across a pass to reach the Cabane du Col de Mille (2472m).
  • Walk beneath Mont Rogneux and beside the Corbassiere Glacier to the Cabane de Panossiere (2641m).
  • Cross the Col des Otanes (2806m) and traverse the Lac de Mauvoisin to the Cabane de Chanrion.
  • Cross into Italy via the Fenetre de Durand (2797m). Overnight at the new Cabane de Champillon.
  • Walk to the Col de Champillon (2709m) and continue via several Italian villages to St Rhemy.
  • Cross back into Switzerland via the Col du Grand St Bernard (2477m). Overnight in Bourg St Pierre.
  • Departure day.
Sun 17 Jul - Sun 24 Jul Code TDC /01/16/ Adult$1,460 Status Available Book now
Sun 14 Aug - Sun 21 Aug Code TDC /02/16/ Adult$1,460 Status 2 more to guarantee Book now
Sun 04 Sep - Sun 11 Sep Code TDC /03/16/ Adult$1,460 Status Available Book now
The dates above are for the LAND ONLY itinerary, joining at the group hotel in Bourg St Pierre. The nearest airport is Geneva. Please refer to Joining Arrangements and Transfers in the trip dossier for further details.

Flights SHOULD NOT be booked until you have received your booking confirmation and the trip is showing 'Guaranteed to Run' or 'Limited'.

If flying from the UK there are a number of low cost airlines offering flights to Geneva. These include Easyjet who have flights from London, Manchester, Liverpool and Glasgow and Jet 2 who have flights from Manchester, Leeds Bradford and Belfast. Other airports may be available. Click on the Flight Information link below for further information on booking low cost airlines. Alternatively, if you would prefer to book a Flight Inclusive package using scheduled airlines from the UK, please contact our flights department for a quote. Whilst flight prices are likely to be more expensive you will benefit from full financial protection.

BOOK WITH KE CONFIDENCE - No surcharge guarantee*

* Against Land Only services.

Map & Itinerary

The Route

  • point
  • trek

Holiday Itinerary

  • Meet at the group hotel in the village of Bourg St Pierre (1632m) in the Swiss canton of Valais.

    The group will rendezvous at the group hotel in the Swiss Village of Bourg St Pierre on the Italian border and at the foot of the Grand Combin. At approximately 7.00pm we will have a briefing from our guide about the week ahead and this is the opportunity to ask any questions and to check our equipment. Afterwards we will take dinner in the hotel.

    • Accommodation Hotel

    • Meals d

  • Walk through Alpine meadows and across a pass to reach the Cabane du Col de Mille (2472m).

    Starting at Bourg St Pierre (1632m) we make a gradual ascent initially through wild flower meadows as we climb up to La Coeur (2233m). We cross a col at 2550 metres and traverse green slopes to reach the Cabane du Col de Mille (2472m) where we spend our first night in the mountains. This is a fabulous viewpoint next to Mont Rogneux (3084m). Approximately 5 hours walking. If the weather is good we have the option to continue beyond the cabane to reach the summit of Mt Brule at 2572 metres. This is amost unusual alpine peak having a military barracks built inside it. On a good day the summit offers superb views of the valley. We stay overnight at the Cabane du Col de Mille.

    • Accommodation Mountain Hut / Refuge

    • Ascent 1030m

    • Distance 12km

    • gps data View now

    • Meals bld

    • Descent 190m

    • Time 4 - 5 hrs walking

  • Walk beneath Mont Rogneux and beside the Corbassiere Glacier to the Cabane de Panossiere (2641m).

    We begin with a descent, as we traverse round Mont Rogneux. We can visit the charming Brunet Hut for lunch, before heading up a gorge to the foot of the Corbassiere Glacier, one of the largest glaciers in Europe. This huge tongue of ice carves a route between the Grand Combin and the Combin de Corbassiere and is as impressive as any glacier in the Alps. In 2014 a new 240 metre long suspension bridge was put in place over the moraine enabling walkers to gain dramatic views straight up and down the glacier. We have a steady climb to the recently built Cabane de Panossiere which overlooks the glacier. We spend the night here - a beautiful situation for the evening, with views to the Grand Combin and a good chance of viewing ibex parading on the hillside!

    • Accommodation Mountain Hut / Refuge

    • Ascent 870m

    • Distance 16km

    • gps data View now

    • Meals bld

    • Descent 700m

    • Time 6 - 7 hrs walking

  • Cross the Col des Otanes (2806m) and traverse the Lac de Mauvoisin to the Cabane de Chanrion.

    A long, but satisfying day which begins with a climb from the hut up to the highest point on the circuit, the rocky Col des Otanes at 2806 metres. From this impressive rocky mountainside, we begin our descent to the Lac de Mauvoisin (1976m) a man-made lake with incredible waterfalls created in the 1950s by the building of a 250 metre-high dam in the upper Val de Bagnes. We can stop for morning coffee at the historic Hotel Mauvoisin, before we climb up through the dam wall tunnels. We make our way up and along the lake's east bank, where there are more chances to see patches of edelweiss and grazing chamois, to reach some ancient farm buildings - an ideal location for a picnic lunch. We continue, climbing steadily, passing the lake and crossing the Col de Tsofeuret (2630m) before reaching our overnight halt at the traditional style Cabane de Chanrion at 2462 metres.

