Alpine Mountain Magic
Slovenia, Italy, Switzerland, Austria & Germany
August 25-September 4, 2018 • 11 Days • $3890 – SOLD OUT!
With New Traveler Discount: $3490**
Outstanding nature walks and the magic of the mountains await us in five Alpine countries: Slovenia, Italy, Switzerland, Austria, and Germany!
**New Traveler Discount: New Travelers receive a discount on most tours – up to $200 off domestic trips and up to $400 off international tours.
Walk highlights include an idyllic stroll around Slovenia’s Lake Bled, with the profile of Bled Castle silhouetted against the Julian Alps; Italy’s Gardena Valley set at the gateway to the rugged limestone massifs of the Dolomites, southernmost of the Alps; a top of the world hiking experience in Switzerland’s lovely Engadin Valley, nestled in a remote Romansh-speaking corner of the country; two mountain walks in the dreamy ranges of Austria’s Kitzbühel Alps, world-class ski country in the winter, accessed by a spider-web network of gondola lifts in summer; and an easy stroll along a pristine Bavarian river to Germany’s placid Königsee Lake, a deep water gem nestled below Hitler’s Eagle’s Nest.
In addition to a plethora of eye-popping vistas, this program also offers a relaxed pacing—no 1 night stays—all five stops are 2 nights. Accommodations are also a fun feature of this Adventure. The Alpine regions are known for intimate, charming, family-run inns, and we’ll experience a couple of these, plus others with the Alpine Europe character of friendly, small town hotels (the largest town we are in boasts only 10,000 souls).
Also awaiting us are the unique mountain cultures of this region, including the phenomenon of “Gemütlichkeit”—the rich spirit of Austrian/Germanic hospitality and warmth.
Our guide team for this Adventure is national guide Hildrun Mathies and WAI owner Dan Friesen. Hildrun herself is a classic blend of Austrian/German Gemütlichkeit, with family roots in the mountains of Austria, but currently making her home in Munich, Germany. Born in Salzburg, Austria, Dan is also at home in the Alps, having started his guide career over 25 years ago with a tour through the Alpine countries. They look forward to sharing the best of these Alpine regions with you!
- All land travel by motorcoach as outlined
- Group transfer from hotel to airport on last day
- Superior tourist-class or better hotel accommodations
- 16 meals: All breakfasts and 6 dinners as denoted (BD)
- All listed walks
- Fees for walking credit (if IVV approved)
- Cultural and historical expertise of national guide throughout program
- WAI guide service throughout (2 guides)
- All tipping for national guide and coach drivers
- Pricing is based on double occupancy, a supplement is available for single travelers: $375
- Pletna boat ride on Lake Bled – Slovenia
- Guided walking tour of Ljubljana – Slovenia
- Dolomite Mountains driving tour – Italy
- Guided walking tour of Innsbruck – Austria
- Gondola ski-lift tickets – Austria
- Hitler’s Eagle’s Nest – Germany (weather permitting)
- Lake Chiemsee cruise – Germany
- Herrenchiemsee Palace tour – Germany
- More fun and educational stops than we can list!
“Great locations, capable tour guides who have figured out all the important details about getting there, what to bring, etc., etc. Lots of value added that we wouldn’t have found or done on our own.”
-Jean L; Davis, CA
“Excellent, well organized walking (sightseeing) guides.”
-Phil K; Sunnyvale, CA
“WAI [Walking Adventures International] well organized; good communication, great hotels and restaurants; quick adaptation to sudden events; really flexible approach to touring.”
-Karen S; Portland, OR
“The quality of your tours – Best bang for your buck.”
-Carol Y; Fairborn, OH
“Trustworthy company with consistent quality of tours, guides – overall experience.”
-Lee P; Rockville, MD
“Well planned and executed – Every major highlight or points of interest are included – Walking with interesting folks – Learning history, cultural, geographical…etc.”
-Craig & Jane W; Pittsburg, CA
“The leaders, the walks – were fabulous – enjoyed all of them, the history – know so much more than when I started and other participants I liked a lot.”
-Anne S; Boise, ID
“Walkers make great traveling companions and WAI [Walking Adventures International] guides do all the preparatory work to make it a great experience.”
-John F; Anchorage, AK
“Extremely organized and something for everyone, super walks, information and great fellowship.”
