I joined our tour development team in the summer of 2017 and am currently working on our Scottish tours, but as part of my job I get to travel throughout Europe writing route notes for Macs Adventure hiking and biking trips. Early in the 2018 season my partner, Craig, and I journeyed to Zermatt to investigate and document the Tour of The Matterhorn. The Tour is an established route with various guidebooks having been published (e.g. the Cicerone guidebook – Tour of The Matterhorn by Hilary Sharp) and, as you would expect from the Swiss, it is well-signposted and way-marked throughout.
1. Learn some basics in French/German/Italian
The tour passes through 2 countries (Switzerland and Italy) and 3 official language zones! Although the locals tend to mix-and-match all three learning a few words of each will go a long way to helping you make yourself understood in the unlikely event you encounter anyone who doesn’t have basic English.
2. Pack sensibly
Due to the rugged landscape and occasionally remote locations along the trail bag transfers are not possible so you’ll be carrying all the kit you need for the trip on your own back. Although packing for such a trip can be a minor challenge in itself, we found that being self-sufficient in this way added to our sense of achievement!
My top packing tips are:
Tempting as it may be don’t bring a pack larger than 35-40 litres.
If you find you’re struggling to decide what to leave then bring a spare bag that you can fill with extra items you decide not bring and leave it at your hotel in Zermatt to be collected again at the end of your trip.
Relish the prospect of getting back to basics, but don’t scrimp on the essentials –check out our kit list in your trip Information Pack. For example two pairs of shoes should be enough to see you through the trip; your favorite walking boots and a pair of sandals/flip-flops for wearing in the hotels and huts to allow your feet to rest.
Remember to bring some Euros in cash to use on the Italian side. You’ll be crossing from Switzerland into Italy over the remote Col Collon to reach of Rifugio Prarayer. The Italian Refugio, and the optional bus from Perreres to Breuil-Cervinia the following day, can only accept Euros. Once you reach Breuil-Cervinia you’ll be able to take out more Euros at an ATM.
4. Bring a rechargeable battery pack for charging your phone on the go
You can get a decent rechargeable battery park for around £25 from most electrical appliance shops. Just make sure the cable connections are compatible with your device(s)! The battery pack will be especially useful on those nights where there are limited plugs in the mountain hut and Refugio. It will also save the day if you’re using the Macs App to navigate on your smartphone and forgot to put your phone on flight mode to save on battery.
5. Use the Macs App!
We might be slightly biased, but we have worked hard to ensure our free Macs Adventure smartphone app is a reliable and easy-to-use tool for navigation.
We used the app to navigate and input lots of information; GPX tracks, turn by turn directions, points of interest, safety information, tips on daily equipment, and where you can buy food along each day’s route.
With your booking confirmation you’ll receive maps, access to the routes on the app (including GPX tracks and directions). Download the app on the Apple store, or on the Google Play store. For more information see our app help page here.
The Tour of The Matterhorn is an unforgettable adventure taking in some of the finest scenery in the Alps. If you don’t think the trip is for you just yet, perhaps it’s something you could train for and do in a year or two. In the meantime feel free to call the office where our Destination & Adventure specialists will be happy to discuss this or any other tour with you.