    • Accommodation Mountain Hut / Refuge

    • Ascent 1550m

    • Distance 18km

    • gps data View now

    • Meals bld

    • Descent 1670m

    • Time 7 - 9 hrs walking

  • Cross into Italy via the Fenetre de Durand (2797m). Overnight at the new Cabane de Champillon.

    Heading first down-valley we then climb beside the Glacier de Fenetre and ascend gradually to the Fenetre de Durand (2797m) on the border between Switzerland and Italy. We stop on the col to enjoy the view back to the Chanrion hut with the snowy peaks of Mont Blanc de Cheillon behind, before crossing into Italy and descending to lush summer grazing grounds where we have plenty of opportunities to see marmots. Following an ancient irrigation channel we contour around the valley and end the day with a steady climb up to the Cabane de Champillon, also known as the Refuge Letey (2375m).

    • Accommodation Mountain Hut / Refuge

    • Ascent 1170m

    • Distance 27km

    • gps data View now

    • Meals bld

    • Descent 1190m

    • Time 9 - 11 hrs walking

  • Walk to the Col de Champillon (2709m) and continue via several Italian villages to St Rhemy.

    Walking through Alpine meadows, we first climbing up to the Col de Champillon at 2709 metres, where on a good day it's possible to view not only the Grand Combin but also Mont Blanc and the Gran Paradiso! We then begin our descent to the Italian village of Etroubles in the Aosta valley with its ancient cobbled streets. This valley was crucial to the Roman armies and their control of the trade routes and troops would be stationed on the passes operating from a garrison here in Etoubles. We finish the day's hiking with a short climb through the riverside Italian villages of St Oyen, Cerisey, St Leonard and finally St Rhemy where we check into a simple hotel for the night.

    • Accommodation Hotel

    • Ascent 430m

    • Distance 13km

    • gps data View now

    • Meals bld

    • Descent 1480m

    • Time 5 - 6 hrs walking

  • Cross back into Switzerland via the Col du Grand St Bernard (2477m). Overnight in Bourg St Pierre.

    For our final day of trekking on this grand circuit of the Grand Combin, we follow in the footsteps of the Roman Legions and Napoleon. We first climb to the famous Col du Grand St Bernard (2477m) where we cross the border back into Switzerland. The pass is situated at the lowest point of the range between Mont Blanc and Monte Rosa and was of great strategic and military importance even as far back as 390 BC. It is the third highest road pass in Switzerland and at its highest point is the Grand St Bernard Monastery, which became world renown for its large mountain rescue dogs, who would reputedly force their way through snowdrifts to bring brandy to benighted travellers. We can have our lunch at the monastery and have time to visit the museum and kennels before commencing the final descent to end our tour linking full circle back to Bourg-Saint-Pierre where we check into our hotel.

    • Accommodation Hotel

    • Ascent 1280m

    • Distance 25km

    • gps data View now

    • Meals bld

    • Descent 1040m

    • Time 8 - 9 hrs walking

  • Departure day.

    KE Land Only package services end after breakfast. There is a regular bus service towards Martigny for trains to Geneva.

    • Meals b

Holiday Information

  • A professional English-speaking guide
  • All transfers and cable cars involved in the itinerary
  • All accommodation as described
  • All meals

  • Travel Insurance
  • Visa fees (if applicable)
  • Airport transfers
  • Miscellaneous personal expenses

For each holiday there is a minimum number of participants required to enable it to go ahead. Once the minimum number is reached, the trip status will change from 'Available' to 'Guaranteed to run'. You can check the trip status for each departure in ‘Dates and Prices’ table. Other than in exceptional circumstances, we will not cancel a trip once it has achieved this guaranteed to run status and so you are free to proceed with your international flight booking and other travel arrangements.

Bourg St Pierre can be reached from Geneva by a train and bus combination via Martigny. The journey takes approximately 3 hours and costs approximately 64CHF each way. Tickets covering the whole journey including the bus can be bought online at or at the the railway station in the airport in Geneva.

We spend 2 nights in comfortable hotels in Bourg St Pierre and in St Oyen at the beginning and end of the trip. Other accommodation during the trip will be in high mountain refuges. For the two nights in hotels accommodation is based on twin share. If you are travelling by yourself you will be paired with another traveller of the same sex. Whilst in the mountains accommodation is normally in non segregated dormitory style rooms. The refuges themselves tend to be full of character and serve tasty local dishes. They are always situated in stunning locations and the chance to enjoy a beer or glass of wine while watching the sun go down can provide a really special mountain moment. Single rooms are not available.