-Rowena M; Bedford, IN
“Good information ahead of time, enjoyable fellow travelers with same goals and enjoyment of walking and other activities, well informed always, lots of variety in walks and activities and freedom to opt out of walks if necessary.”
-Gail R; Vancouver, WA
“Well planned tours, good combination of walking and sight-seeing… I feel like we’re traveling with friends.”
-Jane M; Matthews, NC
“One of the things I enjoy most about WAI trips is reconnecting with walkers from previous trips.”
-Kate Q; Spokane, WA
Tour Pace: 1 2 3 4 5
Walk Challenge: 1 2 3 4 5
Dan Friesen has been guiding tours for over 25 years on all 7 continents. He has hiked the Great Wall of China, hobnobbed with penguins in Antarctica, felt the spray of Iguazu Falls in Brazil, yodeled from the heights of the Swiss Alps, and walked the ruins of majestic Machu Picchu. Dan will be accompanied by an assistant on this tour. He looks forward to exploring the history and culture of Central Europe with you!
Hildrun Mathies is one of our favorite overseas guides! She has a wealth of knowledge and experience, with a Master’s Degree in Art History and Religious Science; fluency in English, French, Spanish, and her native German; and over 20 years of experience guiding groups through central Europe. But it is Hildrun’s special blend of in-depth knowledge, lighthearted presentation style, passion for sharing, and her commitment to making the travel experience the best it can be for her travelers, that makes a trip with her so memorable.
Day 1-August 25: Arrive Bled, Slovenia (D)
Altitude in Bled: 1665 feet above sea level (fasl)
Our Adventure begins in the land of Slovenia. Our hotel near the shores of Lake Bled is a 25-minute taxi ride away from the Ljubljana airport. A plethora of alpine highlights await us in five countries that host the eastern and southern ranges of this storied range of mountains. Since travelers arrive throughout the day, our first activity is a Welcome Orientation at our Lake Bled hotel, followed by dinner. Your WAI guide, Dan Friesen, will introduce you to Hildrun Mathies, an Austrian/German guide who has become an integral part of our Adventures in Central Europe in recent years.
Day 2-August 26: Activities from Bled (B)
Lake Bled Walk – 7 km, rated 1A
Ljubljana Walk – 5 km, rated 1A
The Lake Bled area offers a delightful walk that circumnavigates the lake. Stunning panoramas of iconic Bled Castle, the Julian Alps majestic in the background, are punctuated by a ride in a traditional, gondola-like pletna boat to a small island where the Assumption of Mary Pilgrimage Church sits statuesquely in the middle of the lake. After a lunch break in Bled, our coach takes us to Ljubljana for a guided walk of this surprising, architecturally rich capital of the intriguing little country of Slovenia.
Day 3-August 27: Bled – Selva Gardena, Italy (BD)
Altitude in Selva Gardena: 5128 fasl
Alpine scenery is a primary theme of this Adventure, and today’s drive takes us across southern Austria before heading north to Heiligenblut. This charming alpine village is the southern gateway to the Grossglockner Alpine Road, one of Europe’s most famous alpine routes. Weather permitting, we travel through all the vegetation zones, from cornfields to everlasting ice, en route to Kaiser-Franz-Josefs-Höhe, a high point. Here, we have stunning views (weather permitting) of Austria’s highest mountain, the Grossglockner, and longest glacier, the Pasterze. Our destination this evening is one of our favorite alpine settings, Gardena Valley, snaking its way through the southernmost region of the Alps, Italy’s Dolomite Mountains.
Day 4-August 28: Activities in Gardena Valley (B)
Selva Gardena Dolomites Walk – 11 km, rated 2B
Today’s walk is one WAI walkers have been enjoying for over 25 years. It starts from Selva Gardena and winds through a pastoral tributary valley, then along a path flanked by Stations of the Cross carved from tree stumps (wood carving is a primary traditional occupation of the valley). Surprising glimpses of the stark limestone peaks of the Dolomites come into view on the last part of the route – a foretaste of this afternoon’s Dolomites drive, featuring an unforgettable scenic route with over 200 hairpin turns and non-stop Dolomite Mountain panoramas!
