About the Experience

Switzerland is synonymous with so many cool things: Swiss cheese, fondue, the Swatch, muesli, the iconic Swiss Army knife and of course, the Alps. The country’s biggest bragging rights belong to the staggering 48 peaks that measure 4,000m (13,123ft)!

The Bernese Alps poke into the indigo skyline with the daunting summits of Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau. The Eiger is notorious for its dangerous and perilous north face challenge while the aerial tramway of Jungfrau is celebrated for its uninterrupted view from “the top of Europe.”

The mighty jagged-tooth Matterhorn straddles the border of Switzerland and Italy making the region a magnet for hikers who love the punishing ascents and meadows blurred with the colour of alpine wildflowers.

On the Switzerland Hiking Adventure you’ll join a charged-up group of Wild Women eager to tear up some terrain in the face of granite mammoths. You’ll be rewarded with some serious panoramas from the Schynige Platte and Gemmi Plateau. The famed “Sprutz” waterfall, Monte Rossa massif, vineyards of Valais and car-free charms of Zermatt will make you wonder why you’ve waited so long to experience Switzerland.

Expect impromptu picnic lunches, fondue, lessons in goat-milking and cheesemaking from a local goat shepherd and deep insights into the impact of climate change on the glaciers. There will be several mesmerizing gondola rides that will offer an unforgettable view of the alpine folds below.

You’ll be hiking in the spirited shadows of Lucy Walker, the first woman to climb the Matterhorn back in 1871. The steely British climber was 35 when she started her ascent–wearing a long flannel skirt with trousers underneath to keep with the morals of the era. Imagine! What’s stopping you?

Please note: This brand new signature trip is for active, experienced hikers who are ready to knock-out an average 11km (6.6 miles) to 16km (10 miles) days. The elevation is real– this ain’t no walk in the park. You must be sure-footed, confident and comfortable with high altitude and steep, exposed trails.

 

Click here to see the full itinerary!
Switzerland Hiking Adventure

About the Experience

Switzerland is synonymous with so many cool things: Swiss cheese, fondue, the Swatch, muesli, the iconic Swiss Army knife and of course, the Alps. The country’s biggest bragging rights belong to the staggering 48 peaks that measure 4,000m (13,123ft)!

The Bernese Alps poke into the indigo skyline with the daunting summits of Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau. The Eiger is notorious for its dangerous and perilous north face challenge while the aerial tramway of Jungfrau is celebrated for its uninterrupted view from “the top of Europe.”

The mighty jagged-tooth Matterhorn straddles the border of Switzerland and Italy making the region a magnet for hikers who love the punishing ascents and meadows blurred with the colour of alpine wildflowers.

On the Switzerland Hiking Adventure you’ll join a charged-up group of Wild Women eager to tear up some terrain in the face of granite mammoths. You’ll be rewarded with some serious panoramas from the Schynige Platte and Gemmi Plateau. The famed “Sprutz” waterfall, Monte Rossa massif, vineyards of Valais and car-free charms of Zermatt will make you wonder why you’ve waited so long to experience Switzerland.

Expect impromptu picnic lunches, fondue, lessons in goat-milking and cheesemaking from a local goat shepherd and deep insights into the impact of climate change on the glaciers. There will be several mesmerizing gondola rides that will offer an unforgettable view of the alpine folds below.

You’ll be hiking in the spirited shadows of Lucy Walker, the first woman to climb the Matterhorn back in 1871. The steely British climber was 35 when she started her ascent–wearing a long flannel skirt with trousers underneath to keep with the morals of the era. Imagine! What’s stopping you?

Please note: This brand new signature trip is for active, experienced hikers who are ready to knock-out an average 11km (6.6 miles) to 16km (10 miles) days. The elevation is real– this ain’t no walk in the park. You must be sure-footed, confident and comfortable with high altitude and steep, exposed trails.

 

DAY 1 ZURICH to INTERLAKEN

Wilkommen to Switzerland! Plan to arrive in Zurich (ZRH) by mid-afternoon. The train system from the airport to Interlaken is very efficient with departures every 30 minutes (note: you will have to make your way independently to the hotel). Interlaken is a sylvan resort town located in Bernese Oberland, a region (or canton) that is naturally sandwiched between Lake Thun and Lake Brienz.

At our hotel, we will meet for an official welcome drink and comprehensive trip briefing with our energetic local guide at 6:30PM. We will gather to swap travel stories and laughs over our first dinner together after the meeting.

