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Tour de Mont Blanc - accommodation

Toronto, Canada
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Tour de Mont Blanc - accommodation

We are trying to plan our TMB hike and want to book accommodation now. It seems Rifugio Bonatti and everything nearby is booked. Does anyone have experience on being turned away? We have read that many people book only a few days prior, and have read on no one who didn't get accommodation. Trying to figure out what to do in a place with limited or no options.

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Nimes
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1. Re: Tour de Mont Blanc - accommodation

Hello,

There is a world of difference between booking accommodation (which everyone can do autonomously) and booking a hiking tour – which is what you should be doing if you are considering walking the TMB.

Why? Because as I found out when I walked it for the first time, a reliable luggage transfer service is only available via a booking with a bone-fide tour operator or you risk sleeping in your hiking gear and using suncream for toothpaste.

Secondly, have you done a walking tour before? If not, what makes you think you can assemble one around arguably Europe’s most challenging of massifs? I could extract my own teeth, or risk servicing my own car, but if I want to enjoy an experience of a lifetime, surely I want to travel with experts and do it in/with a…good company?

The TMB sees you walking in the 'Middle Mountain' making it a different animal than lowland strolls. The dangers of the mountain must never be underestimated. Whilst no tour operator offers a ‘Thunderbirds are Go - International Rescue Service’, they are available to help you if you get into difficulty. What are you going to do if you arrive at your overnight accommodation too tired to walk tomorrow?

Do yourself a BIG favour and put yourself in the hands of experts and avoid cobbling something together yourself. Believe me…it just ain’t worth it!

There are a range of products in the market place to suit all tastes and budgets. Suffice it to say, as in all walks of life, you tend to get what you pay for.

These are in no way endorsements, but two ends of the commercial spectrum that I have Googled. Both offer the same ‘trail’ – but, as with any holiday, let alone hiking tour, your overall ‘walking experience’ will be very different depending on who you allow to organise your trip.

For an entry level trip for the budget conscience, you could do a lot worse than considering this option:

hikinger.com/…_12-day_packages

Alternatively, for a top-end selection, I have heard very good comments from hikers I have met on the trails of France in respect of this firm:

walking-holidays-france.com/home/…

I made the mistake of thinking I could assemble a hiking trip from the comfort of my living room several years ago - and paid the price. Don’t make the same mistake!

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2. Re: Tour de Mont Blanc - accommodation

The Tour du Mont Blanc is very tricky, and fills up quickly. I have heard of people even having made a reservation, and receiving a call during their tour and being informed the hut was full and having their reservation cancelled. There are a lot of amazing hut to hut tours in the Alps, and quite honestly, I personally prefer to get away from the crowds on Tour du Mont Blanc. This time of year you will find still find availability at pretty much every hut that is not on the Tour du Mont Blanc.

I recommend the Tour des Combins as an alternative (not before mid-July). I have done this, and found that the huts are much better (actually my favorite hut in the Alps is on this tour), and you will be among locals more than you are among international english speakers. The tour goes around the Grand Combin massif, and through Italy and Switzerland. It is two valleys east of the Tour du Mont Blanc. I have a company that books and organizes hut to hut tours, and other adventures in the Alps, for people who want to do it on their own without a guide, and I have the Tour des Combins on my website as an alternate to the Tour du Mont Blanc. The Tour des Combins used to have a website to help with planning, but for some reason it has been taken down. But, you can check out the itinerary on my website to get a feel for the difficulty level (very comparable) alpenventuresunguided.com/hut-to-hut-hiking each day, and if you do a google image for the tour, you will find the map. The tour on my website starts in Bourg St. Pierre. If you are coming from the South, St. Rhemy is also a great starting point.

One thing I should mention...if budget is a theme for you, consider doing a hut to hut tour in Austria instead of Switzerland. Austria is just as spectacular and less touristy. Switzerland is extremely expensive in relation to the other countries. It is beautiful and wonderful, but you can find beautiful and wonderful elsewhere as well.

I am currently on tour in the Western U.S. (I live in Munich) doing a presentation on Adventuring in the Alps, where I talk quite a bit about hut to hut hiking. My remaining presentations are in California, Utah, and Colorado. If you live in any of those locations, I will be talking about hut to hut hiking quite a bit. The tour schedule can be found at: www.alpenventuresunguided.com/ustour2017.

Best of luck on your adventure! Whatever you do, you really can't go wrong in the Alps!