Day 5-August 29: Selva Gardena – Guarda, Switzerland (BD)
Altitude in Guarda: 5423 fasl
We leave Italy today en route to a neighboring corner of Switzerland. Along the way, we pass through Austria, stopping in Innsbruck to enjoy a taste of this delightful Tyrolean town. A prominent medieval history is evidenced in its lovely historic core; the modern era has twice decided to grace Innsbruck with the winter Olympics, in 1964 and 1976. We then continue into a remote corner of Switzerland inhabited by speakers of the Romansh dialect. Switzerland has four official languages; the least known is Romansh, an ancient derivative of Latin that bears testimony to the Roman occupation 2000 years ago. We spend the next two nights in the Engadin valley, enjoying the hospitality of a lovely family-run inn in a hillside-hugging village of under 200 souls.
Day 6-August 30: Activities from Guarda (BD)
Engadin Valley Swiss Alps Walk – 12 km, rated 3C (unsanctioned)
Today offers a special experience! When weather cooperates, this morning’s walk from the village of Guarda is among our favorites worldwide. We pass from village to village, through pastures shared with grazing sheep and Swiss brown cows, and into evergreen forests, always on the south-facing sun terrace of the Sesvenna Alps. Lunch is usually in a local inn, with the late afternoon to enjoy the charms of our hospitable inn and delightful, diminutive Guarda.
Day 7-August 31: Guarda – Kitzbühel, Austria (BD)
Kitzbühel Alps Walk – 7 km, rated 2B
Altitude in Kitzbühel: 2500 fasl
We leave Guarda, and Switzerland, this morning, bound for the ski resort of Kitzbühel, a pleasant town with a medieval past, situated in the Kitzbühel Alps of Austria. Our first goal is the ascent, by coach, to the Kitzbüheler Horn, at about 6500 feet above sea level. Here, we’ll enjoy lunch with a view before embarking on our walk of the day – a bowl-shaped route with outstanding views of the surrounding peaks of the Kitzbüheler Alps and the valley below. Following the walk, we descend by coach and check into our home in Kitzbühel for the next two days.
Day 8-September 1: Activities in Kitzbühel (B)
Kitzbühel Saint Bernard Chapel Walk – 7 km, rated 2B
We take the short walk across town this morning to the Hahnenkammbahn gondola, which transports us high above the valley on the south slope for our second walk in the Kitzbühel area. Today’s walk offers stunning panoramas facing north, with spectacular vistas of the Wild Emperor range of the Kitzbüheler Alps, sometimes with picturesque Saint Bernard Chapel in the foreground. After descending by gondola, the afternoon is free to catch your breath, and enjoy the old town charms of Kitzbühel from our hotel, or consider an optional excursion to be announced by our guide, Hildrun.
Day 9-September 2: Kitzbühel – Prien am Chiemsee, Germany (B)
Königssee Lake Walk – 7 km, rated 1B
Altitude in Prien: 1735
We travel this morning into Germany to the Bavarian town of Berchtesgaden. Today’s walk follows a pristine Alpine river to Königssee, a delightful, gemlike alpine lake. After a lunch break in the foothills of the Bavarian Alps called the Obersalzberg, we head for Hitler’s Eagle’s Nest (weather permitting). This mountaintop aerie (Kehlsteinhaus in German) was built by Hitler’s henchman Bormann, and included an incredible, private, mountain access road to the top of a nearly inaccessible peak with 360 degree views of the stunning German Alps. We continue to Prien am Chiemsee, on the shore of Bavaria’s largest lake, for our final two nights.
Day 10-September 3: Activities from Prien am Chiemsee (BD)
King Ludwig II was the enigmatic ruler of Bavaria in the mid-19th century, during a time when kings were largely anachronisms of the feudal age. His family fortune and idealistic yearning for kingly duties and privileges drove him to construct three incredible palaces – one of these is located on Herren Island in the middle of Lake Chiemsee. We cruise this placid lake today, making stops along the way, including a visit to Herrenchiemsee Palace, a masterpiece of 19th century architecture intended to replicate the French Palace of Versailles, whose master, French King Louis XIV, was idolized by Ludwig II. We return to our hotel in Prien this evening for a Farewell party and dinner together.
Day 11-September 4: Depart from Munich (B)
An early departure this morning takes us to Munich’s International Airport. We leave the alpine region of central Europe having enjoyed hiking, history, and culture in Slovenia, Italy, Switzerland, Austria, and Germany – leaving us with a quintet of alpine memories we won’t soon forget!
How do I lock in my place on this Adventure?
Call or mail in your registration ($500) to save your spot! A maximum of 30 travelers will be accepted.