Cheat sheet: A “canton” refers to a district or a section of a part of a country. There are 26 cantons in Switzerland and the languages spoken within each canton differ. Some speak only French, German, Italian or Romansh.

Tonight’s sweet sleep: The four-star Hey Hotel or similar guesthouse

Meals Included: Dinner

DAY 2 TRAINING DAY

Rise, shine and yawn as breakfast will be at 7AM. Coffee, stat! At 8:30AM we will take a super scenic one-hour train ride from Interlaken to Wilderswill aboard a whimsical 19th century rack (cogwheel) railroad up to the Schynige Platte. The slate plateau’s name means “rock face reflecting the sun.” The journey in the historic carriages is short and sweet (7km/4.5 miles–around 50 minutes). 

Double knot your hikers or trail runners as this is where we will strike off and begin our hike from the distinct terrace that hovers above Interlaken. The panoramas here are startling–the peaks of the Bernese Alps poke into the indigo skyline at 4,000m (13,123ft). Our guide will help us identify the soon-to-be-familiar summits of Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau. The Eiger is notorious for dangerous and perilous north face challenge while the aerial tramway of Jungfrau is celebrated for its uninterrupted view from “the top of Europe.”

For Sound of Music sing-a-long fans, we will also visit the carefully curated botanical blooms and Swiss Flower Panorama Trail of the Alpen Garten Schynige Platte. Among the 750 native plant species on fragrant display, we’ll find the famed edelweiss flower (of the namesake song) in addition to alpine larkspur, the rare blue sow thistle, wolf’s-bane and common monkshood. Want a sneak peek? Check out footage from the Schynige Platte’s live cam here. This is where we chill out with a picnic lunch amid the blur of alpine flowers.

We may be lucky to hear locals playing the long wooden alphorn too. The path along the crete (mountain ridge) will snake around the cliff to reveal the surreal teal depths of Lake Brienz. It will be a full day of selfies and fresh air before we reach Faulhorn in the late afternoon. The cozy embrace of one of the oldest mountain hotels in the Alps (established in 1830) will be well-deserved. Depending on our group’s pace and selfie-taking, we should check into the hotel around 4:30PM.

Warning: You may have “Edelweiss” stuck on repeat in your head! “Edelweiss, Edelweiss, Ev’ry morning you greet me, Small and White, Clean and bright, You look happy to meet me, Blossem of snow may you bloom and grow…”

Fun fact: Faulhorn is derived from the crumbly black limestone shale of the mountain (“faul”) and “horn” meaning “peak.”

 

The skinny on today’s hike: 11.5km (7.2 miles), 4.5 hours depending on the group’s pace

Ascent: 1,070m (3,510ft)

Descent: 380m (1,247ft)

Tonight’s sweet sleep: The Mountain Hotel Faulhorn

Meals Included: Breakfast, Packed Lunch, Dinner

DAY 3 EIGER’S SHADOW

Yesterday was truly a training day as breakfast will be at 6:30AM today. We will recharge our own batteries in the first rays of sun and begin hiking at 7:30AM to the crystalline marvel of Lake Bachalpsee. An early start will allow us to enjoy the peace of the lake and the backdrop of the mountains before the throngs of tourists arrive. 

The iconic PostBus (listen for its trademark horn) will then transport us to Grindelwald, where we can walk below the daunting presence of Eiger through the vibey mountain village that’s typically feverish with ramped-up climbers anticipating their ascent up the iconic north face of Eiger. It is still one of the most difficult climbs in the Alps.

Fun fact: The story of the PostBus began in 1849 when the then Federal Mail took over the horse-drawn coach services of the cantons. The rural transport service carried not only letters and parcels but also schoolkids, villagers, tourists, milk cans, fridges and chickens to boot. As the network of postal lines increased, so did the connection between rural villages and modern cities. 

After a picnic lunch, we will meet Martina, a goat shepherd and cheesemaker who lives in the idyllic mountain pasture of Steessiboden, high above Grindelwald. She will share her remarkable story and chosen life of simplicity in the Alps–one that is dictated by the rhythm set by her goats. Martina will demonstrate the goat cheese making process–and yes, there will be samples to taste! We will also have the opportunity to milk the goats if we wish!

At 4:30PM, we will take a bus (30 minute ride) to Grindelwald where we will have one hour to wander about before boarding the train at 6PM (30 minutes) back to Interlaken to check into our hotel at approximately 6:45PM.

