We’ll meet up at the airport in Geneva, Switzerland, a beautiful and historical city with great global political significance. Upon arrival your group will travel to Chamonix, France. We’ll get to know each other, talk about our next goals, and catch suggestive glimpses of the Alps through the train windows. Every moment will be fresh and exciting as we begin to feel at home in this new environment. We’ll spend a relaxing day in Chamonix to rest up from our travels and prepare for the mountaineering section to come. Considered the world capital for outdoor activities, Chamonix sits at the base of the Mont Blanc massif in a spectacular valley that collects seven major glaciers as they spill from the surrounding peaks. It is, quite literally, the place where the sport of alpine climbing was born, when Jacques Balmat and Dr. Paccard made the first ascent of Mt. Blanc in 1786.
The heart and soul of our adventure is one of the world’s preeminent mountain treks; we will hike half the Tour du Mont Blanc. This unbelievable 7-day traverse navigates through 3 countries (France, Italy & Switzerland) as well as some of the highest peaks in Western Europe. Mont Blanc which stands at a stately 4807 meters, or roughly 15,800 feet above sea level. You can expect day after day of jaw-dropping vistas as our route winds around sparkling tarns and climbs to windy passes, giving you views not only of Mont Blanc, but on a clear day, the Grand Combin and the Matterhorn as well. Taking advantage of the alpinists’ hut and hostel system, we’ll be able to travel light and fast with small packs, descending periodically through fragrant wildflower meadows and larch forests to resupply in picturesque old-world hamlets. In our cozy evening refuges, we’ll enjoy hearty old-world cuisine and share laughter and stories around the table or before the fire with other like-minded explorers from around the world. We’ll take some well-deserved rest upon our completion of the Tour Du Mont Blanc, sampling the French mountain culture in a neighboring ski villa before you travel to Costa Brava to spend two days sea kayaking on the Mediterranean.
After a challenging trek through the Alps your group will soak in the sun on the Mediterranean. Get ready to explore the Costa Brava region of the Mediterranean by way of sea kayak. Explore caves and thin passages while you follow your kayaking guide through some of the most remarkable stretch of coastline of southern Europe. Just off of the Catalan Coast, you and your group will kayak through the beautiful aquamarine waters of the Mediterranean. You explore remote caves, secluded inlets, high sea cliffs, and search for unique wildlife. In the evening you will relax and enjoy the sunset on the beach. While the sea kayaking is challenging this section is the perfect way to prepare for your mountaineering and trekking section in the Pyrenees.
As we head inland from the sea, strap on your hiking boots as you head toward the dividing boundary of Spain and France better known as the Pyrenees. Over the next 8 days you will trek through dense forests, open plains, over sharp mountain peaks, around crystal clear blue lakes, across glaciers, and through picturesque small towns. During the day you can expect to see numerous birds of prey, marmots, Egyptian Vultures as well as some of the most spectacular alpine wildflowers including: Pyrenean Irises and buttercups, Pink Orchids, and Blue Thistle. By nightfall and many hours of hiking later, you will peel off your boots and relax around your pitstop for the night, at a local refuge(mountain hut). Enjoy a family style meal around a fire with travelers from all over the world. This section is challenging but extremely rewarding, your trip will culminate when you cross the Breche de Roland, a historical border crossing that lies 10,000 feet above sea level and requires you cross a glacier. This a truly magnificent feat on your trek through Europe.
After a chance to shower and wash clothes, we’ll take a fast train to Paris for a little relaxation and sightseeing before flying home. Taste the culture of one of Europe’s most sophisticated cities with visits to the Louvre and Notre Dame and later search for the perfect sidewalk cafe overlooking the Seine River. After three weeks of experiencing the best that Europe has to offer, we’re pretty sure you won’t be ready to go home. We will celebrate our final night together at a well-deserved banquet dinner before saying our goodbyes at the airport the next morning.