First Time Traveler Savings
In appreciation for joining us for your first Walking Adventure, we offer new travelers a $400 credit on this international tour!
Group Travel Credit
If you are part of a Group, remember that your full deposit of $500 is still required to hold your spot on this Adventure. Your group leader is responsible for submitting your name in writing to us before you register, qualifying you for the Group Travel Credit, but a full deposit is needed to officially reserve your place. Your Group Travel Credit will be reflected on your final statement.
Check out more information on the Group Travel Program.
General Tour Conditions and Registration Forms
How is airfare arranged?
The official start point for this Adventure is our hotel in Bled, Slovenia, about a 25 EURO taxi ride from Ljubljana Jože Pučnik Airport (airport code LJU). The finish point is the Munich International Airport (MUC) in Germany. We recommend that you contact Debbi Custer, the travel agent we work with, to help book your flight arrangements. In this age of airfare complications and airport uncertainty, using a travel agent is a good investment! More details about flight arrangements and travel agent contact information will be provided in the Adventure Advice flyer, mailed to you after you register for the Adventure. Please do not book your airfare prior to receiving the Adventure Advice flyer!
What about the walks?
We generally walk at a pace of 2 to 3 miles per hour. In most cases, we are not “strolling.” We are walking at a relaxed but steady pace. Your experience will be significantly affected by your level of physical fitness. The success of the walks is therefore predicated upon walkers having this minimum level of fitness. If not walking regularly at home, we strongly recommend that you make a priority of “training” beforehand in order to both enjoy the trip and avoid medical issues due to overexertion. If you have questions about your ability to participate, please talk with our office at 1.800.779.0353.
We have adopted a walk difficulty rating system which contains a numeric indicator for trail incline and an alpha indicator for trail terrain. The explanation for this system is presented below:
1. Very small hills or very little stair climbing. Cumulative elevation gain from Starting Point: up to 200 feet.
2. Some moderate hills and stair climbing. Cumulative elevation gain from Starting Point: 200-1000 feet.
3. Some significant hill or stair climbing. Cumulative elevation gain from Starting Point: 1000-2000 feet.
4. Lots of significant hills or stair climbing. Cumulative elevation gain from Starting Point: 2000-3500 feet.
5. Many steep hills. Cumulative elevation gain from Starting Point: more than 3500 feet.
A. Almost entirely on pavement.
B. A significant part of the route is on well-groomed trails with very few obstacles.
C. A significant part of the route is on somewhat difficult terrain (rocky / rooted paths or soft sand).
D. A significant part of the route is on very difficult terrain.
E. The majority of the route is on very difficult terrain.
WAI believes strongly in the importance of travel insurance for financial and medical protection from any number of unforeseen circumstances that can arise before departure or during your Adventure. Many travel insurance providers are available for you to consider. Debbi Custer of World Travel Inc., a travel agent who provides air travel services to many WAI travelers, can provide travel insurance options for your WAI tour as well as your airfare (email [email protected] -OR– call 888-276-0925 / 503-231-9507). For those of you who purchase airfare through Debbi, purchasing your travel insurance from her as well may be the simplest option. As always, do some shopping to ensure you are getting the best value. Using the Insuremytrip.com website can be a good way to compare pricing.
Other options include:
- Travel Guard
- Travel Insured International
NOTE: We suggest purchasing from a reputable, well-established insurance company (avoid buying insurance from an unknown company found only online). In addition, be aware that some travel insurance policies contain time-sensitive provisions—i.e. some benefits are available only if the policy is purchased within a certain number of days of the purchase of the travel package.
What happens next?
Upon registering for this Adventure, you will receive a welcome letter and initial invoice. The Adventure Advice flyer will be sent soon after, with important information about steps to take in the months before your trip. Please do not buy your airline tickets until you receive the Adventure Advice flyer. The final payment for the program is due 90 days before departure, and you will receive a final billing about 2 weeks prior to that point, along with a factsheet of additional information about the Adventure to help you get prepared! Then, about 3 weeks before departure, you will receive a final packet with all the details of the program, including hotel names and contact information, a list of fellow travelers, and a more detailed daily schedule.
For now, we invite you to grab a cup of coffee and nestle into your favorite chair to take a mental journey through the Alps. Then call us to lock in your spot and get ready to explore this scenic smorgasbord of Central Europe!