Dinner is not included tonight so you are free range–absorb the local vibe with no timelines!

 

The skinny on today’s hike: 10km (6 miles), 3.5 hours

Ascend: 280m (919ft)

Descend: 1,150m (3,773ft)

Tonight’s sweet sleep: Hey Hotel or similar

Meals Included: Breakfast, Packed Lunch

DAY 4 THE SPRUTZ

After a solid fix of carbs, protein and coffee (7AM) we’ll board a train (8AM) that will slice us through the glacier-incised Lauterbrunnen valley before we crack off on today’s hike from the small village of Gimmelwad. Powered by several handfuls of trail mix, we’ll have a dense woodsy stretch before we reach “Sprutz”, a dazzling waterfall fed by Grauseeli lake, Schiltbach river and the mad runoff from the Schilthorn and Schiltalp. We’ll follow the path that leads to the backside of the pounding ribbon that falls over the high rock face. If there has been recent rainfall, the steep sections can be slippery but handrails will help steady us.

At Bryndli, we’ll swoon over the viewpoint high above the Lauterbrunnen valley. The trail then will unfold in an easy stretch to Schilt and continue on (and downward) to Mürren, one of the most traditionally-steeped car-free villages of the Swiss Alps. This sunbathed terrace sits opposite the mighty giants known as Jungfrau, Mönch and Eiger. This area is a former settlement of the people from Valais (a canton in southern Switzerland) and their influence is evident in the distinct house designs.

We will eventually land on top of Piz Gloria (3,048m/10,000ft above sea level) after a short ride on the gondola. For 007 trivia buffs and fans, the name is a nod to the classic 1969 James Bond flick On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. Bond fan or not, you will love the 360° panoramas from the Schilthorn summit, the world’s first revolving restaurant built in 1967 at 3,000m (9,842ft) altitude. This is where James Bond made his entrance!

The sky-high cable car will bring us back to Mürren where we will pull up seats at Restaurant Regina for martinis shaken, not stirred and enjoy a incredible dinner. Afterwards, we will return to Interlaken and flop into our hotel beds!

 

The skinny on today’s hike: 8.8km (5.5 miles), 5 hours

Ascend: 900m (2,953ft)

Descend: 640m (2,100ft)

Tonight’s sweet sleep: Hey Hotel or similar

Meals Included: Breakfast, Packed Lunch, Dinner

DAY 5 GEMMI PLATEAU

Breakfast will be at 7AM as we’ll be boarding the train (90 minutes) to Kandersteg at 8:30AM this morning. At the end of the 19th century, during the bougie Belle Epoque era, Kandersteg was a magnet for European holiday makers, romantics and dreamers. These were the carefree years before World War I, when economic growth inspired timeless artistic and cultural foundations. Everything was extravagant and in excess–lending to the term the French dubbed la belle époque—literally, “the beautiful age.” The feeling is still tangible and witnessed in the grandeur of the Belle Epoque Hotel Victoria and the surrounding parkland. We have two hiking route options for today–if we choose the shorter hike through the plain of Gemmi, there would be time to squeeze in a coffee in the opulence of the grand dame Belle Epoque hotel.

Today’s hike is from the canton of Bern to Valais. A cable car will take us to Sunnbühl where we can opt for an easy hike through the vast plain of Gemmi, past the tall stands of mountain pine and the Daubensee up to our hotel hugged by the mountains. Alternatively, we can hike up to Üschenengrat ridge, which is a more remote alpine route of varied terrain down to Daubensee. This option also loops around to the same end place, Hotel Gemmi, located on a rocky cliff high above Leukerbad between Berne and Valais. 

Tonight we’ll indulge in the specialty from Valais–the classic Gemmi Fondue! From the beautiful age to  beautiful aged cheese! This unique take is made with velvety whipped cream and onion and typically served with dense dark bread. 

Hotel Gemmi is a peaceful respite in the mountains with little light pollution. The knock-out sauna and spa views of this boutique hotel definitely put the ahhhhhhhhhhh in spa. Be sure to get outside too, and wish upon one of the thousand stars shimmering above!

