I really like Switzerland, and mountaineering in Switzerland, so it’s shocking how little time I’ve really spent there. I visited a number of instances in school – assembly up with a buddy in Zurich, spending a weekend with buddies mountaineering up and down the ski slopes in Crans-Montana and making the requisite pilgrimage to Balmer’s Youth Hostel in Interlaken. I’ve additionally had half a dozen lengthy layovers in Zurich, and once we rented a villa on Lake Como a number of years in the past, we did day journeys to Lugano. Aside from that it’s been a spot that ranks extremely for us as a household however that we merely haven’t explored.
When the Journey Journey World Summit (ATWS) in Lugano was introduced, I signed up instantly. As I’ve written earlier than, ATWS is a superb occasion, however even higher are the Pre Summit Adventures and Days of Journey. You get to journey deeper into the vacation spot and meet superb folks whereas doing it. Earlier Pre Summit Adventures of mine have included adventuring in Argentinian Patagonia, mountaineering throughout Tuscany and exploring the forests of Sweden. This yr I opted to hike and e-bike from Engelberg to Interlaken.
The Swiss Trains
Earlier than I get into journey specifics, let me sing the praises of the Swiss transportation community. It’s good. This journey included arriving into Zurich Airport and taking a prepare to the town, then taking a prepare to Engelberg, utilizing chairlifts, funiculars, buses and trains to complement our mountaineering between there and Meiringen, taking a prepare to Lugano from Interlaken, taking trains to go mountaineering for a day in Ticino, using a bus after which taking funicular to the highest of Monte Bre in Lugano, after which hopping on a remaining prepare from Lugano to Zurich. I had a 15-day Swiss Journey Go which labored completely. The cross was throughout the SBB App at any time when I used to be requested for my ticket, and it obtained me reductions on any transportation that was not 100% coated, just like the Monte Bre funicular. The app additionally let me see timetables. In case you’re heading to Switzerland and transferring round a bit, look into getting a Swiss Journey Go.
FYI, proper now (2022) a 15-day 2nd class Swiss Travel Pass is $477. There are additionally 3-day, 4-day, 6-day and 8-day passes, however the 15-day cross is by far the very best worth. Youth passes are discounted. Youngsters below 16 are free so long as they’re touring with at the least one paying grownup.
This Swiss journey began in Zurich. I took a 10-minute prepare trip from the airport to the central station, after which walked roughly 10 minutes to the 25hours Hotel Langstrasse. I’ve stayed at 25hours in Florence a number of instances now and find it irresistible, and Langstrasse is simply as nice – fashionable, playful and well-located. I arrived late and it was chilly and wet, so I didn’t do a lot in Zurich apart from watch trains from the window of my room, have breakfast with a buddy and discover the lodge. I headed to Engelberg round 11am. If the climate was nicer I’d have explored Zurich and or stopped in Zug to see one other buddy. No drawback – I’ll return.
Engelberg was equally chilly and wet, so I didn’t discover lots. I walked across the well-known convent, after which headed to the grocery retailer to purchase chocolate (as a result of Switzerland) the place I used to be shocked to seek out out that my Swiss forex from only a couple years earlier was now not accepted. So a heads up: when you have outdated Swiss payments, you’ll must take them to any Swiss financial institution and commerce them for brand new payments.
In Engelberg I stayed on the Engelberg Trail Hotel (aka Lodge Engelberg). It was good – boutiquey, charming, outdated (from 1854), comfy and cheap. Dinner was within the lodge’s restaurant and was wonderful.
Climbing in Switzerland: Engelberg to Engstlenalp
Within the morning we had breakfast on the lodge after which walked by way of city to the funicular, which we took as much as Gerschnialp and began mountaineering. Our path to Untertrübsee took us by way of forests and meadows (with cows) and was attractive – though the low clouds prevented us from seeing the mountains throughout us.
At Untertrübsee we took a tiny blue gondola (Äelplerseil) to the highest after which walked from there round Trübsee clockwise to Alpstubli am Trübsee the place we had lunch. This complete hike was kid-friendly, however the part round Trübsee was particularly good, with many kid-oriented stations with fables and video games, in addition to play areas. It’s nice when locations exit of their technique to entertain and educate children.
After lunch we took the chairlift from the lake to the highest of Jochpass the place we had been all of the sudden in winter. There was over a foot of snow on the bottom and it was coming down. So enjoyable! And it was the very best snow I’ve ever discovered for making snowballs.
