Frequently Asked Questions
Question: How is the Ride Noho Swiss Hiking Tour different from other tours?
Answer: The Ride Noho Swiss Hiking Tour is owner operated. Ride Noho is recognized for its superb customer service as evidenced by the fact that in 2012 over half of our cycling guests were returnees or referrals from past clients. In addition, hikers participating in our inaugural hiking trip to Switzerland gave all elements of the tour extremely high marks. Participant reviews can be read by clicking on this pdf.
We will be accessible prior to your trip to help with travel arrangements and answer your questions. We will meet you at the airport and help to validate your Swiss Pass before we make our way to Evolène, our home base. During your stay we will be onsite, ready to help at a moment’s notice. On departure day, we will escort you back to the Zurich airport or help direct you to your next destination.
Our goal is to give you a fun filled experience hiking the Swiss Alps as a local, not a tourist. And, as a fixed base model, you stay in one place, Evolène. By staying in one village, you don’t have the hassle of frequent packing and moving, a characteristic of many hiking tours.
Q: Who guides the hikes?
A: Elaine, Aldo and Dan are the guides, being there to help with everything from choosing restaurants, to guiding the hikes. Aldo and Elaine’s 13 years of experience organizing and guiding tours and Dan’s 23 years of experience in the Swiss Alps will be available to ensure that our guests have a great time.
Q: How large will the groups be?
A: Our groups will be no more than 8 guests. Smaller groups are just more fun!
Q: What are the accommodations like?
A: You can choose from one of two hotel options during your stay in Evolene:
Both hotels are in the center of the small alpine village, Evolène. Both are very clean, very quiet and very old style comfortable. It is like staying in someone’s family home. For example, last summer while staying at the Hotel Arzinol, we witnessed the hotel owner going out early each morning to the local patisserie to buy the fresh breads/fruits for our breakfast. Our tour not only offers a great hiking experience, it also offers you the opportunity to experience Switzerland like a local, not a tourist. The Hermitage features rooms with full bathrooms, while the rooms at the Hotel Arzinol are smaller and share a bathroom (Click here for more detail on accommodations.).
- The Hermitage
- The Hotel Arzinol
Q: What about our meals?
A: Breakfast: In Switzerland, breakfast typically includes fruit, bread, butter or margarine, marmalade or honey, maybe some cheese or cereals (mueslis), plus milk, cold or hot chocolate, tea or coffee. Breakfast is served at the hotel and is included in the tour price.
Lunch: When we hike we will take our lunch and snacks with us to picnic on the trail. We have found that it is best if you shop for your own lunch since we have yet to see two hikers who want the same thing, or amount to eat. Evolène has many places to buy food….markets, fruit and vegetable stands as well as a small supermarket. We will take you to these places and show you how to choose the makings for your lunch, just like the locals. Many of the offerings are similar to what you see in the States, but there are some differences. Experiment and enjoy these differences. Lunches on guided hikes are included in the tour price.
Dinner: The tour include two group dinners. On other days, you will be free to explore one of Evolène’s many great restaurants all of which are within walking distance from your hotel. We have eaten in each of them and can provide you with some personal recommendations.
Q: What's included in the tour price?
A: Accommodations at one of the designated hotels, all breakfasts, lunches on guided hikes, guides, REGA (Swiss Air Rescue) membership, 2 dinners, the Swiss Pass which allows for transportation to and from the airport, to the trailheads and all planned excursions, and some entrance fees to museums and exhibitions as well as a Ride Noho Alpine Adventures LL Bean Fleece.
Q: What’s not included in the tour price?
A: Some of the items not included are: alcoholic beverages, luggage service from the airport to Sion, personal purchases, phone calls, optional activities, airfare, insurance.
Q: How long will we be hiking each day?
A: The hikes vary in length. The moderate hikes are ~ 3 - 5 hours; the strenuous hikes are up to 8 hours. It is not unusual to spend some time after a hike at a trailhead restaurant/terrace having a drink or snack. In general, the plan is to be back in town in time to relax, clean up and then go out to dinner.
Q: What should my fitness level be for this tour?
A: You should be in good health, have prior aerobic conditioning and of course, enjoy hiking. But, you need not be an experienced technical hiker. Most of our planned hikes have moderate and strenuous options so that the more energetic hikers will be satisfied and those that wish to take a more moderate route have that option. The shorter hikes are 3 – 5 hours; the strenuous hikes are up to 8 hours. The Alps are high and both the short and long options gain significant elevation so the better your conditioning the more you will be able to enjoy what the Swiss Alps have to offer (click here for more detail on the hikes).
Q: How can I prepare now?