Brittany

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3. Re: Tour de Mont Blanc - accommodation

I am currently booking huts for a 12-day TMB at the beginning of July. We were due at Bonatti on Sat 8th, but they were fully booked. They did however, kindly inform us that they had availability for the night before and the night after. So I was able to slightly alter our schedule to arrive there a day earlier. For this reason it is important to check availability at all your huts/refuges before you start booking any. I found the website http://www.montourdumontblanc.com to be invaluable. you can see all the possibilities for each leg of your hike, AND how many beds are still available, and even go as far as booking them on there. Unfortunately there are some refuges which are not in that 'system' and have to be contacted directly, Bonatti being one of them. They replied to my emails very quickly !

I have also booked Refuge de la Flegere by email - they also responded very quickly.

I was able to book Chalet Club Alpin Les Contamines and Refuge de la Croix de Bonhomme both via the CAF website chaletdescontamines.ffcam.fr/reservation.html

We aren't using luggage transfer, but keeping our packs under 10kg.

A question for you : The only refuge which has not responded to my emails or answered their telephone is Rifugio Elisabetta. Have you had any success contacting this one ? (I broke my own advice here, because all the other nights are OK). If it transpires we can't stay there on the right day we may have to find some transport to get us beyond that stage.

I wouldn't want to disagree with the advice of the previous two correspondents but to me part of the fun is booking it myself, and negotiating any unforeseen obstacles. Of course it makes sense to be well prepared physically before you set off, and have appropriate travel/medical insurance.

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4. Re: Tour de Mont Blanc - accommodation

Hi Brittany, Against what you advise I have already booked 11 of our 12 nights on the TMB for early July.

I just wondered whether you have any experience of booking the Rifugio Elisabetta, as this is a rather important stop, and I have not managed to contact them by email or telephone.

Many thanks.

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5. Re: Tour de Mont Blanc - accommodation

Just a point of curiosity, did you actually email Bonatti to confirm availability. This is around the time of year when I made all of our reservations for our 2015 TMB hike and we had no difficulties getting space anywhere. I know that Bonatti was a bit tricky as they had no online reservation system like a lot of the other accommodations did but they were very prompt is replying to my emails.

As for the idea of booking a tour company, it really is up to how much effort you want to put into planning. The actual hike is difficult but it really offers no issues on safety (ok, the ladders out of Tre La Champ were sketchy!) and is pretty easy to follow. Make sure you get a copy of Kev Reynolds guidebook as it was quite useful in our planning phase.

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6. Re: Tour de Mont Blanc - accommodation

"I just wondered whether you have any experience of booking the Rifugio Elisabetta, as this is a rather important stop, and I have not managed to contact them by email or telephone."

I don't have a lot of experience with them. Some of the huts aren't very responsive during their off season. If you haven't tried it yet, there is a contact form on their website www.rifugioelisabetta.com/contatti.html. If you open it in Google Chrome, you can use the translation feature.

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7. Re: Tour de Mont Blanc - accommodation

When we did TMB, we did not use Elisabetta for overnight and just used it for lunch and actually arrived there earlier than they were serving lunch. My recollection is that it was quite small - You might have better luck spending the night at a larger hut or adjusting your hut selection for the night before so that you don't need to stay there. Where will you be the night before?

This is the type of issue that makes organizing the TMB on your own a challenge - trying the get the refugios in the order and date you need! You just have to keep jiggling days, routes and different huts until you get something to work. The benefit of this process is good because by the time you've made all the reservations you know pretty much where every regugio is located in case of emergency!

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8. Re: Tour de Mont Blanc - accommodation

Hi,

We booked our entire tour ourselves, and did all of the booking in mid-May and were able to get everything we wanted.

Here is my trip report, hot off the presses!

…blogspot.com/2017/04/tour-du-mont-blanc-aug…

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9. Re: Tour de Mont Blanc - accommodation

Hi,

We're also doing our reservations independently and we had no problem so far, except for Bonatti,

Elisabetta answered our mail within a day.

The only issue is with refuge Bonnati, they didn't answer our mails.

Can anyone share how you contacted them?

I used the mail: rifugiobonatti@gmail.com

Thank a lot

A N
Atlanta, Georgia
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10. Re: Tour de Mont Blanc - accommodation

That is the correct email for Bonatti. They have responded to me within 1-3 days. Perhaps there is a delay over Easter holiday? I would try again if it has been more than a week.

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