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 rise some of the best-known alpine peaks: The Eiger, Moench, 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, walking along the base of the intimidating Eiger North Wall, near frosty glaciers, and through acres of green pastures dotted with brown cows and inquisitive goats.
June 30 to July 7, 2018 – US $3,098.00
Optional Tour Choices:
$790 Single Supplement (for solo travelers who wish to enjoy a private bedroom and bathroom)
7 nights lodging in shared or single room, with private bathroom; 6-day pass that covers MOST Jungfrau-area trains, busses and lifts, including the Jungfraujoch train; Welcome packet with map; Breakfast or breakfast supplies; Opening-night reception, orientation, and dinner; Two mid-week dinners; A beer-tasting, featuring regional specialties; Closing-night dinner at a superb local restaurant. HE Travel provides complimentary Medical & Evacuation Insurance for every US Resident on our group tours who does not have other coverage.
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.
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.
Lunch today is at a remote mountain restaurant that serves a surprisingly sophisticated menu for its unique location. After lunch we will hike farther bringing us not only closer to the glacier but to Schreckhorn, a 4078-meter peak. Hardier hikers might get to the Schreckhorn hut before turning back.
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 and rushing waters 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.
Continue hiking part of the way back on the recently-opened Eiger trail 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”.
We will return back to the village were 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 cablecar 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.