This guest post is by Jessica Jackson of http://www.inghams.co.uk.
The Swiss Alps are one of the most iconic and beautiful mountain ranges in the world, and visitor flock to the area all year to enjoy the famous lakes and mountains. Zermatt sits at the base of the Matterhorn, and although Zermatt holidays offer a range of activities from skiing and snowboarding to canoeing, rock climbing and mountain biking, hiking is the best way to take in the natural beauty of the area no matter what time of year you plan to visit. Some companies specialise in alpine trips, and you can search for Zermatt holidays with Inghams and others.
Bucolic summer rambles through alpine meadows are accompanied by views of the Matterhorn reflected in still glacial lakes. September brings a lull after heavy August traffic, while the weather is still pleasant and the leaves put on a fiery show, and even a winter visit affords opportunities for snowshoeing and hiking in some of the most stunning wilderness the world has to offer.
The fit, prepared, and adventurous can tackle the Alps’ nearby peaks (the Breithorn, Monte Rosa, and the infamous Matterhorn) but even non-mountaineers can and should take advantage of the more than 400km of hiking trails around Zermatt. A recent initiative upgrading signposts has made the trails more accessible than ever, and free maps are available in town or from the Zermatt Tourism website (http://www.zermatt.ch/).
For those searching for luxury ski resorts a Courchevel luxury ski holiday might be the perfect escape. Only a few hours away in nearby France Courchevel is located on the Switzerland border. Luxurious chalets offer comfort in timber and stone bedrooms overlooking snowy landscapes.
Respectful Hiking in Wilderness Areas
As always, when exploring and hiking, remember to follow leave-no-trace principles to preserve the alpine beauty you’ve come to see so that it can continue to be witnessed and shared for generations to come.
Adequate preparation is essential in reducing your footprint on the trail. Consider the weather and length of your hike to stay safe, wear the right clothes, take enough water and plan meals to reduce packaging and trash. Always always always carry out what you carry in, and dispose of waste in town in an appropriate manner.
Further reduce your trash by ditching one-use plastic water bottles for a reusable one. If you don’t already own one, Kleen Kanteen’s really rise to the top of the pack for several reasons. Their BPA-free stainless steel bottles are as elegant as they are durable, and the finish used on the caps is made from sustainably harvested bamboo.
When planning to suit up environmentally for the trail, clothing company Nau makes hip and stylish outerwear from recycled materials. You’ll want to wear their pieces not only on the mountain and in the meadows, but also back in town.
After all the preparations, it’s time to enjoy your hike. Where possible, try to walk on durable surfaces like rock, snow, or dirt instead of living surfaces, such as grass, and always stay on the trail. These two steps help preserve the natural surroundings by helping them retain their resilience and beauty.
And lastly, respect the wildlife of the area. Don’t disturb animals and remember that every plucked alpine flower is one fewer for a bee, one less future seed, and a loss for the next group following your trail.
You’ve probably heard the mantra, “take only pictures, leave only footprints.” Follow it and let the Alps continue to be a beautiful destination for all. Zermatt’s trails, mountains, and valleys await!
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