"I loved everything about the trip! The hiking was wonderful (and enough of a challenge to keep it interesting), the hotels lovely and comfortable and the meals were yummy. But all of those things would mean nothing without the guides Willi and Dave. Everything ran smoothly because of their care and attention to details. On parts of the trails that I found challenging, they were patient with me and very encouraging. Also they are such nice guys it was always a pleasure to talk to them."- Andrea Ostrowski
"You get into towns, hotels and trails that would be hard to discover on your own. I return because the guides always make it a really, really fun trip."- T. Leadbetter
A week of honest hiking through fairytale Switzerland.
Storybook chalets, lofty mountain passes, glaciers, snow-capped peaks and full days on the hiking trail.
A delicious sampling of traditional Swiss alpine accommodations. We'll spend 6 nights in well-appointed, superior inns and 2 nights in remote mountain berghauses situated in spectacular mountain environments.
An in-depth exploration of the Bernese Oberland region. We'll hit the popular highlights and the hidden trails of the quieter side too.
The Bernese Oberland in central Switzerland is one of the most stunning mountain ranges on earth. High, glaciated peaks and vertical rock walls ascend thousands of feet above tumbling waterfalls, pristine valleys, and flower-filled meadows sporting the world’s happiest cows.
Our nine-day hiking tour begins on the west side of the Berner Oberland in the fashionable resort village of Gstaad. Hiking eastward, you’ll wander past perfect little chalets huddled around magnificent gardens. Cross airy mountain ridgelines like the Wasserngrat and Ammertepass, and overnight in a simple mountain hut at Engstligenalp, drifting to sleep above treeline with the smell of wood smoke and tinkling cowbells in the distance.
The topography ramps up considerably as you hike out of your luxurious hotel in Kandersteg. Cross the lofty Hothurli Pass, meaning “the high little door,” in German. Drop into the remote and mysterious Kiental, a valley with the steepest post bus route in Europe, and climb over the Sefinenfurgge, offering eye-popping views over Europe’s most famous mountains, the Eiger (13,025 feet), Mönch (13,474 feet) and Jungfrau (13,642 feet), among many others.
The hiking mellows out a bit during the last part of the trip, but the scenery explodes. You’ll hike at the very foot of the Eigernordwand, the vertical north face of the Eiger, and bed down in famous Swiss destinations like Mürren, Wengen and Grindelwald. Glaciers, iconic mountains, and quintessential Swiss scenery provide the finale for your tour.
Arrive Zurich airport. (Geneva is also a convenient entry point). Transfer independently to Gstaad, Switzerland. The transfer takes just over three hours by rail from the Zurich airport. Check into your four star chalet-style hotel on Gstaad’s mainstreet. Spend the afternoon shopping and sightseeing in Gstaad or simply relax in your hotel. Meet your guides and group for dinner, cocktails and a brief orientation at 7:00 pm.
We’ll offer two options for the first part of today’s hike. Option #1 offers a hike along the Wasserngrat, an airy limestone ridge with steep cliff faces and beautiful views of western Switzerland. Option #2 provides a mellower hike past swiss chalets, enchanting meadows and working Swiss farms. Both hiking trails meet at the same midpoint, a mountain pass (6,700 feet) with whimsical limestone outcroppings and views of the emerging glaciated peaks of the Berner Oberland. Spend the afternoon hiking downhill past limestone outcrops. Hop on a cable car for the last leg of the journey into the pastoral village of Lenk.
We’ll offer two hiking options again today. Option #1 climbs over a steep ridgeline called Ammertegrat. Following a challenging hike past raging waterfalls, Swiss chalets and flower-filled alps, we’ll top out at the Ammertepass (8,015 feet). Climb to the summit of the Ammertespitz (8,573 feet), (optional), then desend to our home in the hanging valley of Engstligenalp. Option # 2 hikes across a mid-elevation mountain pass (6,398 feet), and stops for lunch at a perfectly situated restaurant. Drink a glass of wine, and prop your feet next to the fire before traversing by hiking trail and cable car to our mountain hotel in Engstligenalp. Overnight in a simple hiker’s hotel above treeline. (No luggage access on this night).