A: The best way to prepare for this tour is to do a lot of walking and hike some hills and preferably some mountains. Use the boots, socks and other equipment you plan on using in the Alps. Even if you are limited to walking around Central Park in Manhattan, wear your boots (real hiking boots) to break them in. Experienced hikers often wear 2 pair of socks with boots, a thin liner with a thicker wool outer, but whatever works for you is fine. Also, after you have registered, we'll send along some training suggestions.
Q: Is there a refund if I need to cancel?
A: Cancellations are subject to the following fees:
If we are forced to cancel, you will be refunded 100% of the amount that you have paid us to that point but we will not be responsible for any other costs that you have incurred in relation to the trip.
- Prior to May 1st, 2012 - $300.00
- After April 30th but before June 22nd - 50% of trip cost.
- After June 21st - 100% of trip cost.
Q: If I don't want to hike every day, are there other things to do in Evolène?
A: Our tours have a built in rest day to give our muscles a chance to relax. On those days, we have planned exciting excursions to Zermatt or Montreaux. Furthermore, since we are fixed based, you can decide not to hike on a day the group is hiking. There are plenty of fun things to do should you decide not to hike on a designated “hike” day.
For cyclists (and non-cyclists), there is an opportunity to go on a guided mountain bike tour right out of Evolène. Magasin Sport Evasion is a sport shop within walking distance of your hotel where you can sign up for a 2-4 hour bike ride in and around Evolène or Arolla. The rides are designed for everyone and bikes and helmets are available.
Q: What will the weather be like?
A: Although our tour takes place in the middle of the summer, we are high in the mountains and generally the weather is moderate. In the villages it can get warm (80ºs) during the day but the temperatures are generally comfortable. As we climb into the mountains the temperatures drop at roughly 5ºs per thousand feet of elevation gain, so when hiking we suggest having a fleece in your pack for when the sun goes behind a cloud and we are descending. This part of Switzerland is fairly dry but it does rain. For this possibility, we also carry a waterproof jacket. When we are back in the village the fleece is again useful since it can be cool at night.
Q: What is the Swiss currency?
A: Switzerland is NOT part of the EU so does not use the Euro. They use the Swiss Franc. But don’t worry. We will help you become familiar with the Swiss Franc. We typically get currency at ATMs and don't use traveler’s checks or money exchange booths at the airport. The Swiss Franc is worth a little over a dollar and 6 cents today (September, 2012) however, the value compared to the dollar changes often. When you use an ATM the bank takes care of the exchange rate. Banks seem to take less of a bite out of the exchange compared to credit cards or exchange booths. The smallest paper bill is a 10 SFr note. There are 20, 50 100 and 200 franc notes. They are different colors and sizes; the more it is worth the bigger the bill. The coins are 1, 5, 10 and 20 centimes (like our penny the centime is 1/100 of a Franc). There are also ½, 1, 2 and 5 Franc coins. With coins worth up to $5.00 it doesn't take long to have a lot of money in your pocket. When leaving the country, money exchange points do NOT take any coins, so we suggest you spend them or use them as souvenirs.
Q: What do we do with our laundry?
A: Some items lend themselves to being washed in the basin in your room, and a laundry service is available within a short walk from your hotel.
Q: What equipment/clothes should we bring?
A: When selecting clothing think about dual-purpose clothes and about layering for warmth and keeping dry. It is better to have several layers you can take off and put on one at a time versus one heavy layer. Soon after you register, we’ll send along a list of suggestions about how to train, what to pack, and tips about how to make your trip as carefree as possible. We advise very strongly that you “pack light" as does one of our 2012 guests who gave us the following feedback: “If only the guests would . . . heed your advice and pack lighter. Your advice was spot on.”
Note: It's a good idea to pack your clothes in a plastic bag or zip-lock bags inside your pack (See attached for our suggestions about items to bring).
Q: Is it advisable to arrive a day or two earlier than the scheduled tour?
A:Absolutely! Our experience is that those hikers who arrive a day or two early enjoy their first day of hiking to its fullest. An early arrival will not only help your internal biological rhythm to sync up with your new destination it will give you an opportunity to explore more of what Switzerland has to offer, which is plenty! For example, you may want to arrive in Zurich a day or two early and explore this wonderful city. Click here to learn more about Zurich or feel free to call us if you would like some suggestions.
Q: Anything else I should know?
A:One item that is worth mentioning is packing for the trip. We recommend a travel technique that Dan has perfected over the years, which is to carry all of your gear in two backpacks, the smaller of which you wear on your chest. This method allows for easy movement around airports and train stations without having to roll or carry a cumbersome travel bag. Everyone who participated in the 2012 trip said that they had wished they had taken our advice and that in the future they will employ the two pack system.