The Swiss Alps were made for hiking, and no region of Switzerland offers a more picturesque setting than the Bernese Oberland. Our hiking trip is set deep in this mountain valley, in the centuries-old village of Grindelwald. To the south, abruptly rise some of the best-known alpine peaks: The Eiger, Monch, and Jungfrau, and three glaciers. Unfolding more gently to the north are the meadows of wildflowers, forests, and mountain lakes that have made Switzerland such a favorite with calendar illustrators.
We’ll hike into both of these alpine worlds. One day, walk along the base of the intimidating Eiger North Wall. The next, wander thru acres of green pastures, full of spotted brown cows, their horned heads bobbing and steel bells jingling as they gorge on a never-ending brunch.[/tg_program]
June 22 to June 29, 2019 – US $3,498.00
Optional Tour Choices:
$1100 Single Supplement (for solo travelers who wish to enjoy a private bedroom and bathroom)
Changing trains at Interlaken, you’ll see other hikers and climbers, the former easily recognized by the hiking poles that nearly all Europeans seem to favor; the latter by the ice-axes strapped to their bulging backpacks. Grindelwald is the end of the line, and as you step out onto the town’s lively main street after several hours on trains, one breath of mountain air will quickly revive you.
Our hiking trip begins with a 6:00 pm reception and orientation, followed by dinner, and time to meet a fun group of gay hikers.
Our final stop is at Gletscherschlucht, the narrow gorge whose vertical walls were carved into the rock by the churning waters of the glacier. A narrow boardwalk, jutting out from the cliff face, gives us a close-up look at the sculpted canyon, as the water rushes below.
From First we hike along an easy trail to the blue mountain lake known as the Bachalpsee. A magnificent green pasture filled with cows, bells tinkling, extends down toward the valley floor. On a calm day, the distant snow-capped peaks reflect in the lake’s waters. Then the trail thins out, twisting beside a spiny ridge, past moonlike rock formations. Descending past a cascading waterfall, we pass a lush patch of wildflowers, and easily count a dozen varieties within an arm’s reach: red, yellow, blue, purple, white, pink, lavender.
You may want to stop for a late lunch at the mountain inn of Bussalp. Here, hikers again have a choice: to descend by foot, or on one of the ubiquitous yellow “Post Buses” that serves so many small Swiss hamlets such as this one.
Paraglide over the mountain trails gaining a new perspective on Grindelwald valley. No paragliding experience is necessary: You’ll fly tandem with an experienced, licensed pilot.
Take the train to nearby Thun. A delightful medieval city on a blue lake, dominated by an imposing castle. Toot across the lake on an old steamer then hike along the shoreline.
An easy day trip. Take a train or boat to Brienz, a charming Swiss town whose artisans are known for their violins and wood-carvings, then ride Switzerland’s only surviving steam-powered cog railroad to the mile-and-a-half high Rothorn (one of our favorite train rides!).
Spend time down the valley in Interlaken for urban life and shopping.
Or check out these mountains on a bike! This would be a good day to rent a mountain bike, take it up a lift, and then ride down to the village (verrrrry carefully!).
If your legs need a rest today, ride the train back down to Grindelwald. Otherwise, you can hike part of the way back on the recently-opened Eiger trail, an alpine path that follows the base of this immense mountain. We’re right under the Nordwand (North Wall) of the Eiger, a vertiginous cliff that has defeated many a mountaineer. We won’t try any mountaineering ascents today, just a scenic hike, crossing the narrow, twisted gorges of glacier-fed streams, then winding through forest, until we emerge over (but on the other side of) the “Lower Glacier” that we saw on our first day of hiking.
We will return back to the village where you can select one of the local cafes for lunch. After lunch, we will hike 930 vertical meters up a switch-backing path from Wengen to Mannlichen. Some of us will want to hike all the segments and others may want to take the cable car part of the way.
From Mannlichen, you can ride a mountain cable car right back to Grindelwald, but we hope you won’t: The high alpine trail over to Kleine Scheidegg is among everyone’s favorites. Gently descending as it passes around cliffs and peaks, this trail offers an ever-changing panorama of the mountains: The Eiger, the Monch, and the Jungfrau.
For our serious hikers, this is an invigorating full-day of hiking. Portions of the trail follow a narrow ridge, dropping to views of the Eiger on the right, and to the placid blue waters of Lake Brienz on the left.
For those looking for a greater challenge, the jagged peak of Schwarzhorn, on a high crest to the north of Grindelwald, is accessible by several trails, some easier, some rougher. Hiking all the way there from Grindelwald makes for a full day.
As we descend, the trail takes us along an area popular with marmots, and again we enjoy a break while watching these gregarious, bushy-tailed creatures.
If you’ve got extra vacation time to spend in Europe, we suggest you save it for after the trip, rather than before: chances are that others in the group will welcome company as they explore the culture and gay life in Geneva, Zurich, Berne, or other Swiss cities.
Transportation to and from Grindelwald (easily accessible by train); Meals not listed here; Optional activities, such as mountain biking and paragliding; Personal expenses such as laundry, telephone charges, alcohol (except when provided with a meal) and gratuities for guides.
Hanns Ebensten Travel
47 Elizabeth Bay Road
Elizabeth Bay NSW
02 8667 3336