 

The skinny on today’s hike: 10.6 to 12.7km (6.6 to 7.9 miles), 5 hours

Ascend: 620m (2,034ft)/ 1,094m (3,590ft)

Descend: 1,230m (4,035ft)/ 689m (2,260ft)

Tonight’s sweet sleep: Gemmi Lodge

Meals Included: Breakfast, Packed Lunch, Dinner

DAY 6 LAKE SCHWARZSEE

Breakfast will be at 7AM–are you sensing a pattern now? At 8AM we will be caffeinated and effortlessly floating on a silent gondola over the rock cliffs down to Leukerbad. Look for the zig zag ribbon of trail cut into the face of the mountain. Every spring and fall, farmers herd sheep up and down this seemingly impossible route.

We’ll then take a PostBus followed by a train to the main valley of Valais, one of the driest places in Switzerland. This arid climate is ideal for growing grapes–so, cheers to that! From Visp, we will be riding on the “glacier express line” which connects St. Moritz to the resort town of Zermatt where the pyramid-shaped peak of the Matterhorn looms large. We’ll learn about indomitable Lucy Walker, the first woman to climb the Matterhorn back in 1871. The steely British climber was 35 when she started the ascent–-wearing a long flannel skirt with trousers underneath to keep with the morals of the era. Imagine!

The journey to our destination will be around 3.5 hours but the route is spectacular as it cuts through the narrow and verdant valley of the Mattertal. We’ll have an early lunch (11:15 AM) at a restaurant in Zermatt after our busy planes, trains and automobiles-style morning.

In Zermatt, we will have time to wander through the village (known as the “mountaineer metropolis”) before taking a cable car up into the heart of the alpine. From Trockener Steg, we will hike the glacier trail that winds in front of the Theodul and Furgg glaciers next to the monster Matterhorn. The trail will slice through a periglacial environment–we’ll take pause here to learn more about the impact of climate change and glacier recession.

At day’s end (around 5:15PM), we will retreat to our rustic-chic hotel in the buzzing nerve centre of car-free Zermatt.

Dinner is not included tonight so this is your opportunity to forage for more fondue!

 

The skinny on today’s hike: 6.6km (4.1 miles), 2.5 hours

Ascend: 220m (723ft)

Descend: 570m (1,870ft)

Tonight’s sweet sleep: Hotel Bellerive

Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch

DAY 7 CHASING MATTERHORN

Yawn. Stretch. Breakfast at 6:30AM! We will depart Schwarzsee at 7:45AM early in the morning because early birds get the worm AND spectacular sunrise pics. High up on the Matterhorn, from our cable car seats (30 minute ride) we’ll see mountaineers inching towards the peak as we prepare to reach the “queen stage.” 

We’ll pass over undulating mountain meadows before reaching the Staffel pasture. Here, we’ll follow a high trail that will take us over the opposite valley to hike towards Trift. The view towards the dominant Matterhorn is a stunner–as are the peaks of the entire Monte Rosa massif. Switzerland’s impressive bragging rights include 48 peaks that measure 4,000m (13,123ft) and most of them are in the Valais mountains.

Cheat sheet: A massif is a compact group of mountains, especially one that is separate from other groups.

In Trift, we will take a KitKat break and boost our energy and refuel with homemade jerky, a decadent slice of apple pie or maybe a crispy Rösti (rööschti is a traditional Swiss dish consisting mainly of potatoes, sautéed or shallow-fried in a pan) before taking the path that leads through the Trift gorge step by careful step, down to Zermatt. 

We’ll have time for steamy showers and a refresh before gathering for a sumptuous farewell dinner at 6:30PM. It’s time to clink glasses, celebrate and reminisce about our alpine experience and challenging hikes conquered. 

Your homework: Look for the fancy-pants Poire Williams brand of brandy. A bottle is attached to a branch with a small pear that is tucked inside the bottle, allowing the fruit to continue growing. When ripe, the fruit is cut off the branch and the distilled spirit is poured inside. 

 

The skinny on today’s hike: 16.3km (10.1 miles), 6 hours

Ascend: 680m (1,969ft)

Descend: 1,630m (5,348ft)

Tonight’s sweet sleep: Hotel Basecamp

Meals Included: Breakfast, Packed Lunch, Dinner

DAY 8 DEPARTURE

Sigh. Departure day. After breakfast (at your leisure, depending on the hotel’s breakfast service time) you can take the train to either the Zurich airport (ZRH) or Geneva Airport (GVA), depending on your travel plans (trains are available every 30 minutes). You can schedule your departure flight for anytime after 2pm today or continue on your merry fondue journey in the Alps. 

It’s time to swap emails, AirDrop photos, big hugs and to start planning your reunion with your alpine Wild Women crew!

Meals Included: Breakfast

 

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