View the gallery below for images of the style of accommodation used

As you might expect, the food available in restaurants, hotels and even in mountain huts in Switzerland and Italy is excellent. Continental breakfasts, packed lunches and evening meals are included everyday. Note that the water from taps in the huts is not always drinkable. Bottled mineral water can be purchased (approximately CHF12 for a one and a half litre bottle).

All meals are included in the holiday price from dinner on day 1 to breakfast on day 8. Supplementary snacks and drinks can be purchased from the huts or supermarkets when in the valley.

The package price includes all accommodation and all meals. You should make an allowance for snacks, drinks etc Beer, wine and soft drinks are available every night. We estimate that 125 - 150 Swiss francs for the five nights in Switzerland and 30 - 50 Euros for the two nights in Italy should cover all personal expenses. Please note that the majority of this holiday is in Switzerland where the unit of currency is the Swiss franc. Although Euros will generally be accepted you may not get a favourable exchange rate. There are cash point facilities at the Airport in Geneva, Bourg-St-Pierre and St Rhemy.

The holiday is led by an English-speaking International Mountain Leader.

On a holiday like this using high mountain huts it is not practical to transfer luggage between overnight stops and you will be carrying everything you need for the 7 day circuit. In practice as all bedding etc is provided at the huts, this will only be spare trousers, top, small wash kit, headtorch, sheet sleeping bag and clean socks and underwear! With care you should be able to keep the weight of your pack to below 8kg.

All KE clients will receive a FREE KE trek bag.  These have been specially made to stand up to the rigours of adventure travel.  Your KE bag will be posted to you when your trip is guaranteed to run or on receipt of your booking if the trip is already guaranteed.  If you have travelled with us before and already have a KE trek bag you can select an alternative free gift in the booking process.

This holiday involves going to moderately high altitude. During the course of your trip you will reach altitudes in excess of 2500 metres. Most people will have no difficulty with this level of altitude but before coming on the holiday, we recommend you read the advice on trekking at altitude on our website which can be viewed via the link below. You can also talk to one of our trekking experts if you have any concerns about altitude.

A passport with 3 months remaining validity is required. Passport holders from the UK, USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, or any EU countries do not require a visa. Other nationalities should check with the respective consulate in their own country.

Whilst we keep our information up to date, you should be advised that visa requirements can change. It is recommended that you contact the relevant commission in case of recent amendments.

The following checklist should help you with your packing. As you will be carrying everything you need it is important to keep the weight of your equipment to a minimum. Since all bedding is provided at the huts you should be able to keep the weight of your pack down to as little as 8kg. Travel clothes can be left at your hotel.

You must bring the following items:

The following items are optional:

  • Gaiters
  • Spare laces
  • Shorts
  • Long johns (thermal underwear)
  • Trekking poles (recommended)
  • Insect repellant
  • Camera, media, batteries
  • Repair kit – (eg. needle, thread, duct tape)

A passport with 6 months remaining validity at the end of your stay is generally required. The information that we provide is for UK passport holders. Please check the relevant embassy or consulate for other nationalities. It is your responsibility to ensure that you have the correct travel documents and visas for your holiday. Visa requirements and charges are subject to change without notice. If you are travelling outside the EU you should have at least 2 blank pages in your passport.

We recommend you check if you require an adaptor for your electrical items at:

It makes a lot of sense to spend some time before coming on a walking holiday getting some additional exercise. The fitter you are, after all, the more enjoyable you will find the experience. We would suggest that you adopt a weekly exercise regime leading up to your trip. Jogging, squash and swimming are good for developing better stamina. Before departure, we suggest that you try to fit in a number of long walks in hilly country.

As a reputable tour operator, KE supports the British Foreign & Commonwealth Offices ‘Know before you go’ campaign to enable British citizens to prepare for their journeys overseas, and we recommend that all KE travellers take a look at the FCO Travel Advice for their chosen destination on the official FCO website: North Americans can also check out the U.S. Department of State website: for essential travel advice and tips.

KE treat the safety and security of all clients as the most important aspect of any trip we organise. We would not run any trip that we did not consider reasonably safe.  Should the FCO advise against travel for any reason, we will contact everyone booked to travel to discuss the situation.  We receive regular updates direct from the FCO and are in constant touch with our contacts on the ground.  If you have any questions about government travel advice, please call our office.

The temperatures that we can expect to encounter during the day will be reasonably warm, ranging from 15°C/ 59°F to 25°C/ 77°F. It can be cool in the evenings at our highest overnight stopping places, even falling close to freezing point outside the huts. The weather is usually stable between July and September, but mountainous areas do generate their own weather systems and occasional rain and even stormy weather cannot be ruled out. You should be prepared for all eventualities!

Most people in this area speak very good English. During the tour you will pass through Italy and a mostly French-speaking part if Switzerland and we recommend you learn some simple Italian and French phrases and greetings as attempts to speak in the local language will always be appreciated and is all part of the fun.

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