Switzerland has over 7000 lakes
The stunning Swiss landscape is often recognized for its ocean of high peaks and hillside farmland, however, one of the most charming elements of Swiss nature is the array of crystal-clear alpine lakes that dot the Swiss countryside. The most famous of these lakes are the ones located near the Swiss cities, such as Lake Geneva and Lake Zurich. At Ryder-Walker our favorite Swiss lakes are tucked further into the mountains and a little harder to reach: The Oeschinensee above Kandersteg and Lake Sils by Sils Maria. The Oeschinensee, seen on our Berner Oberland and Eiger Trail treks, is an astounding high alpine lake that sits below some of the most impressive peaks in the Berner Oberland such as the Blumlisalphorn. The lake itself is surrounded by sheer rock walls that rise for hundreds of feet above the abrupt shoreline. Lake Sils is an idyllic lake that provides a sense of peace that is a stark contrast to the drama of the Oeschinensee. The lake hems in the tiny village of Sils Maria, sparkling a bright blue on sunny days. A key stop on all our Engadine treks, Sils Maria is said to be the source of beauty that one-time resident Friedrich Nietzsche used to calibrate his sense of aesthetics.
Less than 15% of the Alps are Swiss
Less than 15% of the Alps are in Switzerland, with the mountain chain itself running between Croatia and the coast of France. While only a fifth of the landmass of the Alps is in Switzerland, considering the size of the country, the mountainous terrain in Switzerland is astoundingly dense. As you travel through the Alps, one of the most memorable experiences a trekker can have is moving between cultures as they cross from one valley to the next. Ryder-Walker’s Tour du Mont Blanc trek is the perfect way to experience this diversity. Following the general route of the legendary trek, this tour travels through France, Italy, and Switzerland all by foot. On this trek you can expect to have breakfast in France and dinner in Italy! Ryder-Walker’s Hiker’s Haute Route from Chamonix, France to Zermatt, Switzerland is a classic Alpine trek taking you from Mont Blanc to the Matterhorn.
Europe’s Highest Railway Station is in Switzerland
The Jungfraujoch is a marvel of modern engineering. This unbelievable train line was built in the early 1900s during the engineering boom that led Switzerland to become internationally renowned for its broad and functional public transportation infrastructure. The Jungfraujoch itself is the crowning jewel of this era, a rail line which travels from the town of Grindelwald, through the north face of the Eiger, and up to a saddle just below the summit of the mighty Jungfrau, thousands of feet above the line’s beginning (3,500 meters/11,483 ft). On our Eiger Trek, we will hike down from the Jungfraujoch – the synonymous mid-station of the line, underneath the shadow of the Eiger itself, and down into the bustling cobblestone streets of Grindelwald! On our Jungfrau Loop trek you can book an extra day in Grindelwald and train to the Jungfraujoch.
Switzerland has the Highest Peaks in Europe
The Swiss mountains are among the highest in Western Europe and are home to numerous mountains over 3,000 meters high (9,800 ft). While the true crown lies upon the summit of the Mont Blanc, 4,807.81 meters (15,773.7 ft) the neighboring Swiss peaks are only smaller by degrees. Perhaps the most impressive of these behemoths is the glacier-bound Monte Rosa. Despite being only 570 hundred feet smaller than the Mont Blanc this peak is shrouded in a greater sense of mystery and anonymity. Situated on the border between Italy and Switzerland, many of the villages surrounding the Monte Rosa are sleepy hamlets tucked high into the mountains – far cries from the hubbub of Chamonix and Courmayeur. On The Matterhorn Trek, you will get to entirely circumnavigate the Monte Rosa Massif, taking in the mountain’s splendor from all angles on a journey that finishes in the famed village of Zermatt, beneath the striking profile of the Matterhorn itself.