We had been solely on the prime for a couple of minutes nonetheless once we took one other chairlift right down to Steinigi Egg / Engstlenalp above Engstlensee. Similar to that we had been again in autumn! There was nonetheless a bit snow, however as we hiked from the bottom of the carry to Lodge Engstlenalp, it turned to rain after which stopped altogether. No complaints from me in any respect – coming from very dry California, it might take weeks of continuous rain for me to develop bored with it. And as we might discover out the subsequent day, there have been main advantages from the rain.
Lodge Engstlenalp is one in all Switzerland’s traditional Berghotels – straight out of a Wes Anderson movie. Our toilet was throughout the corridor – the one place we stayed the place that was the case, however not a giant deal for an evening.
Climbing in Switzerland: Engstlenalp to Meiringen
This was a day of downhill mountaineering, with low clouds however no rain. We benefited from the earlier days’ rain, nonetheless, since there have been attractive waterfalls and streams all alongside the hike.
We headed out at 11am, hiked by way of mossy forests and a shocking valley to Gäntel, the place we arrived round 2:15pm. It’s really not that lengthy a hike, however we stopped usually to benefit from the surroundings, and at one level we ate our packed lunches. At 2:15 we hopped on a bus at Gäntelhitti for just some minutes to Innertkirchen, the place we then boarded a prepare for a two-minute-ride to the Aareschlucht Ost station. FYI, we may have hiked the 18km from Engstlenalp to Aareschlucht in 4 hours, however opted to stroll a lot slower, benefit from the hike, after which use the brief bus and prepare rides to get us to the Aare Gorge by 3pm.
The Aare Gorge (Aareschlucht) – 1.6km of icy blue water that you simply stroll by way of on an elevated walkway – is gorgeous! We walked from east to west, however simply as simply may have gone the opposite route, or made it a round-trip. The trail is usually wheelchair and stroller-friendly, particularly in case you’re going west to east. I’ll let the photographs converse for themselves. That is positively price your time in case you’re anyplace close by. There’s an entrance price of CHF 10 for adults and 6.50 for youths 6-16 (2022). It’s free for youths below six.
Leaving the Aare Gorge on the west entrance, we then walked perhaps 25 minutes to our lodge, Hotel Dakota, in Meiringen. Dinner (wonderful) was at Lodge Meiringen throughout the road.
Biking in Switzerland: Meiringen to Interlaken
Within the morning we met up with Flying Wheels Interlaken outdoors our lodge. They introduced us e-bikes from Interlaken and gave us directions on the best way to trip. I’ve been on many e-bikes earlier than, however each one is completely different, so I appreciated the steering. We then set off for close by Reichenbach Falls.
In case you’re a Sherlock Holmes fan, you’ll know Reichenbach Falls. It’s the place the fictional detective died in 1891. There are Holmes-inspired websites all through Meiringen, together with a pub and museum, and on the falls there are a number of plaques, a mini-museum and a marker on the spot the place he died. And in case you’re not a Sherlock Holmes fan, you possibly can at the least take pleasure in a beautiful view from the funicular and the falls!
I ought to observe that we headed out from Hotel Dakota at 9am, with the intent of stopping on the falls for an hour after which taking 5 hours to succeed in Interlaken, simply in time for the rain to begin at 3pm. The rain really began at 9:45am and by no means stopped! Anyway we left Reichenbach Falls proper on time at 10, newly clad in rain gear, and had an incredible trip.
Our first cease was at a bit espresso home in Unterbäch, the place we had espresso and obtained out of the rain for a couple of minutes. We then continued, with some critical climbs (thanks e-bikes) to Giessbach Falls, which was exceptionally cool – the bike/pedestrian path crosses a bridge proper over the waterfall, overlooking the Grandhotel Giessbach and past it, Lake Brienz (Brienzersee). We loved the falls for an excellent 20 minutes earlier than using on to the small city of Iseltwald the place we ate our packed lunches and had pastries. I beloved using by way of city and stress-free on the lake. I can solely think about that it’s even nicer when it’s not raining!
We left Iseltwald at roughly 2:30 and turned our bikes in at Flying Wheels Interlaken at 3:15. The final a part of the trip was attractive, alongside Lake Brienz after which alongside the Aare River (bear in mind the Aare?) and thru Interlaken.
In Interlaken we checked into Carlton-Europe Lodge. The lodge and repair had been okay, though no children are allowed, so don’t ebook it in case you’re a household traveler! To look for all Interlaken hotels, click here. I wandered round a bit that afternoon (within the rain) after which the subsequent morning (within the solar). Good to be again in Interlaken in spite of everything these years! Dinner was at Stadthaus – the meatballs had been wonderful.