Today’s trail leads to Kandersteg, and it crosses a mountain pass at 8,241 feet, roughly 1,900 feet above our hotel. Snap photos of the famous Adelboden-Engstligenalp cable car, a tramway perched picturesquely over Switzerland’s second highest waterfall, Engstligefälle. Picnic above treeline, then descend 4,400 feet with views of mountain peaks, glaciers and the Oeschinensee, a cobalt blue lake situated in an amphitheater of rock beneath the dramatic Blumisalp massif. Overnight in an upscale hotel with a tradition of Swiss hospitality going back 220 years.
Hike into the very heart Switzerland’s Berner Oberland mountain range. A scenic chairlift ride drops us at the Oeschinensee. From there, we’ll l train our eyes on the Hohturlipass (9,114 feet), meaning “high little door” in Swiss German. Have lunch at a climber’s hut (9,298 feet), just a stone’s throw from the sparkling Blumlisalp glacier and three ice-covered mountains, the Blumlisalphorn (12,011 feet), Wyssi Frau (11,975 feet) and Morgenhorn (11,886 feet). Descend 4,700 feet into the lush Kiental, a remote valley that time forgot. Overnight in a comfortable hiker’s hostelry located on the steepest postbus route in Europe. (No luggage access on this night).
The Kiental is a truly special place. One of the most unknown, yet beautiful valleys in the Swiss Alps, the Kiental beguiles hikers with its impressive rock walls, tranquil Swiss farms, tumbling waterfalls and enchanted forests. Sadly, we have to leave the Kiental behind as we hike across the Sefinenfurke (8,570 feet). The reward, however, more than justifies any reason for leaving our Shangri-La. The most famous mountains of Switzerland, the Eiger (13,025 feet), Mönch (13,474 feet) and Jungfrau (13,642 feet), explode into view after we cross the Sefinenfurke. We also get our first glimpses of the Lauterbrunnen Valley, arguably the most famous valley in the Swiss Alps and f eaturing more than 70 waterfalls. Descend to our family-run hotel in Mürren.
Today’s hike begins with a walk to the nearby village of Gimmelwald, one of the most perfectly preserved villages in all of Switzerland. Gimmelwald overflows with historic Swiss chalets, garden gnomes and cows wandering in lush pastures. Continue through Gimmelwald and descend to a quiet side valley of the Lauterbrunnental en route to our midday lunch spot, the oldest guest house in the Lauterbrunnen valley with a history dating to the 1700’s.
Sample the best tasting Käseschnitte, (a Swiss version of grilled cheese), prepared anywhere in the Swiss Alps. Wander along the floor of the Lauterbrunnen valley, marveling at the sheer rock walls, ephemeral waterfalls and lush, pastoral landscape. Transfer by cog rail to our hotel in Wengen, offering magazine cover views of the Lauterbrunnen valley and its surrounding peaks including, but not limited to, the Jungfrau; Gletscherhorn; Abeni Flue; Mittaghorn; Grosshorn, Briethorn; Gspaltenhorn and on, and on….
You’ll be the most popular person on Facebook and Instagram when you post photos from today’s hike. Walking out of our hotel in Wengen, we’ll climb through Swiss meadows and forests to Kleine Scheidegg (6,762 feet), a famous saddle beneath the sheer 6,000-foot North Wall of the Eiger. Have a huge plate of Rösti (a signature Swiss dish), at the pass, then descend into Grindelwald beneath the North face of the Eiger. Overnight in one of the oldest, chalet-style hotels in Grindelwald.
Wake to a delicious Swiss breakfast, then depart. The transfer to Zurich airport takes about three hours by rail.