Interlaken to Lugano by Prepare
We left Interlaken at midday and arrived in Lugano at 4pm, with a 20-minute connection in Luzern. This prepare trip flew by. The surroundings was breathtakingly stunning the whole journey and simply reminded us much more of what a unprecedented nation Switzerland is. Completely curious: do the Swiss ever get bored with good cities, blue lakes, snow-capped mountains, inexperienced fields, chocolate and cheese? 🙂
The final week of my journey was in Lugano, centering across the Journey Journey World Summit. I do know the title of this weblog submit is Engelberg to Interlaken, however I’ll do a brief part on Lugano right here since I’m in any other case not planning to put in writing about it.
Lugano is great – an Italian-speaking city on Lake Lugano with completely Swiss pedestrian areas, nice views and wonderful meals. The prepare station is up above city. The stroll down into city is simple with out baggage. If in case you have luggage, or in case you’re strolling up, take the funicular – the cease is contained in the prepare station, and it’s included with the Swiss Journey Go. I beloved strolling round at dawn (in fact), and I additionally took the Monte Bre Funicular to the highest of Monte Bre and hiked again to my lodge. I loved the funicular up and the view from the highest, however the stroll down wasn’t thrilling – totally on roads and thru neighborhoods. We’ve pedal boated out onto Lake Lugano with the children, which is at all times enjoyable, and Parco Ciani on the lake is pleasant, with an incredible playground. Lugano is really the proper mixture of Italy and Switzerland.
I stayed at LUGANODANTE. I actually loved the lodge, and breakfast was wonderful. It’s proper on the base of the funicular, so it couldn’t be extra handy in case you’re arriving and departing by prepare. I favored my view and room, though the bathe was annoying – very small with an overwhelming rain can. I’d nonetheless keep there once more. I saved 10% by reserving by way of Hotels.com (you get one evening free with each 10 booked, so the financial savings over time works out to 10%).
Lugano – Zurich – Dwelling
My flight to San Francisco departed Zurich at 1:35pm. I left my lodge in Lugano at 8am, took the funicular as much as the prepare station, and obtained on the 8:30 prepare to Zurich, connecting to a different prepare and arriving on the Zurich airport at 10:44am. Checking in was quick, however the line to succeed in the E Gates had at the least 1,500 folks in it. It took a bit over an hour to get by way of passport management and attain the lounge. Zurich has at all times been seamless for me previously, so this was an excellent reminder to anticipate the worst and ALWAYS arrive a number of hours early in your flight. Baggage retrieval in Los Angeles was quick, as was the parking shuttle.
Organizing Climbing in Switzerland
This journey was deliberate by Out & About Switzerland Trekking and led by our superb information Marina. It’s in fact potential to go mountaineering in Switzerland with out a information, however this journey had loads of completely different parts, and I couldn’t have in any other case pieced all of them collectively. At one level we arrived at a ski carry and nobody was there. Marina knew who to contact to have a carry operator present up. She additionally known as forward to substantiate the Gäntelhitti bus for us, because it was the top of the season and wet and the bus wasn’t in any other case going to run that day, and when rain made it lower than pleasant to sleep outdoors (our unique plan), Marina and Out & About scrambled to alter our route and ebook us into Lodge Engstlenalp. Additionally they made positive our baggage was transferred from Engelberg to Meiringen after which from Meiringen to Interlaken. In brief, this was an ideal, error-free journey with Marina and Out & About dealing with every thing.
Packing for Climbing in Switzerland
I wrote up a trip packing record for adventurous locations, impressed by this journey to Switzerland in addition to my current Uganda safari and an upcoming return to Antarctica. Basically I lived in merino wool shirts and base layers (Unbound Merino is the very best) and was very grateful I had rain pants (Patagonia) and a rain jacket (Prana). It’s a cliche, however deliver issues that may be layered! For the lengthy bike trip within the rain, I had on a merino wool shirt and sweatshirt, a fleece and a rain jacket, and on backside I had a wool base layer, biking shorts, mountaineering pants and rain pants. Aside from my footwear and socks, I stayed dry and properly heat.
I introduced a big rolling duffel, a 40L mountaineering backpack and a small daypack. It labored effectively. The duffel was despatched on forward for 2 legs of our journey. The 40L backpack was good for the 2 days from Engelberg to Meiringen, and the day pack was nice for the day of biking. Each packs got here with rain covers which had been indispensable.
Switzerland: Your Flip
The place have you ever been in Switzerland that you simply beloved? The place ought to I hike subsequent?